management

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Personal characteristics to make a successful leader

Leadership is “the behavior of an individual when he/she is giving directions and activities to a group moving towards a common purpose”. A leader is seen as someone who sets the paths in an effort to influence people to adhere to those paths. Leadership is an action and not just a position. It can be shown via different people in various situations. A person may not born to be a leader but can be cultured through the upbringing and environment. But there are people who have innate capabilities to become leaders even though they are not exposed. These innate characteristics need to be polished in order for the person to let his or her leadership skills and capabilities shine through. Such leaders also need to be further equipped with certain competencies so that they can pick up qualities that they should demonstrate to become even greater leaders.

A leader’s personal characteristics are also vital for the developments and motivations of the organizations. True leaders such as the teachers who illustrated that leadership is an action (teaching and leading the students) and not a position. Personal characteristics can also determine what type of leadership approach a person will demonstrate and how effective his or her leadership capabilities are in different situations.

Touching the lives and affecting the outcome of many different expectations, a teacher is the epitome of a leader. A leader has his or her own style of motivating the people in the organizations. A leader must find the best skills in order to provide directions, motivations and purposes. Effective leaders are flexible.

Organizational Leadership Model

The effective leadership influence is not the same for everyone. It depends on their ranks in the organization and abilities which are required in leaders. The three basic leadership roles identified: initiation, speech, and management.

1. Initiation

Initiation refers to planned decision making on policy formulation or structural change. These vital decisions are the determinants of the organization’s culture and mission.

2. Speech

Strategic decisions and methods designed for implementation within the establishment. It includes adjusting or adding on to the present structure towards new policy demands.

3. Management

Management is putting into practice the policies and measures that are available to maintain the operations of the organization efficiently.

These three kinds of Leadership are naturally executed at diverse ranks in the company with different abilities and skills. The top level management would initiate new policies that involve a change in the business’s structure or understanding the company’s mission. An understanding of the entire organization, culture, mission, vision and how it correlates with the external parties is mandatory for these top level individuals. They represent the organization and what the business stands for.

Understanding the policy decisions and practicing them to the existing organization via utterance or speech is usually made by the intermediate-level managers. They must uphold a two-way point of reference by taking orders from the above management and adapting them for the lower groups of people in the organization.

Type of Leadership

Process

Typical Organizational

Level

Cognitive

(Knowledge)

Affective

(Emotion)

Initiation: Change, creation and elimination of structure

Top echelons

System perspective

Charisma

Speech:

supplementing

and

piecing out of structure

Intermediate

levels:

pivotal roles

Subsystem perspective:

two-way orientation

Integration of primary

and secondary

relations: human

relation skills

Management: use of

existing structure

Lower levels

Technical knowledge

and understanding

of system of rules

Concern with equity in

use of rewards and

sanctions

EXHIBIT 16.1 The three Leadership Models. The Position in the Organization. The Skill Requirements [2] 

A company’s policies and procedures will be administered by the Lower-level supervisors. These personnel must possess both the technical knowledge and a clear perception of the organization’s rules in order to be successful. They have to continually deal with issues such as equity, rewards and punishments in leading others. Therefore, leadership plays a crucial role in an organization because it has direct impact on the effectiveness of the organizations. Leadership is when a person manipulates others to perform a task at their own will which they would not normally do. Leadership is a vital process to an organization and it can be deliberated on three different stages; i.e. the individual, group and organization.

Analysis at the individual stage: the leadership studies have paid attention on the successful leader’ personalities. Behaviors of both formal and informal leaders are focused at the group level. The effectiveness of an organization is decided by the relations between the leader, follower and circumstances. The studies have caused an emergence of different theories of leadership, namely situational and contingency.

In Search for Leadership

The requirements in selecting and training efficient leaders were emphasized during the World War I and the quarter century between World War l and World War II; numerous studies were made to examine the personal characteristics of good leaders. These studies are usually referred as characteristic studies since the primary goal was to classify the traits and personal characteristics of successful leaders.

