Leadership Skills Theory at HSBC Life Assurance Malta
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Leadership skills are the focus of this study and therefore the author will be, in this chapter introduce leadership and the concept of the leader versus the manager as a primary source. In this section the author will define the meaning of leadership enabling one to understand better the next stages of this study. Furthermore one can find the objective of this study and the organisation studied. The structure section will define the construction of the complimenting chapters.
The scope of this organisational case study is to compare and contrast the leadership skills theory and the selected organisation's leadership and provided the concept of leadership versus management in order to understand better leadership skills which are defined later on in this study. Leadership skills will be reviewed by means of secondary research. Subsequently the leadership skills within the organisation will be studied by means of a primary research methodology. This will enable the author to reach the main objective which aim is to highlight the theory of leadership skills and present findings of the selected organisation's current leadership practices. One will eventually benefit from the authors recommendations and conclusions based on the out come of the data analysis.
1.2 The Organisation
The selected organisation for this study was HSBC Life Assurance Malta Limited. HSBC Life Assurance Malta Limited was set up in 1995 and is a fully owned subsidiary of HSBC Bank Malta Plc, regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority. Over the years, HSBC Life has developed into one of the leading life assurance product providers on the island with its full and diversified product range, including group and individual term assurance products, mortgage protection policies, etc. This study research thus moves towards assessing all the concepts of leadership styles, skills, coaching, team building.
The organisation is in the direction of the Managing Director.
The structure of this study will be based on 5 chapters. The introduction, chapter 1, has highlighted leadership and the concept of leadership versus management, the objective and the organisation under investigation. Chapter 2 will follow with a literature review of leadership skills from previous studies whilst chapter 3 will cover the research methodology. Chapter 4 will present the findings and finally chapter 5 will cover the author's views and recommendations.
Leadership can be defined as: 'The ability to persuade others willingly to behave differently. The function of team leaders is to achieve the task set for them with the help of the group' (Michael Armstrong 2003: 259).
Another definition of leadership is: 'The task of a great leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been... Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision. Those leaders who do not are ultimately judged failures, even though they may be popular at the moment' (Henry Kissinger).
Clawson (2006) explains that leadership consists of three components: the ability to influence others; the willingness to influence others; and the exercise of influence in a way that others respond voluntarily. Thus, while leadership included the use of power, not all uses of power are leadership.
The highlight of leadership within an organisation is an emphasis on the importance of a strong human relation and the importance of creating rewarding high-performance teams of motivated and empowered employees. Human understanding and sensitivity are absolutely critical for leadership success. Leadership also consists of identifying proven talent within an organisation and optimising on this talented human resource by developing, retaining and partnering smartly together. Leadership has been perceived to be a primary key to successful strategy implementation. One of the key factors in implementing a strategy is building consensus. A consensus built by motivating, persuading people and by shaping culture and values within an organisation to support the new strategy (Ashby and Miles, 2002).
Taking IBM as an example CEO Sam Palmisano has embarked on a leadership mission to get people within the organisation to focus on strategy formulation and implementation. He embarked on a mission to persuade people to focus on the on-demand vision and communicating clear directions. With this positive attitude and employee empowerment he made employees feel motivated and challenged to follow new strategic goals. In this changing world of globalisation, organisations are constantly facing changes within their set ups and therefore leadership plays an important role. Three important aspects of leadership would be people, influence and goals. In order to influence, the relationship between the leader and the follower must not be passive but assertive (Draft, 2006).
Within an organisation, leadership directly impacts the effectiveness of costs, revenue generation, service, satisfaction, earnings, market value, share price, social capital, motivation, engagement, and sustainability. In this view one can identify the importance of vision within leadership. In order to move a group successfully towards its goal the leader must communicate the vision or visions with his or her followers. For effectiveness, a vision should appear to be simple, appear desirable enough to energise followers and should describe the organisation's future position, which must be credible and preferable to the present state. The leader must communicate these visions adequately to ensure the followers feel as if the vision has been created by themselves (Renesch, 1994).
Nonetheless one would need to understand that although leadership focuses on people, influence and goals it cannot be easily defined in such a generic context. However according to Scott (2007) a leader needs to understand that the follower may value a leader differently. Some may prefer a task oriented leader where others may prefer a people oriented leader. In this view the leader must identify the followers' needs and how they construe effective leadership. One can see that self awareness is the foundation of effective leadership and one ought to communicate the vision and help the followers fit into that vision. Effective leaders need to change their approach according to the situation, as with one follower, a leader may need to be directive while with others, a leader may need to coach.
2.1 The History of Leadership
Leadership, and the study of it, has roots in the beginning of civilisation. Egyptian rulers, Greek heroes and biblical patriarchs all have one thing in common - leadership. There are numerous definitions and theories of leadership; however, there are enough similarities in the definitions to conclude that leadership is an effort of influence and the power to induce compliance (Wren, 1995). Our work, our environment, the motivation to work, leaders, leadership, leadership style, and a countless of other work-related variables have been studied for almost two centuries.
The organisational focus of the leader has evolved over this same period. Early organisations with authoritarian leaders who believed employees were basically lazy transitioned into way to make work environments more conducive to increased productivity rates. Today, organisations are transforming into places where people are empowered, encouraged, and supported in their personal and professional growth throughout their careers. As the focus of leaders has changed over time, it has influenced and shaped the development and progression of leadership theory.
