Evaluation of Various – Leadership Style Assignment Help
The credit for the success of any organization or a nation goes to an individual at the leading position. It is the leader who drives the organization carefully and comfortably in tough times. An effective leader knows how to get different types of people to contribute willingly to the objectives of the organization and working at the best of their capabilities (Lawal 1993). What makes a leader successful and effective at leading and managing his people is one of the most favorite topics of discussion among the authors and researchers in the last few decades. Several theories have been put forward by the authors that aim to answer, what according to Burns (1978) is one of the least understood phenomenon on earth – How to be an effective leader.
This report aims to reflect on a case study pertaining to the cultural change within an organization. The case study involves the analysis of the different leadership styles that may have varied across several project stages and its impact on the team members. Selection and following of an appropriate leadership style ensures that the team member responsibilities are appropriately carried out, tough deadlines are met, project progress is not leaving behind and most importantly stakeholders welcome the change in processes, and shift the organizational culture towards innovation. Effective leadership is therefore absolutely essential in order to implement an effective and harmonious work environment within the project team, and to maximize the team members’ productivity by pursuing a strategy that meets the expectations of an organization’s stakeholders by taking ethical, social and environmental measures.
The report will first provide a brief theoretical insight about the leadership styles and later discuss the case study with respect to various aspects of the leader behavior and how they can be utilized to influence the team members.
The case study is based on a personal experience of an organization cultural change project. The organization under question belongs to the transport and logistics industry and it carried an established brand value and customer base. The industry to which the organization belongs is highly process and performance centric. The company involved a plethora of processes among which some were complicated than the others. A number of individuals drove some of the processes across functions, while individuals carried others out.
Surprisingly, the company for many years was following the same old processes. The financial performance over the years was satisfactory and this lead the senior management to believe that the processes are efficient and optimal. Therefore, the management and the staff did not indulge in evaluating the processes. The staff was instead encouraged to follow the conventional status quo practices in the organization and therefore the organizational culture preferred continuity and stability to critical thinking and innovation.
As the external forces in the form of competition and slow economic growth started to affect the company, its financial performance slowed down. This is when the new GM joined the company and launched a critical analysis of the processes. The aim of the new GM was to ensure that the processes and the resources are utilized effectively to cut down costs. For this purpose, a project management team was organized. A scrutiny of processes revealed that many work processes were outdated and inefficient. For instance, the orders of customers were taken on papers and the processing was also handled manually, despite of the presence of an online customer portal. This resulted in increasing time and cost of processing and hence low customer satisfaction. The GM realized at an early stage that the cultural change project could only be successful if both the senior staff and the employees are brought on board with the cultural change project. The reason is that these stakeholders were responsible for the implementing and working with the change processes. The mandate for the GM was to introduce changes in the way the employees and the management approached process improvement and innovation in the organization. Staff in the organization required techniques and tools so that they can easily improve and analyze the change processes.
This section presents evidence relating to leadership styles as suggested by various theories of leadership from various peer reviewed journal articles and other academic sources. The later section critically evaluates observations in the presented case study in contrast with the presented literature to find out what how the project may have been led more effectively and what are the areas of further improvement.
Leadership style is a particular way of the leader in which he provides direction, issues instructions, implements plans and motivates his people in order to achieve the set objectives (Newstrom & Davis 1993). Kurt Lewin (1939) led the first major study of leadership styles. His theory later proved to be quite influential as it put forward the three basic leadership styles: authoritarian, participative and laissez-fair (or delegative). The Leadership Continuum Theory by Tannerbaum and Schmidt (1973) established another style – persuasive or sells style. According to Tannerbaum and Schmidt, any interaction between the leader and followers or team members involves a trade-off between the level of authority exercised by the leader and the level of control exercised by the team members (for example, in the form of ability, willingness and enthusiasm to do the task at hand). A brief description of the four leadership styles is given below.