The diverse methods used to study these leadership traits could possibly be the reason in the irregularities of the results. The manner of studies was not consistent in identifying the leaders. A majority of the studies was in comparing efficient with inefficient leaders or leaders with non-leaders. Some were identified by external observers, others selected by the group by way of recommendation or voting, nominated by observers such as teachers while some were chosen because they are already in leadership positions. The studies conducted were in conflict as to the way they deliberated on the traits. Some traits were measured by mental tests; others relied on viewers to spot the traits they have seen while some depended on the persons to report their own personality traits.

The trait studies were quite unsatisfactory as a whole especially since they had hoped to develop an accurate measure of leadership effectiveness. The spotlight on the leadership research moved because of the flimsy results, to contingency studies which investigated more than just traits of a leader. Numerous traits formed an important divergence in leadership effectiveness and they interrelated with other conditional variables to stimulate the effectiveness of the leader.

Physical Behaviors

Physical attributes including height, weight, health and appearance are also examined in the studies. It was concluded that there is a relationship between the above features and leadership. Apparently leaders have the tendency to be taller, heavier, better fitness, greater physique, higher energy output and more attractive in appearance. However, these types of results were not always reliable and consistent. The results neither are too weak in general and not consistent to be effective in selecting leaders nor are they helpful for training functions since not much can be made to alter most of these physical traits.

Intellect

It was generally agreed that leaders are more intellectual than non-leaders and the relationship was shown in the various studies. The relationship could probably begin from the reality that leadership functions depend mostly on success in problem solving. Leadership roles such as initiation, speech and management necessitate great mental ability. In general, it is safe to assume that leaders seem to be more intelligent than non-leaders but the relationships are small. Many other variables other than intellect inspire leadership effectiveness.

It was also suggested that leaders should not be too intelligent than the group because associates who are notably brilliant than others are rarely chosen as leaders since the other members tend to snub them. Individuals with high IQ's are inclined to have different sets of vocabulary, networks and aspirations that would create communication and inter-relations problems.

Leaders do extremely well generally at school/college/university and score better grades. It is important for effective leadership to know how to do things. Thus general and practical knowledge are essential for leaders to make better decisions.

Characteristic Traits

Only a partial of the characteristic traits seem to be related to leadership and most are not especially convincing. It was suggested that the average leader is more social, has greater initiative, is more persistent, smart in getting things done, highly self-confident, cooperative, and adaptable to situations and possesses excellent communication skills. [3] Leaders were found to be more emotionally mature than non-leaders in the personality integration or emotional adjustment. It can be concluded that personal characteristics are related to leadership.

Effective leadership does not depend on a mixture of personality traits only because situational variables are also important since they always decide whether a character was associated with effective leadership either positively or negatively. Therefore, it can be deduced that effective leadership depends on the leader’s characteristics, his subordinates and the nature of the task at hand.

Many leadership styles were based on studies of leaders’ behaviors. The finest researches on the styles of leadership are made together at the same time; i.e. The State University in Ohio and the Michigan University. Researchers acknowledged two leader behaviors that were similar although the investigations were conducted separately. As a result, a two dimensional aspects of leadership have been to used to form the Managerial Grid [4] .

Authoritarian, Democratic, and Laissez-faire [5] Leadership

Due to the diverse political systems in the US and Germany before World War II, studies of leadership have been inspired which evaluated the three leadership styles: the authoritarian, the democratic and the laissez faire. In the democratic leadership style, decisions were made by vote of majority; equal participation encouraged; criticism and punishment minimal. In the autocratic leader, the leader made all the decisions and others must follow the set procedures strictly. In the laissez-faire leader, there was minimal actual leadership and others were permitted to work and play as usual without proper directives.

Initiating Structure and Consideration

The two leadership factors were initiating structure and consideration which include leadership behaviors in organizing and defining the tasks to be performed and goal achievements. A leader who assigns people to do specific jobs, expected workers to follow set routines and meet deadlines. The consideration factor is friendliness, showing trust, exhibiting warmth and concern for followers.

