Whenever two or more persons interact in the pursuit of a common goal, a relation of leadership and followership soon becomes evident. The leader is the one with the most influence – to guide and direct the other(s). The best leaders get others to do what the leader wants for their own reasons.
Leadership is a “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. Leadership is an ability to take the initiative, to plan and organize action, and in so doing to evoke cooperation.
Leadership acts are those which influence, guide, or direct others (in a shared direction). Without at least one follower, there is no leadership. Leadership often begins simply by doing something – that attracts or inspires others to copy or help or do something they might not otherwise.
A leader is defined in terms of relative degrees of status and extent of influence. Leaders are those who influence their others more than they are influenced by them.
The relation between master and slave, teacher and pupil, and frequently between officer and men is characterized by a type of unidirectional influence which few people would call true leadership.
Leadership is different from domination or headship – where command is accepted and obeyed on pain of punishment.
The essence of the leader role is to be found in voluntary conferment of authority by followers. Such leadership is bestowed only persons who appear to contribute to group progress. The leader’s influence on individual group members is secondary to his influence upon total group locomotion.
A leader is a person who has a demonstrable influence on group syntality – and leadership is measured by the magnitude of the syntality change produced by that person.
Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. It is the result of the philosophy, personality, and experience of the leader. There are five main leadership styles. Good leaders use the first three styles – with one of them normally dominant. Bad leaders tend to stick with one style.
- Autocratic or Authoritarian Style
I want both of you to…
Under the autocratic leadership style, all decision-making powers are centralized in the leader, as with dictators. Leaders do not entertain any suggestions or initiatives from subordinates. The autocratic management has been successful as it provides strong motivation to the manager. It permits quick decision-making, as only one person decides for the whole group and keeps each decision to him/herself until he/she feels it needs to be shared with the rest of the group.
This style is used when leaders tell their employees what they want done and how they want it accomplished, without getting the advice of their followers. Some of the appropriate conditions to use it is when you have all the information to solve the problem, you are short on time, and your employees are well motivated.
Some people tend to think of this style as a vehicle for yelling, using demeaning language, and leading by threats and abusing their power. This is not the authoritarian style, rather it is an abusive, unprofessional style called “bossing people around.” It has no place in a leader’s repertoire.
The authoritarian style should normally only be used on rare occasions. If you have the time and want to gain more commitment and motivation from your employees, then you should use the participative style.
Participative or Democratic Style
Let’s work together to solve this…
The democratic leadership style favors decision-making by the group. Such a leader gives instructions after consulting the group.
They can win the cooperation of their group and can motivate them effectively and positively. The decisions of the democratic leader are not unilateral as with the autocrat because they arise from consultation with the group members and participation by them.
This style involves the leader including one or more employees in the decision making process (determining what to do and how to do it). However, the leader maintains the final decision making authority. Using this style is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength that your employees will respect.
This is normally used when you have part of the information, and your employees have other parts. Note that a leader is not expected to know everything — this is why you employ knowledgeable and skillful employees. Using this style is of mutual benefit — it allows them to become part of the team and allows you to make better decisions.
Delegative or Free Rein (Laissez-Faire) Style
You two take care of the problem while I go…
In this style, the leader allows the employees to make the decisions. However, the leader is still responsible for the decisions that are made. This is used when employees are able to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be done and how to do it. You cannot do everything! You must set priorities and delegate certain tasks.
This is not a style to use so that you can blame others when things go wrong, rather this is a style to be used when you fully trust and confidence in the people below you. Do not be afraid to use it, however, use it wisely!
A free-rein leader does not lead, but leaves the group entirely to itself. Such a leader allows maximum freedom to subordinates; they are given a free hand in deciding their own policies and methods.
Different situations call for different leadership styles. In an emergency when there is little time to converge on an agreement and where a designated authority has significantly more experience or expertise than the rest of the team, an autocratic leadership style may be most effective; however, in a highly motivated and aligned team with a homogeneous level of expertise, a more democratic or free rein style may be more effective. Laissez-faire (or lais·ser faire) is the noninterference in the affairs of others. [French : laissez, second person pl. imperative of laisser, to let, allow + faire, to do.] The style adopted should be the one that most effectively achieves the objectives of the group while balancing the interests of its individual members.
