Leadership Essay Research Paper Concept of Leadership

Leadership Essay, Research Paper Concept of Leadership Leadership – what is it? Many definitions have been offered, cultural stereotypes abound, numerous programs focus on leadership development, but the question remains. In fact, leadership is many different things to different people in different circumstances.

Leadership Essay, Research Paper

Concept of Leadership

Leadership – what is it? Many definitions have been offered, cultural stereotypes abound, numerous programs focus on leadership development, but the question remains. In fact, leadership is many different things to different people in different circumstances. When we think of leadership, we often think first of famous individuals. We may think of great political leaders: Washington, Churchill, Roosevelt. We may think of the leaders of social movements: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez. We may think of spiritual leaders: Jesus, Mohammed, Mother Theresa. Do we also include in our definition some of the infamous leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, or David Koresh? Obviously, leadership is not always or automatically good in and of itself. We are quickly reminded of the notion that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

An exploration of leadership also quickly takes us beyond the lists of the famous when we consider the examples of leadership in our own lives: family members, friends, teachers, ministers, and others who by their lives and examples have influenced and led us in various ways. When we look at leadership in communities we see many leaders who may never become famous but whose leadership is essential to the life of the community. We begin to see leaders all around us.

Leadership Defined

Leadership is the ability to influence individuals or groups toward the achievement of goals. Leadership, as a process, shapes the goals of a group or organization, motivates behavior toward the achievement of those goals, and helps define group or organizational culture. It is primarily a process of influence.

Leadership is a dynamic or changing process in the sense that, while influence is always present, the persons exercising that influence may change. Possession of influence depends upon the situation and upon the relevancy of the individual’s skills and abilities to the situation. For example, if a particular individual has the expertise that is required to solve a problem, then that individual may be assumed to have some degree of influence over others.

Although some managers are able to influence followers to work toward the achievement of organizational goals, the conferring of formal authority on a manager does not necessarily make that individual a leader. Yes, that individual has authority, but whether or not they are able to influence their subordinates may depend on more that just that authority.

Not all leaders are managers, and similarly, not all managers are leaders. Within a team environment, manager and leader are simply roles taken on by members of the team. Most teams require a manager to “manage” — coordinate, schedule, liaise, contact, organize, procure — their affairs. The functions of this role may well be quite different from those of the leader. Management roles need not presuppose any ability to influence. A leader, on the other hand, must have the ability to influence other team members.

A leader must, by definition, have followers. To understand leadership, we must explore the relationship leaders have with their followers.

One view of leadership sees it as a transactional process whereby leaders respond to subordinates’ basic lower level and security needs. Similar to the exchange theory discussed previously, leaders and subordinates may be viewed as bargaining agents whose relative power regulates an exchange process as benefits are issued and received. Thus, a follower may follow a leader so long as that leader is perceived to be in a position to “deliver” some important needs. In some cases, the followers of a political leader may be very fickle; if the desired needs of the followers are not met by the policies enacted by that leader’s government, these follower may readily give their vote — follow another — at the next election.


“All leaders have the capacity to create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and the ability to translate that vision into reality” (Bennis, 1990). Current leadership literature frequently characterizes the leader as the vision holder, the keeper of the dream, or the person who has a vision of the organization’s purpose. In Leadership Is an Art (1989), De Pree asserts that “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality”. Bennis (1990) writes that leaders “manage the dream” . Vision is defined as “the force which molds meaning for the people of an organization” by Manasse (1986).

According to Manasse, this aspect of leadership is “visionary leadership” and includes four different types of vision: organization, future, personal, and strategic. Organizational vision involves having a complete picture of a system’s components as well as an understanding of their interrelationships. “Future vision is a comprehensive picture of how an organization will look at some point in the future, including how it will be positioned in its environment and how it will function internally” (Manasse, 1986). Personal vision includes the leader’s personal aspirations for the organization and acts as the impetus for the leader’s actions that will link organizational and future vision. “Strategic vision involves connecting the reality of the present (organizational vision) to the possibilities of the future (future vision) in a unique way (personal vision) that is appropriate for the organization and its leader” (Manasse, 1986). A leader’s vision needs to be shared by those who will be involved in the realization of the vision.

Shared Vision.

An important aspect of vision is the notion of “shared vision.” “Some studies indicate that it is the presence of this personal vision on the part of a leader, shared with members of the organization, that may differentiate true leaders from mere managers” (Manasse, 1986). A leader’s vision needs to be shared by those who will be involved in the realization of the vision. Murphy (1988) applied shared vision to previous studies of policy makers and policy implementation; he found that those studies identified gaps between policy development and its implementation and concluded that this gap also applies to current discussions of vision. He stressed the need for the development of a shared vision. “It is rare to see a clearly defined vision articulated by a leader at the top of the hierarchy and then installed by followers” (Murphy, 1988). Whether the vision of an organization is developed collaboratively or initiated by the leader and agreed to by the followers, it becomes the common ground, the shared vision that compels all involved. “Vision comes alive only when it is shared” (Westley & Mintzberg).

Valuing Human Resources.