Production-Centered and Employee-Centered Leader Behaviors

Production - centered behaviors were akin to initiating structure in which leaders would establish targets, gave directives, checked on operations and planned the group Employee’s work. Centered behaviors were similar to the consideration’s dimension in which the leader would develop a caring personal relationship with the subordinates and encouraged a two-way communication with them. The associations between the production-centered and employee-centered behaviors are found to be independent scopes of leadership. A leader with strong production orientation does not mean that he is disinterested in the employees.

Managerial Grid [6] 

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton had created a framework which relates task accomplishment to concern for people called the Managerial Grid. They both assumed that concern for production and concern for people would produce the most effective leadership style. There are leaders primarily more concerned with accomplishing the production and task not concerned about people. This person wants the job done and schedule followed at all costs. There is also individual who is not concerned whether the group produces anything but concerned more about the personal needs and interests of the team members. Ideally, leaders should be concerned about meeting schedules in order to get the work done and simultaneously are concerned about the team members’ interest and feelings too.

The Managerial Grid [7] is popular among managers. It is extensively used by organisations as part of their training program to assess leadership style. However, the effectiveness of the Managerial Grid is not consistently supported. The factors which are considered in determining leadership styles interact in complicated ways which resulted in various leadership styles.

SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP

In assessing leadership effectiveness, there are many factors that must be combined. A situational leadership model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard considers three variables:

(1) the guidance and the direction provided by the leaders (task behavior)

(2) the emotional support given by the leader (relationship behavior)

(3) the maturity level exhibited in performing the task

As a result, four potential leadership styles have been created using a combination of the above factors:

S1: Telling

Give instructions and supervise performance closely. Suited for followers who are unwilling but of low maturity.

S2: Selling

Decide and provide opportunity for explanation. Appropriate for followers who are not able but willing.

S3: Participating

Sharing ideas in making decisions. Suited for followers who are able but not willing.

S4: Delegating

Responsibility handed over for decisions and performance. Appropriate for groups who are able and willing.

Contingency Theory of Leadership

Fiedler studied the interaction of leadership style and situation. He identified and developed ways to measure leadership orientation of the leader and situational factors which influence leadership.

Leader Orientation

Two types of leaders were identified, i.e. relationship-oriented or task-oriented. Leaders who are relationship-oriented tend to look at others as coworkers and look upon interpersonal relations as a requirement towards accomplishing the task. However, for task-oriented leaders, they react strongly against people whom they could not get along with in performing a task.

Situational favorableness

(1) relationships between leader and member can be good or bad;

(2) the task is relatively well planned or not; and

(3) the leader’s authority is relatively strong or weak.

The task structure becomes the second most important situational variable based on evaluation of four aspects of the task structure.

Clarity: whether requirements of the tasks are stated clearly,

Multiplicity: which the problems encounter can be solved.

Verifiability: which the correctness of the decisions can be ascertained.

Specificity: which there are generally more solutions involved in performing the task.

Group effectiveness

Relationship-oriented leaders perform excellently well in situations where concern for the team members is apparently necessary in order to motivate them to perform well. People naturally prefer leaders who care about them and their welfare. However, task-oriented leaders are clearly more effective in impossible situations.

Path-Goal Model

Directive leadership: subordinates are told what to be expected. Specific guide, standards and work schedules are provided to ensure that task are performed as expected.

Supportive leadership: subordinates are treated equally and show concern for their needs and well-being; develop pleasant interpersonal relationships among the group members.

Achievement-oriented leadership: challenging goals are set and subordinates are expected to perform at their highest level, improvement in performance always.

Participative leadership: subordinates are consulted on suggestions and ideas in making decisions.

Situational Aspects

The distinctive personalities of those who follow and the environmental factors which affect the leadership style are called situational aspects or features of the situation. Significant characteristics of the followers which have been identified as determinants of leadership style are:

(1). Followers with internal locus of control believe that they are rewarded for their own effort. Meanwhile, followers with external locus of control believe that external forces have a control on their rewards.

