Describe what leadership is and all the relevant leadership styles

There are various definitions and concepts by a variety of people it comes to defining leadership. According to G a Cole leadership is a ” dynamic process in a group whereby one individual influences the others contribute voluntarily to the achievement of group tasks in a given situation.” Leadership engages other people, for example subordinates. The role of the leader is to direct subordinates towards set goals or aims and objectives of the group or the business. Subordinates help define a leaders status by how much there are willing to listen and accept direction from the leader. Weak leaders tend to have no respect from group members and find it hard if not impossible to direct them. Leadership involves an unequal division of power between the people or person in charge and group members. This allows order and coordination within a group or organisation if there is one clear leader, employees will know who to refer to for confirmation on decisions or when problems arise. It should be noted however that some employees are note entirely powerless; they do contribute and shape activities in the group in various ways. If a group is to be highly effective and successful every member needs to contribute and play a part form start to finish, but more power usually concentrated in the hands of the leader.

Different leaders have different forms of power; reward, coercive, legitimate, referent and expert power.

Reward power is formed on the leader having the skill to reward group members for getting instructions done and achieving set goals. Employees are more likely to work harder if they know their efforts will be recognised and rewarded. Rewards could include promotion, pay rise or a bonus. Reward power is highly used in the workforce as a form of disciplining and motivating employees.

Coercive power is formed on the leader’s capability to make subordinates accountable for not achieving objectives or getting their job done on time. Through coercive power subordinates are aware that failure to meet job requirements might lead to tell off or job loss.

Legitimate power is a form of formal authority, it usually comes with the job. Under legitimate power employees recognize the fact that the leader has the authority to exercise influence over them. In many cases employees are obliged to accept this power and failure to concur will mostly result in them being reprimanded or made redundant.

Expert power is formed on the principle that the leader has the significant skills and expertise that other members in the group do not. Subordinates are more likely to respect, accept and acknowledge the leaders authority and leadership if they are know he/she is more experienced that there are in that field.

Referent power comes from the other group members desire to be like their leader. This type of leadership usually links with charismatic and pragmatic leaders.

James A F Stoner notes that “possession of some or all of [the above powers] does not guarantee the ability to influence particular individuals in specific ways.” A leader may have subordinates approbation as a specialist but still fails to motivate or make them more corporative in the workforce. A good leader must have the capacity and skills to draw upon and use the various forms of power to be able to influence employees. Good leaders must possess the power of influence if employees are to do the work that is required of them, on schedule and in some cases on budget.

As a individual a leader must be able to look ahead, identify how to get ahead and guide colleagues ahead. For a leader to be successful according to Tim Hannagan he/she must share common goals with those around or have the skills to steer group members towards their way of thinking. Employees must intern momentarily give up their own views in favour of the leaders and the rest of the group, listening to other group members and compromising. Although employees go about different ways in achieving company objectives “…they accede to the preferences of the leader in exchange for the rewards they expect to receive as a result.” Tim Hannagan 2005. Effective leaders motivate their employees by convincing them that the aims set for them is the best way to get the job done and will provide a better result. Happy employees work hard and are more likely to achieve the common objectives of the business or group.

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Leaders are in charge of employees under them therefore responsible for them and their actions in the workforce there are held accountable for the success and failure of their team. The accountability makes it comparative that the leader makes the best decisions, manages the team and communicates effectively with employees in such a way that action is taken and unneeded costly mistakes that could cost the leader, team members or the organisation avoided.

Leadership involves avoiding obstacles and if they should arise overcoming them in the most cost effective way possible. The business environment as shown by the unexpected financial crisis is very unpredictable, so leaders need to be pragmatic and innovative if there are to survive and stay on top is an economic, technological and social environment that forever changing. The 21st century static business environment is rapidly changing and leaders need to evolve with the times if there are to retain employees and be successful. According to Hannagan “leadership can be seen as performing the influencing function of management largely involved with establishing gaols and motivating people to help achieve them.”

In management there are various leadership styles and different leaders fall under different styles. Good leaders tend to use a style of leadership in response to the workforce or situation concerned to achieve the best result possible. There are old and modern styles of leadership, including; Transactional, Transformational, Participative and Situational Leadership.

1.Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is “ approach to determining the most effective style of influencing, considering the direction and support a leader gives, and the readiness of followers to perform particular tasks.” David Buchanan, 2004. Situational leaders should be able to change their leadership style in response to the teams developing or changing behaviour, for example experience or willingness to accept responsibility. Blanchard and Heresy (1982) believe the maturity of the employee determine the leadership style of the leader, they believe that employer and employee relationship move through four stage. As employees become more experienced and skilled, the employer will need to change his style of leadership to motivate and take advantage of employees new found skills to make the team more effective,

The Situational Model of Leadership














As the diagram above shows the situational model of leadership has four stages :

Phase 1

Directing . New subordinates are instructed in their tasks and the corporations procedures and rules. In the initial phase employees are given a lot of tasks by the leader. Subordinates are trained in their tasks as they are being familiarised to the organisation. They are told what to do, when and how to do given tasks. this is arguably a good and effective way to introduce new employees as ” a non directive [leader] would cause anxiety and confusion in new..” employees whilst “a participatory, high relationship behaviour approach would …be inappropriate at this stage because the [employee] requires structure.” James A.F Stoner, 1995.