Leaders go beyond the development of a common vision; they value the human resources of their organizations. They provide an environment that promotes individual contributions to the organization’s work. Leaders develop and maintain collaborative relationships formed during the development and adoption of the shared vision. They form teams, support team efforts, develop the skills groups and individuals need, and provide the necessary resources, both human and material, to fulfill the shared vision.

Who will lead a group, team, or organization? Leadership emergence depends to a large extent on group members’ perceptions. Groups generally require leaders when interpersonal processes need improvement or the efforts of individual members must be better coordinated.

Emergence of a leader depends on team members’ perceptions with respect to the need for a leader and on the qualities of the individuals available to fill that role.

A number of factors may determine who emerges as a group’s leader:

(1) physical characteristics such as height, weight, age, and gender;

(2) intelligence;

(3) personality traits;

(4) task abilities; and

(5) participation rates.

Why do followers Follow

Although the number of reasons followers follow may be as numerous as the number of followers, we may generalize by saying that followers expect their needs to be satisfied. If the leader somehow provides the follower with the means by which he or she may satisfy needs, then it is likely that the leader will have followers. This assumption is consistent with Maslow’s assumptions about motivation.

Followers are motivated to follow — to do whatever is requested of them by the leader — if they are in a position to satisfy their own, dominant needs. Similarly, Expectancy Theory assumes that people are motivated — will see a reason to follow — if there exists a perceived expectation that their efforts (the following) will lead to positive job outcomes and, finally, positive rewards.

Transactional leadership is based on the notion of a social exchange; leaders control followers’ behaviors by imposing authority and power on the one hand and satisfying followers’ needs on the other. That is, leaders offer organizational resources in exchange for followers’ compliance and responsiveness.

Unlike transformational leadership, in this transactional relationship, the leader makes no particular effort to change followers’ values or involve them in a process by which they internalize organizational values.

In times of crisis, people become sensitive to the adequacy of their leadership. If they have confidence in it, they are willing to assign more than usual responsibility to the leader. However, if they lack that confidence, they are less tolerant of the leader than usual.

Furthermore, people are more likely to follow and to have critical decisions made by the leader if they feel that somehow they, the followers, are taking part in the decision-making process.

Although, the formal definition of leadership given above will serve us in our future discussions of leadership, Warren Bennis suggests a definition which is also interesting.

Leadership, Vision, Communication

If leadership is to be pro-active, it requires vision. This vision is a shared image of a desirable objective, shaped and defined by the leader and the followers.

However, vision itself is not enough. In order to get others — followers — to move in the direction of the desired goal (the vision), the leader must also be able to communicate that vision and the followers must be motivated to follow.

Ideally, the followers will internalize and fulfill this shared vision. If the followers are inclined to act on reasoned argument, then communication will serve to convey the rationale for the vision. On the other hand, the act of communicating may also touch the followers in an emotional way.

What makes a Leader

It is generally accepted that good leadership is essential to the functioning of an organization. This begs the question: What makes a good leader? It may be useful to think of the leadership process as the interaction between the situation, the leader, and the followers. Beh

Behavior and Personality

Since leadership is a behavior, it must, by definition, be , among other things, a function of the leader’s personality. Personality is defined as those relatively stable characteristics derived from culture, unique experiences, and biological makeup. If the leader’s skills, and motivations to fulfill certain felt needs, are combined with his or her personality, then we might conclude that these factors contribute to leader behavior.

Task Orientation, Relationship Orientation, and Influence

Much of the leadership research has reduced leader behavior to: task orientation, relationship orientation, and the attempt to influence others (note the similarity between these behaviors and McClelland’s needs — need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power). Behavior thus influences the net result of the leadership process.

Leader Behaviors, Influence, and Power Leader behavior is also a function of the power of the leader. Power (as per French and Raven) may be derived from a number of sources:

h expert

h referent

h reward

h coercive

h legitimate

Leader Behaviors and Situational Variables In an organizational context, the leader’s behavior invariably interacts with the environment. Thus, situational variables come into play. The type of job, technology, organizational politics, and the formal authority afforded the manger may influence the power available to the leader.


The role of leadership in management is largely determined by the organisational culture of the company. It has been argued that managers’ beliefs, values and assumptions are of critical importance to the overall style of leadership that they adopt.

There are several different leadership styles that can be identified within each of the following Management techniques. Each technique has its own set of good and not-so-good characteristics, and each uses leadership in a different way.

The Autocrat

The autocratic leader dominates team-members, using unilateralism to achieve a singular objective. This approach to leadership generally results in passive resistance from team-members and requires continual pressure and direction from the leader in order to get things done. Generally, an authoritarian approach is not a good way to get the best performance from a team.

There are, however, some instances where an autocratic style of leadership may not be inappropriate. Some situations may call for urgent action, and in these cases an autocratic style of leadership may be best. In addition, most people are familiar with autocratic leadership and therefore have less trouble adopting that style. Furthermore, in some situations, sub-ordinates may actually prefer an autocratic style.

The Laissez-Faire Manager

The Laissez-Faire manager exercises little control over his group, leaving them to sort out their roles and tackle their work, without participating in this process himself. In general, this approach leaves the team floundering with little direction or motivation.

