We have made no attempt to integrate transformational (charismatic) or trait theory into this mid-range schema. As a result, the emphasis is on transactional leadership (but not at the most micro level) as opposed to charismatic leadership. To be effective, managers should score high on the first three dimensions, regardless of the situation.
Most assuredly, well-run firms place a premium on sound human relations, high performance expectations, and rewards tied to accomplishment; research evidence supports the efficacy of these practices as well.Therefore, the prescription for these three dimensions is a normative one. They are universal and their exercise does not depend on the situation. They not only raise morale and maintain it at a satisfactory level, but they also support goal attainment and decision-execution efforts. Creating the strongest nexus between performance and desired rewards is vital in an instrumental culture such as the one found in the United States. However, high scores on these three factors are not enough for the most effective exercise of leadership.In keeping with the view of contingency theorists, these three dimensions need to be augmented by the proper display of participative and directive leader behaviors, as dictated by different situations. In other words, the appropriate use by the manager of either subordinate participation or directive behavior depends on the situation in which leadership is to be exercised.
These latter approaches are not universals, but are wholly dependent on the circumstances in which the leader behavior occurs.Most organizational members are unlikely to embrace decisions and goals if their naked self-interest is at odds with those decisions and goals. This reality has been acknowledged in the Vroom-Yetton (1973) or Vroom-Jago (1988) leadership model. The leadership constructs developed by Fiedler (1965) and Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1973) also lend support to this line of thinking. Nexus between leadership and strategy. Both experience and research strongly suggest that a connection exists between strategy and leader behavior. Reginald H. Jones, former CEO of General Electric, noted some time ago, “When we classified .
..[our] … businesses, and when we realized that they were going to have quite different missions, we also realized we had to have quite different people running them” (Schuler and Jackson 1987). Hofer and Schendel (1978), respected management scholars, also observed that in moving from a growth to a turnaround strategy, or from a hold-and-defend to a divestment strategy, managerial behaviors should change appropriately. THE ESSENTIALS OF LEADERSHIP by Lt Colonel Saundra J.
Reinke Vice Commander, Community College of the Air Force Change is frightening.In this age of downsizing, reorganization, moving units, base closures, frequent deployments, outsourcing and privatization, change is everywhere. Such major changes to the way we’ve always done business in the Air Force have left many people feeling disoriented and lost. Major transitions unleash powerful conflicting forces in people. The change invokes simultaneous positive and negative personal feelings of fear and hope, anxiety and relief, pressure and stimulation, leaving the old and accepting a new direction, loss of meaning and new meaning, threat to self-esteem and new sense of value.(Tichy and Ulrich, 1989, 351) Leading people through such major changes is a difficult task-it calls for leaders with courage and conviction, leaders with the ability to “develop a vision of what can be, to mobilize the organization to accept and work toward the new vision, and to institutionalize the changes that must last over time. ” (Tichy and Ulrich, 1989, 344) In times like these, it is appropriate to take a few moments to look again at leadership and what it takes to lead in tough times. Unfortunately, scholars who have studied leadership have produced a range of conflicting theories.
The fashion in the early part of this century was “trait theory”-which alleged that certain personality or physical traits were what made people into leaders. “Trait theory” was followed by theories that focused on situational aspects, follower development, leader-follower interaction, and a host of others. (Bass, 1981) Leadership theory can now be summarized as: “leader characteristics and situational demands interact to determine the extent to which a given leader will provide successful in a group.” (Bass, 1981, 585) In other words, there is no single all-purpose leadership style which is universally successful. (Hersey and Blanchard, 1969, 27) Instead of conflicting theories, what we need is something simple-a “Ten Commandments” for leadership. And so, with all due respect to the Lord, here is my proposal for “A Leader’s Ten Commandments:” The first commandment, to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” should require no explanation. And yet, how many supervisors forget to say “good morning” to their subordinates?How many leaders chair meetings that lack purpose and structure, wasting everyone’s time? How many supervisors gossip about their bosses and peers? How many leaders forget to praise in public, reprimand in private? How many leaders “chop the heads off” messengers with bad news? What difference does it make? Treating people with respect, dignity and concern improves performance and morale.
