Leadership Has Become a Prominent Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2476 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership has become a prominent topic of research in recent years. One of the main reasons for this is that leadership is a major factor in the performance of employees and, by association, the performance of the company. There are several theories of leadership to help companies and individuals determine the best course of action for their operations. Significantly, there is little agreement among researchers regarding the best possible type of leadership to optimize the operations of a company. Perhaps the best course of action is to determine what is best suited to individuals leaders and companies, and to combine the best elements of various types of leadership. Two of the most recent of these include the concept of transformational leadership and servant leadership.

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP

The Changing Minds Website (2011) addresses the transformational leadership strategies developed by B.M. Bass. This strategy is an attempt by leaders to affect followers in a way to elicit their trust, admiration and respect for the leader. This is done by three main strategies: 1) increasing the followers' awareness of task importance and value; 2) Influencing followers to focus on team and organizational goals above their individual interests; 3) Activating the higher-order needs of followers.

In order to accomplish this influence over followers, charisma is an important element. This is used to evoke strong emotions and to influence followers to identify with the leader. Stirring appeals, coaching and mentoring are means commonly used to achieve this.

Bass also notes that a certain moral basis is important in achieving effective transformational leadership. This type of morality consists in four components: 1) Idealized influence; 2) Inspirational motivation; 3) Intellectual stimulation; and 4) Individualized consideration. Transformational leaders then combine these components with three moral aspects in order to create a sound basis of leadership. This includes the moral character of the leader; the ethical values related to the leader's vision for his or her company; and the morality of related social and ethical choices to create a platform for the business.

Transformational leadership therefore seeks to create in followers a sense of loyalty to the leader to such an extent that the leader's moral basis serves as the compass of the work they perform. According to Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko (2004), transformational leaders inspire followers towards sharing the leader's vision. Followers are then inspired to achieve the vision and receive resources to developo their personal potential towards this goal. In this way, transformational leaders focus on providing an example of optimism while providing followers with the tools for personal growth in order to achieve the same towards reaching the company's goals.

Williams and Jones (2009) take this a step further by noting that transformational leadership is focused upon developing the capactiy to innovate among followers and therefore also in the organization as a whole.

In general, transformational leadership therefore focuses upon the ability of a leader to inspire followers towards a commonly held, collective goal. The leader acts as the focal point and example of inspiration. Such a leader is, as it were, a beacon of excellence that followers must be inspired to imitate for the good of the company.

Individual concerns and ambitions take a second position for followers who are inspired by transformational leadership. Both leader and followers are focused upon the collective goal advancement of the company. Hence, the company's collective goals are embodied by and promoted by the positive and enthusiastic attitude of the leader.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

The concept of servant leadership was created by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay published during 1970 (the Robert K. Greenleaf Center (2008). In contrast to transformational leadership, this type of leadership requires the leader to be primarily a servant. In service to others, the leader then makes a conscious choice to lead. The leader who is a "servant-first" ensures that others' hihg priority needs are beign served before his or her own. This concept focuses upon creating the highest form of growth for those being served.

Like transformational leadership, servant leadership seeks to inspire by means of example, although more towards the general goal of creating human growth. By association, this growth is the to inspire those who are served towards servitude themselves.

The main premise of this type of leadership is that the servant leader provides resources and support without expecting followers to acknowledge this. Instead, this type of leader assumes a non-focal position (Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko (2004), and expects others to work for the collective good of the company rather than the leader as representative of the company. Servant-leaders, accordign to Greenleaf's position, are not initially motivated to aspire towards leadership. However, they assume this position in response to the urgings of others, and in response to a perceived need of their expertise and servitude in such a position. The main motivation for taking this position resides in the fact that others and the company are best served by this.

To achieve this type of leadership, the servant leader is expected to have a certain type of wisdom regarding his or her role in promoting the company's collective goals and to ensure that followers are fulfilled and happy in their respective positions (Bugenhage, 2006, p. 158). The wisdom entailed in this therefore relates not only to an awareness of the company's goals, but also to how followers should be inspired and motivated to reach these. This could involve factors such as the particular culture inherent in the company's personnel base, as well as how this relates to the goals and philosophies promoted by the company.

According to Spears (2005, p.1), servant leadership functions upon an ideal that is both logical and intuitive. It promotes a radical departure form the industrial revolution, where leadership more often than not took the form of tyranny, where followers were seen as objects functioning together like cogs in a machine. Logically, human beings function better when they enjoy their environment, and feel safe and appreciated. They work better when they understand the goals of the company. Servant leadership takes this a step further by the intuitive understanding that workers who experience personal development as a result of their work will function optimally.

TRANSFORMATIONAL and SERVANT LEADERSHIP: A COMPARISON

According to Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko (2004), both transformational and servant leadership function upon the basis of charismatic leadership. The leader is to inspire and direct followers by means of a shared vision and values. To achieve this, the leader needs a considerable amount of charisma; the ability to inspire and direct followers towards greatness in themselves.

This is confirmed by the Ohio State University (2004), which states that charismatic leadership functions upon the basis of a personal connection between followers and leaders. Followers are inspired by the leader's personality, which focuses upon the collective goals of the company. Both types of leadership are focused upon the relationship of the leader with followers.

The theory of servant leadership is somewhat unique, however, in that it begins with the initial motivation to enter the leadership position. Whereas transformational leadership is based upon the way in which a leader interacts with followers from his or her position, servant leadership functions upon the assumption that leaders are motivated by the drive to serve. When servants become servant-leaders, their main paradigm is similar to that of transformational leaders: inspiring followers towards greatness in achieving the company's goals.

As mentioned above, transformational leadership consists in four components and three personal moral bases in leaders. Servant leadership, on the other hand, consists in six distinct components. These include valuing people, developing people, building community, displaying authenticity, providing leadership, and sharing leadership.

When compared with transformational leadership, these components do not include Intellectual stimulation. However, this could be included in the drive of servant leaders to provide all the tools necessary for followers to perform their works on a suitable level of excellence to reach company goals. The intellectual element may therefore be incorporated in the general philosophy, even if not specifically mentioned as a component of it.

Patterson, Redmer and Stone (2003, p. 6) also note that a significant similarity in both types of leadership is the importance of appreciating and valuing the human component of business. Listening, mentoring, teaching, and empowering followers are at the basis of both leadership theories. Both are therefore a radical change from early leadership theories, where followers had to be coerced, threatened and punished to follow the leader's direction. The assumption of both transformational and servant leadership is that followers are inherently able to understand and agree with the goals of the leader, given sufficient motivation and reason.

A more pronounced contrast is the fact that servant leadership is more concerned with the emotional well-beign of followers than transformational leaders. Transformational leaders, on the other hand, do seek to inspire followers not only an intellectual level, but also on an emotional one in terms of maintaining a positive attitude regarding the work being performed. Although more pronounced in either case, an intellectual component is implied by the servant leadership… [END OF PREVIEW]

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