Again, there are situations where the Laissez-Faire approach can be effective. The Laissez-Faire technique is usually only appropriate when leading a team of highly motivated and skilled people, who have produced excellent work in the past. Once a leader has established that his team is confident, capable and motivated, it is often best to step back and let them get on with the task, since interfering can generate resentment and detract from their effectiveness. By handing over ownership, a leader can empower his group to achieve their goals.

The Democrat

The democratic leader makes decisions by consulting his team, whilst still maintaining control of the group. The democratic leader allows his team to decide how the task will be tackled and who will perform which task.

The democratic leader can be seen in two lights:

A good democratic leader encourages participation and delegates wisely, but never loses sight of the fact that he bears the crucial responsibility of leadership. He values group discussion and input from his team and can be seen as drawing from a pool of his team members’ strong points in order to obtain the best performance from his team. He motivates his team by empowering them to direct themselves, and guides them with a loose reign.

However, the democrat can also be seen as being so unsure of himself and his relationship with his sub-ordinates that everything is a matter for group discussion and decision. Clearly, this type of “leader” is not really leading at all.


Trait Theories

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, leadership research focused on trying to identify the traits that differentiated leaders from non-leaders. These early leadership theories were content theories, focusing on “what” an effective leader is, not on ‘how’ to effectively lead. The trait approach to understanding leadership assumes that certain physical, social, and personal characteristics are inherent in leaders. Sets of traits and characteristics were identified to assist in selecting the right people to become leaders. Physical traits include being young to middle-aged, energetic, tall, and handsome. Social background traits include being educated at the “right” schools and being socially prominent or upwardly mobile. Social characteristics include being charismatic, charming, tactful, popular, cooperative, and diplomatic. Personality traits include being self-confident, adaptable, assertive, and emotionally stable. Task-related characteristics include being driven to excel, accepting of responsibility, having initiative, and being results-oriented.

Trait theories intended to identify traits to assist in selecting leaders since traits are related to leadership effectiveness in many situations. The trait approach to understanding leadership supports the use of tests and interviews in the selection of managers. The interviewer is typically attempting to match the traits and characteristics of the applicant to the position. For example, most interviewers attempt to evaluate how well the applicant can work with people.

Trait theory has not been able to identify a set of traits that will consistently distinguish leaders from followers. Trait theory posits key traits for successful leadership (drive, desire to lead, integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, and job-relevant knowledge) yet does not make a judgment as to whether these traits are inherent to individuals or whether they can be developed through training and education. No two leaders are alike. Furthermore, no leader possesses all of the traits. Comparing leaders in different situations suggests that the traits of leaders depend on the situation. Thus, traits were de-emphasized to take into account situational conditions (contingency perspective).

Behavioral Theories

The behavioral theorists identified determinants of leadership so that people could be trained to be leaders. They developed training programs to change managers’ leadership behaviors and assumed that the best styles of leadership could be learned.

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor described Theory X and Theory Y in his book, The Human Side of Enterprise. Theory X and Theory Y each represent different ways in which leaders view employees. Theory X managers believe that employees are motivated mainly by money, are lazy, uncooperative, and have poor work habits. Theory Y managers believe that subordinates work hard, are cooperative, and have positive attitudes.

Theory X is the traditional view of direction and control by managers.

1. The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid if he or she can.

2. Because of this human characteristic of dislike of work, most people must be controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort toward the achievement of organizational objectives.

3. The average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, wants security above all.

Theory X leads naturally to an emphasis on the tactics of control – to procedures and techniques for telling people what to do, for determining whether they are doing it, and for administering rewards and punishment. Theory X explains the consequences of a particular managerial strategy. Because its assumptions are so unnecessarily limiting, it prevents managers from seeing the possibilities inherent in other managerial strategies. As long as the assumptions of Theory X influence managerial strategy, organizations will fail to discover, let alone utilize, the potentialities of the average human being.

Theory Y is the view that individual and organizational goals can be integrated.

1. The expenditures of physical and mental effort in work are as natural as play or rest.

2. External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means for bringing out effort toward organizational objectives.

3. Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement.

4. The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept but also to seek responsibility.

5. The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems in widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.

6. Under the condition of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized.

Theory Y’s purpose is to encourage integration, to create a situation in which an employee can achieve his or her own goals best by directing his or her efforts toward the objectives of the organization. It is a deliberate attempt to link improvement in managerial competence with the satisfaction of higher-level ego and self-actualization needs. Theory Y leads to a preoccupation with the nature of relationships, with the creation of an environment which will encourage commitment to organizational objectives and which will provide opportunities for the maximum exercise of initiative, ingenuity, and self-direction in achieving them.

Ohio State and University of Michigan

Studies conducted at the Ohio State University and the University of Michigan identified two leadership styles and two types of leader behaviors. The Ohio State study identified two leadership styles: considerate and initiating structure. The University of Michigan study classified leaders’ behaviors as being production- or employee-centered. The primary concern of leaders with considerate and employee-centered style is the employee’s welfare. The primary concern of leaders with initiating-structure and production-centered styles is achieving goals. Research findings on which dimension is most important for satisfaction and productivity are inconclusive. However, employee oriented leaders appear to be associated with high group productivity and job satisfaction.