This involves giving specific instructions and directions to the followers and closely supervising them while they execute the instructions. This style is used by the job-centric leaders who are primarily concerned with getting the job done rather than establishing relationships with the employees and team members. This style is characterized by frequent exercise of power, respect and obedience to orders by the staff and making the decision all alone without involvement of others (Adeniyi, 2007).
This involves communicating the job instructions in a persuasive style whilst the leader still retains the right to make all decisions. Leader explains the process and instructions, justifying it; which will in turn influence the followers to buy it (Hersey & Blanchard 1977).
Here the emphasis is on pooling of ideas and participative style of decision making. Involving all the stakeholders early in the decision-making process can significantly reduce the resistance to comply/execute the decisions at later stages. Participation of various departmental heads is necessary on such matters that require input from individuals possessing expertise in various fields. Opinions of other people and stakeholders are required when introducing new products, controls, and technological developments and other reforms in the business processes. Hence all the policies are derived from group/team decisions. Leader only participates but not dominate the decisions. This requires professional competence and personal sincerity and involvement on the part of followers (Adeniyi, 2007).
The responsibility for a particular decision/task is delegated to an individual or a group whilst leader monitors the progress and its implementation. This type of style lacks direction as the leader does not participate in decision making, but rather contributes when consulted or inquired on a particular matter (Adeniyi, 2007).. Tasks that are clearly trivial or the tasks that are designated to the individual departmental heads can be safely delegated to them with supervision from the leader (Hersey & Blanchard 1977). According to Kast and Rosenzweig (1985), this style may develop into anarchy if functioned for a very long period of time.
The leadership continuum theory by Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1985) demonstrates the abovementioned leadership styles in the form of the following continuum from authoritarian (tells) style to the Delegative style (Dudovsky, 2013). The leadership style in actual life varies somewhere between these two extremes.
The continuum provides greater options to apply the leadership theories in practice and thus it has a high level of applicability in real life business management. However, criticism has also been raised on the theory stating that, “three factors to consider when selecting a leadership style are very subjective. In other words, determining which style to use, and when, is not clear in the model” (Lussier and Achua, 2010, p.161).
Two other types of leadership styles that are specifically relevant to the case study are Transactional and Transformational leadership styles. A transactional leader focusses more on a series of transactions (for example a particular project or task deadline), in that it is for a very short period of time. Once the transaction has been completed the relationship between the team members and the leader may be redefined. Task requirements and role definitions are more important to a transactional leader and he gets it done by offering rewards that are contingent on successful completion of the task (Lussier & Achua, 2009). The two important components of Transactional Leadership include:
- Contingent Rewards
- Management by Exception – This allows the leaders to maintain status quo and intervene only when the performance/productivity falls below the acceptable level and correction actions are required.
Transformational leader, on the other hand, is more enduring to call in for a change. His thinking is not limited by the current work practices, norms and follower perception. A transformational leader is fully attentive to the needs and motives of his followers (Northouse, 2009), and attempts to challenge and inspire them with a sense of accomplishment and excitement (Schultz, 2010). The goal of a transformational leader is to help his followers attain their maximum potential. It raises the motivation level of both leaders and followers and changes them.
The cultural change in order to improve the ways in which employees and management approached the business processes had gone through numerous phases including:
- Organizing the project management team and setting the scope of the project
- Planning for the project
- Defining roles and responsibilities of the project team
- Communicating reasons for the proposed change in processes and culture
- Project execution and implementation
Depending on the stage of the project the respective departmental heads and managers who are given the role of leaders would have shifted their leader attitude and behavior from one style to another. This, along with its impact on the project success is discussed as follows.
The scope of the project was set in collaboration with the senior management. After rigorous consultation and analysis of the industry practices, a Lean methodology was proposed as the right fit towards improving organizational practices and culture. The GM encouraged the participation of all the stakeholders in introducing and implementing the lean practices for improving the daily operational processes. The GM as the leader of the project responsible for its overall success took the decision about the implementation of lean methodology in consultation with the senior personnel. Hence it was clear that the participative style of decision making was used. The GM however played the greatest part in influencing the rest of the team members by suggesting the lean methodology as an acceptable and efficient replacement to the current organizational practices.
