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Style Theory of Leadership essay example
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Style Theory of Leadership

According to Harold Kenton, “leadership is defined as an art or process of influencing people so that they strive willingly and enthusiastically towards attainment of group goals”. According to Yuk (1994), “leadership is a process which one member of a group influences other group members towards attainment of specific group goals”. Thus, leadership is a process of influencing the behavior of people by making them strive voluntarily towards achievement of organizational goals.

The above definition focuses on certain important features of leadership- Leadership indicates ability of an individual to influence others It is a group process. A leader is of no use if he has no followers and similarly a group or an organization needs a leader. Thus, both leader and follower play an important role. It is a process undertaken to achieve certain common goals Leadership as a part of organizational behavior has been a widely researched body of this field.

There are a number of leadership theories developed as a result which are;

  • Trait theories
  • Style theories
  • Contingency theories
  • Contemporary theories

STYLE THEORY

Style theory differs drastically from trait or skill theories. Instead of focusing on ho leaders are, style theories considers what leaders do. At the core of all style theories is the idea that leaders engage in two distinct types of behavior: task behaviors and relationship behaviors.

How leaders combine these two behaviors determines their leadership effectiveness. Style theory refers to three main theories or lines of research: the Ohio State University studies, the Michigan University studies and the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid. Ohio state studies The most comprehensive and replicated of the style theories resulted from research that began at Ohio State University in late sass’s. Researchers at Ohio State sought to identify independent dimensions of leader behavior.

The Ohio State leadership studies (Fleischman, 1953; Halting and Winner, 1957; Hemophilia and Cons, 1957) resulted in the creation of the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBS.), a commonly used instrument to assess leadership behavior. Several factor analyses eventually reduced the pool of items and important clusters of them to two factors: consideration and initiation. Considerate leaders tend to emphasize concern for their subordinates opinions on matters of importance.

Although the supervisors have been endowed with authority over their subordinates they are willing to equalize with their subordinates their power to decide the appropriate course of action. They seek involvement and commitment from their subordinates and stress the importance of people and their satisfaction at work , strengthen the self esteem and make them feel at ease in decisions, and are easy to approach and gain their approval before going ahead. Initiating structure refers to the extent to which a leader is likely to define and structure his or her roles and those of employees in search for goal attainment.

It includes behavior that attempts to organize irk, work relationship, and goals. The leader high on this dimension tries to maintain a distance with subordinates, is detached and is interested in getting the work done. An important finding of the Ohio State studies was that these two dimensions are independent. This means that consideration for workers and initiating structure exists simultaneously and in different amounts. Thus the leader can exhibit varying degrees of both initiating structure and consideration at the same time.

A review of 160 students found that initiating structure and consideration were associated with effective leadership. Specifically, consideration was more strongly related to the individual.

In other words, the followers or leaders who were high in consideration were more satisfied with their jobs and more motivated and also had more respect for their leader. Initiating structure was more related to higher levels of group and organizational productivity and more positive performance evaluations. In a large correlation study, Fleischman and Harris (1962) reported that turnover rate was negatively correlated with consideration, and positively associated with initiating structure, although they emphasized the nonlinearity of the relationships.

Also grievance rates are higher when leaders are high on initiation. “There appear to be certain critical levels beyond which increased Consideration or decreased Initiating Structure have no effect on turnover or grievance rate. In a summary of literature, Yuk (1989) reports that the effect of consideration has been confirmed, but the results of studies on initiating structure have not been clear or consistent. Michigan studies The University of Michigan leadership studies (Katz and Kahn, 1952; Katz, Macomb, and Morse, 1950; Katz, et al. 1951) were a series of correlation studies to examine the relationships between leadership behavior, group processes, and group productivity. Manager effectiveness was equated with group productivity. After studying 12 pairs of high performing leaders and 12 pairs of low performing adders, Rinses Liker identified two styles of leader behavior: task-oriented behavior, employee-orientated behavior. Leaders who were employee oriented were described as emphasizing interpersonal relations; they took a personal interest in the needs of their employees and accepted individual differences among members.

