Leadership is arguably one of the most important traits an individual or employee can possess. Leaders possess certain skills and qualities that enable them to influence others to willingly follow their lead. Numerous research has been conducted on the different styles of leadership and similar characteristics that good leaders encompass. Leaders are important to organizations because they are able to influence change and provide a vision and common goal for followers to work together to achieve. They are the cohesiveness that binds individuals together and motivates them to put forth their best effort. There are two specific approaches to leadership discussed in this paper: style approach and situational approach. It is important to understand specific situations and the type of leadership it calls for because the effectiveness of the leadership style determines how well a group or organization functions and achieves its’ goals.
The style approach focuses on how a leader behaves. It emphases what leaders do and how leaders acts (Northouse, 2012). There are two specific kinds of leadership behaviors that are mentioned in the textbook: task behaviors and relationship behavior (Northouse, 2012). Task behaviors refers to actions that encourage followers to accomplish goals and focuses on helping members to achieve objectives that they have set (Northouse, 2012). The other type of leadership behavior is relationship behavior. In this group members are comfortable with their team members, themselves, and their current situation (Northouse, 2012). This type of style approach is important for leaders to keep in mind to maintain awareness of how their actions affect their group members. Leaders’ actions influence members on both a task and a relationship level.
The situational approach is different from the styles approach in that it examines how different situations require a different style of leadership. A situational leader understands that he or she must be able to adapt his or her style of leadership to a current situation in order to be most effective (Northouse, 2012). In order to do so the leader must be able to know group members on a personal level as well. This is necessary for a leader to determine what style of leadership is needed for a given situation; he or she must be able to evaluate employees to assess their competencies and commitment to a certain task (Northouse, 2012). Situational leadership requires leaders to build relationships with employees in order to recognize their needs and adapt themselves to support or direct their employee’s needs (Northouse, 2012).
I work in a restaurant that recently underwent numerous management changes. The former managers utilized a country-club style of management. In this form of management, managers are more concerned with relationships than with task accomplishment (Northouse, 2012). There is less emphasis on productivity and more emphasis on people’s feelings and social needs are being met; creating a positive environment where managers are eager to help and uncontroversial is crucial (Northouse, 2012). Although an environment with no conflict may sound good, it actually led to more problems. Because the managers did not want to displease workers, they were often taken advantage of as employees took longer breaks, clocked into work late, and performed poorly overall. This style of management backfired because while attempting to reduce conflict it created more.
The new management that replaced my former managers were the complete opposite. They incorporated an authority-compliance style and were extremely strict; often micromanaging and constantly “nagging” employees. In the authority-compliance style of leadership, leaders view employees as tools that necessary to complete a job (Northouse, 2012). Unlike country-club management, authority-compliant leaders do not communicate with employees unless it is to give feedback about work that concerns the task (Northouse, 2012). This extreme style of leadership is results driven. The new managers that applied the style of leadership were very demanding, which led to an increase in the levels of stress employees experienced. As a result, the number of resignations grew rapidly as employees were unhappy with how they were being treated.
I believe the situational style best matches my style of leadership. I am constantly analyzing situations and adjusting to them as I see fit. I believe that variables in situations are constantly changing, therefore, a leader should be just as flexible. The same approach may not produce the same results. Also, I am a very relationship-oriented person and am interested in learning about people and their stories. Knowing someone’s story not only helps me communicate more effectively, it also shows them that I care (which I think is important). My favorite quote that I believe to be true is, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”
Leaders will undergo situations that are beyond their control and must adjust and adapt quickly to find a solution. A prime example of this is the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2013. During the spill, roughly 200 million gallons of oil polluted the Gulf accompanies by 1.8 million gallons of dispersants which were supposed to break down the oil (Rotkin-Ellman, Wong, & Solomon, 2012). It took roughly 87 days for BP to stop the oil leak; however, not before it blackened the beaches of five states and caused massive damage to several tourism and fishing industries (BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Trial Begins, 2013). Capping the oil leak wasn’t the end of BP’s troubles. Thousands of lawsuits were filed and resolved against BP including the $4.5 billion deal between the oil company and the U.S. government and over $7.8 billion in settlements with those affected by the oil spill (BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Trial Begins, 2013). Roughly over $14 billion was paid to clean up the spill and reconcile with families, businesses and governments (BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Trial Begins, 2013). The actions that BP took to resolve the oil spill crisis were not very effective. Although damages paid for to all who were affected, and BP aired a campaign in attempt to portray the company in a positive light;
Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and Practice, 6th Edition. VitalSource Bookshelf
Online. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781452255538/
Rotkin-Ellman, M., Wong, K. K., & Solomon, G. M. (2012). Seafood Contamination After the B
P Gulf Oil Spill and Risks to Vulnerable Populations: A critique of the FDA Risk
BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Trial Begins. (2013). Lanham: Federal Information and News
Dispatch, Inc. Retrieved from