2.1.2 Early Leader Studies
The Industrial Revolution shifted America's economy from an agriculture base to an industrial one and, thereby, ushered in a change how leaders would treat their followers. The Industrial Revolution created a paradigm shift to a new theory of leadership in which 'common' people gained power by virtue of their skills (Clawson, 1999). New technology, however, was accompanied and reinforced by mechanisation of human thought and action, thus creating hierarchical bureaucracies (Morgan, 1997).
One major contributor to this era of management and leadership theory was Max Weber, a German sociologist who 'observed the parallels between the mechanisation of industry and the proliferation of bureaucratic forms of organisation' (Morgan, 1997, p. 17). He noted that the bureaucratic form routinized the process of administration in the same manner that the machine routinized production.
2.1.3 Classical Management Theory and Scientific Management
Weber's concerns about bureaucracy, however, did not affect theorists who set the stage for what is now known as 'classical management theory' and 'scientific management'. Classical theorists focused on the design of the total organisation while scientific managers focused on the systematic management of individual jobs. In contrast to Weber, classical theorists such as Henri Fayol and F. W. Mooney, staunch advocates of bureaucratisation, devoted their energies identifying methods through which this kind of organisational structure could be achieved (Bass, 1990; Morgan, 1997). Collectively, these theorists set the basis for many modern management techniques, such as management by objectives.
Scientific management, an approach heralded by Frederick Taylor, was technological in nature (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson, 1996). Taylor fused the perspective of an engineer into management with a strong emphasis on control, ruthless efficiency, quantification, predictability, and de-skilled jobs. He initiated time-and-motion studies to analyse work tasks to improve worker productivity in an attempt to achieve the highest level of efficiency possible. Consequently, he has been accused of viewing people as instruments or machines to be manipulated by leaders. The function of the leader under scientific management theory was to establish and enforce performance criteria to meet organisational goals; therefore, the focus of a leader was on the needs of the organisation and not on the individual worker.
Although the classical and scientific approaches were different, the goals were similar - organisations are rational systems and must operate in the most efficient manner possible to achieve the highest level of productivity (Morgan, 1997). Both theories relied on the machine metaphor with a heavy emphasis on mechanisation of jobs, which undermined the human aspect of the organisation and failed to recognise organisations as complex organisms.
Although mechanistic organisations proved productive, there were limits to hierarchical bureaucracy. Emerging theorists encouraged leaders to recognise that humans were not machines and could not be treated as such. A post bureaucratic shift in the mid-1940s moved toward everyone taking responsibility for the organisation's success or failure (Heckscher & Donnellon, 1994). Researchers began to examine the relationship between leader behaviour and follower satisfaction level and organisational productivity and profitability.
2.1.4 Hawthorne, Maslow, and Herzberg - Environment and Worker Needs
Much organisational research during this era focused on overcoming the perceived shortcomings of the classical and scientific schools of management. Elton Mayo's Hawthorne Studies focused on the work situation and its effect on leaders and followers, indicating that the reactions of human beings influence their work activities as much as the formal design and structure of the organisation. Early on leaders could focus their attention on the environment factors of the organisations. The early theories and studies provided researchers with tangible and measurable performance outcomes that were directly transferable to profitability and spreadsheet bottom-lines. A new theory of organisations and leadership began to emerge based on the idea that individuals operate most effectively when their needs are satisfied. Maslow's (1959) Hierarchy of Needs posited that once a worker's physiological, security, and social (intrinsic) needs were met, productivity would only be possible of the employee's ego and self-actualising (extrinsic) needs were also met. Leader focus became redirected toward worker needs.
Herzberg's Dual Factor Theory, the evolution of intrinsic and extrinsic needs, furthered Maslow's work stating the employees' intrinsic and extrinsic needs could, and should, be met simultaneously. Herzberg's (1966) Motivation-Hygiene theory furthered the work of Maslow by providing insights into the goals and incentives that tend to satisfy a worker's needs. Herzberg concluded that people have two categories of needs, which he termed hygiene (environmental factors such as working conditions, company policies, etc.) and motivators (factors involving the job itself). According to Herzberg, an employee's intrinsic and extrinsic needs could and should be addressed simultaneously.
2.1.5 The Shift to Behavioural Factors
Leader focus had moved to understanding the relationship between a leader's actions and the follower's satisfaction and productivity. Theorists began to consider behavioural concepts in their analysis of organisational leadership. For example, Chester Barnard was instrumental in including behavioural components (Bass, 1990). Barnard's work emphasised the ways in which executives might develop their organisations into cooperative social systems by focusing on the integration of work efforts through communication of goals and attention to worker motivation (Hatch, 1997). Barnard, for example, identified an effective organisational leader as one who determined objectives, manipulated means, initiated action, and stimulated coordinated effort (Bass, 1990, p. 31). Barnard (1938), whose work focused on the functions of the executive, was instrumental in including behavioural components in his analysis of organisational leadership, which claimed that leadership involves accomplishing goals with and through people.
The theorists of this age argued that in addition to finding the best technological methods to improve output, it would behove management to address human affairs as well. It was claimed that 'the real power centres within an organisation were the interpersonal relationships that developed among working groups' (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson, 1996, p.100).
A new theory of organisations and leadership began to emerge based on the idea that individuals operate most effectively when their needs are satisfied. Additionally, when this happens they are more likely to increase their productivity which in turn impacts the organisation's bottom line.