University of Iowa

Another approach to leader behavior focused on identifying the best leadership styles. Work at the University of Iowa identified democratic (participation and delegation), autocratic (dictating and centralized) and laissez-faire styles (group freedom in decision making). Research findings were also inconclusive.

The Managerial Grid

The dimensions identified at the University of Michigan provided the basis for the development of the managerial grid model developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. It identifies five various leadership styles that represent different combinations of concern for people and concern for production. Managers who scored high on both these dimensions simultaneously (labeled team management) performed best.

The five leadership styles of the managerial grid include impoverished, country club, produce or perish, middle-of-the road, and team. The impoverished style is located at the lower left-hand corner of the grid, point (1, 1). It is characterized by low concern for both people and production. The primary objective of the impoverished style is for managers to stay out of trouble. The country club style is located at the upper left-hand corner of the grid, point (1, 9). It is characterized as a high concern for people and a low concern for production. The primary objective of the country club style is to create a secure and comfortable atmosphere and trust that subordinates will respond positively. The produce or perish style is located at the lower right-hand corner of the grid, point (9,1). A high concern for production and a low concern for people characterize it. The primary objective of the produce or perish style is to achieve the organization’s goals. To accomplish the organization’s goals, it is not necessary to consider employees’ needs as relevant. The middle-of-the-road style is located at the middle of the grid, point (5, 5). A balance between workers’ needs and the organization’s productivity goals characterize it. The primary objective of the middle-of-the-road style is to maintain employee morale at a level sufficient to get the organization’s work done. The team style is located at the upper right-hand of the grid, point (9, 9). It is characterized by a high concern for people and production. The primary objective of the team style is to establish cohesion and foster a feeling of commitment among workers.

Contingency Theories

Successful leaders must be able to identify clues in an environment and adapt their leader behavior to meet the needs of their followers and of the particular situation. Even with good diagnostic skills, leaders may not be effective unless they can adapt their leadership style to meet the demands of their environment.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Leadership Theory and Research: Perspectives and Directions (Academic Press Inc (HBJ), 1993) was a tribute to Fred Fiedler’s 40 year study of leadership and organizational effectiveness. The editors, Martin M. Chemers and Roya Ayman, write of Fiedler’s contribution: “The realization that leadership effectiveness depends on the interaction of qualities of the leader with demands of the situation in which the leader functions, made the simplistic “one best way” approach of earlier eras obsolete.”

Fred E. Fiedler’s contingency theory postulates that there is no best way for managers to lead. Situations will create different leadership style requirements for a manager. The solution to a managerial situation is contingent on the factors that impinge on the situation. For example, in a highly routinized (mechanistic) environment where repetitive tasks are the norm, a certain leadership style may result in the best performance. The same leadership style may not work in a very dynamic environment.

Fiedler looked at three situations that could define the condition of a managerial task:

1. Leader member relations: How well do the manager and the employees get along?

2. The task structure: Is the job highly structured, fairly unstructured, or somewhere in between?

3. Position power: How much authority does the manager possess?

Managers were rated as to whether they were relationship oriented or task oriented. Task oriented managers tend to do better in situations that have good leader-member relationships, structured tasks, and either weak or strong position power. They do well when the task is unstructured but position power is strong. Also, they did well at the other end of the spectrum when the leader member relations were moderate to poor and the task was unstructured. Relationship oriented managers do better in all other situations. Thus, a given situation might call for a manager with a different style or a manager who could take on a different style for a different situation.

These environmental variables are combined in a weighted sum that is termed “Favorable” at one end and “unfavorable” at the other. Task oriented style is preferable at the clearly defined extremes of “favorable” and “unfavorable” environments, but relationship orientation excels in the middle ground. Managers could attempt to reshape the environment variables to match their style.

Another aspect of the contingency model theory is that the leader-member relations, task structure, and position power dictate a leader’s situational control. Leader-member relations are the amount of loyalty, dependability, and support that the leader receives from employees. It is a measure of how the manager perceives he or she and the group of employees is getting along together. In a favorable relationship the manager has a high task structure and is able to reward and or punish employees without any problems. In an unfavorable relationship the task is usually unstructured and the leader possesses limited authority. The spelling out in detail (favorable) of what is required of subordinates affects task structure.

Positioning power measures the amount of power or authority the manager perceives the organization has given him or her for the purpose of directing, rewarding, and punishing subordinates. Positioning power of managers depends on the taking away (favorable) or increasing (unfavorable) the decision-making power of employees.

The task-motivated style leader experiences pride and satisfaction in the task accomplishment for the organization, while the relationship-motivated style seeks to build interpersonal relations and extend extra help for the team development in the organization. There is no good or bad leadership style. Each person has his or her own preferences for leadership. Task-motivated leaders are at their best when the group performs successfully such as achieving a new sales record or outperforming the major competitor. Relationship-oriented leaders are at their best when greater customer satisfaction is gained and a positive company image is established.

Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership

The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership theory is based on the amount of direction (task behavior) and amount of socio-emotional support (relationship behavior) a leader must provide given the situation and the “level of maturity” of the followers. Task behavior is the extent to which the leader engages in spelling out the duties and responsibilities to an individual or group. This behavior includes telling people what to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, and who’s to do it. In task behavior the leader engages in one-way communication. Relationship behavior is the extent to which the leader engages in two-way or multi-way communications. This includes listening, facilitating, and supportive behaviors. In relationship behavior the leader engages in two-way communication by providing socio-emotional support. Maturity is the willingness and ability of a person to take responsibility for directing his or her own behavior. People tend to have varying degrees of maturity, depending on the specific task, function, or objective that a leader is attempting to accomplish through their efforts.

To determine the appropriate leadership style to use in a given situation, the leader must first determine the maturity level of the followers in relation to the specific task that the leader is attempting to accomplish through the effort of the followers. As the level of followers’ maturity increases, the leader should begin to reduce his or her task behavior and increase relationship behavior until the followers reach a moderate level of maturity. As the followers begin to move into an above average level of maturity, the leader should decrease not only task behavior but also relationship behavior.

Once the maturity level is identified, the appropriate leadership style can be determined. The four leadership styles are telling, selling, participating, and delegating. High task/low relationship behavior (S1) is referred to as “telling.” The leader provides clear instructions and specific direction. Telling style is best matched with a low follower readiness level. High task/high relationship behavior (S2) is referred to as “selling.” The leader encourages two-way communication and helps build confidence and motivation on the part of the employee, although the leader still has responsibility and controls decision making. Selling style is best matched with a moderate follower readiness level. High relationship/low task behavior (S3) is referred to as “participating.” With this style, the leader and followers share decision making and no longer need or expect the relationship to be directive. Participating style is best matched with a moderate follower readiness level. Low relationship/low task behavior (S4) is labeled “delegating.” This style is appropriate for leaders whose followers are ready to accomplish a particular task and are both competent and motivated to take full responsibility. Delegating style is best matched with a high follower readiness level.

House’s Path-Goal Model

The path-goal theory developed by Robert House is based on the expectancy theory of motivation. The manager’s job is viewed as coaching or guiding workers to choose the best paths for reaching their goals. “Best” is judged by the accompanying achievement of organizational goals. It is based on the precepts of goal setting theory and argues that leaders will have to engage in different types of leadership behavior depending on the nature and demands of the particular situation. It’s the leader’s job to assist followers in attaining goals and to provide direction and support needed to ensure that their goals are compatible with the organization’s.

A leader’s behavior is acceptable to subordinates when viewed as a source of satisfaction, and motivational when need satisfaction is contingent on performance, and the leader facilitates, coaches and rewards effective performance. Path goal theory identifies achievement-oriented, directive, participative and supportive leadership styles. In achievement-oriented leadership, the leader sets challenging goals for followers, expects them to perform at their highest level, and shows confidence in their ability to meet this expectation. This style is appropriate when the follower suffers from a lack of job challenge. In directive leadership, the leader lets followers know what is expected of them and tells them how to perform their tasks. This style is appropriate when the follower has an ambiguous job. Participative leadership involves leaders consulting with followers and asking for their suggestions before making a decision. This style is appropriate when the follower is using improper procedures or is making poor decisions. In supportive leadership, the leader is friendly and approachable. He or she shows concern for followers’ psychological well being. This style is appropriate when the followers lack confidence.

Path-Goal theory assumes that leaders are flexible and that they can change their style, as situations require. The theory proposes two contingency variables (environment and follower characteristics) that moderate the leader behavior-outcome relationship. Environment is outside the control of followers-task structure, authority system, and work group. Environmental factors determine the type of leader behavior required if follower outcomes are to be maximized. Follower characteristics are the locus of control, experience, and perceived ability. Personal characteristics of subordinates determine how the environment and leader are interpreted. Effective leaders clarify the path to help their followers achieve their goals and make the journey easier by reducing roadblocks and pitfalls. Research demonstrates that employee performance and satisfaction are positively influenced when the leader compensates for the shortcomings in either the employee or the work setting.

Vroom, Yetton, Jago Leader-Participation Model

The Vroom, Yetton, Jago leader-participation model relates leadership behavior and participation to decision making. The model provides a set of sequential rules to determine the form and amount of participative decision making in different situations. It is a decision tree, requiring yes and no answers incorporating contingencies about task structure and alternative styles.

The following contingency questions must be answered to determine the appropriate leadership style in the leader-participation model.

P Quality Requirement: How important is the technical quality of this decision?

P Commitment Requirement: How important is subordinate commitment to the decision?

P Leader’s Information: Do you have sufficient information to make a high-quality decision?

P Problem Structure: Is the problem well structured?

P Commitment Probability: If you were to make the decision yourself, are you reasonably certain that your subordinates would be committed to the decision?

P Goal Congruence: Do subordinates share the organizational goals to be attained in solving this problem?

P Subordinate Conflict: Is conflict among subordinates over preferred solutions likely?

P Subordinate Information: Do subordinates have sufficient information to make a high-quality decision?

