Situational Approaches To Leadership Management Essay

With establishment in 2005, Misty Abacus Academy started its operations in New Delhi. The organisation targets in imparting education to students of age group between 5-14years. They offer a special course of learning arithmetic by applying the formulas on a Chinese tool called ‘Abacus’.

The organisation works on franchising model. They look out for potential investors and help them in setting their own ‘Misty Abacus Academy’ centre. To start with, they provide academic training and marketing materials to their franchises. My family is one of the Misty Abacus franchisee, and doing quite good in operating it.

But recently the organisation has been facing a lot of problems at the head office. The attrition rate is high resulting in bad team work and productivity. This has led to the deterioration in relations with the franchises. All the franchises have been facing problems in operating their academy as the commitments are not fulfilled in time. The franchisee orders for new books and academic materials according to the demand at their end. But because of ever changing work force, the orders get misplaced and cause inconvenience.

The organisation is lacking in co-ordination and stream lining of workforce. The CEO is not actively involved with the team. The communication is not channelised. People are not self motivated and dedicated. Earlier the organisation used to have forward planning strategies but now the top level managers have become complacent. This might be because they have expanded their franchisee base very quickly and now their focus is only to generate royalties. No new business plans are being initialised; this has led to monotony in the organisation’s approach for business and people’s management.


The organisation Misty Abacus Academy Pvt. Ltd has a good network of franchises all over India. These franchises are their customers and they earn through them. The problem lies at the core of organisation structure, the managers are self-satisfied and do not endeavour innovation in the business. This results in bad control over the team, and decline in customer’s relations.

The only way the company can be brought back to the track is through amending their organisational structure by ways of inculcating leadership and team work characteristics.


“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C Maxwell

Leadership theory can be characterized into three areas: trait-based, situational, and

a behavioural approach. These three categories are traditional approaches to understand leadership. The relationships between them are shown in Figure below.

Relationships for Leadership Theory (Richman, 2006)

Trait-based Approach

Trait theories are leadership perspectives that focus on individual leaders and attempt to determine the personal virtues that great leaders share. These are all traits that an individual can learn to employ with practice, over time. The character traits associated with leadership are identified as the following:

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1. Enterprising Spirit: Enterprising spirit refers to a set of characteristics that reflect a high level of effort. It includes high command for achievement, constant striving for perfection, aspiration, energy, persistence, and initiative.

2. Loyalty: Leaders who demonstrate loyalty and honesty, and are willing to admit to mistakes, display key traits that followers look for in their leaders. A leader will also increase their influence when people trust and believe his or her loyalty.

3. Leadership Motivation: Great leaders not only have an enterprising spirit, but they also want to lead. They have a high desire for power, preferring to be in position of leadership rather than that of a follower.

4. Integrity: Integrity is measured by an individual’s actions and words. People who do not perform and do not execute what they promised are not considered good leader.

5. Self-confidence: Self-confidence allows a leader to overcome obstacles, make decisions despite uncertainty, and instil confidence in others.

6. Knowledge: Effective leaders have a high level of knowledge about their industries, companies, and technical matters. Leaders must have the intelligence to interpret vast quantities of information.

In addition to the traits mentioned above, there are other characteristics which have a significant influence on leadership, including being forward-looking, competent, inspiring, and intelligent.

3.2 Behavioural Approach

Behavioural theories of leadership do not focus on inborn traits or capabilities; rather, the focus is on what leaders actually do. Three general categories of leadership behaviours are mentioned frequently in the literature: behaviours related to task performance; behaviours related to group maintenance, and behaviours related to employee participation in decision-making.

1. Task Performance Behaviours: Task performance behaviours are the leader’s efforts to ensure that the teams or organisations reach their goals. Those behaviours include a focus on work efficiency, quality and accuracy, quantity of output, and adherence to regulations.

2. Group Maintenance Behaviours: These actions are taken to make certain the satisfaction of group members, develop and sustain harmonious working relationships, and preserve the social stability of the group, focusing on people’s feelings and comfort, appreciation, and stress reduction.

3. Participation in Decision-Making: This behaviour appears during the process of making decisions, in which leaders can be classified as autocratic and democratic. Autocratic leadership is a form of leadership in which the leader makes decisions on his or her own and then announces those decisions to the group; democratic leadership is a form of leadership in which the leader solicits input from subordinates. Studies of how the leader’s behaviour influences employee attitudes and performance have focused on autocratic versus democratic decision styles, or on performance- versus maintenance-oriented behaviours.