According to McGregor (1960), the traditional organisation with its centralised decision making, hierarchical pyramid, and external control of work is based on certain assumptions about human nature and human motivation. He dubbed these assumptions Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X assumes that most people prefer to be directed, are not interested in assuming responsibility, and want safety above all else.
Accompanying the Theory X philosophy is the belief that people are motivated by money, fringe benefits, and threat of punishment. Managers who espouse Theory X assumptions attempt to structure, control, and closely supervise employees. Although McGregor himself questioned whether Theory X was as accurate view of human nature, the assumptions persisted for a long time in leadership theory circles because it explained â€˜some', though not all, of human behaviour within organisations (Pugh & Hickson, 1993). Drawing heavily from Maslow's (1959) Hierarchy of Needs, McGregor ultimately concluded that Theory X assumptions about human nature, when universally applied, are often inaccurate and that management approaches that develop from these assumptions may fail to motivate individuals to strive toward organisational goals (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 1996).
McGregor (1960) believed that management needed practices based on a more accurate understanding of human nature and motivation. The resulting concept, Theory Y, proposed that individuals are not, by nature, lazy and unreliable. People can be self-directed and creative at work if properly motivated (Pugh & Hickson, 1993). Therefore, an essential task of management is to unleash this potential.
Consequently, the goal of effective leadership was evolving and moving away from the earlier concepts of the classical and scientific management theories that treated workers as machines. Leaders were now challenged to actively involve followers in achieving organisational goals. McGregor (1960), whose work was closely linked to that of the behavioural theorists, is a reflection of that era, providing a foundation for the future emergence of the transformational leadership.
McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y assumed that employees and leaders had progressed beyond Taylor's productivity models that employees could find ways to satisfy their needs within the organisation's structure. McGregor assumed employees far more complex that the trait and behavioural theories of leadership assumed and that their complexity and the leaders' response to that complexity would affect how and whether the leader and followers worked in tandem to reach mutual organisational goals.
McGregor proposed a replacement of direction and control of employees with humanistic motivation. The resulting concept, Theory Y, proposed that individuals did not inherently dislike work and, and that under certain conditions, work could actually be a source of great satisfaction. Theory Y assumed individuals would exercise self-direction and self-control, accepting and seeking responsibility (Pugh & Hickson, 1993). The essential concept McGregor and other behaviourists proposed was that organisations are interacting groups and that leaders are a part of these groups. The leader's interaction and relationship with the employee must be a supportive relationship so all members of the organisation feel the organisation's objectives and their achievement, are of personal importance to them (Pugh & Hickson, 1993).
2.1.6 Situational/Contingency Theory - The Circumstantial Focus
Unprecedented social change in the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s shifted societal focus from increasing economic wealth to ensuring social rights and equality. Along with this social change, technology was again preparing to jolt American businesses. The advent of the computer age was shifting employee requirements from brawn to brains. Leadership became an intricate process of 'multilateral brokerage' where leaders were forced to focus on constituencies within and without the organisation to survive (Vanourek, 1995).
The internal and external environments of organisations were changing. The transference of power from those doing the work to those possessing knowledge about how to organise work more closely levelled the playing field for leaders and followers. Society acknowledged that traditional methods of leadership were no longer effective.
McCollum (1995) implied that companies in the information age were unsuccessfully trying to conduct their business using obsolete industrial age leadership theories. Change was the only thing of which everyone could be sure, a factor requiring leadership research and society to consider contingency/situational approaches to leadership if businesses were to remain successful and profitable in an ever-changing and increasingly complicated environment (Contee-Borders, 2003).
Heysey and Blanchard (1996) proposed a contingency/situational theory advocating a leader's use of differing leadership behaviours dependent upon two interrelated maturity factors: (a) job maturity - relevant task and technical knowledge and skills, and (b) psychological maturity - the subordinate's level of self-confidence and self-respect (Yukl, 1998).
An employee who has a high level of job and psychological maturity requires little supervision; while an employee who has a low level of job and psychological maturity requires hand-on attention.
Fielder's contingency theory is viewed as the opposite of Hersey and Blanchard's theory, maintaining that leaders are less flexible in their ability to change their behaviour based on followers' maturity (the basic concept of Hersey and Blanchard's theory) (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 1993). Fielder's contingency theory posited that leader effectiveness is determined by not the leader's ability to adapt to the situation, but by the ability to choose the â€˜right' leader for the situation (though this theory does not identify who would be responsible for making this choice). Some leaders are simply better for specific situation than others and the situation determines the identified leaders' success, though leaders would need to be capable of understanding when they were not right for the situation and remove themselves - a task of humility.
2.2 Leadership Styles
From a very classical autocratic approach to a very creative, participative approach, different styles were needed for different situations and each leader needed to know when to exhibit a particular approach.
The most familiar model is the 'leadership scale' devised by Tannenbaum and Schmidt. In this model, the leader is advised to choose a leadership style that it appropriate for the particular situation. These styles or behaviours, can be placed along continuum ranging from 'boss-centred' at one-end of the scale to 'subordinate-centred' at the other end, as illustrated in Figure 1.1
Inevitably, the opposite poles of this 'continuum' have been labelled Authoritarian (or task-centred), and Democratic (or people-centred) and the inference has been drawn that a concern forgetting the job done is at the opposite end of the scale of the people involved. Tannenbaum and Schmidt's article is not as shallow as that, but, like it or not, the impression is left that the two concerns are somehow incompatible.