(2). Authoritarianism: an individual’s willingness to accept the influence of others.

(3). Abilities: The followers’ ability and experience influence a leader whether they are able to work with an achievement oriented leader or a supportive leader who are patient enough to provide encouragement and instruction.

The path-goal model recognizes three environmental factors which effect leadership styles:

the nature of the task to be performed,

the existing organization’s authority system

the organizational norms and dynamics

The above factors may influence the effectiveness of various styles of leadership in a many ways.

NORMATIVE DECISION-MAKING MODEL OF LEADERSHIP

Based on the contingency theory of leadership, this leadership model does not assume any leadership style as appropriate for all situations. Leaders must develop a range of leadership styles and take on the most appropriate style depending on the situation. Leaders are required to know in which circumstances they need to consult others and vice versa.

Even though the leader may be the chairman of the group, he/she is just one of the group members and does not have or even try to influence the other group members to adopt or follow a particular solution.

The principle in selecting a leadership approach.

The two measures/principles used for assessing the efficiency of a leadership style are excellence and approval. The quality of the decisions made refers to the accurateness of the actions taken and the extent which some objectives are achieved. The quality of decisions depends on accurate and relevant information Conferring with other group members often provides additional information.

Diagnostic decision rules.

In order to save time and minimize costs, some managers choose the lead autocratically. If the aim was to further the subordinates’ personal development, the participative style is selected. In some strategies, the manager decides alone. At times, the manager decides on his own after earlier consultations with his subordinates.

Comparing the leadership models.

All situational leadership models emphasize on the effect of external factors on a particular leadership style. Different leadership styles suggest styles that are determined by various situational factors. The models focus on different methods, which are situational factors and criteria for selecting the best style: task-oriented versus relationship-oriented.

The normative decision-making model ascertains three leadership styles, namely autocratic, consultative, and participative. In each model, situational factors which influence the effectiveness of leadership are somewhat different. A significant reason which contributes to this is that normative decision- making model likens leadership to decision making and considers only this aspect of the leadership function. The model also uses different criteria for evaluating leadership effectiveness.

DETERMINANTS OF LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS

Although identifying what makes an effective leader seems like a simple task, however, individuals who are in leadership positions are often faced with a dilemma on deciding which leadership pattern to practice.

Choosing a Leadership Style

Choosing the most appropriate leadership style to adopt depends largely on the context of the organization. A successful leader must be capable of assessing the situational forces in the organization and respond accordingly to the needs. The forces include the organization culture, business goals as well as the organization’s strategic plans. Effective leaders must understand themselves, the group, company and social environment.

Strategies for Improving Leadership

One of the main variables to improve leadership relates largely to the organization’s reward system. Leaders should not overlook his capacity to reward his followers accordingly since followers will respond otherwise. For instance, the managers of high- performing groups generally are compensated according to their achievements. Considerate leaders manage to create satisfaction among their performing subordinates while at the same time; changes in the behavior of the leaders could be caused by the performance of the subordinates.

Constraints on leader behavior.

Leaders have limited opportunities to influence others. Leadership effectiveness is inhibited by a variety of factors. For example, the managerial decisions are planned ahead due to factors such as organizational structure, state and federal law, technological specifications and innovations as well as the absence of other alternatives.

Many other organisational factors can impose limitations on the leader’s capability to communicate with subordinates or reinforce their behavior towards achieving the organisational purpose. For example, organisational policies, nature of task, skills and abilities of available resources and other external factors may impede the capacities of organisational leaders.

External factors.

In terms of external factors, leaders are constrained by factors that they have no control on such as state and federal laws. Other external factors include the world economy and global issues. Irrespective of their leadership style, leaders with unskilled resources will face great challenges in leading. The availability of skilled followers is subjected to the external labor market.

Organizational policies.

The organization may limit a leader’s effectiveness by hampering the amount of communication between leaders and followers. The existing company policies may also pose restrictions on the ability of leaders to reward or punish followers.

