Leadership Must Be Empowerment To Empower Its Teams Management Essay

Goleman (1998) argued that during the last decade interpersonal skills have focused on effective leadership. Where the leaders controlled, planned and inspected the organization’s operation, in recent more service oriented industries, leaderships responsibilities include motivate employees, promote positive attitudes in workplace, and make a sense of participation among employees (Hogan et al., 1994).

Most researchers analyze leadership effectiveness regarding to the result of the leader’s performance for employees and company’s stakeholders, but the consequence variables of each researchers have been different from the others. The principals of these variables are depend on how immediate they are and whether they have subjective or objective measures. These consequences which are negatively correlated, are very difficult because of the complex trade-offs among them. In order to analyze the effectiveness of leadership many criteria should be taken in to the account to handle these complexities and variation between stakeholder’s preferences (Yuki, 1998).

Researchers have stressed that the relationship between managers and employees has an important role in effective leadership. Qualified relationship and open interaction motivate and empower employees (Boyd and Taylor, 1998; Brower, Schoorman, and Tan, 2000). Drinks (1995) and Nonaka (1988) believed that the type of leaders’ interaction may lead them to take advantage from their difference and learn from each other. Ensley et al. (2003) argued that conventional view of a single leadership is based on the concept that leadership is a specialized role that cannot be shared with group. This perspective is stood for more hierarchical leadership in which the leaders supervise and control all activities. In the other hand, in shared leadership all members of the team are empowered to share the tasks and responsibilities of leadership. Yuki (1998, p.3) who view leadership as shared process cited that “important decisions about what to do and how to do it are made through the use of an interactive process that involves many different people who influence each other, not by a single person”.

Managers have different relationships with their employees and as Boyd and Taylor (1998) argued the quality of these relations may have influence on their success. When they improve the quality of their relationship, employees can be more productive on their task and more encouraged to contribute in organizational activities. Argyris and Schon (1978, 1996) have claimed that supportive interaction is the basis of effective leadership. Such interaction can be a strong motivation for organizational learning (Drinks, 1995; Nonakd, 1998). Bandura (1974) emphasized that successful leaders have capacity to motivate, encourage and empower their employees. Empowerment improves employees’ task innovation and continuation. Empowered employees make more contributions, they accept more difficult situations, and perform more confidently. They make more effort on their given task.

According to Hofstede (2001) in organizations, such as any other social units, it may be found some inequality of employees’ capacities and powers, or unequal distribution of power over the employees. Cotta (1976) believes that power inequality is necessary in organization, and Hofstede (2001) claimed that the distribution of power in most organizations is formed in hierarchies, and the foundation of these hierarchies is the relationship between the managers and employees. “Power distance is a measure of the interpersonal power or influence” (P.83) between managers and employees. The acceptance and supporting of power distance by social environment is strongly related to the national culture. The culture determines the level of correlation among managers and employees. He expressed that the effect of employees’ participation on the outcome variables of organizational contribution, job satisfaction and efficacy was altered by particular level of power distance.

Employee empowerment or participative decision making is not a simple or new concept of management. More than 50 years of research has approved that employee contribution is a complex management tool, that if apply properly, it can improve the performance, productivity and job satisfaction (Nykodym, Simonetti, Nielsen and Welling, 1994). Cohen, Chang and Ledford (1997) argued that employee must be engaged if they comprehend the necessity of creativity and if they are interested in changing their behaviors in work in improved way. He believes that the most significant concept of organizational effectiveness and positive employee perceptions is the employees’ involvement. One type of employees’ involvement in workplace is their participation in decision making (PDM).

Nykodym, Simonetti and Welling (1994) have presented four areas for employees’ participation. The first area is goal setting. Employees can participate in setting up a goal for their task, planning a job and the appropriate time for job execution. In the second area employees can contribute in making choice between alternative series of tasks such as: working hours, placement of supplies or options among alternatives to perform an ordinary task. Next, employees can participate in problems solving that include clarifying the subject and determining the alternative series of activities. Finally, participation may include organizational changes, such as setting company policies that may involve hiring, layoffs, profit sharing or investments. Companies can take part in any or all of these areas in any time. The first three methods of participation can be used for all areas of contribution. Employees can participate individually to make decision and determine their own target, or they may get together with a manager to make decision making team. All employees may take part in decision making group with their coworkers or managers. This participation may be formal as in quality circle or informal as a group of employees declaring their opinions to gain the general agreement. Employees’ contribution in decision making can be directly or indirectly through a representative elected to express the group’s ideas.