3.3 Situational Approaches to Leadership

Situational theories distinguish leaders from others through the situation at-hand. Leaders adjust their decision-making, orientation, and motivational approaches based upon a unique combination of factors in their individual situations. These factors include:

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Characteristics of followers

Types of projects

Organizational structures

Personal preferences

And upper-level management’s influences

Leaders adjust their style of management in order to accommodate the different situations.

Relating the Leadership theory to the case

The top level managers at Misty Abacus ought to have a perfect blend of trait, behavioural and situational approach of leadership. The top managers are the spearhead of any organisation’s success. They should feel motivated and convinced about the business they are doing. The negativity in the team should be cured by their good influence. Each team member should look up to their managers to learn from them and aspire to be an imminent manager.

The organisation is deficient in building trust among its employees so, if you are a leader who can be trusted, then those around you will grow to respect you. Managers at Misty Abacus pvt. ltd should exercise leadership with an influence upon its employees and customers that they tend to act in concert towards achieving a goal which they might not have achieved so readily had they been left to their own devices.(Pg 697)

As the business for Misty Abacus ltd. is already up and running, they only need to tweak their organisational approach by applying ‘The Situational Leadership theory’ was coined by ‘Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard’. This approach determine the most effective style of influencing, considering the direction and support a leader gives, and the readiness of followers to perform particular task (Pg713).This leadership style encompasses four behaviour types as shown in figure below:


Telling: It involves one way communication where a leader defines key responsible areas of the subordinate. What, where, when and how to do things. As this involves relationship behaviour, the CEO of the company who has been inactive will have to work out this with the team.

Selling: This involves two way communications between the subordinate and the leader. This requires high amounts of both task behaviour and relationship behaviour.

Participating: This process involves lot of relationship behaviour and support, but little direction or task behaviour. If Misty achieves this stage with the team it will be easy for them to progress and the top managers can again look at future plans of organisation.

Delegating: Here the emphasis is more on groups or individuals which take the onus. The leader oversees the progress. There is low level of both task and relationship behaviours.


Teamwork is defined by Scarnati (2001, p. 5) “as a cooperative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results”. Harris & Harris (1996) also explain that a team has a common goal or purpose where team members can develop effective, mutual relationships to achieve team goals. Teamwork replies upon individuals working together in a cooperative environment to achieve common team goals through sharing knowledge and skills. The literature consistently highlights that one of the essential elements of a team is its focus toward a common goal and a clear purpose (Fisher, Hunter, & Macrosson, 1997; Johnson &Johnson, 1995, 1999; Parker, 1990; Harris & Harris, 1996).

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Teams are an integral part of many organizations and should be incorporated as part of the delivery of tertiary units. Successful teamwork relies upon synergism existing between all team members creating an environment where they are all willing to contribute and participate in order to promote and nurture a positive, effective team environment. Team members must be flexible enough to adapt to cooperative working environments where goals are achieved through collaboration and social interdependence rather than individualised, competitive goals (Luca & Tarricone,2001).

Various attributes required for successful teamwork. Many of these attributes have been identified below:

• Commitment to team success and shared goals – team members are committed to the success of the team and their shared goals for the project. Successful teams are motivated, engaged and aim to achieve at the highest level.

• Interdependence – team members need to create an environment where together they can contribute far more than as individuals. A positive interdependent team environment brings out the best in each person enabling the team to achieve their goals at a far superior level (Johnson & Johnson, 1995, 1999). Individuals promote and encourage their fellow team members to achieve, contribute, and learn.

• Interpersonal Skills includes the ability to discuss issues openly with team members, be honest, trustworthy, supportive and show respect and commitment to the team and to its individuals. Fostering a caring work environment is important including the ability to work effectively with other team members.

• Open Communication and positive feedback – actively listening to the concerns and needs of team members and valuing their contribution and expressing this helps to create an effective work environment. Team members should be willing to give and receive constructive criticism and provide authentic feedback.

• Appropriate team composition is essential in the creation of a successful team. Team members need to be fully aware of their specific team role and understand what is expected of them in terms of their contribution to the team and the project.

• Commitment to team processes, leadership & accountability – team members need to be accountable for their contribution to the team and the project. They need to be aware of team processes, best practice and new ideas. Effective leadership is essential for team success including shared decision-making and problem solving.

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