Analysing the different approaches to leadership

Leadership is about influencing, motivating, and enabling other to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organization of which they are members. And the leaders apply various from of influence- from subtle persuasion to direct application of power- to ensure that followers have the motivation and role clarity to achieve specified goals. Leaders also arrange the work environment-such as allocating resources and altering communication patterns- so employees can achieve corporate objective more easily.

Leadership isn’t restricted to the executive suite. Anyone in the organization may be a leader in various ways and at various times. This view is variously known as shared leadership or the leaderful organization. Effective self-directed work teams, for example, consist of members who share leadership responsibilities or otherwise allocate this role to responsible coordinator.

Behavioral approach

In the 1949 and 1950 leadership experts at several universities launched an intensive research investigation to answer the question “what behaviors make leaders effective?” Questionnaires were administered to subordinates, asking them to rate their supervisors on large number of behaviors. These studies distilled two clusters of leadership behaviors from literally thousands of leadership behavior items.

One cluster represented people-oriented behaviors. This included showing mutual trust and respect for subordinates, demonstrating a genuine concern for their needs, and having a desire to look out for their welfare. Leaders with a strong people-oriented style listen to employee suggestions, do personal favors for employees, support their interests when required, and treat employees as equals, The other cluster represented a task- oriented leadership style and included behaviors that define and structure work roles Task-oriented leaders assign employees to specific tasks, clarify their work duties and procedures, ensure that they follow company rules, and push them to reach their performance capacity. They establish stretch goals and challenge employees to push beyond those high standards. (Source: pg.407 , McShane , Von Gilnow)

Researchers hoped that the behavioral theories approach would not only provide more definitive answers about the nature of leadership but, if successful would also have practical implications quite different from those of the trait approach. If trait research had been successful, it would have provided a basis for selecting the “right” people to assume formal leadership positions in organizations. In contrast, if behavioral studies turned up critical behavioral determinants of leadership.

These theories began when the ideas of unique leader traits were questioned in the 1940s, It was considered that the qualities of leaders could be analyzed better by looking at their behavior or their behavioral style that causes others to follow them.

They concluded that in making an appropriate choice of how autocratic or democratic to be, a manager needed to consider three sets of issues:

Personal concerns- managers had to consider their own values, their inclinations towards leadership, and the level of confidence they had in their subordinates.

Subordinate concerns- mangers had to consider their subordinates-needs for responsibility and independence, their knowledge and interest of the problem, and the amount they desired to be involved in solving problems.

Concern for the situation- this included concern for the nature of the problem, the competence of the group in handing the problem, the time available and the type and history of the organization.

They suggested a continuum of possible leadership behavior which is available to a manager, along which may be placed various styles of leadership. At one extreme, leadership was boss-authoritarian and at the other extreme, leadership was subordinate- democratic. The continuum, therefore, represents a range of action which relates to the degree of authority used by a manager and the area of freedom available to subordinates in arriving at decisions.

Autocratic style — described a leader who typically tended to centralize authority, dictate work methods, make unilateral decisions, and limit employee participation.

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The democratic style– described a leader who tended to involve employees in decision making, delegate authority, encourage participation in deciding work methods and goals, and use feedback as an opportunity for coaching employees.

The laissez-faire style– leader generally gave the group complete freedom to make decisions and complete the work in whatever way it saw fit.

(Source: Pg.459-461. Robbins, Coulter)

Contingency approach

The contingency perspective of leadership is based on the idea that the most appropriate leadership style depends on the situation. Most contingency leadership theories assume that effective leaders must be both insightful and flexible. They must be able to adapt their behaviors and style to the immediate situation, this isn’t easy to do, and however, Leaders typically have a preferred style. It takes considerable effort for leaders to learn when and how to alter their styles to match the situation. As we noted earlier, leaders must have high emotional intelligence so they can diagnose the circumstances and match their behaviors accordingly. (Source: pg.408 , McShane , Von Gilnow

The contingency approach seeks to apply to real life situations ideas drawn from various schools of management thought. Different problems and situations require different approaches and no one approach is universally applicable. Managers must seek to identify the approach that will serve them best in any given situation, so they can achieve their goal.

It is important to note that the contingency approach stresses the need for management to examine the relationship between the internal and external environment of an organization.

The systems approach to management emphasizes that relationships between various parts of an organization are interlocked. The contingency approach has emphasized this idea by focusing on the nature of such relationships (Source: Pg.22-23. Appleby)

Fred Fiedler developed the first comprehensive contingency model for leadership.

Fiedler proposed that a key factor in leadership success was an individual’s basic leadership style. He further suggested that a person’s style was one of two types: task oriented or relationship oriented. To measure a leader’s style, fielder developed the Least-Preferred Co-worker (LPC) questionnaire. This questionnaire contained 16 pairs of contrasting adjectives- for example. Pleasant -unpleasant, cold- warm, boring-interesting, and friendly- unfriendly. Respondents were asked to think of all the co-workers they had ever had and to describe that one person they last enjoyed working with by rating him or her on a scale of 1 to 8 ( the described the positive out of the pair) for each of the 16 sets of adjectives. Fiedler believed that you could determine a person’s basic leadership style on the basis of the responses to the LPC questionnaire. What were his descriptions of these styles? Fiedler believed that if the leader described the least preferred co-worker in relatively positive terms (in other words, a “high” LPC score), then the respondent was primarily interested in good personal relations with co- workers. That is if you described the person that you least liked to work with in favorable terms, your style would be described as relationship oriented. In contrast, if you saw the least preferred co- worker in relatively unfavorable able terms (a low LPC score), you were primarily interested in productivity and getting the job done, thus, your style would be labeled as task oriented. Fiedler did acknowledge that there was a small group of people who fell in between these two extremes and who did not have a cut-and -dried personality sketch. One other point we need to make is that fiddler assumed that a person’s leadership style was always the same (fixed) regardless of the situation. In other words, if you were a relationship-oriented leader, you’d always be one, and the same if you were task oriented.