There are some conditions that influence the success of participative leadership, and if these conditions do not manage properly, the efforts for participative management will fail. One of the most important set of these conditions is include the values, attitudes and expectations of an organization’s employees. If employees do not want to take part in decision making, any attempt to force them would fail. For successful participation an organization must have a corporate culture that express the participative leadership. Another condition is the design of current task that must be done. If the workers’ task depends on each other to be complete, it can encourage the independent individual participation. If employees do not trust their managers, the participation in group decision making of employees and managers may not be successful. The last set of conditions is related to the environment. According to the rapidly changing technology, governmental laws, and strong competition, employees’ participation in decision making cannot be effective unless the members have the essential technical skills. These groups must also be capable to work with each other effectively in order to make a proper decision (Nykodym, Simonetti, Nielsen and Welling, 1994).

Yuki (1998) believes that shared leadership is expected to occur self-managed teams, because of the employees are independent in developing group processes. In self-managed teams employees have more authority and responsibility to make decisions which related to their tasks (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; S.G Cohen, 1991). Self-managed teams are able to make decisions, determine goals, assign work, set schedule, and so on (Yuki, 1998). However the necessity of leadership in not questioning as the team is self-managed. Barry (1991) stressed that the role of leadership in self-managed teams is more important than traditional teams. He declared that “in addition to needing task-based leadership such as project definition, scheduling, and resource gathering; self-managed teams require leadership around group development processes (developing cohesiveness, establishing effective communication patterns, and so forth)” (p.32). Braford (1976) suggested that the team’s members with shared leadership are more satisfied with their teams, and Katzenbach and Smith (1993) claimed that teams involved in shared leadership are more effective and productive in regard to performance. In addition Perry, Pearce and Sims (1999) argued that shared leadership improves the interpretation of team’s requirements.

Recently many researchers have become interested in the concept of self-managed group (Stewart and Manz,1995; Cohen and Ledford, 1994; Mohrman et al., 1995; Manz, 1986, 1992; Manz and Sims, 1980,1990). According to the idea of socio-technical systems developed by Emery and Trist (1969), during the recent years, the self-managed work groups are used as a form of work system, specifically as pressures of high educated workforce for more responsibility and empowerment through group based shared management are exerted on organizations (Pearce and Manz, 2005). Also, there is another pressure that applied for organization to become more responsive to the recent competitive environment and global economy (Wriston, 1991; Druskat and Wheeler, 2003).

Self-managed teams are independent to make important decision that related to their team processes (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; S.G. Cohen, 1991; Yuki, 1998). Murry et al. (2002) emphasized that leadership is a key in team process, without leadership team members may not be able to identify with team goals. Self-managed teams as Barry (1991) argued need more leadership than traditional teams in both task-related and team development problems.

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There are some attributes for self-managed work teams. Under the Wall and Clegg (1986) presentation, self-managed team build of a small group of individuals who are responsible for making the unit of task, executing a variety of works and using various skills that the group possesses. Job feedback is important for work team so the difference from goal achievement can be supervised by group member in specified task area boundary. Several case studies proved the advantages of the implementation of self-managed work teams such as increased employee satisfaction, heightened socialization in the work place, increased autonomy, opportunity to learn new skills, and some other benefits include reduced absenteeism and increased performance and motivation (Cohen and Ledford, 1994; Wall and Clegg, 1986; Pearce and Ravlin, 1987). However some researchers believes that self-managed work teams have some disadvantages in actual work (Versepey, 1990; Mohrman et al., 1995). Some case study in the USA has demonstrated that one of the most important factors in self-managed work teams failure is the reluctance of the manager to transfer the power and control to the team member (Hackman, 1989; Manz and Sims, 1987). So the role of leadership in self-managed work teams is critical.

Elloy (n.d.) argued that the leadership in self-managed work team has an important role that has received little attention during past years for they often they supposed that role of external leader is redundant. There are few researches on external leader and its influence on groups operations. The fundamental opinion of self-managed work teams declares that the group members have control over their work environment and responsibility for all their duties in the team.

However, research by Manz and Sims (1984, 1986, 1987, and 1990) revealed that leadership exit from traditional form of supervision and control to highly facilitative form of management, less direct but necessary for the productivity and effectiveness of the group.

Many authors cited Kanter (1979) as the source of knowledge about the efficacy of employee empowerment. Kanter (1979) believes that shared management and empowered employee can increase the organizational power. The power of the leader in such situation not only reduces but also may enhance especially if the organization performs better. He also mentioned that employees, who are equipped with tools, information, and support, can make better decision. Bowen and Lawler (1995) declared that empowerment lead to more satisfied customers and employees. They also provided additional evidence, “considerable research unpracticed such as gain sharing, communication programs, work teams, job enrichment, skill based pay, and so on, has shown the results of these practices are consistence and positive” (p.75). Randolph (1995) indicates that employee empowerment can is improved trust in the organization. In such organization employee respond positively and they will set challenging goals which when they achieve those goals they will define the goals at higher level.