Various academics have identified narcissistic leadership as an important and common leadership style.
A toxic leader is someone who has responsibility over a group of people or an organization, and who abuses the leader-follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off condition than when he/she first found them.
Varieties of individual power
The ability to attain these unique powers is what enables leadership to influence subordinates and peers by controlling organizational resources. The successful leader effectively uses these powers to influence employees, and it is important for leaders to understand the uses of power to strengthen their leadership.
Types of organizational power:
Legitimate Power refers to the different types of professional positions within an organization structure that inherit such power (e.g. Manager, Vice President, Director, Supervisor, etc.). These levels of power correspond to the hierarchical executive levels within the organization itself. The higher positions, such as president of the company, have higher power than the rest of the professional positions in the hierarchical executive levels.
Reward Power is the power given to managers that attain administrative power over a range of rewards (such as raises and promotions). Employees who work for managers desire the reward from the manager and will be influenced by receiving it as a result of work performance.
Coercive Power is the manager’s ability to punish an employee. Punishment can be mild, such as a suspension, or serious, such as termination.
Expert Power is attained by the manager due to his or her own talents such as skills, knowledge, abilities, or previous experience. A manager who has this power within the organization may be a very valuable and important manager in the company.
Charisma Power: a manager who has charisma will have a positive influence on workers, and create the opportunity for interpersonal influence.
Referent Power is a power that is gained by association. A person who has power by association is often referred to as an assistant or deputy.
Information Power is gained by a person who has possession of important information at an important time when such information is needed to organizational functioning.
Characteristics of a Team
- There must be an awareness of unity on the part of all its members.
There must be interpersonal relationship. Members must have a chance to contribute, and learn from and work with others.
The members must have the ability to act together toward a common goal.
Ten characteristics of well-functioning teams:
- Purpose: Members proudly share a sense of why the team exists and are invested in accomplishing its mission and goals.
Priorities: Members know what needs to be done next, by whom, and by when to achieve team goals.
Roles: Members know their roles in getting tasks done and when to allow a more skillful member to do a certain task.
Decisions: Authority and decision-making lines are clearly understood.
Conflict: Conflict is dealt with openly and is considered important to decision-making and personal growth.
Personal traits: members feel their unique personalities are appreciated and well utilized.
Norms: Group norms for working together are set and seen as standards for every one in the groups.
Effectiveness: Members find team meetings efficient and productive and look forward to this time together.
Success: Members know clearly when the team has met with success and share in this equally and proudly.
Training: Opportunities for feedback and updating skills are provided and taken advantage of by team members.
Principles of Leadership
To you be be, know, and do, follow these eleven principles of leadership (U.S. Army, 1983):
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement – In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do, attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others.
Be technically proficient – As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with others’ tasks.
Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions – Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later — do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
Make sound and timely decisions – Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools.
Set the example – Be a good role model. Others must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. We must become the change we want to see.
Know your people and look out for their well-being – Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
Keep your workers informed – Know how to communicate with not only them, but also seniors and other key people.
Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers – Help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished – Communication is the key to this responsibility.
Train as a team – Although many so called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams…they are just a group of people doing their jobs.
Use the full capabilities of your organization – By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.
Every organization has a particular work environment, which dictates to a considerable degree how its leaders respond to problems and opportunities. This is brought about by its heritage of past leaders and its present leaders.
Goals, Values, and Concepts
Leaders exert influence on the environment via three types of actions:
- The goals and performance standards they establish.
The values they establish for the organization.
The business and people concepts they establish.
Successful organizations have leaders who set high standards and goals across the entire spectrum, such as strategies, market leadership, plans, meetings and presentations, productivity, quality, and reliability.
Values reflect the concern the organization has for its employees, customers, investors, vendors, and surrounding community. These values define the manner in how business will be conducted.
Concepts define what products or services the organization will offer and the methods and processes for conducting business.
