Organizational Leadership: A Literature Review the Turn Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3582 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Leadership

Organizational Leadership: A Literature Review

The turn of the 21st century brought with it a plethora of global challenges, particularly in the area of higher education administration, but also in other administrative areas. Leaders in higher education have had to call upon many different theorists for use with their evidence-driven leadership theories. These have been addressed as approaches to explore, and they have also worked to explain the complexity of needs that are facing many of the global challenges today. A review of the related literature has cited many theorists' suggestions as being models which, though diverse, seem to contain some common threads among them. However, most of these theories also seem to point toward organizational leadership, and to a lesser degree toward educational leadership. To meet those demands, leaders must be able to understand that there is a real demand for change. The leader must recognize the constraints that may accompany those demands and be able to adapt a leadership style that is acceptable to the situation. The leader must also be able to develop the means to change some or all of the variables in the environment that brought on those demands. This is often highly difficult, but it can be done through the proper leadership ideals.

This paper will compare and contrast three different models of leadership that have been the most prevalent within the last thirty years, evaluate the effectiveness of each leadership model in administration. The three models of leadership theories that have gained recognition in the past thirty years and that will be examined here are situational leadership, servant leadership, and transformational and transactional leadership.

Bolman and Deal (2003) argue that effective leaders are those who are able to work within a set organizational frame - political, human resources, structural and symbolic - to re-engineer organizations, motivate and inspire subordinates, create and achieve visions, and design systems for ongoing improvement. The goal of leadership is clearly, as the authors recognize, to move an organization forward while maximizing its human potential, increasing its productivity and profitability, and capitalizing upon its emergent opportunities via the implementation of flexible work relationships. The process of leading, as described by Bolman and Deal (2003), is holistic and requires leaders to understand each of these frames or mechanisms for understanding the organization, its activities, and its stakeholders.

Yukl (2002) believes that "leadership is about change and it is about producing excellence...leadership is about tensions and balances. That leadership is to be able to lead people sensitively so they can independently address the new problems of tomorrow" (p.8-9)

As has been mentioned previously, many different theories of leadership have been advanced in recent years. Similarly, Spears (2004) infers that leaders must demonstrate flexibility and be able to adjust to changing situations in an organized fashion. Minas and Callaly (2005) suggest that the importance of knowing the different concepts between leadership and management is one of the most significant concepts that leaders and managers can be aware of, and it is a highly significant part of the process.

Leadership is more concerned with how things can be done in the future and what is needed to get things done in order for transformation to occur as the leader envisions it to be, while management is generally more concerned with the way the situation is right now, and how to get the job done just as it is at the present time. In other words, leadership's vision is more focused on the periphery and is more distal, whereas management's focus is much more central or proximal. The focus is on how the organization's climate is functioning, and on matters of efficiency, productivity, internal relations between people, and organizational structures or divisions. As such, leadership conveys a perceived vision of the climate of the organization that is able to efficiently and effectively articulate the perception of the vision among the followers that are affected. This process fosters change among all levels of the organizational structure or its divisions.

What leaders "do" in this theoretical orientation are motivate, influence, inspire, and model desired behaviors. In order to best understand this, the three major leadership theories that were mentioned previously and that have gained recognition in the past three decades, which are situational leadership, servant leadership theory, and transformational/transactional leadership, must be addressed here.

Situational leadership.

Over 30 years ago, theorist Fred E. Fiedler (1972) asserted that the most effective leaders are always cognizant of the situation in which they are required to act or against which they must respond. What this means, in essence, is that leadership itself is a form of response to internal and external environmental imperatives. Responding to such imperatives requires a willingness to consider the status quo and to accept or reject it accordingly, which is something that many leaders have not yet learned to do and are still struggling with, which also harms the employees.

The situational leader must first understand his or her own behavior before he or she can understand his or her followers. A clear understanding of human behavior, therefore, is an important characteristic for the situational leader because in order to apply an appropriate leadership style, the leader must be able to assess and make an appropriate diagnosis of the situation. Leadership style can be task-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership. However, according to Fiedler's (1992) studies, as cited in Donnelly, Gibson and Ivancevich (2000), individuals cannot be both task -- and relationship-oriented. Furthermore, it has been suggested that leaders practice the leadership style that supports their personality, which indicates that many leaders will have difficulty with specific styles of leadership simply because those styles do not fit in with 'who those leaders are.'

Fiedler (1972) further proposes three situational factors that determine whether a task-oriented or relationship-oriented style is more likely to be effective. Three dimensions of situational control identified by Fiedler (1972) are Leader-Member relations, Task Structure, and Position Power. Leader-member relation addresses degree of confidence, trust, and respect that the leader obtains from the followers. A practical application of this factor is the lack of respect that doctors give to nurses. Most nurses and doctors are in constant conflict, because many doctors do not perceive nurses as being capable of doing the actual jobs that they were trained to do. Task structure factor refers to the job structure and problem solving.

What is most important about this contingency factor is the nature of the task assigned to the leader. Fiedler (1972) contends that task-oriented, controlling leaders are more successful in situations that are either highly favorable or highly unfavorable. Conversely, in standard, favorable situations, a permissive, relationship-oriented leader is more successful. Fiedler (1972) also says that position power refers to "the power in the leadership position" (pp.281-283). For example, a department dean can recommend promotions or demotions. Fiedler's (1992) contingency theory is an offshoot, therefore, of situational leadership theory. The styles of leadership are either task-oriented or relationship-oriented and most of these factors are work-related situations. Hersey and Blanchard's (1982) situational leadership model emphasizes the situational contingency of maturity or "readiness" of followers to accomplish the task. Hersey (1984) defines task behavior as "the extent to which the leader engages in spelling out the duties and responsibilities of an individual or group." (p. 31-32). In task oriented leadership behavior, the leader defines roles by telling and explaining what, who, how, and when to perform tasks. In addition, the relationship-oriented leadership behavior communicates, listens, gives feedback, and facilitates tasks. These leadership behaviors are referred to by Hersey & Blanchard (1984) as S1-S4 styles of situational leadership. S1 is commonly referred to as the telling style of leadership behavior, while S2 refers to the selling style of leadership behavior. In addition, the S3 leadership style of behavior is referred to as the participating style, and S4 refers to the delegating style.

In the telling style of leadership, the leader defines the roles needed to correctly perform the job. An example would be the unit manager ensuring that new graduates receive appropriate orientation and training with skills needed to perform safe practices. This particular kind of leadership style is high on task behavior and low on relationship or supportive behavior. The hospital leader's goal in the telling style, for example, is to increase the maturity level of the new nurse.

The selling leader provides followers with structured instructions. At the selling level, the leadership style is based on a low to moderate readiness level. There is more support at this level, but not as much as some other levels. The new nurse in this example is now looking at the unit manager as having legitimate power, and will listen more attentively when following his or her directions.

The participating leader and followers share in all decisions. They conduct two-way communication that is high in relationship or supportive behavior and low in task or directive behavior. The new nurse in an example such as this one is able to perform nursing functions; however, she still feels insecure without some… [END OF PREVIEW]

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