Term Paper: Leadership Models Man, Like All Other Primates

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¶ … Leadership Models

Man, like all other primates, evolved as a social creature for whom communal living and mutual cooperation within the human community is more natural, and preferable for the individual, than solitary existence. According to generally accepted evolutionary theorists, it is human societal living that is responsible for the gradual development of larger and larger brains and the simultaneous evolution of conceptual thought, advanced communication, and spoken language, rather than the other way around (Edey & Johanson, 1989).

Mutual cooperation within human societies is, necessarily, task and goal oriented, because cooperation and shared efforts yield results more productively than exclusive self-responsibility for every need of the individual. Throughout most of human existence particularly before the Industrial Revolution - the vast majority of human cooperation was motivated primarily by the simple desire of the individual to meet the basic needs of self and family. Living in a group, even under the oppressive wielding of authority, allowed many individuals to achieve more for themselves than would have been possible without reliance on others.

This observation of human social societies is still just as applicable today, except that the specific role of most individuals is many levels more removed from the most basic needs. Whereas in agrarian societies, the relationship between the group and the product of cooperation is readily evident, in industrialized societies, individual reward is based on currency exchange rather than the direct trading of products and bartering of services. As the productive role of the individual within society becomes more removed from reward and the vocational function of individuals become more compartmentalized, leadership becomes more important in human achievement.

The nature of leadership includes autocracies and dictatorships on one end of the spectrum, and absolute autonomy (or laissez faire) on the other. in-between the polar extremes of servitude through oppression and complete autonomy, several leadership styles have evolved that emphasize different aspects of human motivation and achievement, in different proportions. Certain leadership approaches are most appropriate and likely to produce efficient results in some situations, and others are more likely to contribute to the success of group enterprise in others. Some human enterprise is capable of effective administration through more than one leadership approach, while other types of enterprises necessitate one approach in particular. In either case, one of the most important functions of leaders is to implement their authority and control in a manner most conducive to successful results.

Transactional Leadership:

Transactional leadership refers, generally, to the focus on specific performance of the individual as a condition for securing a desired reward (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).

In many respects, transactional leadership is the most natural for human societies, because it represents the closest parallel to the relationship of the individual to the natural world: in nature, hard work and persistence is more likely to yield desired results of directed effort than less conscientious effort. Likewise, transactional leadership is readily adaptable to industrialized society in which compartmentalization of individual effort is rewarded by a salary increase and other specific representational benefits.

Transactional leadership is results oriented, and more specifically, it is results oriented with respect to particular levels of achievement or the successful results of a particular task, project, or short-term goals. Transactional leadership may focus exclusively on positive reward, avoidance of negative consequences, or a combination of both. Generally, successful achievement is positively rewarded directly by increased compensation and other tangible benefits, or indirectly, through promotion or organizational privileges.

Transactional leaders may also motivate performance by imposing negative consequences capable of being avoided only through satisfactory performance. Except in autocracies and dictatorships, motivation exclusively by negative consequence avoidance is less likely to be as efficient and successful over the long-term, particularly in a vocational environment where opportunities for similar work where effort and achievement is rewarded positively. In modern business, transactional leaders recognize performance and achievement both positively, in the form of improved compensation packages or advancement in position, and punish (or disincentivize) poor performance by withholding increased compensation and delaying positional advancement.

In many respects, transactional leadership is a hybrid device in-between leadership and personnel management (Bass, 1985), because, in addition to providing direct oversight and motivation, it functions by administrating major elements of the compensation-for-performance between employer and employee. Probably the most common form of transactional leadership is management by exception, whereby leaders remain relatively uninvolved with performance issues except at the extremes of high performance and low performance. Management by exception is capable of administration strictly with respect to only one end of the performance scale, but most commonly provides both positive reward for successful efforts and some measure of negative consequences for unsatisfactory performance.

Critics of strict transactional leadership maintain that management by exception cultivates a passive mindset that undermines high achievement through satisfaction by merely avoiding negative consequences and a steady but uninspired degree of professional advancement. It has often been suggested that under management by exception, most people will work only hard enough to avoid negative consequences (Bass, 1997). This may be particularly true within large bureaucratic ventures, like the United States federal government.. Since public service normally does not offer the same degree of advancement and earning potential as many comparable opportunities in the public sector, many federal employees work just hard enough not to get fired and to progress through the time-in-grade-based advancement schedule (Bass, 1997).

Transformational Leadership:

Where transactional leadership is operationally focused, transformational leadership is motivationally focused. Transformational leaders emphasize a corporate vision or an enterprise philosophy rather than specific operational tasks or performance- based achievement (Bass, 1985). Compared to transactional orientation, transformational leadership is much more of a true style of leadership than a personnel management system.

The assumption underlying Transformational Leadership is that positive results follow inevitably, as a function of philosophical unity within the business enterprise (Bass, 1985). It reflects a much more person-oriented administrative approach, and specifically, transformational leadership encourages fundamental personal self- identification on the part of component individuals with the corporate vision or philosophy. Transformational leadership emphasizes the notion that employees are becoming part of something much bigger and more important than just a means of earning a living or achieving personal goals (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).

Because it values belonging over doing, transformational leadership is more suitable to industries and ventures that depend on motivation and relatively unskilled labor than to industries where substantive knowledge, objective performance, and results that demand technical expertise or proficiency. Therefore, transformational leadership is most appropriate for sales-oriented industries than to industries dependent upon continual operational improvement, technical innovation, or highly skilled labor. By definition, those types of fields require that reward be related to function rather than to manifestations of corporate identity or affiliation with the entity's philosophy or world view (Bass, 1997).

Transformational leadership relies very heavily on group rituals, motivational meetings, ceremonies, and symbolism to cultivate group unity and encourage identification with the corporate vision or message, ideally, in as a comprehensive life focus rather than just in connection with employment. For this reason, it also lends itself to corruption into cult-like behavior at the most extreme. Besides its limitation to sales and promotional types of enterprises, transformational leadership is also better suited to industries where high turnover is expected, because constant exposure to such a high- energy environment and message can become psychologically draining and result in high burn-out rates (Bass, 1985). Finally, because transformational leadership focuses more on group identity than on objective performance standards, organizations employing it are comparatively slow to recognize the need for operational change or to market fluctuations (Bass, 1985).

Charismatic Leadership:

Whereas transactional leadership emphasizes operational performance and transformational leadership focuses on the larger corporate vision, charismatic leadership is specifically oriented to loyalty to one person in particular. At its core, charismatic leadership channels the same type of motivational approach of transformational leadership into allegiance to the leader, instead of identification with the leader's underlying message. Like transformational leadership, it is much more strictly a style of leadership than a management philosophy, or a hybrid of leadership and management.

Naturally, charismatic leadership requires sufficient personal charisma on the part of the leader to inspire personal loyalty and identification with his person as well as his message. Not surprisingly, politicians often exhibit charismatic leadership abilities and employ similar interpersonal strategies to generate a following. Politicians and other charismatic leaders alike make use of a similar psychological technique of connecting with people. While they often employ similar rallying opportunities like ceremonies and rituals, the most successful charismatic leaders tend to incorporate much more personalized attention to their audience members (Musser, 1987). Even more so than transformational leadership, charismatic leadership is capable of corrupt exploitation, because the leader is the focal point of psychological orientation, rather than any underlying view or philosophy merely communicated by the leader..

Servant Leadership:

Servant leadership is almost more accurately described as a process than either a management style or a leadership technique. Servant leadership focuses on passively- imposed control that relies on efficient fulfillment of functional achievement and measurable operational success… [END OF PREVIEW]

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