To what extent does the success of a leader depend upon the group s/he is leading? Discuss with reference to relevant theories and support with examples. This essay will begin by defining the meaning of leadership and whether the success of a leader depends upon the group it is leading. We will look at different styles and approaches of leadership as well as compare it with management by using examples and relevant theories. The essay explains leadership as an aspect of behavior and evaluates contingency theories of leadership and situational factors which determine the characteristics of leadership.
Furthermore, we will discuss the nature of managerial leadership and the exercise of leadership power and influence. There are many definitions of leadership; however, it is believed that there is no agreed definition of this term. ‘Getting others to follow’, ‘getting people to do things willingly’ or ‘the use of authority in decision making’- all these statements are examples of defining leadership.
According to Crainer (1995) there are over 400 definitions of leadership and it is a veritable minefield of misunderstanding and difference through which theorists and practitioners must tread warily.
Taffinder (1995) suggests that everyone has a theory but, although we know a lot about management, we do not know as much about leadership. Handy (1993) believes that the search for the definitive solution to the leadership problem has improved to be another endless quest for the Holy Grail in organizational theory. Therefore, it is hard to define leadership; nevertheless, it is possible to identify the term as when one person influences the behavior or actions of other person.
Good management leadership helps to develop team work and the integration of individual and group goals. It aids intrinsic motivation by emphasizing the importance of the work that people do. (Laurie J Mullins 1999). Management is sometimes seen as very similar to leadership; however, it is viewed as getting things done through other people to achieve stated organizational objectives. Leadership does not take place within the hierarchical structure of the organization. As Belbin (1997) suggests that leadership is not part of the job but a quality which can be brought to a job.
Management includes planning, directing, organizing and controlling where as leadership consists of communicating, encouraging, motivating and involving people. Due to its complex there are many different ways of analyzing leadership. (Laurie J Mullins 1999). Firstly, managerial leadership examines the qualities or traits approach. It attempts to identify ‘personality traits’ and other attributes of the effective leader. Leadership consists o certain inherited characteristics or personality traits. This approach focuses attention on the person in the job and not on the job itself.
For example, a study, by Jennings (1961) concluded that 50 years of study have failed to produce one personality trait or set of qualities that can be used to discriminate between leaders and non-leaders. Secondly, the functional or group approach attempts to identify the leader’s behavior affects, and is affected by the group of followers. The attention is focused on the functions and responsibilities of leadership, what the leader does and the nature of the group. It assumes leadership skills can be learned and developed.
Drucker and Kotter (1990), for example, believe that successful companies seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. The functional approach is associated with the work of John Adair (1979, 1984) and his ideas on action-centred leadership which focuses on what leaders actually do. There are three main areas of need within the work group: the need to achieve the common task, the need for team maintenance, and the individual needs of group members.
Thirdly, leadership as a behavioral category draws attention to the kinds of behavior of people in leadership positions and the influence on group performance. It draws attention to range of possible managerial behavior and importance of leadership style. For example, Ohio State leadership study indicated two major dimensions of leadership behavior, labeled ‘consideration’ and ‘initiating structure’. Consideration reflects the extent to which the leader establishes trust, mutual respect and rapport with the group and shows concern, support and consideration for subordinates.
Structure reflects the extent to which the leader defines and structures group interactions towards attainment of formal goals and organizes group activities. Likert (1961), who has summarized the findings of the University of Michigan studies, used the terms employee-centred and production-centred supervisors. These terms are similar to consideration and initiating structure. Fourthly, styles of leadership are the way in which the functions of leadership are carried out and the way in which the manager behaves towards the members of the group.
It is concerned with the effects of leadership on those being led. There are three main styles of leadership towards subordinate staff: the authoritarian style, the democratic style and a genuine laissez-faire style. The authoritarian style is where the manager has power of all interactions within the group and the main work goes towards the manager. The democratic style is where the focus of power is more with the group and there is a greater interaction within the work group. A genuine laissez-faire style is where the manager observes that members of the group are working well on their own.
Belbin (1993) distinguishes between two board contrasting styles of leadership in industry: the solo trader and the team leader. The solo trader has free range of opportunities and adopts a directive approach. Where as the team leader expresses greater respect for and trust in subordinates. (Laurie J Mullins 1999). The situational approach is other way of analyzing leadership. It draws attention to the importance of the situation. Its interactions between the variables involved in the leadership situation and patterns of behavior. It involves a belief that there is no single style of leadership appropriate to all situations.
Another process is called transformational leadership. It is a process of engendering motivation and commitment, creating a vision for transforming the performance of the organization, and appealing to the higher ideals and values of followers. This leadership is compromised of four basic components: idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration. (Laurie J Mullins 1999). Leadership is a topic of constant study and discussion where everyone seems to have a view and where definitions of leadership are as varied as the explanations.
Contingency theories basically all argue that the ‘right’ or an effective leadership style varies according to the context. Instrumental theories stress task and person oriented behavior by the leader to gain effective performance from others. Inspirational theories include charismatic leaders, transformational leadership. The leader appeals to values and vision and enthuses others raising confidence in others and motivating them to change. An informal theory looks at behaviors associated with those who are not appointed to authority but assume leadership in other ways.
Path-goal theory looks at what leaders must do to motivate people to perform well and to get satisfaction from work. (www. onepine. info/content. htm). Traditional leaders tend to be directive rather than facilitative and advice-giving rather than advice seeking. They seek to determine rather than integrate views and play a directive rather than supportive role. Effective team leaders share responsibility for the team and encourage team members to take responsibility when things are not going well. Leading involves creating a real team rather than a team in name only.
It also involves clearly communicating a compelling direction for the team’s work. Leading means designing or sculpting the team in a way that enables it to perform effectively. (Michael A. West 2005). A leader develops the vision and exudes a realistic confidence in that vision. They must also communicate it well to others, ensuring that everybody else can see what the benefits of achieving that vision would be. As Taylor and Humphrey (2002) said a good leader can see ways that the overall goal can contribute to individual and personal goals.
Typically, the vision of successful leaders is for the project or the team, rather than for their personal goals. (Stella Cottrell 2003). The evidence contradicts that in order to be the leader – the skills could be developed and trained, on the other hand, the success of a leader depend upon the group he or she is leading. However, leaders need to communicate well and without good inter-personal skills. It would be almost impossible to bring a set of people to share a vision, work together as a whole team, meet deadlines and resolve their differences.