Other commentators advised that authoritarian leadership styles would be most effective in situations that were 'favourable to the leader' and democratic styles would better suit situations that were 'unfavourable to the leader'. 'Favourable' in this context means that the leader has high formal authority, relations between the leader and the staff are good, and the task is highly structured. This further reinforces the assumption that democratic styles are for the leaders to fall back on when things are not going entirely their way; they would not want to be democratic if it could be avoided.
The Democratic styles should be the preferred option, falling back on authoritarian styles only when circumstances require it. For example, when the fire alarm sounds tell everyone to leave the building; do not hold a decision about the best course of action. Or, when something bad can not be avoided, accept your responsibility as a manager and give instructions clearly and assertively. Otherwise, the benefits of the bringing several brains to bear on an issue, and the commitment that democratic approaches tend to foster, usually outweigh the inevitable untidiness of getting everyone involved in decision-making .
Interestingly, research into animal social groups has found that decisions arrived at communally - or 'democratically' - are usually more beneficial for the group and its individual members than 'despotic' decision-making, and tend to be less extreme. Whether lessons drawn from the observation of animal behaviour can usefully be applied directly to human groups depends on how much corroborating evidence there is.
2.3 Leadership versus Management
Creech (1995) defines the manager versus the leader. She explains how a manager is typically well-educated and would generally possess very high conceptual skills. Managers are mostly focused on the latest management literature. Furthermore managers are very aware of the system, rules and procedures both documented and undocumented. They tend to be very productive oriented rather than people oriented persons and this style proves that they are usually inaccessible or have very little time to listed to the people they manage. This also results form their heavy busy schedules.
In addition managers face highly intensive stresses and become very intolerant of any mistakes. They rarely motivate their people to take significant risks to improve operationally or personally and in moments of crisis they can easily consider to re-establish who is in charge, believing that they will achieve the expected performances and organisational goals. Nonetheless, they are very conscious of what others think about them and expect to be liked, despite being aware that this is rather impossible, due to the conflicting roles between management and workers. Furthermore managers ask subordinates for participative input, but rarely encourage real dissent with their own views (Creech, 1995).
In contrast, leaders are very people oriented and although they are conscious of what people think of them they are generally less concerned. However, leaders feel themselves as helpers to the organisation as opposed being in command. They are inventive and imaginative movers and participate in achievement of goals. Arguably, leaders have a more positive style to achieving goals and during time of financial or operational turbulences they focus on asking team members for help in strategies and innovation in order to regain competitive advantage. Opposed to this, managers would consider downsizing and cost cutting (Creech, 1995).
One can that this is visionary and leaders do communicate widely with simple clear cut visions and goals. They intend to simplify communication to ensure the message gets through without ridiculing anyone in the event of misunderstandings. Additionally they are tolerant of mistakes during the process of development and goal achievement and they are fond of acknowledging their mistakes and do not fear to take whatever measures are required to rectify them (Creech, 1995).
Bennis and Goldsmith (1997) define the difference between manager and leader using the following paired contrasts:
'The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it. The manager focuses on systems and structures; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon. The manager imitates; the leader originates. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. The manager is the classis good soldier; the leader is his or her own person' (Bennis and Goldsmith, 1997, p.9).
For the purpose of this literature review it has been classified as follows: - Human Relation Skills including follower - leader relation, and conflict management and counselling as intrapersonal skills. Intrapersonal Skills includes self confidence, stress management, and time management whilst Organisational Skills include leadership styles and motivation and finally Creativity Skills.
Human Relation Skills and Intrapersonal Skills follow the same paths and are the abilities how one interacts with others. However Intrapersonal Skills is one's own personal development whilst Organisational Skills is the skill to have a conceptual focus. Finally, Creativity Skills are the having of new ideas.
The author introduced these skills in the above sequence as she believes that without having human relation skills one cannot help one's personal development and cannot encourage motivation or creativity. Needless to say, that without motivation one would find difficulties creating new ideas.
3.1 Human Relations and Intrapersonal Skills
3.1.2 Follower - Leader Relation
In order for a leader to achieve effectiveness through human relations, Isaac, Zerbe and Pitt (2001) shared four important insights and beliefs about the nature of their relationships with their followers:
Firstly, they explain how positively effective it is, to gradually and gently direct the follower towards the established goals rather than throwing them into heavy burdens to accomplish corporate purposes. When a mutual agreement of mutual interest is established leaders would smartly lay down the red carpet to the follower and will satisfy the goals of both parties. Rigid commands from the hierarchy within an organisation normally lead to unsatisfactory results and frustration (Isaac, Zerbe and Pitt, 2001)
Secondly, it is in the leader's interest to strongly understand their followers, by recognising their needs, what motivates them , their various stages of personal development, and their goals. This is seen through a flow of communication and observations. The leaders challenge in such scenario would be to reach satisfactory levels of both the follower and the organisation. During such a process of identifying the followers' needs the leader must show sensitivity, ingenuity and judgement when putting together corporate and personal objectives through communication. The leader should address those areas identified to be low in self confidence and capability by the follower in order to achieve maximum results (Isaac, Zerb and Pitt, 2001)
Thirdly, leaders have to establish motivating conditions not only to motivate the follower but to encourage self motivation. One of the motives encouraging the self motivation process would be organisational rewards however this makes the leader's responsibility intense, as he/she would need to determine the various intrinsic or extrinsic rewards to followers. Intrinsic motivational states are beyond leader's control however they can possibly enhance such feelings and emotions by:
- 'Spending time with the follower and enhancing, rather than undermining, self-confidence.