These goals, values, and concepts make up the organization’s personality or how the organization is observed by both outsiders and insiders. This personality defines the roles, relationships, rewards, and rites that take place.
Roles ad Relationships
Roles are the positions that are defined by a set of expectations about behavior of any job incumbent. Each role has a set of tasks and responsibilities that may or may not be spelled out. Roles have a powerful effect on behavior for several reasons, to include money being paid for the performance of the role, there is prestige attached to a role, and a sense of accomplishment or challenge.
Relationships are determined by a role’s tasks. While some tasks are performed alone, most are carried out in relationship with others. The tasks will determine who the role-holder is required to interact with, how often, and towards what end. Also, normally the greater the interaction, the greater the liking. This in turn leads to more frequent interaction. In human behavior, its hard to like someone whom we have no contact with, and we tend to seek out those we like. People tend to do what they are rewarded for, and friendship is a powerful reward. Many tasks and behaviors that are associated with a role are brought about by these relationships. That is, new task and behaviors are expected of the present role-holder because a strong relationship was developed in the past, either by that role-holder or a prior role-holder.
Culture and Climate
There are two distinct forces that dictate how to act within an organization: culture and climate.
Each organization has its own distinctive culture. It is a combination of the founders, past leadership, current leadership, crises, events, history, and size. This results in rites: the routines, rituals, and the “way we do things.” These rites impact individual behavior on what it takes to be in good standing (the norm) and directs the appropriate behavior for each circumstance.
The climate is the feel of the organization, the individual and shared perceptions and attitudes of the organization’s members. While the culture is the deeply rooted nature of the organization that is a result of long-held formal and informal systems, rules, traditions, and customs; climate is a short-term phenomenon created by the current leadership. Climate represents the beliefs about the “feel of the organization” by its members. This individual perception of the “feel of the organization” comes from what the people believe about the activities that occur in the organization. These activities influence both individual and team motivation and satisfaction, such as:
- How well does the leader clarify the priorities and goals of the organization?
What is expected of us?
What is the system of recognition, rewards, and punishments in the organization?
How competent are the leaders?
Are leaders free to make decisions?
What will happen if I make a mistake?
Things are done differently in every organization. The collective vision and common folklore that define the institution are a reflection of culture. Culture represents the shared expectations and self-image of the organization; the mature values that create tradition or the “way we do things here.” Culture influences the characteristics of the climate by its effect on the actions and thought processes of the leader. Individual leaders cannot easily create or change culture because culture is a part of the organization.
Everything a leader does will affect the climate of the organization. Organizational climate is directly related to the leadership and management style of the leader – and his or her values, attributes, skills, actions, and priorities. The ethical climate is the feel about whether we do things right; or the feel of whether we behave the way we ought to behave. The behavior (character) of the leader is the most important factor that impacts the climate.
The Process of Great Leadership
- Challenge the process – First, find a process that you believe needs to be improved the most.
Inspire a shared vision – Next, share your vision in words that can be understood by your followers.
Enable others to act – Give them the tools and methods to solve the problem.
Model the way – When the process gets tough, get your hands dirty. A boss tells others what to do, a leader shows that it can be done.
Encourage the heart – Share the glory with your followers’ hearts, while keeping the pains within your own.
Five Points of Leadership Power
- Coercive Power — Power that is based on fear. A person with coercive power can make things difficult for people. These are the persons that you want to avoid getting angry. Employees working under coercive managers are unlikely to be committed, and more likely to resist the manager.
Reward Power — Compliance achieved based on the ability to distribute rewards that others view as valuable. Able to give special benefits or rewards to people. You might find it advantageous to trade favors with him or her.
Legitimate Power — The power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an organization. The person has the right, considering his or her position and your job responsibilities, to expect you to comply with legitimate requests.
Expert Power — Influence based on special skills or knowledge. This person earns respect by experience and knowledge. Expert power is the most strongly and consistently related to effective employee performance.
Referent Power — Influence based on possession by an individual or desirable resources or personal traits. You like the person and enjoy doing things for him or her.