Group factors.

Leaders may find it hard to penetrate or influence group members who are highly unified. This will create difficulty for leaders to demonstrate his true capabilities in performing tasks for the organisation.

Individual proficiencies and competencies.

The leader’s own talents and aptitudes may become their constraints because leaders can only possess limited expertise, energy, and power. Some situations may need greater amount of skills, experience and capabilities compared to what the leader may possibly have.

Substitutes for leadership.

Leadership is an extremely important function. It has an enormous influence on the value of organizations, especially in a business environment. However, in complex situations, we may not know exactly which leadership behaviour will be the most effective to adopt. In addition, certain situations warrant that leadership may be unnecessary subordinates.

SUMMARY

1. Leadership is the increasing influence which occurs when an individual manipulates others to do task voluntarily which they would not do otherwise. The basic leadership roles include initiation of policy and structure, speech, and management. Leadership is required within organizations to provide direction to employees towards a common organisational objective.

2. The studies of leadership were mainly studies on traits that tried to identify the characteristics of effective leaders. The studies focused mainly on physical traits, intellect and characteristic. The results were usually weak and inconsistent although some personal characteristics were always related to leadership. Most studies concluded that apart from behaviour characteristics and traits of the leader, the nature of subordinates and the type of task to be performed were as equally important to determine success.

3. Another approach to studying leadership set on leader behaviors; i.e. how leaders actually behave. One of the studies compared the three leadership methods i.e. the authoritarian type, the democratic style and the laissez-faire mode. A democratic leadership produced the greatest satisfaction among subordinates while autocratic leadership style encouraged high level of productivity in the organisation.

4. A research conducted at the same time at two different universities identified two groups of similar behaviors of leadership. At The State University in Ohio, the researchers identified these two leader behaviors as initiating constitution and thought whereas at the Michigan University, the two parallel features were called the production-centered which focus more on the production and the employee-centered with the workers as the focal point. These two leader behaviors seem to relate leadership functions which are essential to the effectiveness of a group. A matrix named Managerial Grid had been formed based on these two factors. The Managerial Grid correlates the concern for production and the concern for people in identifying leadership effectives.

5. As a result of unsuccessful researches conducted to identify superior leadership behaviors, four situational theories of leadership were developed instead. Theories have suggested that the effective of leadership style depends largely upon situational factors, especially nature of the group and the task to be performed.

6. A situational leadership model that matches various amalgamations of chore and relationship manners with maturity of the subordinates. As the number of followers increases, the appropriate leadership style that should be employed would be telling, selling, participating and delegating.

7. Three situational variables are used to assess the most appropriate leadership style. The variables are the connection between the leader and the members (either good or bad), the task (structured or unstructured) and the strength of the leader’s power. Based on findings, the most effective leadership style when these three variables formed an extremely favorable or unfavorable circumstance is task-oriented leadership. Nevertheless, a leader with high concerns for interpersonal associations is most effective when there were intermediate levels of favorableness.

8. The path goal model theory is derived from expectancy theory. It suggests that effective leaders must clarify the paths to attract followers. Based on this theory, the command, the sympathetic, the accomplishment-oriented and the contributive leadership styles emerged.

The most appropriate leadership style is dependent on two types of situational factors: characteristics of followers as well as the internal/external environment. Three significant characteristics of follower are the locus of control (internal or external), authoritarianism and personal capabilities. The three environmental attributes are nature of the task to be performed, the existing organisational authority system and norms and dynamics of members.

9. The three leadership styles identified are autocratic, consultative and group decision making. Determining which style is most appropriate depends largely on several factors such as considerations whether adequate information is made available to the leader when making decision alone, whether the goals of the organisation are acceptable by the subordinates, or whether the followers accept decisions made without their involvement.

10. Members of the group also have a reciprocal influence on the leader. Group member can induce heir leaders behavior by reacting to the specific leader’s behaviors selectively. The power and influence of a leader can also be limited due to certain external factors such as policies of the organisation, norms of the group members as well as the skills and abilities of followers.