- Increasing follower knowledge, skills and abilities through exposure to various educational and training programs, as well as experiences. These activities enhance both follower capability and self-confidence.
- Establishing realistic, meaningful and attainable goals with the follower to both parties.
- Creating a climate of mutual respect.
- Showing appreciation when the follower meets or exceeds expectations, or addressing problematic issues regarding the follower's performance by focusing upon the work rather than the individual'. (Isaac, Zerbe and Pitt, 2001, p.212)
The fourth and final insight relates to the importance of honesty and consistent behaviour showed to the followers. Leaders can loose credibility through promises that are rather difficult to fulfil at a later stage, and will also be exposed to deducting the follower's motivation. On the other hand consistency generates a clear path to the followers especially in matters such as fairness, expectations and personal cose of conduct. In addition, leader must reduce distinctions of status that might cause some followers to feel degraded and not regarded (Isaac, Zerbe and Pitt, 2001).
'Relationship closeness, is the extent to which an employee has a sharing, open, familiar relation with management. Thus, relationship closeness is a broad concept that encompasses several specific constructs like interaction, open communication, and informal relations between employees and management'(Mcknight, Ahmad and Schroederet, 2001, p.466).
As one can see from the above four insights of human relations skills incorporates a strong degree of interpersonal skills and as expressed by Hargie and Dickson (2003) 'interpersonal skills are those skills we employ when interacting with other people'. However this definition is not very precise as it states what skills are 'used for' rather than what 'they are'. In fact it is like defining train as something that gets you from one station to another.
However literature rather increases in number the term interpersonal skills and another definition is:
'the extent to which an individual can communicate with others, in a manner that fulfils one's rights, requirements, satisfactions, or obligations to a reasonable degree without damaging the other person's similar rights, requirements, factions or obligations, and hopefully shares these rights and other factors with others in free an open exchange' (Phillips, 1978, cited in Hergie and Dickson, 2003, p.4).
Hargie and Dickson (2003) highlight that leaders with great levels of interpersonal skills are most likely to obtain funding, maintain good relationships with employees, attract quality employees and score better results with suppliers and customers (Hargie and Dickson, 2003).
Having outlined what these skills are used for, the author will explain what they are. One can find that amongst others, interpersonal skills include, conflict management and counselling.
3.1.3 Conflict Management
Human Resources practitioners sometimes have to ask themselves is, â€˜Who is the client - the company or the employee?' Human Resources professionals may sometimes have to walk a fine line between serving the company that pays their salary and serving individual employees. They may be involved in counselling employees over work problems. This can only be carried out successfully if the employee trusts the Human Resources practitioner to maintain confidentiality, but something might be revealed which is of interest to management, and this places the counsellor in a dilemma - to betray or not to betray the trust? There is not pat answer to this question, but the existence of a code of professional conduct, a set of values and a company ethical code can provide guidance.
Human Resources specialists, as Thurley (1981) put if, often â€˜work against the grain'. Their values may be different from those of line managers, and this is a potential cause of conflict. But conflict is inevitable in organisations that are pluralistic societies, the members of which have different frames of reference and interests, particularly self-interest. Management may have their own priorities: â€˜increase shareholder value', â€˜keep the city happy', â€˜innovate', â€˜get the work done'. Employees might have a completely different set: â€˜pay me well and equitably', â€˜give me security', â€˜provide good working conditions', â€˜treat me fairly'. Human Resources specialists, as noted above, may find themselves in the middle.
Conflicts in the Human Resources contribution can arise in the following ways:
- A clash of values. Line managers may simply regard their workers as factors of production to be sued, exploited and dispensed with in accordance with organisational imperatives.
- Different priorities. Management's priority may be to add value - make more out of less - and if this involves getting rid of people that is too bad. Human Resources people may recognise the need to add value, but not as the expense of employees.
- Freedom versus control. Line managers may want the freedom to get on with things their own way, interpreting company policies to meet their needs; and the thrust for devolution has encouraged such feelings. But Human Resources specialists will be concerned about the achievement of a consistent and equitable approach to managing people and implementing Human Resources policies. They will also be concerned with the attainment of a proper degree of compliance to employment and health and safety law. They may be given the responsibility for exercising control, and conflict is likely if they use this authority too rigidly.
- Disputes. If unions are recognised, Human Resources specialists may be involved in conflict during the process of resolution. Even when there are no unions, there may be conflict with individuals or groups of employees about the settlement of grievances.
As Mary Parker Follett (1924) wrote, there is the possibility that conflict can be creative if an integrative approach is used to settle it. This means clarifying priorities, policies and roles, using agreed procedures to deal with grievances and disputes, bringing differences of interpretation out into the open and achieving consensus through a solution that recognises the interests of both parties - a win-win process. Resolving conflict by the sheer exercise of power (win-lose) will only lead to further conflict. Resolving conflict by compromise may lead to both parties being dissatisfied (lose-lose).
Counselling is about creating empathy with someone encountering problematic feelings about something. With counselling skills a leader can gain an insight into one's feelings and experience. Additionally it enables the leader to act in a supportive manner (Carroll and Walton, 1997).
It is quite wrong if a line manager infers counselling to be an entirely natural, spontaneous and everyday process requiring little depth of understanding. On the contrary, counselling is a purposeful activity, which has a profound effect on people. Professional counsellors undergo extensive and ongoing training precisely because counselling is such a potent process. It is so powerful that people make significant and often radical changes in their lives as a result of counselling. Any apparent contradictions on the nature of counselling must be resolved or its value in relation to line management will be misunderstood.