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership blends the behavioral theories with a little dab of trait theories. Transactional leaders, such as those identified in contingency theories, guide followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements. However, transformational leaders, who are charismatic and visionary, can inspire followers to transcend their own self-interest for the good of the organization. Transformational leaders appeal to followers’ ideals and moral values and inspire them to think about problems in new or different ways. Leader behaviors used to influence followers include vision, framing, and impression management. Vision is the ability of the leader to bind people together with an idea. Framing is the process whereby leaders define the purpose of their movement in highly meaningful terms. Impression management is a leader’s attempt to control the impressions that others form about the leader by practicing behaviors that make the leader more attractive and appealing to others. Research indicates that transformational, as compared to transactional, leadership is more strongly correlated with lower turnover rates, higher productivity, and higher employee satisfaction.

A transformational leader instills feelings of confidence, admiration and commitment in the followers. He or she is charismatic, creating a special bond with followers, articulating a vision with which the followers identify and for which they are willing to work. Each follower is coached, advised, and delegated some authority. The transformational leader stimulates followers intellectually, arousing them to develop new ways to think about problems. The leader uses contingent rewards to positively reinforce performances that are consistent with the leader’s wishes. Management is by exception. The leader takes initiative only when there are problems and is not actively involved when things are going well. The transformational leader commits people to action and converts followers into leaders.

Transformational leaders are relevant to today’s workplace because they are flexible and innovative. While it is important to have leaders with the appropriate orientation defining tasks and managing interrelationships, it is even more important to have leaders who can bring organizations into futures they have not yet imagined. Transformational leadership is the essence of creating and sustaining competitive advantage.


Leadership skills are not intellectual principles that are memorized or learned in a classroom setting. Leadership skills are a part of one’s higher character being reinforced within a group that values leadership behaviors. We teach leadership as an individual and group process. Not only individuals practice the process of leadership in our leadership seminars but the group practices leadership through the reinforcement of values and beliefs regarding appropriate behavior. We assign the group a real work task to accomplish efficiently and proficiently, which develops a set of values and practices compatible with leadership skills.

Employees rise to the highest level of customers’ needs when the work culture is total employee leadership. Management becomes a resource to support employee leadership.

Build leaderships skills in your employees and your business or law firm will exceed the goals of your business plan. If every employee doesn’t perceive himself/herself as a leader invest your training dollars in building leadership skills in your employees. Good leaders are made not born. The best leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills.

Management succeeds best when they model as leaders, which encourages employee leadership. There is a mistaken idea that all managers and professionals have leadership traits. They may or may not behave as leaders. Although their position as a partner, manager, supervisor, lead, etc. gives them the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization, this power does not make them a leader…it simply makes them the boss. Leadership makes people want to achieve high goals and objectives, while bosses tell people to accomplish a task or objective.

What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future. These traits shouldn’t be limited to management. These traits are desirable in all employees.

Principles of Leadership

h Leadership begins with character. Honesty, ethical behavior, recognition of others’ good deeds and care for others, identification with the larger goals of the business and a maturity all contribute to your impact in the organization.

h Know yourself and seek self-improvement. What makes up your character? What are your interests and passions? How accountable are you? How do you manage time and meet goals? Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through being coached, reading, self-study, classes, etc

h Be technically proficient. As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with other employees’ jobs.

h Seek responsibility and be accountable for your actions. Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. Collaborate with others wanting success for the organization. And when things go wrong, they will sooner or later, do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.

h Make sound and timely decisions. Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools.

h Set the example. Be a good role model for other employees but not in the manner of criticalness or righteousness. Everyone rises to a higher level when they witness good character and competence in alignment with the company’s business plan.

h Know other employees and look out for their well-being. Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers. Praise, reinforce, and offer to be a resource.

h Communicate with other employees. Know how to communicate with others working with you. Individuals have different communication styles. Don’t assume there was communication when you can ask for feedback to confirm what was heard. When institutional communication is inaccurate or inadequate initiate changes. Poor communication exists when employees permit it.

h When assigned a task understand it and commit to its completion. Renegotiate the task if necessary or seek other team members’ assistance if necessary, but retain accountability for it.

h Use the full capabilities of your organization. By developing a team spirit, you will be able to use your organization, department, section, etc. as a resource, and at the same time offer yourself as a resource.

Businesses and law firms need three elements to succeed: (1) a plan, (2) an effective well coordinated execution of the plan, and (3) employees with leadership skills. These three elements are dynamic in interaction and rise together in a sound organization. Too often this consultant sees law firm partners or entrepreneurs form the business plan without employee participation, and then not communicate the plan (or the reasoning behind the plan), and in the end complain that employees aren’t making an adequate contribution.

Employees report in employee surveys that they want more participation and more responsibility in their work lives. Seldom do they report that they work too hard. Often they report that they have too little influence over their work, which makes it less challenging. Almost always they report too little communication from management about mission, objectives, and goals for the organization. Ronald Riffel’s belief is that people want to make as large a contribution to the organization as possible. Their morale is highest when they are working hard with a common goal shared by everyone. They work most effectively when recognized as valued contributing team members with unique and needed talents for the team’s success. They soar when they feel their leadership qualities are operating fully.