In one field study of seven different organizations, the results proved that highly productive employees consistently had supervisors who treated them as people, not as tools to get the job done.(Katz and Kahn, 1989, 290) Good interpersonal relationships between leaders and those they lead improves productivity (Nathan, Mohrman and Milliman, 1991) and unit morale (Katz and Kahn, 1989). Here’s a simple suggestion we can all follow that will help us be more effective in “doing unto others. ” Take a piece of paper and write down all the habits your boss has that drive you crazy. Now, put a checkmark by all those habits you have yourself (BE HONEST! ).
Unfortunately, you will probably find that you, too, are guilty of treating your subordinates in a way you personally dislike.Research shows that we all tend to copy our supervisor’s leadership style (Katz and Kahn, 1989, 288). Which means your subordinates who are also supervisors are busy copying you-including any bad habits you may have! Breaking bad habits is not easy. The crucial first step to correcting our behavior is self-awareness. The simple exercise described above should help us all be more aware of how we treat others.
Such self-awareness helps us focus on our counterproductive habits-and change them for the better. After “doing unto others,” the next important leadership commandment is “Thou shalt be consistent.” Consistency breeds trust. In experimental research involving “prisoner’s dilemma,” subjects were more likely to respond to guidance from sources whose behavior and communication were clear and consistent. Why? Because they felt the source was more trustworthy. (Hogan, et al, 1974, 1080-81) Subordinates react to supervisory behavior and communication based upon consistency between what the supervisor says, and what the supervisor does. (Likert, 1976, 94-59).
People will change their behavior in response to feedback from their leadership, but only if they believe leadership is credible.A leader’s credibility rests on how on how much followers trust him or her. (Hovland, 1953, 20-22) Is what you say and what you do consistent? If you’re not sure, ask yourself what sort of behavior do you reward? Punish? And then ask yourself, is that REALLY what I want to reward and/or punish? Are people guilty of similar offenses given similar punishments? If you say that something’s important, do you actually allocate resources (money, time, manpower) to it? Speaking of resources, how are you spending your time?The third commandment, “Thou shalt get out of thy office regularly” speaks to the importance of spending time out actually seeing what is happening in your organization. How do you know what is happening if you never go look? When I was a squadron commander, I would block time to do nothing but visit duty sections. Unfortunately, there are plenty of leaders who think that because they get a metrics briefing once a week, religiously check their e-mail, and read everything in their in-basket they know “what’s happening” in their organization.Metrics and paperwork are important, but they do not tell the whole story. Secretaries often unwittingly compound the problem by obligingly scheduling their bosses for days of wall-to-wall meetings.
So who’s in charge of your life? Your secretary? Your calendar? Ok, there are lots of meetings we all have to attend. But force yourself to block time on that calendar to work out, think, and get out and see what’s happening in your unit. It makes a big difference! How you allocate your time sends powerful messages to the people you lead about what you think is important.(Sergiovanni, 1989, 339) If you spend your time doing paperwork, the message you convey to your followers is simple: My paperwork is more important than you are. No wonder researchers found that supervisors who spent their time on their paperwork had lower-producing work sections than those with supervisors who spent more of their time actually training, communicating and leading their subordinates.
(Katz and Kahn, 1989, 287-9) We all have our faults, and the next commandment goes straight to the heart of mine-“Thou shalt avoid snap decisions.” Like most officers, I am determined to be decisive, and somewhere I confuse “being decisive” with “making rapid decisions. ” The two are not the same. Certainly, there are times when rapid decisions must be made; however, those occasions are far fewer than we think. Luckily, I had a good first sergeant to teach me that “sleeping on it” is the best way to approach major decisions-especially when they can change people’s lives.
We are most prone to making snap decisions when something has gone wrong. How we deal with mistakes, error, and failure communicate powerful messages to those we lead.(Follett, 1989, 264) If we react in a way that leads our people to lose faith in us, we end up with followers who do not listen and reluctant to communicate any “bad news” to us.
(Lee, 1989, 97) As leaders, we rely on information to make decisions. If our subordinates are afraid to tell us bad news or disagree with us, we can make poorly-informed decisions which lead to disaster. Taking a deep breath, sleeping on it, slowing down for just a moment before reacting with an immediate decision, can help us create an organizational climate where followers feel they can trust us to make the right choices.