The values and beliefs that underpin professional counselling are inseparable from the use of counselling skills. The process is the same. It is the relationship which makes it counselling and, for line managers a counselling relationship is impossible.
The ethical use of counselling skills is both possible and desirable for line managers one they are trained, as long as they:
- â€˜Buy into' the basic values of counselling
- Avoid manipulation by exercising self-discipline in choosing when to use them
- Adhere to setting clear boundaries when they do
- Observe the cross-over point into unethical practice
- Have the facilities available and the skill to refer a person for further appropriate help.
3.1.5 Ethical Considerations
Leaders are concerned with ethical standards in two ways: their conduct as professionals, the values that govern their behaviour and the ethical standards of their firms
184.108.40.206 Professional Conduct
The CIPD of Professional Conduct states that:
'In the public interest and in the pursuit of its objects, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is committed to the highest possible standards of professional conduct and competency. To this end members:
Â· Are required to exercise integrity, honesty, diligence and appropriate behaviour in all their business, professional and related personal activities
Â· Must act within the law and must encourage, assist or act in collusion with employees, employers or others who may be engaged in unlawful conduct.'
Leadership is part of management. Leaders are not there to act as surrogate representatives of the interests of employees, but this does not mean that there may not be occasions when in their professional capacity leaders should not speak out and oppose plans or actions that are clearly at variance with the values of the organisation. They should do their best to influence changes in those values where they feel they are necessary. They must not tolerate injustice or inequality of opportunity.
220.127.116.11 Ethical Standards in the firm
More and more companies are, rightly, developing and publishing value statements and code of ethics. The focus on such codes was encouraged by the Cadbury Report on corporate governance which in 1992 recommended that companies should adopt one.
Ethics codes may include the guiding principles the organisation follows in conducting its business and relating to its stakeholders - employees, customers, shareholders (or other providers of finance), suppliers, and society in general. These may include conflicts of interests, the giving and receiving of gifts, confidentiality, environmental pollution, health and safety, equal opportunities, sexual harassment and political activity.
As suggested by Pickard (1995) leaders can contribute to enhancing awareness of ethical issues by:
- Deploying professional expertise to develop and communicate an ethics policy and field the response to it, holding training sessions to help people think through the issues and monitoring the policy;
- Contributing to the formation of the company strategy, especially touching on mission and values;
- Setting an example through professional conduct, on issues such as fairness, equal and treatment and confidentiality.
3.1.6 Intrapersonal Skills
The intrapersonal, or inner dimension, includes forms of self-communication and understanding personal emotions, goals and motivations. Self-regulation of attention and stress management skills depend largely on self-communication.
3.1.7 Stress Management
'Stress is the experience of opportunities or threats that people perceive as important and also perceive they might not be able to handle or deal with effectively' (George and Jones, 2002, p.275).
There are four main reasons why organisations should take account of stress and do something about it:
1. They have the social responsibility to provide a good quality of working life.
2. Excessive stress causes illness.
3. Stress can result in inability to cope with the demands of the job, which, of course, creates more stress.
4. Excessive stress can reduce employee effectiveness and therefore organisational performance.
The ways in which stress can be managed by an organisation include:
- Job design - clarifying roles, reducing the danger of role ambiguity and conflict and giving people more autonomy within a defined structure to manager their responsibilities;
- Targets and performance standards - setting reasonable and achievable targets which may stretch people but do not place impossible burdens on them;
- Placement - taking care to place people in jobs that are within their capabilities;
- Career development - planning careers and promoting staff in accordance with their capabilities, taking care not to over- or under-promote;
- Performance management process, which allow a dialogue to take place between managers and individuals about the latter's work, problems and ambitions;
- Management training in performance review and counselling techniques and in what managers can do to alleviate their own stress and reduce it in others;
- Work-life balance policies which take account of the pressures on employees who have responsibilities as parents, partners or carers, and which can include such provisions as special leave and flexible working hours.(Michael Armstrong, 2003, p.837)
3.1.8 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Qualities
Management development should be concerned with enhancing leadership as well as extending and improving more general management skills. According to Goleman (1995), this process should take account of the concept of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has been defined by Goleman (1995) as being about:
- 'Knowing what you are feeling and being able to handle those feelings without having tem swamp you;
- Being able to motivate yourself to get jobs done, be creative and perform at your peak;
- Sensing what others are feeling and handling relationships effectively'.
The possession of high levels of emotional intelligence is a necessary attribute for success as a leader.
Goleman has defined four components of emotional intelligence:
1. 'Self-management - the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and regulate your own behaviour coupled with a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. The six competencies associated with this component are self-control, trustworthiness and integrity, initiative and adaptability, comfort with ambiguity, openness to change and a strong desire to achieve.
2. Self-awareness - the ability to recognise and understand your moods, emotions and drives as well as their effect on others. This is linked to three competencies: self-confidence, realistic self-assessment and emotional self-awareness.
3. Social awareness - the ability to understand the emotional make-up of other people, and skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. This is linked to six competencies: empathy, expertise in building and retaining talent, organisational awareness, cross-cultural sensitivity, valuing diversity, and service to clients and customers.
4. Social skills - proficiency in managing relationships and building networks to get the desired result from others and reach personal goals, and the ability to find common ground and build rapport. The five competencies associated with this component are leadership, effectiveness in leading change, conflict management, influence/communication, and expertise in building and leading teams.'
