Leadership Styles in the 21st Century Term Paper

Pages: 11 (2982 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership Styles in the 21st Century

Before defining leadership behaviors, leadership empirical studies have focused on the characteristics of efficient leadership, leadership practices or the skills and characteristics of a leader. Later on, these studies started to focus on the relationship between leaders and followers and the factors that generate positive effects on this relationship.

Transformational and transactional leaderships were first introduced by Burns (1978) and later developed by Bass (1985). Both these leadership types pay respect to the relationship between leaders and followers. The transactional one sees the leader-follower relationship as the result of a transaction between the leaders, who give followers something they wish in exchange for something he/she wished and the followers. Basically, the relationship between the two parties involved is an interdependence one. The transformational one emphasizes the role of the leader and its personal values and beliefs as a source of stimulation for followers. Results of empirical study reported that organizations adopting transformational leadership are highly effective (Bass and Avolio, 1990).

The servant leadership was introduced by Greenleaf (1977) and refers to the leader as a servant. The leader is seeks others' needs and tried to fulfill them before aspiring to lead. This last type of leadership has received a great deal of attention in the last years because it refers to a relationship that is desired by both parties. However, servant leadership lacks empirical studies to support it (Greenleaf, 1970).

Each of the three mentioned leadership styles has its own characteristics and impacts the relationship between leaders and followers and implicitly the company in its own particular way.

Transformational leadership

This type of leadership is consistent with situations in which the leader-follower relationship is of such a nature that the former encourages the development of growth of the latter. Followers are influenced by leaders, aspiring to a higher collective purpose (Bass, 1985). Consequently, followers turn into leaders and leaders become moral agents (Burns, 1978). Thus, the leader-follower transforms both the follower and leader. The leader can transform further to pursue higher goals, such as: integrity, human justice or dignity. An example of fake transformational leadership is Hitler, whereas Ghandi stands as an example of authentic transformational leader.

Avolio, Waldman, & Yammarino (1991) identified four types of actions undertaken by transformational leaders to stimulate followers:

Charismatic influence helps the leader to engage its followers in the organization's mission and vision; in return, followers respect and trust the leader.

Inspirational motivation stimulates the follower's sense of pride, which has a positive effect on its connection with organizational goals; in return, followers are full of optimism and enthusiasm.

Intellectual stimulation motivates the follower's creativity and imagination to find new solution for old problems.

Individual consideration helps leaders to focus on each follower's individual characteristics to better meet their development and growth needs.

Studies have shown that in organizations adopting a transformational leadership, the motivation of both followers and leaders reach high levels (Burns, 1978). Moreover, followers that identified their leader's leadership style as transformation considered also that the organization was highly effective (Bass and Avolio, 1994).

Transactional leadership

The behaviors associated with transactional leadership, according to Bass (1985) include: contingent reward, management by exception and laissez-faire. Laissez-faire is not a "popular" topic in transactional leadership studies because the leader-follower relationship is missing - more specifically, the leader is missing from this relationship, whereas the follower is in the situation of stepping up and making decisions. The actions that transactional leaders can undertake cover a very wide range from low quality exchange of goods to high quality transactions (Landy, 1985).

Transactional leaders usually collaborate with followers to identify their roles and responsibilities, which brings them closer to reaching the organizational goals. This collaboration boosts up the followers' confidence. Despite, stimulating followers' motivation, the collaboration is not sufficient enough to sustain the type of performance that satisfied the leaders' needs (Bugenhagen, 2006).

According to Bass and Avolio (1990), transactional leadership is related to three factors:

Contingent reward - it refers to the action of identifying tasks and rewards offered in exchange for completing these tasks.

Management by exception active - it refers to the situation in which the followers' work is monitored and intervention takes place only in case the requirements are not met.

Management by exception passive - it refers to the situation in which the followers report frequently about their work and feedback from managers comes in both situations - requirement are or aren't met.

The leader-follower relationship holds as long as the reward system functions and the leader's interaction with the followers can vary from engaged to unengaged depending on the circumstances characterizing the organization (Bass, 1985; Bass & Avolio, 1990).

