Leadership Case Study

Pages: 10 (2936 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership Case Study

Michael Alfonso is a man who is envied by his peers having moved up the ranks and taken charge of Trident submarine because very few officers qualified for such commands hardly get them. Alfonso's selection to the job was welcome by many officers who felt that he had all it took having joined the Navy as a teenager and moved up the ranks. Many of his colleagues remembered him as a loner who was brusque but pleasant (Ricks, 1997). He was polite and mostly kept to himself. The hopes that the crew had in Alfonso were quickly dashed when on assuming command he began to admonish and push them hard. In fact, he loudly and publicly reprimanded officers whose performances he found wanting.

Donald MacArthur, Chief Petty Officer, was one such officer who suffered in the hands of Alfonso. His predicaments were occasioned by the mere fact that he could not keep the boat at periscope depth because of rough seas during the training exercises. This led to his disqualification. He was consequently relieved of his diving duties until he could be recertified by extra practice. This did not go down well with the rest of crew members who were accustomed to the Navy's adage of "praise in public and penalize in private." The crew members never bothered to tell Alfonso when things were wrong. Officers are not supposed to fear their captain anyway and are supposed to tell him everything but nobody wanted to. The captain's outbursts had nothing to do with job performance. His were petty stuff. He one day yelled at the supply officer, the executive officer, and the chief of the boat because the soda dispenser he used to pour himself a glass of Coke contained a Mr. Pibb's. He also one day exploded on arrival for a late night meal and found the fork at his place missing.

The crew was also subjected to intense week long series of inspections that left them completely alienated. That there was strained relationship between the crew and the captain was evident even to the Inspectors who relayed that information to Admiral Paul Sullivan. The crew was physically and mentally beaten to ground. In fact, they seemed despondent. An informal inquiry was then launched by Admiral Sullivan. Alfonso was eventually relieved of his duties a first ever firing of a Trident submarine commander. Alfonso's leadership was characterized with fear and intimidation.

Behavior Theory

Proponents of behavioral theories of leadership have a popular belief that great leaders are made and not born. This leadership theory illuminates actions of leaders and not their mental qualities or internal states. The theory postulates that people can learn to be leaders through teaching and observation. This is simply done by teaching an individual the most appropriate behavioral response to nay given situation (Bass, 1990).

Leaders' behavior can fit into four major categories namely task-oriented behaviors, relational oriented behaviors, change oriented behaviors, and passive leadership. Leaders with task oriented behaviors exhibit transactional-leader behaviors. They offer contingent reward and manage by MBEA-Management by exception-active. Task oriented leaders are capable of defining task roles and role relationships among group members (Bass, 1990). They can coordinate group members' actions and determine standards of task performance. Task oriented leaders are capable of ensuring that group members perform up to the determined standards of task performance. A transactional leader will always make clear what is expected in terms of task performance and rewards for meeting those expectations. S/he can anticipate task oriented problems and take corrective action. Leaders should be clear about their expectations and standards for performance. These standards can be used to shape follower commitment, motivation, and behavior. Leaders with relational oriented behaviors must show concern and respect for individual group members (Bass, 1990). They should be friendly and approachable, and be open to contributions made by others. Moreover, they have to treat group members equally.

A leader's action should build follower's respect and encourage them to focus on the welfare of the group. Some aspects of transformational leadership like individualized consideration have relational orientation. A transformational leader must create and facilitate change in an organization. A change oriented leader must develop and communicate a vision for change. He has to encourage innovative thinking, and be a risk taker. Transformational leaders should capitalize inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. Such leaders should use the former to communicate a compelling vision for the future and the latter to seek different perspectives from group members, challenge assumptions, and take risks. Under circumstances when problems do not exist or the problem is not apparent to the leader, he may choose not to actively engage (Gastil, 1994). That is passive leadership. The absence of leader behavior is commonly referred to as laissez-faire.

Leaders who exhibit relational-oriented behaviors are empathetic and skilled at sensing their follower's needs. They nevertheless show concern for others and appeal to their subject's emotions. This invokes a strong interpersonal connection between the leader and his subjects resulting into higher levels of follower satisfaction. Leaders with change oriented behaviors enhance attitude and satisfaction of their subjects. Change oriented leader behaviors enhance feelings of growth and development in their subjects who will feel more satisfied at work. Leaders must therefore effectively showcase relational-oriented and change-oriented behaviors (Gastil, 1994).

Extraverted leaders are more likely to seek input from their followers, talk enthusiastically about their work related activities, and be more comfortable setting direction and vision for group. Agreeable leaders are more friendly and approachable. Such individuals are more likely to develop their strengths and earn respect of their followers. Conscientious leaders on the other hand are more likely to initiate structure in leadership contexts because of their preference for planned as opposed to spontaneous behavior. Such leaders actively monitor and intervene when problems arise. Leaders high in Openness to Experience tend to monitor their environment, challenge assumptions, recognize possible implications of external forces, and intervene appropriately (Yukl, Gordon, & Taber, 2002). Emotionally stable leaders on the other hand will remain calm, maintain order and structure, and be more comfortable with taking risks during challenging situations.

Formal leadership positions have expected role of behaviors. Leaders should therefore actively engage in behaviors consistent with the role behaviors since inaction renders a leader a non-leader in the eyes of his subjects.

Transformational Leadership

Leaders have a great impact on their followers. Their followers are supposed to trust, admire, and respect them. Leaders can transform their followers by increasing their awareness of task importance and value. Transformational leaders should also make their followers focus first on team or organizational goals rather than their own interests. Leaders can also transform their followers by activating their higher order needs. Transformational leadership has four components namely idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Covey, 2007).

Leaders with idealized influence behave in admirable ways. This makes their followers to identify with them. They display conviction, take stand and appeal to followers on an emotional. They have a clear set of values that is demonstrated in their actions of being role model to their followers. There has to be trust between the leaders and their followers which is built on solid moral and ethical foundation (Covey, 2007).

Transformational leaders have to be capable of articulating their vision in a manner that is appealing and inspiring to their followers. In that way, their followers with high standards communicate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning for the task at hand. Followers must also have a strong sense of purpose if they are motivated to act. A leader's visionary aspect of leadership must be supported by communication skills that allow the leader to articulate his vision with precision (Covey, 2007).

Leaders must be capable of challenging assumptions, taking risks, and soliciting their followers' ideas. This encourages and stimulates creativity in their followers. Their vision provides framework for their followers to see how they connect to the leader, the organization, and the goal (Covey, 2007).

A transformational leader should provide individualized attention to each of his followers' needs. He can also act as a mentor or a coach to his followers. Such a leader should respect and celebrate the individual contribution that each follower can make to the team considering that the diversity of the team gives it its true strength. Followers therefore get propelled to further achievement and growth (Covey, 2007).

Transformational leadership fits into higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs because it requires a high level of authenticity, self-esteem, and self-actualization to be a transformational leader (Covey, 2007).

If Alfonso, a Trident submarine commander were a transformational leader, he ought to have been aware of his own thoughts and feelings and they impact his actions, and the states of others. Individuals with growing awareness see their own inner motivating force that drives them, their passions and values, and how they affect their thoughts, feelings, and actions and that of others. Awareness should have increased Alfonso's perception and this would have enabled him choose actions that directly… [END OF PREVIEW]

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