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Fiedler’s research uncovered three contingency dimensions that defined the key situational factors for determining leader effectiveness, these were:

Leader -member relations: the degree of confidence, trust, and respect employees had for their leader, rated as either good or poor

Task structure: the degree to which job assignments were for malized and procedurized, rated as either high or low.

Position power: the degree of influence a leader had over power- based activities such as hiring, firing, discipline promotions, and salary increases, rated as either strong or weak.

(Source: Pg.463-464. Robbins, Coulter)

Four of the most important factors influencing leadership styles

Modern approaches to leadership encourage managers to be flexible and adopt the appropriate leadership style, depending on circumstances.

Most of the corporations have its own corporate culture, and for those MNC firms are normally follows the original culture from the home base. It’s important to apply correct culture by situational. Cultural difference does affect the leadership style and influences effectiveness. Indeed, quality leadership requires with an Individual field experience, personal appearance, and optimistic influences elements are the core competence of a successful leader.

Autocratic approach is one of the traditional leadership styles. Manager retains high degree of authority and decision making, employee seem to work like a robot and work needs to be corresponding with another department. Autocratic approach is not advised to be apply when employees are being low moral, become fearful, resentful, or tense and employees are depending on their manager to make all decisions.

Democratic approach tends to motivate employees with confidence in decision marking, and provides an open channel for employees to feedback and share work related ideas. It effectively produces high quality of work for the long-term goal. And it raises strong team spirit and motivates employees to perform with fullest potential for a chance to be promoted.

Laissez-faire leader allows almost total freedom to his subordinates. The leader leaves the subordinates to freely set objective and work procedures. Then the leader who practices this style of leadership tries to develop the skill and talents of workers.

What is the leadership style in “Toyota” about?

The leaders in Toyota Corporation have distinctive approach and philosophy that fits the Toyota way. Why does leaders role are important within the corporation?

Leaders are the producers and directors of leading the cast in an organization.

It is the fundamental way that Toyota views its world and does business. And the Toyota way is the special product of the people who created Toyota and its unique history. However, the Toyota is one of the most successful companies in the world.

What is the 14 principle of the Toyota way?

Toyota developed 14 Toyota principles; there are 7 of them, which related to leadership influence style are as below:

1 Section: Long-term philosophy

Principle: Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

2 Section: The right process will produce the right results.

Principle: Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.

Principle: Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

Principle: Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and

Employee empowerment.

Principle: Use visual control so no problems are hidden.

Principle: Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.

Section: Add Value to the Organization by Developing your people and partners

Principle: Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.

Principle: Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.

Section: continuously solving root problems drives organizational learning.

Principle: Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.

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What is Toyota Production system?

The most visible product of Toyota’s quest for excellence is its manufacturing philosophy, called the Toyota production System(TPS). TPS is the next major evolution in efficient business processes after the mass production system incented by Henry Ford, and if has been documented, analyzed, and exported to companies across industries throughout the world. Outside of Toyota, TPS is often known as “Lean” or ” Lean production,” since these were the terms made popular in two best-selling books, The machine that changed the world( Womack, Jones, Roos,1991)and Lean thinking (Womack, Jones, 1996). The authors make it clear, however, that the foundation of their research on lean is TPS and Toyota’s development of it.

The Toyota Corporation has the Nature of task and organizational climate, manager’s past experience, subordinates’ characteristics, Expectations of superiors.

Nature of task: everyone employee joined Toyota Corporation’s who know what’s the foundation work. This is foundation. Of course, every company must have this factors influencing leadership style.

Organizational climate: The Toyota Corporation’s leader used the organization to control his subordinates closely. This is manager’s approaches. If you want to be a successful leader that you must study how to organization climate.

Expectations of superiors: The Toyota leaders have a expectations of superiors. The important reason, if you are a leader, you have no expectations plan or training in the per year. You aren’t a successful leader, Because you have no plan to make your company’s profit. Then the Toyota Corporation’s very regards this points. It can make long- term profit for company. Although, this is including the leader’s experience or acknowledges. And the superiors may expect his manager to achieve organizational goals regardless, so the Toyota leader or manager have to adopt a task-oriented authoritarian style.

Manager’s past experience: every leader or manager must be have the experience for the manager of company. This is very important. Because the manager’s values and background will affect his choice of leadership styles and the manager or leader tends to adopt the style that suits his personality. If you have no the experience, you don’t know how to manager that how to advance efficiency for the employee or your boss. The Toyota has a classic manager experience. So this is based on the advance the efficiency and profit’s foundation.

Subordinates’ characteristics: the subordinates may be used to a certain style, maybe highly trained and independent, familiar with their work, and may expect the leader to have a certain style. The Toyota’s subordinate’s characteristics are from the same lever work that when you first come into the Toyota company. You have no choice the other position. If you have ability, you can advance to other position when the boss considers you. Everyone is same that whereas you have a higher degree, you also from a same leaver to do work.

(Source of research: Jeffrey K. Liker – “The Toyota Way”, McGraw Hill)


If I’m a leader, I will wish to become a successful one. But before that, I shall consider at the following issues of how to be a successful leader?

Selecting of leadership management style is one of the core factors of being a leader. Because the team functional efficiency, influence level and the value of respect to the leader would be all referring to how much does a leader understands his /her subordinates by observation and communication, then to evaluate the appropriate of leadership and management approach. And to apply corporate mission, vision, philosophy, scope, goal, objective, strategies… and so on. Different corporate preferences will also depending or according to the cultural background of the firm base from, if it’s a MNC.

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