Such leaders are interested in developing a cohesive workgroup and in ensuring employees are satisfied with their jobs. Such leaders maintain the group through attention to the human relationships involved The leaders who were production oriented emphasized on the task aspects of the bob and their major concern is with accomplishing the group’s tasks and the group members are a means to that end. Thus the leader pays close attention to the work of sub-ordinates, explains work procedures, and is keenly interested in performance.

Such leaders insist on maintaining standards, see that the employees work to full capacity, offer new approaches to problems, emphasize the meeting of deadlines, make their attitudes clear and decide in detail what should be done and how it should be done. Task-orientated behaviors are the same as the initiating structures in the Ohio studies, and relationship-orientated behaviors are similar to the consideration construct in the Ohio studies. The conclusions arrived at by the Michigan researchers strongly favors the leaders who are employee oriented.

Employee oriented leaders were associated with higher group productivity and higher job satisfaction. Production oriented leaders tended to be associated with low group productivity and lower job satisfaction. Managerial grid A graphical portrayal of a two dimensional view of leadership style was developed by Blake and Mouton in sass’s. They proposed a managerial grid based on the styles of “concern for people” and “concern for production”, which essentially represents the Ohio State dimensions of employee oriented and production oriented.

The grid provides another basis for analyzing and improving upon one’s own work leadership or managerial style. The grid explains how the two dimensions are related and establishes a uniform basis for dealing with behavioral issues. Both the dimensions are stretched up to 9 points from low to high in each dimension, creating 81 different positions in which leaders style may fall. The grid does not show the results produced, but, rather, the dominating factors in a leaders thinking in regard to results.

Unfortunately, the grid offers a better framework for conceptualizing leadership style than for presenting any tangible new information in clarifying the leadership quandary, because it doesn’t really convey any new information in addition to the Ohio State and University of Michigan research. [pick Application of the style theory: The style approach can be easily applied in ongoing leadership settings. At all levels within all types of organizations, managers are continually engaged in task and relationship behaviors.

By making an assessment of their own style, managers can determine how they are coming across to others and how they could change their behaviors to be more effective. In training and development for leadership, many programs are designed, for example, Blake and Mouton’s leadership grid seminar which aim at improving productivity, morale and gaining employee commitment. At grid seminars, through self assessments, small group’s experiences, candid critiques managers learn how to define effective leadership, how to manage for optimal results, and how to identify and change ineffective leadership behaviors.

In short, style approach applies to nearly everything a leader does. It is employed as a model by training and development companies to teach managers how to improve their effectiveness. Conclusion The style approach is not a refined theory that provides a neatly organized set of prescriptions for effective leadership behavior. Rather it just provides a framework for assessing leadership While style theory represents a step forward in understanding leadership, there are some strengths and weaknesses Strengths It marked a major shift in the general focus of leadership research from the focus on personal characteristics of leaders.

It broadened the scope of leadership research to include the behaviors of leaders and what they do in various situations. A wide range of studies validates and gives credibility to the basic tenets of the approach, first reported by researchers at Ohio State University and Michigan studies and subsequently by work by Blake and Mouton (1964, 1 978, 1985) and Blake and Ms Canes (1991). On a conceptual level, research from style theory has ascertained that a leaders style is composed of two major types of behavior: task and relationship.

The key to being an effective leader often rests n how the leader balances these two behaviors. Style theory is heuristic. It provides a broad framework and based on this approach leaders can assess their actions and determine how they may wish to change to improve their leadership style. Criticism The research style has not adequately shown how leaders styles are associated with performance outcomes (Yuk, 1994). Researchers have not been able to establish a consistent link between task and relationship behavior and outcomes such as job satisfaction, morale and productivity.

According to Yuk, the results from the massive research have been contradictory and inconclusive. No universal leadership style has been identified that could be effective in almost all situations. It failed to identify the universal behaviors that are associated with effective leadership. This approach accepts high-high style as most effective (Blake and Encase, 1991) but that may not e the case in all situations.