POSITIONING ON LEADERSHIP CRISIS

Many leadership theories have been in existence as more people try to determine the most effective leadership style available. In addition, various leadership models and approaches have been used to produce identified types of leaders. Arthur G. Jago (1982) [8] had projected a structure that organizes leadership theories that are based on each theory’s focal point and approach. However, effective leadership also depends on specific situations, among other factors. The result of exposure to different experiences in life throughout the learning process also have the potential to produce mature leaders with high capabilities to lead organisations. Coupled with certain identified competencies which can be acquired, these leaders can demonstrate high skills and capabilities in their capacities as organisational leaders.

There are various kinds of behavior that leaders can display to its followers. The two leadership behaviors that have been consistently identified are called the production-centered and the consideration-centered activities. A person can change his or her behaviour without being forced to based on the amount of influence exerted by another individual. Influence is also a contributing factor in shaping the behavior or personality of people.

I concur with A. Ange on the presence of leadership crisis but I also foresee the resolutions taken and are still being taken to resolve the problem. Many organizations are spending money in sending their employees to be groomed and trained for future growth of the company whereby they are exposed to different methods of management and how to be great leaders. Leaders are born to leaders but in some circumstances, situations and environments also play a huge role in creating a leader. Leaders with innate capabilities also need to be exposed to certain conditions in order to build their characters and polish their leadership capabilities. Some can be shaped through exposure to various lifelong knowledge and skills training available today. With all kinds of methods and approaches easily accessible, average leaders can become even greater leaders with enough exposure and experience.

Leaders come and go and new ones are always on the threshold to take over the empty space. The qualities of the leaders and their leadership styles vary but they are vital in the development and motivation processes of the organizations. There is a crisis in good leadership but it is not at a critical point. Big organizations would have everything in place for the future growth of the company and would have in line the replacements for all aspects of the management. Even small to medium sized organizations have planned their management line-ups for the future. The ongoing programs and trainings that are conducted by organizations to produce capable leaders and groom them further showed that companies are aware of the could-be crisis and had taken steps to overcome the situation. However, the success of all these preparations will depend on the quality of the programs for leadership growth and services. If the programs merely shape the future leaders using a one-size fits all approach, the resultant leaders will not be as effective. Leadership should be moulded according to the context and requirements of the organisation; only then will the organisations fully benefit from their leadership growth development programs.

Yes, there is a crisis but the severity of the crisis is not huge enough to cause panics throughout the organizations. Many organizations are structuring their business with detailed plans especially in the human resource department or section where training and leadership programs are at the top of their list. Organizations are keenly aware that employees with great leadership background or foundation are highly marketable and in demand. Training programs are expensive but organizations must be willing to take the risk in filling up their organization chart with capable leaders. Best practice organisations recognise the importance of leadership growth to the organisations; therefore, they have set aside long-term investment fund to groom high potential leaders from a pool of talented individuals. While such investment will not reflect immediately to the bottom line of the company, these future resources will contribute greatly to the company’s well-being when the time comes.

Even in the government, if the members of parliament prove to be ineffective, they will be replaced and new ones elected. In order to gain a competent replacement, the people will have to take the risk in not having a representative while waiting for a capable leader. Similarly with organizations and businesses everywhere in the world, great leaders are required to be in charge of the company and guide the people and organisation forward. Leaders who are able to lead organisation to achieve the organisational goals and objectives generally demonstrate high quality leadership skills and competencies.

Capable leaders with various styles of leadership have the same goal in mind and that is to lead their organizations to success. Great leaders are far and few in between and as long as the business is making huge profits, the methods used to manage the followers are irrelevant. In order to ensure continuity of business strategy and that the ability to sustain its business, organisations have to quickly react to the leadership shortage so that when they require replacement for top end executives, they have a ready talent pool to select from. Unlike the great leaders, followers can be found anywhere and their criteria are neither here nor there.


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