Importance of Understanding Relationship / Leadership Style Essay

Pages: 4 (1555 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership/Relationship Style

Background- the core philosophical conundrum of leadership has been debated and defined by social theorists, philosophers, and politicians for centuries. True leadership is something almost undefinable at times: that spark that moves from the tactical to the strategic in a manner that becomes almost supernatural. As business becomes more complex, and as the process of globalism continues, leadership must evolve and change. According to author Peter Senge (2006) the template for the future of global business in the 21st century will be leadership. Innovation and improvement on a regular basis are required to maintain and improve the ability to make rational decisions, and some psychologists even believe that the ability to make effective decisions is at the core of the individual's success of failure within their organization (Porter, 1998).

It is not enough, however, to simply accept a leadership role without fully understanding what it means to be a leader and, above all, the importance of leadership style. We know that one of the most significant strengths of an effective leader is the ability, like a coach or teacher, to create a positive work environment. Studies, in fact, have shown that results can improve threefold with a positive environment, and up to 70 per cent of an employee's perception of the organizational climate can be directly traced to the style of the leader (Cronkite, 2006). That being said, there are differing interpretations on just exact what constitutes "leadership style." It seems to be something innate that people recognize, but more difficult to quantify. Leadership style and leadership tactics are different, though. Style is the consistent patterns shown by the leader over time. Tactics are individual "solutions" for specific issues. Too, decision making paradigms directly correlate with leadership style (Rowe and Boulgarides, 1998, 28-30). While there is no concrete definition of actual styles, there seems to be at least four major trends that studies have shown exemplify basic leadership styles that many successful leaders apply that for the basic paradigm for discussion:

Directive -- This is the most authoritarian of the styles with low tolerance for any ambiguity. The focus is on logic, technical decisions, and the style is generally autocratic with a need for power and control. This leader has a great deal of drive, but also needs to dominate others.

Analytic -- The analytical leader has more tolerance for ambiguity but is also more cognitively complex that continuously needs more information and to consider many alternatives. The focus is on technical decisions, somewhat autocratic, but fair. These leaders are not particularly quick to make decisions, prefer the data written and while they enjoy challenges, they are more quantitatively focused.

Conceptual -- A conceptual leader has both strong cognitive skills and superior people skills. This style tends to use data from multiple sources while still considering many alternatives. There is trust, openness, and shared goals with subordinates. Often, the conceptual leader is an idealist that emphasizes values and ethics, but still push towards achievement oriented recognition. They want subordinates to participate, and value new opinions.

Behavior -- This leader is relative low on the cognitive scale, but has a great deal of concern for employee development and the emotional well-being of the workforce. This is not a brilliant leader, but often achieves great results because they engender loyalty and excellence in their employees. Their focus is more tactical than strategic, avoidant of conflict, with a strong desire to please and be liked (Boulgarides and Cohen, 2001).

The Managerial Grid Model- Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed a managerial grid model/behavioral leadership model that identified five different leadership styles based on both the concern for production (task) and the concern for people (relationship). The optimal leadership style in this model is based on Theory Y

Use of the task and relationship can help one understand the basis of their style, and either accentuate portions of it that one covets or mitigate those that one might find disturbing or not as positive. For instance, if one has historically been an autocratic leader, one might wish to soften that with more team orientation. However, if one finds themselves in the role of a leader that does not engender much satisfaction, then one can work on other trends to accentuate greater leadership skills (Blake and Mouton, 1985). The key to using this type of grid theory for self-analysis is to break one's leadership and relationship behavior into seven key elements that are critical when dealing with managerial issues and/or with people in the workplace:

Element

Description

Importance for Self-Analysis

Imitative

Taking action, driving and supporting

Ability to act, even in stressful situations

Inquiry

Questioning, researching and verifying understanding

What is the basic way of getting information? How is that information acted upon?

Advocacy

Expressing convictions and championing ideas

Coach or tyrant? Supportive of employees?

Decision Making

Evaluating resources, choices and consequences

At what level must you make decisions? Motivation for such?

Conflict Resolution

Confronting and resolving disagreements

How do you deal with conflict? Do you have the skills to resolve?

Resilience

Dealing with problems, setbacks and failures

Is the cup 1/2 full or 1/2empty? What happens when situations are problematical or unexpected?

Critique

Delivering objective, candid feedback

Is your feedback constructive and does it lend itself to improvement of employee and/or situation?

(Zeidan, 2005).

Personal Analysis- My score for Task was 41, High; and for Relationship 37, Moderately High. This is a fairly accurate representation, since I tend to be more of a Type-A, and the scores are in line with Meyers-Briggs and other psychological tests. Stylistically, I tend to be strongly motivated and opionated, but as I grow older more apt to relinquish authority and even presentation time to employees. Early in my career, I tended to be more strongly motivated by "control," but this has diminished somewhat.

Using this information, as well as the materials on leadership trait types, leadership motivations, and leadership actions shows me that I need to continue to grow as a leader by taking into consideration more inclusive behaviors that will allow employees to develop, actualize, and perhaps even excel above and beyond. I think sometimes I am too concerned for production rather than people, but again, not to an extreme -- even though I can see this as problematical at times. Many of the materials used to research this paper suggest a three pronged approach to using the Black-Mouton analysis. This makes sense to me, and I have already begun to use it as a self-examination tool:

Step 1 -- Identification of Leadership Style -- Variable between Team (High production/High People) and Produce or Perish (High Production / Low People).

Step 2- Identify areas of improvement -- Find ways to utilize appropriate managerial skills to open up the environment for more egalitarian discussion. Allow employees to make more decisions and participate in direction of strategic and tactical goal setting. Assign employees to be group leaders and place emphasis on empowering the group and allowing a rich and robust communication paradigm. Find ways of allowing each employee to excel in front of colleagues and management. Take extra effort to find ways to place employees in presentations with senior management, even if that means less for me. Search extra-curricular seminars and events for appropriate learning extension modules. Encourage more constructive dissent in meetings.

Step 3 -- Place grid in context -- I do realize that there are times when one cannot explain every aspect of a strategic plan, every issue with a customer, or every managerial decision. At times, things must be done because they need to be done without a lot of discussion or debate. If trust is built between a leader and the team, though, the team will know that while something may seem overly manipulating today, it will likely fit into a larger, more… [END OF PREVIEW]

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