Full range of research in fact provides only limited support for universal high-high style (Yuk, 1994) Follower’s characteristics affecting leader’s styles A variety of subordinates characteristics in a given situation will determine whether or not directives or participative leadership is likely to be attempted and more effective. These are: 1. Intra-group relations: One of the main determinants of leader’s style is the extent to which their subordinates are cohesive, are free of conflict, and share norms, attitudes, beliefs, purposes, goals, and interests.

When members of a group are very cohesive or homogeneous in beliefs and purposes, it is relatively easy to direct them towards their goals, since, to a considerable degree, they are already moving toward them. At the same time, groups in severe conflict, suffering usually see the utility of turning o an authority, directive leader. 2. Personal and interpersonal attributes: skill, esteem, belief and motives of subordinates, all condition whether their leaders will tend to be directive or participative.

If subordinates are uncertain because the situation is ambiguous, because the problem is unclear, or because contact time is brief, they prefer direction. On the other hand, when the subordinates think they know what to do, they prefer general orders and the opportunity to participate in the decision. Thus, supervisors of unskilled employees in a manufacturing plant were able to be more directive than leaders f skilled employees in the same plant. They were the same, however, in their consideration.

Using students who thought themselves to be on part time jobs, Lowing showed that when subordinates perceive that they lack competence for the tasks to be done, they are more appreciative of close, directive supervision than when they consider themselves competent. A survey study of eighty-three British managers was consistent with these findings. Whenever the leaders reported seeing a big skill difference between themselves and their subordinates, they were more likely to use autocratic decision methods.

Attributes of particular importance were technical ability, decisiveness and intelligence. On the other hand when subordinates are esteemed or valued for their expertise and personal qualities, they are more likely to be invited in the decision process with leaders 3. Culture: managers from six different countries engaged in a decision-making exercise were each experienced authoritarian-directive supervision in two instances and participative supervision in a third role-playing session. Following the three experiences, they indicated which one had been most satisfactory.

On a chance basis participation would have been selected 33% of the time. But amongst 40 Dutch and Flemish managers, 62. 5% were most satisfied in decision making meetings with participative leaders. Of 50 Latin managers, 50% were most satisfied with participation and 46% of 72 British and American managers were most satisfied with participation. The participative model was preferred over the directive by 42% of Indian managers, 36% of Scandinavian managers and only 22% of Greek managers.

These results are consistent with survey research by Haired, Eggshell, and Porter in 18 countries varying in culture background. 4. Training: as in case of leaders, subordinates who have been through some type f sensitivity training are more likely to appreciate the opportunity to participate in open discussion, to experiment with new ideas, to discuss feelings, and to feel free to own up to how they feel about issues and matters at meeting with their leaders. On the other hand, pattern A subordinates are less likely to accept, at least publicly, directions by supervisors.

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Job Attributes: subordinates of relatively low status, peripherally located in information networks are more likely to operate effectively under conditions of directive leadership. On the other hand, subordinates of high status, who are more central in communication outwork, will operate more effectively in conditions of participative management. Thus, participation becomes more common at upper management levels, where all the subordinate managers are of high status. 6.

Personal Objectives: many subordinates are of a mind to tell their leaders what they want to hear rather than what they should hear and many subordinates wish to ingratiate themselves with their leaders and some others strive above all for being liked by their superiors. A leader will tend to be directive with their subordinates. On the other hand if subordinate have strong needs to be valued, participation ill be more acceptable. If ingratiation with their superior is most important to subordinates, directive supervision is workable. . Task objectives of the subordinate: if subordinate prefers to avoid risk and uncertainty, if they do not wish to get deeply involved in task at hand and their interest is of no great importance in overall situation, then directive approaches seem in order. On the other hand, if subordinates are seeking personal growth, if subordinates are seeking involvement and satisfaction, if subordinates are strongly interested in objective of the task at hand, participative approaches seem more appropriate.

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