One of the motivations theories is theContent Theory which focuses on the content of motivation. It states that motivation is essentially about taking action to satisfy needs, and identifies the main needs that influence behaviour. Needs theory was originated by Maslow (1954), and in his two-factor model, Herzberg, Mausner and Synderman (1957) listed needs which they termed â€˜satisfiers'.
The basis of this theory is the belief that an unsatisfied need creates tension and a state of disequilibrium. To restore the balance, a goal that will satisfy the need is identified, and a behaviour pathway that will lead to the achievement of the goal is selected. All behaviour is therefore motivated by unsatisfied needs.
Needs theory was developed originally by Maslow (1954), who postulated the concept of a hierarchy of needs which he believed were fundamental to the personality. He suggested that there are five major need categories which apply to people in general, starting from the fundamental physiological needs leading through a hierarchy of safety, social and esteem needs to the need of self-fulfilment, the highest need all.
Maslow's theory of motivation states that when a lower need is satisfied, the next highest becomes dominant and the individual's attention is turned to satisfying this higher need. The need fur self-fulfilment, however, can never be satisfied. He said that â€˜man is a wanting animal'; only an unsatisfied need can motivate behaviour and the dominant need is the prime motivator of behaviour. Psychological development takes place as people move up the hierarchy of needs, but this is not necessarily a straightforward progression. The lower needs still exist, even if temporarily dormant as motivators, and individuals constantly return to previously satisfied needs.
The two-factor model of satisfiers and dissatisfiers was developed by Herzberg, Mausner and Synderman (1957) following an investigation into the sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction of accountants and engineers. It was assumed that people have the capacity to report accurately the conditions that made them satisfied and dissatisfied with their jobs. Accordingly, the subjects were asked to tell their interviewers about the times during which they felt exceptionally good and exceptionally bad about their jobs and how long their feelings persisted. It was found that the accounts of â€˜good' periods most frequently concerned the content of the job, particularly achievement, recognition, advancement, autonomy, responsibility, and the work itself. On the other hand, accounts of â€˜bad' periods most frequently concerned the context of the job. Company policy and administration, supervision, salary and working conditions more frequently appeared in these accounts than in those told about â€˜good' periods. The main implications of this research, according to Herzberg, are that:
'The wants of employees divide into two groups. One group resolves around the need to develop in one's occupation as a source of personal growth. The second group operates as an essential base to the first and is associated with fair treatment in compensation, supervision, working conditions and administrative practices. The fulfilment of the needs of the second group does not motivate the individual to high levels of job satisfaction and to extra performance on the job. All we can expect from satisfying this second group of needs is the prevention of dissatisfaction and poor job performance.'
These groups form the two factors in Herzberg's model: one consists of the satisfiers or motivators, because they are seen to be effective in motivating the individual to superior performance and effort. The other consists of the dissatisfiers, which essentially describe the environment and serve primarily to prevent job dissatisfaction, while having the little effect on positive job attitudes. The latter were named the hygiene factors in the medical use of the term, meaning preventive and environmental.
Organisations function by means of the collective action of people, yet each individual is capable of taking independent action which may not be in line with policy or instructions, or may not be reported properly to other people who ought to know about it. Good communications are required to achieve coordinated results.
Organisations are subject to the influence of continuous change which affects the work employees do, their well-being and their security. Change can be managed only be ensuring that the reasons for and the implications of change are communicated to those effected in terms which they can understand and accept.
Individuals are motivated by the extrinsic reward system and intrinsic rewards coming from the work itself. But the degree to which they are motivated depends upon the amount of responsibility and scope for the achievement provided by their job, and upon their expectations that the rewards they will get will be the ones they want, and will follow from the efforts they make. Feelings about work and the associated rewards depend very much on the effectiveness of communications from their managers or team leaders and within the company.
Above all, good two-way communications are required so that management can keep employees informed of the policies and plans affecting them, and employees can react promptly with their views about managements' proposals and actions. Change cannot be managed properly without an understanding of the feelings of those affected by it, and an inefficient system of communication is needed to understand and influence these feelings.
But the extent, to which good communications create satisfactory relationships rather than simply reducing unsatisfactory ones, can be exaggerated. A feature of management practices during the twentieth century is the way in which different management theories became fashionable or influential for a while and then decline in favour. Among these has been the â€˜good communications' theory of management. This approach to dealing with management problems is based upon the following assumptions:
- The needs and aims of both employees and management are, in the long run, the same in any organisation. Managers' and employees' ideas and objectives can all be fitted together to form a single conceptual framework.
- Any differences in opinion between management and employees are due to misunderstandings which have arisen because communications are not good enough.
- The solution to industrial strife is to improve communications.
This theory is attractive and has some validity. Its weakness is that the assumptions are too sweeping, particularly the belief that the ultimate objectives of management and workers are necessarily identical. The good communications theory, like paternalism, seems to imply that a company can develop loyalty by keeping people informed and treating them well. But people working in organisations have other and, to them, more important loyalties elsewhere.
The existence of different loyalties and points of view in an organisation does not mean that communication is unimportant. If anything the need for a good communications system becomes even greater when differences and conflict exist. But it can only alleviate those differences and pave the way to better cooperation. It cannot solve them.
It is therefore necessary to bear in mind that the group with which we identify - the reference group - influences our attitudes and feelings. â€˜Management' and the â€˜the union' as well as our family, out ethnic background, our political party and our religious beliefs (if any) constitute a reference group and colour our reactions to information. What each group â€˜hears' depends on its own interests. Shared experiences and common frames of reference have much more influence than exhortations from management. Employees may have feel they have nothing to do with them because it conflicts with what they already believe.