The surest way to strengthen your company or law firm is to build leadership skills in your employees. When everyone considers himself a team member, and feels accountable to the team, your company or firm will be operating with the synergism that teams can create.

Substitute for Leadership

What happens as patients, seriously ill, arrive at the emergency room of urban hospitals? As the ER personnel spring into action, who is in charge? Similarly, what about the situation of a team of air traffic controllers bringing a jet into an airport during an air traffic crisis; where is the leader?

Whereas each member of the emergency room staff appears to have specific tasks to do, they generally accomplish these without any apparent supervision. In terms of leadership, what is happening here?

The work of Steven Kerr and John Jermier looked at those situations in which leadership is not needed. They examined situations where existing leadership models could not account for what was observed; work situations where it is difficult to tell who is really in charge.

The literature is replete with references to numerous contingency models; Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, Yukl’s Multiple Linkage Model, House’s Path-Goal Theory, Vroom-Yetton Model of decision making, and Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory. All these models assume that some type of hierarchical leadership is needed and important in formal organizations. Ineffective leadership was assumed to be the result of leader behaviors which were inappropriate to the situation.

Kerr and Jermier questioned these assumptions and suggested an alternative — that certain aspects of the individual, the task or the organization reduced the importance of formal leadership by “neutralizing” the effects of leader behaviors. Further, other situational variables not only “neutralize” leader behaviors, but also “substitute” for them. These leadership substitutes have a direct impact on the subordinate.

By focusing attention on nonleader sources of influence, the leadership substitute model recognized that many factors in the worker’s environment could provide the guidance needed on the job.

Characteristics Of Subordinates

Several characteristics of subordinates may neutralize a leader’s behaviors. These characteristics include the subordinates’ abilities and experiences, their needs for independence, their professional orientation and their indifference towards organizational rewards.


Highly competent subordinates may not need nor want to be told what to do. Because of their abilities, experiences, training, or job knowledge, subordinates very often have the competence to act independently, without immediate supervision, as they perform their day-to-day duties. In effect, they know what needs to be done and how to do it. Leadership by some “superior” would be redundant.

Need For Independence

The workplace of the new millennium will be a workplace of greater worker autonomy; employees are demanding it. Subordinates want more control over how work is performed and how their workday is structured. In many firms, work teams which assign specific tasks to their members, monitor and control performance and generally have considerable autonomy over work scheduling, have become the norm. Thus, leadership comes not from a “leader”, but rather, from the team itself. .

Professional Orientation

Accountants, engineers, doctors, or software developers may show greater allegiance to their disciplines or their professional associations than to their employing organizations. Often, they have greater concern for the peer review process than hierarchical, organizational evaluation. Such employees may develop important referents, external to the employing organization. As these employees place their discipline above the best interests of the organization, organizational leadership may become irrelevant.

Indifference Towards Rewards . As is described by the Expectancy Theory of Motivation, motivation is linked with perception. The degree to which a specific reward will motivate an individual will depend upon whether:

1. The compensation is important to the person.

2. Additional compensation depends upon performance.

3. The employee is sure that more effort will result in higher performance.

Organizational leadership, if unable to provide rewards as stipulated by this theory, will fail to incite subordinates to follow.

Characteristics Of Tasks

Generally, leadership is defined as an ability to get followers to engage in activities beneficial to the organization. However, where is the need for leadership if the job is so intrinsically satisfying that subordinates will take it up voluntarily, or if it is so routine as to make any leadership superfluous? .


For routine tasks, unnecessary and redundant leader directions will have an impact upon subordinate satisfaction, morale, motivation, performance and acceptance of the leader. In effect, if a job is routine and simple, the subordinate may not either need nor want directions.

Feedback and Intrinsic Satisfaction

Motivational research indicates that employees desire a leader’s support and feedback for ambiguous tasks. However, for clearly defined assignments they may not need nor want support or feedback from a leader. Often, performance feedback from the work itself is another characteristic of the task which acts as a leader substitute.

Extrinsic rewards are extraneous to the tasks, bestowed by someone else — promotions, pay raises, awards, titles or even compliments. Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, come directly from performing a task. Intrinsic rewards are a form of internal reinforcement such as feelings of accomplishment and self-worth, or having a sense of achievement. When a job is challenging and intrinsically satisfying, the employee may not need feedback or rewards from a leader.

Characteristics Of Organization

The formalization of norms and rules, group cohesion, inflexible or rigid reward structures may serve as organizational substitutes for leadership. .


Clear job descriptions or specific task objectives can substitute for leadership. A highly structured organization with explicit norms, rules, policies, procedures, plans, goals and areas of responsibility may be defined as being highly formalized.

Clear job descriptions or specific task objectives can substitute for leadership. In effect, the specificity of the objectives and job descriptions leaves no room for misunderstanding the organization’s expectations of the subordinates.

Group Cohesion

In cohesive groups, the team members’ desires to stay in the team outweigh their desires to leave. The team serves as an important source for satisfying the individual members’ social needs. Further, the desire to maintain those social relations, and not alienate the other team members causes team members to adhere rigidly to team norms. This adherence to team norms will very often outweigh any leadership dictates. .