The participative style ensured involvement of all the senior personnel who may directly or indirectly be affected with the decision. This plays a great role minimizing future grievances arising from ineffective executive and poor delivery of the project.
The first stage of the project after setting its scope and organizing the project management team was to plan how the change will be implemented and delivered. This part involved the identification of major stakeholders and addressing their concerns. The time taken during this stage was lengthened beyond initially estimated. The main reason for this was the involvement of every stakeholder in the planning process and explaining and justifying the key decisions regarding the change process. The stakeholders who were not satisfied and felt aggrieved by the decision laid divergent demands on the company which in turn required immediate stringent measures to be undertaken and respective changes in the plan to be made. The changes in turn required approval from the higher authority and so the entire process took a great deal of time and caused the project stage to end later than expected.
The problems described above can be reduced substantially just by changing the leadership style from participative to a style between authoritarian (tells) and persuasive (sells) on the leadership continuum. If the leader only conveys and justifies the decisions to a reasonable extent, rather than involving each and every stakeholder in the planning process, the time taken in the unnecessary changes to the project would be reduced. Justification of the decision would also ensure commitment by the members as they will know that the senior management has a sound basis for all their decisions and they are courteous to the stakeholders’ needs and motives as well.
The groups identified by the team were the supervisory staff that would engage the employees with the changed processes and the operational level staff who will directly perform the changed process on a daily basis. Their responsibilities and roles are best understood when communicated directly by the leader in an engaging and compelling way, encouraging them to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. Since the team members have a chance of learning a new skill, they will be motivated and more eager to perform their tasks if given a sense of commitment in the new organizational environment.
This stage of the project can be led more effectively by introducing the contingent reward system of the transactional leadership theory for motivating the followers through a system of rewards and punishment. Employees will work harder to achieve goals that have rewards attached to them. This is also true as studies have found that the transformational leadership may be more effective in creating and sharing knowledge at the individual and group level, while transactional leadership is more effective in exploiting knowledge at the organizational level (Black-Beth 2006).
Reasons for the proposed change to organizational processes were communicated to the stakeholders through meetings, notice boards, announcements and personal follow-ups. Employees who were uncertain or confused were allowed the opportunity to redress their concerns and accordingly secure their interests. The supervisors were told that the lean process would cause to increase the efficiency in their department and would hence enhance their profile. The lower employees were told clearly that the increased efficiencies would increase organizational profit and would therefore increase chances of a progressive wage scale and bonuses. This approach was correct as it would reduce the resistance to change.
However, stakeholders had little knowledge about the lean methodology and some thought that it relates to the manufacturing process and is not concerned with the logistics industry. Therefore, they thought that it would not remove the concerns of the business. Not much efforts were made in making the working of the system clear on a broad scale. This would have helped in driving the change in a swift and convenient manner.
After assigning roles and responsibilities and assuring the stakeholders that the change is overall good, the concerned managers were assigned the responsibility of taking care of their respective areas. The responsibility for change was delegated down the organizational hierarchy to appropriate individuals. At this stage the transformational leadership style by the respective departmental heads would be most appropriate as there is a great need for the staff and leader motivation, need to drive the change and achieve maximum potential.
It can be said that an effective leader is capable of using all styles of leadership depending on the situation, and the forces between the leader and the follower. Authoritarian style is preferred by a competent leader when the follower is new and motivated to learn a new skill. Participative style is best suited when the leader wants to gather all the information that is not presently available and when the team members know their job well and have a high willingness to contribute. Delegative style is used when the worker is more aware of the task and process than the leader himself, and when the leader intends to achieve productivity and efficiency by delegating authority for respective tasks. All three styles must be used in different stages of the project to ensure it is effectively carried out. Some of the determinants in deciding the type of leadership style to be used include, availability of time (participative style requires more time), job-oriented or worker-oriented mindset, who possesses the majority of information – the leader or the followers, level of expertise and training of the staff, complexity of tasks and stress levels. An effective leader would consider all the circumstances prevailing in the current situation before deciding how to lead.
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