However, although there may be limitations on the extent to which communication strategies can enhance mutuality and commitment, there is no doubt that it is essential for managements to keep people informed on matters that affect them and to provide channels for them to express their views. This is particularly necessary when new employment initiatives are taking place and effective change in management is very much about communicating management's intentions to people and making sure that they understand how they will be affected.
in the previous chapters the author highlighted some of the existing literature and the relevance of leadership skills in organisations. This is the Research Methodology Chapter and it is organised by outlining the theory of Research Methodology, the Methodology utilised and the Research Design conducted. Attached to the Research Design one can find the Data Collection and Sampling Procedure sub section and the Interview Questions and Questionnaire's sub section. Furthermore one can find the Limitations encountered and finally, the Analysis Approach in preparation of the next chapter. This study utilised a Survey-Questionnaire where behaviours, beliefs and observations of specific groups are identified, reported and interpreted.
4.2 Research Methodology Theory
Qualitative approach, is a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving our comprehension of the whole. Qualitative research explores the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena. Qualitative research, broadly defined, means "any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification" (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
"Those who are not familiar with qualitative methodology may be surprised by the sheer volume of data and the detailed level of analysis that results even when research is confined to a small number of subjects" (Myers, 2002).
There are three main methods of data collection, which are interviewing, observation and descriptions by participants. Analysis begins when the data is first collected and is used to guide decisions related to further data collection.
"In communicating or generating the data, the researcher must make the process of the study accessible and write descriptively so tacit knowledge may best be communicated through the use of rich, thick descriptions" (Myers, 2002).
Research methods can be classified in various ways however one of the most common distinctions is between Quantitative and Qualitative research methods.
Quantitative research involves large numbers of respondents, typically 100 or more, and yields results that are representative of the total population. This research is numerically oriented, requires significant attention to the measurement of market phenomena, and often involves statistical analysis.
Examples of quantitative methods include survey methods, and numerical methods such as mathematical modelling. Participants to the study are selected in a random unbiased manner from a study population and data is gathered from the participant's replies to a standardised questionnaire. This data is then analysed by means of statistical methods in order to test predetermined hypothesis regarding the relationships between specific variables. In this case the researcher is considered external to the actual research, and results are expected to be replicable no matter who conducts the research.
Qualitative research can be structured as in-depth one-on-one or two-on-one interviews, but is generally done in the form of focus groups, where groups of six to ten respondents carry on a group discussion which is led by a trained moderator. Qualitative research methodologies are designed to provide the researcher with the perspective of the target audience members through direct interaction with the people under study. Unlike quantitative research there are no fixed questions but, instead, a topic guide (or discussion guide) is used to explore various issues in-depth.
4.4 The Questionnaire
The literature review in this thesis is based on the importance of leadership skills within organisations and explains ways and means on how one manager can consider the leadership function. Most of the information was directed to the ethical relation between the leader and the follower/s and therefore the questions addressed in the questionnaire included 4 topics:
- Human Relations and Interpersonal Skills
- Personal Development
The opening of the interview questionnaire served as an explanation of what's behind the questions, with an extra emphasis on confidentiality. Only one demographic question was included in this questionnaire, which covered the different levels, was included in the first section. The above topics were tackled in subsequent sections. The respondents were requested to reply as to whether they believed their manager practised the highlighted leadership styles. To conclude, the respondents were shown a great appreciation and they were thanked for their most valuable participation.
The questionnaire was handed to employees at HSBC Life Assurance Malta Ltd, in November 2009, were the said employees were handed out a covering letter and the questionnaire itself. A sample of the said covering letter and questionnaire can be found in the Appendix section.
During the course of this research design a number of limitations were encountered. The core of this research was based on a qualitative approach which in nature necessitates the sampling of a small size, unlike the quantitative approach which includes a larger sampling size.
The design of this questionnaire is such that can give information on each individual, such as the attitudes, this can be interpreted into different varied data. However, the author opted to concentrate the attitude of two different levels of employees, namely the managerial and clerical. The author chose this option since the scope of this study was to have an in-depth study of dynamics within different levels and sections of the organisation.
Research Findings and Analysis
The scope of this study was to assess the current leadership function of management through research techniques. It was concerned about the various forms of best practice leadership skills within the organisation.
The first question of the questionnaire was to determine, if employees are clerical or managerial. The company employs 37 persons, where the total respondents were 29. 12 of the respondents work in a Managerial role and 17 work in clerical grades.
5.3 Evaluation of the Questionnaire
The questions asked to employees related to the manager or supervisor skills, motivation and true of the organisation.
5.3.1 My Manager or supervisor...
The first batch of questions refers to the manager of supervisor's skills. One of the questions asked was:
'My manager or supervisor works with me to define the expectations of my job'
Clerical employees agree more than managerial staff that their supervisor is working hand in hand in terms of defining the job, while managerial staff sometimes dis/agree with this statement.
Question number 8 was:
'My manager or supervisor lets me do my job without interfering.'
12clerical staff agrees that their supervisor let them do their jobs without interfering after the job has been tasked to them. Managerial staff are quite neutral regarding this statement, but on the whole they agree with the above mentioned statement.
Another question asked was:
'My manager or supervisor keeps favouritism from being a problem in our workgroup.'
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