Organizational Inflexibility .

An organization that is either incapable of, or resistant to, being changed may be said to be inflexible. This may be a result of very rigid organizational control structures, clear lines of authority, or unbending rules and procedures. In such an organization, employees are expected to adhere to clearly defined policies. Further, given strict adherence to organizational policies, leaders are given virtually no discretion over the enforcement of the rules. If the employees are aware of this lack of supervisory discretion, then they are likely to disregard supervisory leadership. .

Rigid Reward Structure . In order for rewards to be effective, employees must place a high value on the rewards — pay raises, promotions and high visibility work assignments — under the leader’s control. If a supervisor is able to exercise control over pay raises, can make recommendations regarding promotions and has considerable discretion in task assignments, he or she has a high level of reward power. However, if the rewards are not within the supervisor’s control, he or she will have little or no influence. This lack of control then diminishes the effectiveness of the leader.

Current theories and models of leadership have placed considerable emphasis on hierarchical leadership that, in order to be effective, takes situational variables into account.

There are many instances where “substitutes for leadership” exist. In these instances, the subordinate’s dependency on the leader is reduced. Rigid bureaucratic rules and regulations, can reduce subordinates’ information needs about the task to almost zero. In other instances the task may be totally specified by technology, or “professional standards” and the prescribed methodology may render the leader superfluous.

The substitute concept identifies situations in which the leader’s behaviors are neutralized by characteristics of the subordinate, the task and/or the organization.


Characteristics Of Subordinates

h Ability and experience

h Need for independence

h Professional orientation

h Indifference towards rewards

Characteristics Of Tasks

h Routineness

h Availability of feedback

h Intrinsic satisfaction

Characteristics Of Organization

h Formalization

h Group cohesion

h Inflexibility

h Rigid reward structure


The rapidly changing face of the world of business here and internationally has offered up some rather interesting organisational phenomena that have served to challenge traditional views on everything from the practice of management to the conduct of production processes. Perhaps the most intriguing of these new developments, though, has been the re-orienting of notions of management. For one, the current thinking is that different structures, new challenges and the prospect of a perpetual state of change have demanded more by way of leadership and less and less in the line of age-old models of management.

Indeed, our own Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA), in celebrating its 40th Anniversary, focused on what it termed “Re-Engineering Management: the Mandate for New Leadership.” For sure, the threat of obsolescence stares many in their faces. Some will recognise it for what it is. Others will simply be washed away by this giant tide of change. The fact is the world of business is in the throes of a gigantic revolution which requires a style of leadership reminiscent of that displayed through some of the more challenging times in the history of Mankind.

Anthropologist, Michael Maccoby, argues in an article in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review that such leadership should be both “visionary and charismatic”. But, very importantly, he has noted that there has been a tendency to promote the role of a kind of leader who isn’t that much different from the narcissistic personalities of times past.

“Throughout history,” he suggests, “narcissists have always emerged to inspire people and to shape the future.” Among such notable personalities are: Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahatma Gandhi and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Such styles of leadership have not only been witnessed in the world of politics but also in the world of business where captains of industry and commerce such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were pre-dominant in changing the face of the modern world.

Of course, descriptions of the narcissistic personality emerge out of the turn-of-the-19th Century work of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who identified the erotic, obsessive and narcissistic types. Narcissists, Freud argued, are independent, not easily impressed, innovators and are driven by a sense of power and glory. “Unlike erotics,” Maccoby adds, “they (narcissists) want to be admired, not loved.”

“And, unlike obsessives, they are not troubled by a punishing super-ego, so they are able to aggressively pursue their goals.” Sounds like somebody you know? It should. For, Trinidad and Tobago, has not escaped the grasp of this reliance on leadership personalities who display some of the more impressive qualities of the narcissist even as they exhibit some of their sharpest deficiencies and weaknesses.

Such personalities, the experts contend, tend to be poor listeners who lack empathy, have a distaste for mentoring and possess an intense desire to compete. “One serious consequence of this oversensitivity to criticism is that narcissistic leaders often do not listen when they feel threatened or attacked,” says Maccoby.

Productive narcissists, on the other hand, “are not only risk takers willing to get the job done but also charmers who can convert the masses with their rhetoric.” This, however, can be converted to negative ends when, according to Maccoby, “lacking self-knowledge and restraining anchors, narcissists become unrealistic dreamers”. “They nurture grand schemes and harbour the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block their success,” he argues.

This interesting blend of personality trait has served to create a management style that has created its share of problems and conflict but has also tended to help organisations, through their leadership, confront many issues head-on and with a greater degree of self-confidence.

In the end, however, there does not appear to be an automatic correlation between the existence of narcissistic leadership and the success of modern leadership. In fact, success may well rely more heavily on the degree to which this particular personality type co-exists alongside Freud’s erotic and obsessive types and what Erich Fromm many years later described as the fourth personality type – the marketing personality.

In the end, we may conclude that all four types have the potential to be as productive as they are, many times, unproductive and not particularly useful. The rise of the narcissistic leader, however, poses very special challenges to modern day society even as it, clearly, has led to so many advances and special achievements of our time.