In the other hand managing participation does not come without potential problems in the case of initiation, structure and management, choice of issue, team work, and evaluation. When organizations begin the participation program, the managements who are at higher level direct employees to contribute in establishing task forces and teams. In addition, managers who are handled to accomplish this activity will be assessed on the success of their teams. Another problem of participation is how the organization declares the program to the employees. Managers sometime present contribution in decision-making as a luxury rather than a result oriented tool. Furthermore, if management explains clearly what they want to obtain from concept of participation, employees can accept it more rapidly. The next problem is concern with employees who are involved in participation practices. If participation depends on volunteers, it is not representative, if it does not; it is compelling (Nykodym, Simonetti, Nielsen and Welling, 1994).

Fox (1998) believes the most important problem in empowerment program as that may affect profitability of the organization is management’s fear of letting employees make decisions. Even Kanter (1979) who is cited as providing evidence of the effectiveness of empowerment indicates:

“One might wonder why more organizations do not adopt such empowering strategies. These are standard answers, that giving up control is threatening to people who have fought for every shred of it; that managers fear losing their own place and special privileges in the system, and so on forth. But I would also pot skepticism about employee abilities high on the list.” (p.74)

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In addition, Nykodym et al. (1994) mentioned that some problems in participations are related to the structure and management. An effective empowerment needs an obvious structure. It is essential to establish all basis rules and limitation boundaries from the beginning of the program. In the other word, empowerment program requires an effective leader who can motivate the employee and set constraints. Another problem with structure and management is that managers must engage to arrange activities, support employees and reconsider the consequences. A manager cannot assign the tasks to a team without monitoring them. They must also find and manage the time needed for participation.

Middle managers often oppose to employee empowerment as they think that the program will remove their power, which Blanchard and Bowles (1998) called it “hazing theory of management”. He believes that managers must modify the control over the employees. The reason that initiation programs and hazing are still a part of fraternal companies is that the employees want the chance to act as was acted to them. These changes are performed through training. Managers must understand that they still have a position even the authority being shared with employees. Their new role includes mentoring, coaching, and facilitating. Proper training improves manager’s skill of coaching and mentoring, because empower employee are often leaded in to self-managing teams need someone to facilitate their discussion until their skills are improved. This facilitating is the role of manager in self-managed team. Many managers need training in order to increase their capacity for facilitating discussions (Fox, 1998).

Next dilemma that Nykodym, Simonetti, Nielsen and Welling (1994) referred is the issue of choice that is concerned which issue is included in participative decision making. Researchers have demonstrated that employees prefer to take part in problems that are related to their primary job operation, or their quotidian problems. But it is important not to make presumption about what problems are most significant to employees, they should be asked. As the participation has passed its experimental stage, employees may request compensation or recognition for their time and ideas. Employees must feel that they profit from participation in the effectiveness of the company.

Bowen and Lawler (1992) note some management objections such as: higher required investment in selection and training, greater labor costs, incompatible service deliveries which are resulted by these changes. Other management objections mentioned by Conger and Kanungo (1988) are empowerment may lead to overconfidence and misjudgment on the followers. Appropriate training may defeat some of these objections, but not all of them. However, Fox (1998) believes that the advantage of employee empowerment exceed the disadvantages.

In the other hand, employees are often opposed to empowerment program. Aeppel (1997) argued that one of the objections by Eaton employees is the responsibility of the group for each employee. He believes that when everyone mentoring everyone else it seems that having a hundred bosses. Another employee complaint that declared by Fox (1998), is that they don’t want extra task than their ordinary responsibilities. He considers that employee with such objection is not motivated and he/she is not aware of the benefit of his/her task for the organization.

Eurotec Company is a subsidiary of the Schott Group which is a large German glass manufacturer. According to the rapid production expansion, the company faced a number of problems, and in order to moderate these issues, the company decided to implement empowerment program. The references revealed the successful use of empowered autonomous work team to remove the problems (Sykes et al., 1997). As argued in the article, the staffs are now motivated to come along with challenges. Employees are trained to increase their technical and communication skills and they feel more involved.

In conclusion, although the implementation empowerment is the biggest challenge of any organization in terms of its initiation, structure, and evaluation and so on, it is profitable for team progress, because there are more leaders to mentor team’s performance, and employees motivate each other. In such environment employees are more satisfied about their job and as a result the productivity, performance and task innovation will be improved. For achieving these goals, managers have a key role to lead the organizations effectively and motivate employees to participate in decision making.

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