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Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles LDR/531 Organizational Leadership Leadership Styles Leaders have a “the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals” (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 402). In the past leaders have been described by certain traits or characteristics. These traits can help an organization identify potential candidates who may be strong leaders. Later behavior approaches of leaders were identified that could be taught. In short, leaders could be made. Situations have an impact on which leader behaviors will be most effect at any given time.

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Several contingency theories have been formulated over the years to identify how situations influence leadership behavior. Each style has strengths and weaknesses. An effective leader can identify and evaluate a situation to determine which style will produce the ideal outcome of performance and satisfaction within a given industry. A leader’s traits and behaviors can reveal a leaders potential effectiveness in various situations. Situational moderator variables can either enhance or hinder a leader’s ability to be effective in a given situation.

Contingency Theories of leadership explain “leadership effectiveness in terms of situational moderator variables” (Yuki, 2006, p. 214). The six major contingency theories include: leader substitutes theory, LPC contingency model, path-goal theory, situational leadership theory, multiple-linkage theory, and cognitive resources theory. “LPC contingency model describes how the situation moderates the relationship between leadership and a trait measure called the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) score” (Yuki, 2006, p. 215). A leader with a high LPC score tends to be more people-oriented.

Their initial goal or motivator is to establish relationships with the people he or she works with. A leader with a low LPC score is more task-oriented. Their primary objective is to complete the task objectives. Path-goal theory of leadership explains how leader behavior influences subordinate performance and satisfaction (Yuki, 2006). These aspects are dependent on given task and subordinate characteristics. Dependent on the situation a leader can use a supportive, directive, participative or achievement-oriented behavior type to motivate subordinates to achieve higher performance levels.

Situational leadership theory “specifies the appropriate type of leadership behavior for different levels of subordinate maturity in relation to the work” (Yuki, 2006, p. 223). For less mature subordinates may require a leader to be more task and directive-oriented to provide guidance that will help mature the individual. Mature subordinates require less task-oriented structures and work best when a leader uses a relation-oriented method. Multiple-linkage model includes four variables: managerial, intervening, criterion, and situational (Yuki, 2006).

This model describes “the interacting effects of managerial behavior and situational variables on the intervening variables that determine the performance of a work unit” (Yuki, 2006, p. 228). The six intervening variables are task-commitment, ability and role clarity, organization of work, cooperation and mutual respect, resources and support, and external coordination. These variables are interdependent. To maximize the effectiveness of a group, a balance of each variable is critical. A situation can affect the variables, regardless of leader involvement.

A leader’s role is to correct any deficiencies. Cognitive resource theory analyzes the situations in which intelligence and experience are linked to group performance (Yuki, 2006). “The performance of a leader’s group is determined by complex interaction among two leader traits (intelligence and experience), one type of behavior (directive leadership), and two aspects of leadership situation (interpersonal stress and the nature of the group” (Yuki, 2006, p. 236). Under highly stressful situations, leaders rely on experience. In lower stressed situations, leaders will rely on intelligence.

Yuki (2006) identifies there different leadership behaviors or styles: task-oriented, people or relations-oriented and participative leadership. Leadership styles have a major impact on productivity and satisfaction. If a leader is too task-oriented, productivity may be high, but he or she runs the risk of decreasing satisfaction among employees. Extreme people-oriented leadership behaviors can produce higher levels of satisfaction but at the cost of lower productivity. Leaders need to identify a balance that work within the given task and conditions to maximize productivity and satisfaction.

Task-oriented leaders will plan, schedule, and coordinate subordinate work. This leadership style focuses on providing the individual with the tools and resources he or she may need to complete the task. Realistic challenging performance goals are created to motivate individuals. These types of leaders thrive in accounting, customer service, and sales departments. Relations-oriented leadership styles provide subordinates with support, trust, appreciation, and confidence. For example, Camille Roberts is an experienced engineering manager who is new to the organization.

As the new manager, she feels it will be best to refrain from using a task-oriented leadership style. The relations-oriented leadership style is her strong suit, which is why she took the position. She was comfortable with the idea of entering a position within an established organization and team that was in need of a modified approach to motivate employees. This leadership style works best with experienced subordinates, especially those whose focus is project work, such as engineers. Participative leadership style is more of a support role.

This type of leadership style is ideal for higher level executives and managers. This involves less one-on-one supervision. Group participation is encouraged. “The role of the manager in group meetings should be primarily to guide the discussion and keep it supportive, constructive, and oriented toward problem solving” (Yuki, 2006, p. 54). Participative leadership does not remove managers from the equation. Managers will still be held for all decisions and the results. The challenge of the task and relations-oriented leadership styles is finding a balance.

A task-oriented leader completes the job but a cost to his or her subordinates. This type of leadership style, in some cases can be seen as cold, calculated, and overbearing. However, in the right setting, this leadership style is ideal. For inexperienced employees, a task-oriented style is an ideal way to learn. By providing a clear understanding of what is expected, how it should be completed, and under what circumstances, the manager is building a foundation of standards that an employee will be able to use throughout his or her career within the organization.

A manager who is too relation-oriented can result in a loss of position power and set the wrong pace within the work environment. Applied correctly, the relations-oriented leadership style will motivate and encourage employees. Yuki (2006) states, “a manager should treat each subordinate in a supportive was that will build and maintain a person’s sense of personal worth and importance. ” A successful leader may possess certain traits that embody what most consider a great leader. However, this does not mean a person must be born a leader. Leadership behaviors can be taught.

The proper application of these behaviors within a given situation determines how successful that leader will be. Every situation embodies aspects that warrant consideration to identify which leadership style will produce the desired end result. An effective leader can evaluate the situation, modify his or her leadership style based on its strengths and weaknesses to maximize productivity and satisfaction. References Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. (2007). Organizational behavior (12th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Yuki, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations (6th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


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