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Phase 2

Coaching. In phase two there is more relationship behaviour than in stage one as subordinates become more accustomed to their job and the business. In this stage the participatory leadership style can be adopted as employees are considered to want more responsibility. Employees are more likely to seek more responsibility as they have become accustomed to the environment including how their leader wants tasks handled and completed. Task behaviour however remains necessary as employees still need structure to complete their work. The leaders trust and support for subordinates will increase at this stage as the leader becomes familiar with the team and wishes to encourage their efforts further.

Phase 3

Participating. At this stage subordinates are more skilled and achievement motivation becomes mote noticeable which will lead to subordinates seeking more responsibility. As the employees become more experienced the leader will no longer need to strictly direct employees, in most cases skilled employees dislike autocratic leaders as they feel there are experienced enough to carry out certain task without strict supervision. There is a lot of interaction and support but little direction and task behaviour. The leader should however continually motivate employees by being supportive and considerate, if he/she is to bring out the best of employees.

Phase 4

Delegating. High levels of delegation from the leader as employees are more confident, experienced and self-directing. Kenneth and Heresy feel that at this stage an employee no longer expect direction from their leader. There is less task or relationship behaviour.

Under this leadership style leaders should constantly assess employee experience, motivation and ability to decide on which style is appropriate under changing conditions. If the leader chooses the most effective style there should be able to develop subordinates professionally and at the same time motivating them. The ability to be able to shift leadership styles is arguably a skill any good leader should possess as leaders are faced with different evolving situations on a daily bases. Leaders who are trained to flexibly use various leadership styles when faced with changing situations use the situational leadership style effectively as they know when to adapt or change to a different style. Leaders who are not trained to be flexible are likely to be more effective in situations that match their style of leadership. Failure to adapt will cause the leaders team to lack direction and to be less effective than if they had a flexible leader.

2. Participative leadership

Participative leaders have total trust and confidence in employees. Leaders will always ask employees for ideas and opinions and then constructively use the ideas to further the groups or the organisations success. There is a lot of communication between the leader and employees and employees will be rewarded for their participation in the group. Being involved in the process of decision making help motivate and make employees more committed to their job and the business. When faced with unexpected problems employees are more willing to help as they no their input will be taken into account.

Involving a group of people in the decision making ensures a better outcome, as suggestions are thoroughly analysed before the final decision is reached. Group decision making also unites employees as the social commitment amongst the group members is greater. Employees are more likely to corporate and come up with new ideas if they feel comfortable with the people around them.

Leaders who adopt this style of leadership when operating usually have the greatest success as leaders. Businesses that use the participative style of leadership could be said to be the most successful in setting goals and achieving them and are also usually more productive. The success is due to the degree of participation and the maintenance of employee support for one another and from the leader. Participative leaders can improve the businesses effectiveness by using the skills, experience and knowledge of the workforce. Employees who feel and are involved setting business standards are more likely to feel ownership for the decisions made and tend to:

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Accept the legitimacy of decisions reached with their help;

Accept change based on those decisions;

Trust managers who ultimately ratify and implement decisions;

Volunteer new and creative ideas and solutions.

[David Buchanan 2004]

It should be noted that it is the leader’s choice to give or deny control to surbodinat6es under his control. Although an organisation might require their its leaders to use this type of leadership style, a manager might chose not to use it as effectively as they possibly can as they might feel involving subordinates in decision making might threaten their job position. The level of employee participation also depends on the sort of decision being made. Subordinates are usually involved when deciding on how to put goals into action, whereas employee evaluation on those decisions is done by the leader. Participative leadership is highly democratic and empowers employees.

3. Transactional leadership

A transactional leader is “…a leader who treats relationships with [employees] in terms of an exchange, giving [employees] what they want in return for what the leader desires, following prescribed tasks to pursue established goals.” Transactional leaders perceive their association with employees in terms of bargains; they believe that employees are motivated by reward and punishment and not their willingness to work. Transactional leaders aim to create clear structures, where employees know exactly what they are expected to do. These type of leaders believe that social system are more effective with a clear chain of command, when employee are expected to yield all authority to their leader.

Leaders who use this leadership style decide what subordinates need to do to attain their own and the corporations aims and objectives and help subordinates become confident in believing they can achieve the set aims and objectives through hard work, but employees are expected to do what they are told by the leader in all cases. Failure to comply with leaders instructions will lead to formal discipline which might result in job loss. As soon as a potential employee becomes an employee it becomes transparent the leader is in charge and in control. Employees who are successful under transactional leaders are usually the ones that follow orders

Transactional leaders deem employees to be completely responsible for their work despite their skills, experience or resources. Subordinates are expected to take full responsibility for their work, success will be recognised and rewarded while failure is seen to be personally the subordinates fault despite internal or external influences that might have contributed to objectives not being met. Leader who use this type of leadership style believe that employees require little attention if they are meeting expectations or operating as expected.

There is a variety of leaders that use this type of leadership. The leadership style might be effective with employees who are used to an autocratic leadership style and who work well under strictly structured conditions. The success of the leader is assured when the leadership style aligns with the work environment. Employees who are highly skilled and experienced are likely to despise and be unhappy under this type of leadership if it is constantly being used by the manager as they might feel they have more to offer to the business and will therefore despise being constantly told how to their job. Unhappy workers are unlikely to perform to the best of their ability and find a new job else where.


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