Servant leadership

Servant leaders are those that serve their followers before actually leading and usually prioritize their needs after others' needs. The servant leaders help followers achieve the optimal outcome that can be achieved with their skills (McMinn, 1989).

The decision-making process is a thorough one and the leader involves all the followers in it through empowerment (Stone, Russell and Patterson, 2004). Moreover, this process is constantly subject to revision as the leader is constantly reviewing the direction, purpose and vision (Greenleaf, 1998).

According to Spears (1995, 2002), the characteristics of a servant leader can be summarized as follows:

Good listener - the servant leader manages to silence the inner voice and listen to others. he/she also uses the listening opportunity to reflect on the topics brought to discussion.

Empathic - the servant leader tries to relate to the speaker's situation in order to get a better understanding of it.

Healing - the servant leader learn how to heal himself/herself and others during a transformation/transition process.

Awareness - the servant leader is aware both of himself/herself and of the general context. he/she is also assisting other to better understand issues by resorting to ethics.

Persuasive - the servant leader uses more persuasion than its position in the decision-making process.

Conceptualization - the servant leader is approaching issues on a more extended span than day-to-day. The purpose is to gain a better comprehension of certain concepts.

Foresight - based on its intuition and past experience, the servant leader is capable to foresee the consequences of given decisions, better understand the present situation and turn the past mistakes in constructive learning.

Stewardship - the servant leader is committed to serve others. he/she is also aware of this quality, considering himself/herself a steward for other people's development and empowerment to strive for better (Sendjaya and Sarros, 2002).

Committed to people's growth - the servant leader is committed both to professional and personal growth of all people within the organization.

Community builder - the servant leader is permanently searching for ways to build communities within the organization.

Later on, "calling" was identified as the eleventh characteristic of servant leaders (Barbuto and Wheeler, 2002). This last characteristic is in line with Greenfield's (1970) pioneer writings on this topic.

Transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership

TABLE 1 - TRANSFORMATIONAL & TRANSACTIONAL LEADERSHIP

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP

TRANSACTIONAL LEADERSHIP

Transformational leadership implies that leaders inspire followers to develop and grow. They are inspiring followers to transform themselves. The follower, thus inspired is focusing on higher goals, such as collective purposes.

Transactional leadership implies that there is a reciprocal exchange between leaders and followers. The exchange relationship exists as long as both parties have an interest to continue and once they both reach their goal, the relationship ends.

Transformational leaders focus more on end values, such as:

equality, justice, liberty.

Transactional leaders are very skillful in manipulating values of means such as: honesty, fairness, responsibility, the importance of honoring one person's commitments.

Transformational leaders create awareness and acceptance of higher goals and stimulate followers to pursue these goals.

Transactional leaders use reward systems to focus and motivate followers on certain tasks.

The leader-follower relationship is based on Intellectual stimulation, courage, vision, charisma, etc. Transformational leaders deal with a lot of complexity and uncertainty.

The leader-follower relationship is based on expectation. The leader is expecting the follower to perform its task and the follower expects the leader to give him/her the expected reward.

The leader-follower relationship' strength is influenced by the follower's heart

The leader-follower relationship' strength is influenced by the leader's behavior

Transformational leadership appeals to the follower's values

Transformational leadership appeals to the follower's behavior

The leaders are looking the follower's development

The leaders are looking for the follower's good evaluation

Followers are motivated by pride and self-esteem

Followers are motivated by promotion, pay and alike

The leader-follower relationship is a long-term one

The leader-follower relationship is a short-term one

Leaders and followers are committed to goals

Leaders and followers are compliant with rules and objectives

The leader has character and competence

The leader has rank and position

Source: Author's own research

Bass (1985) has suggested that transformational and transactional leaderships are different dimensions, meaning that a person can be both a transformational and a transactional leader. Based on this token, Bryman (1992) suggested that the transformational type of leadership may develop from the transactional… [END OF PREVIEW]

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