Effective leaders are not born but are made. People who have the desire and the passion for a goal not drive themselves but others as well who share that single goal. Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. They inspire their group to go beyond the ordinary in order to reach new and higher levels of achievement. Mr. Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
Being a leader not only entails having a clear direction of where to go, but a clear handle of how to get there. Just like a navigator in a ship the leader has to have a very clear understanding of the requirements of the objective on himself and on his team. In addition, a leader has to have a good relationship with the team tasked to attain the objective. By being able to have a good working relationship with the team, the leader can easily and effectively cascade the tasks needed to be done to the right people.
In this paper, contemporary leadership styles are discussed explaining task versus relationship and the leadership style one should adopt. In addition, this paper presents the writer’s own leadership model derived from the research.
For the first model, we discuss Robert House’ leadership model entitled the path-goal model leadership theory. It states that a leader’s function is to clear the path toward the goal of the group, by meeting the needs of subordinates. This leadership model was developed together by Martin Evans and Robert House (Miner, 2002). This model is based on the Expectancy Theory of Motivation and on the precepts of Goal Setting Theory and argues that leaders will have to engage in different types of leadership behavior depending on the nature and the demands of a particular situation. A leader’s behavior is acceptable to his/her subordinates when viewed as a source of satisfaction, and motivational when need satisfaction is contingent on performance (House, 1994). After which the leader facilitates, guides, and rewards effective team members. For leadership styles, the Path-Goal theory identifies achievement-oriented, participative, directive and supportive styles (House, 2004).
In the achievement-oriented style of leadership, the leader gives challenging tasks to the team, expects the highest levels of performance, and clearly shows confidence in their ability to meet the requirements of the task. On the other hand, directive leadership, a leader lets followers know what is expected of them and instructs them how to perform their tasks. In Participative leadership, leaders consult with the other members of the group and ask for their suggestions before making a decision. Lastly, in supportive leadership, the leader is friendly and approachable. The leader is particular for the followers’ psychological well-being.
The Path-Goal Theory assumes that leaders are highly flexible and can easily change leadership styles depending on the situation. Follower characteristics are central to control, experience, and perceived ability. Personal traits of subordinates determine how the environment and leader are interpreted. Effective leaders clearly define how to achieve the goal and help their followers achieve theory goals and make the process as easy as possible by reducing roadblocks and pitfalls.
Another leadership theory is the functional leadership model. In this model, leadership is seen as set of behaviors that help an organization perform their tasks. The model suggests that the leadership function meets needs three areas specifically Task, Team and the Individual (Functional Leadership Model). These areas were derived from John Adair’s “three circles” model of leadership. There are three Leadership styles that meet needs in the above three areas (Day, 2004):
Maintenance style that aims to improve the relationships among the members, such as encouraging silent members to open up or facilitate open discussion.
Substantive style that is directly relevant to performing the group’s tasks, such as proposing solutions or providing important information, and
Procedural style that helps direct the group’s discussion such as developing group protocols or testing the degree of agreement among members
In the functional leadership model, any member can participate in leadership. It was once thought that members always had to specialize in one type or another, but while that case may happen it is not necessarily the case. The functional leadership model places emphasis on how the group is being led rather than looking only on the person to whom the leadership role was assigned.
While many had assumed that there was only a single best style of leadership, Fred Fiedler created a contingency model that postulated that the leader’s effectiveness is based on ‘situational contingencies’, that is a result of interaction of two factors, known as situational favourableness that was later called situational control and the leader’s style (Fiedler, 1967).
According to Fiedler, it is stress that is the key determinant of leader effectiveness. In stressful situations, leaders dwell on the stressful relations with others and cannot focus their intellectual abilities on the job. Thus, intelligence is more effective and used more often in stress-free situations. In his research, Fiedler discovered that although experience impairs performance in conditions of low-stress, it greatly contributes to performance when the leader is under a high degree of stress. His research recommends that altering or engineering the leadership situation to capitalize on the leader’s strengths can overcome the problems in achieving the tasks at hand. Despite of all the criticism, the contingency theory is important because it establishes a new perspective for studying leadership.
Ken Blanchard, and Paul Hersey developed one of the best-known leadership models, the Situational Leadership Theory. They created the situational leadership model allowing one to analyze the needs of the situation and adopt the appropriate leadership style to achieve the tasks (Chemers, 1997). The model rests on two fundamental concepts that are leadership style and the development level. They characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of direction and support that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types:
Directing Leaders define the tasks of the followers and closely supervise them. The leader then decides and announces these decisions making communication largely one-way.
Coaching Leaders still define roles and tasks, but in addition seeks the ideas and suggestions from the members. The decision is still dependent on the leader but communication is more two-way.
Supporting Leaders pass the daily decisions, such as allocation of tasks and processes to the members. The leader then facilitates and takes part in decisions, but the control is with the members.
Delegating Leaders are still involved in problem solving and decision-making but control is with the members. In this style, the member is the one who decides when and how the leader of the group will be involved in the decision-making.
Effective leaders need to be flexible as no one style is optimal for all leaders to possess. On the other hand, each leader tends to have a natural style. The other factor is development levels.
The right leadership style will depend on the member. Their model extends to the Development Level of the member. The leader’s chosen style should be based on the competence and commitment of her followers. They categorized the possible development of followers into four levels, as Low Competence, High Commitment, Some Competence, Low Commitment, High Competence, Variable Commitment and High Competence, High Commitment. Similar to the leadership styles mentioned above, these levels are also situational (Miner, 2002).
In lieu of these leadership styles, the writer proposes the William’s leadership model that is essentially an integration of the abovementioned leadership models. In the William’s model, a single entity (eg. A person, a committee or even a group) is empowered to lead the organization. One of the prerequisites of this model is that the group has to have a clear and solid understanding of the goals and tasks that need to be done by the organization. The set of goals or organizational objectives are then cascaded down to the members of the group. The william’s model suggests a democratic approach in cascading the goals. Suggestions and comments are solicited from the organization that will eventually implement the tasks. What is important is that the organization ultimately understands and agrees with the goals set by the leader/s.
As the tasks are cascaded and implemented in the entire organization, William’s model suggests an decentralized form of management wherein the members of the group are empowered to a certain degree wherein they can act on their own without supervision but within the constraints of the tasks and goals set. In addition, the model suggests to utilize different leadership styles mentioned above in order to address situational problems and issues that commonly arise. The leader has to be flexible enough in order to understand the problem, and utilize the most appropriate leadership style in order determine the correct course of action. It is also important that the leader has to have a sense of empathy or be able to understand the problem in varying perspectives, particularly that of the member who encountered the problem first hand. Lastly, William’s model highly prescribes a strong and open channel of communication between the leader and the members of the group. In order to do there must be a firm relationship between the group and the leader. In having a strong line of communication between the leader and the members, problems and issues can be averted and be resolved immediately without unnecessary delay. This also creates a sense of camaraderie as the leader is not “alienated” or set up high that the members cannot approach the leader. Creating a sense of camaraderie makes the group stronger and able to cope with varying levels of complex tasks and goals. The William’s model basically is a flexible yet firm, goal-oriented yet process relationship-centered leadership model can be used in varying organizations and leadership situations.
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