Leadership concept has been of subject of many studies in respect to leaders’ behaviors and practices that define their styles. In that respect, many theories have been developed explaining the different styles and leaders’ behavior as well as the processes and outcomes given the missions at hand and the subordinates involved. With that in mind, this discussion seeks to identify the difference between leaders and managers and demonstrate operation of various leadership related theories and models. To achieve the objective, the analysis begins with a description of leaders and what they do in comparison to managers. The analysis then put leaders in their right situation by discussing on how to adapt to leaders behaviors as well as discussing other theories including the path-goal theory, normative decision theory as well as visionary leadership with application of relevant literature and concepts and models.
- Leaders and what they do.
A leader is a person capable and actively involved in influencing and guiding other people and who differs from a manager in that a manager is involved in administering and directing. In that respect, managers’ functions can be defined as those which seek to initiate, administer and maintain with a focus on existing systems while relying on control. In addition, managers are mostly interested with immediate results focusing on the status quo. On the other hand, leaders are innovative people who originate and initiate as well as develop with a focus on people that is meant to inspire trust and create a long range view. Further, leaders focus on asking why and what with their eyes fixed on the horizon and challenging the status quo. (Lunenburg, 2011)
In addition, managers can be identified as people who focus on doing things right whereas leaders are focused on doing the right things hence a difference in their view on their individual responsibilities and duties. Other differences between the two include that leaders are subjective and visionary while managers are objective and practice in real time. In that respect, leaders are said to be involved in leadership which is more of an art while managers are said to be involved in management which is more of a science. However, both leaders and managers share some common functions including encouraging creativity, staff motivation, encouraging productivity, maintaining stability in an organization as well as seeking a balance between organizational culture and external changes. (Zenger & Folkman, 2009)
- Putting leaders in right situation
Being a leader requires personal development and focuses on gaining skills and values that positions one right in leadership. In that respect, some skills and values are key hence a focus of leadership programs that seeks to position leaders the right way. (Yukl, 2010) Among those skills that put leaders in their right situation include.
- Problem solving skills.
- Capacity to achieve conflict resolution that attains a win-win situation.
- Skills and capacity to sell solution and ideas to others.
- Intelligence skills including
- Self awareness that build the capacity to control ones emotions and achieve a balance between emotional reactions, situational triggers and stimuli. Thus, leaders should be able to reduce and balance their reliance on external validation in addition to being able to identify situations that trigger emotions to please or annoy them.
- Self motivation and regulation which involves a leaders ability to motivate themselves even when faced by negative feelings, ability to control their temperament as well as the ability to make decisions that are not totally influenced by their personal feelings.
- Empathy skills which defines the ability to influence other people’s emotional reactions. This entails understanding other peoples’ motivation sources, ability to understand other people’s validation needs.
- Influence ability which entails ability to influence change of behavior in others. (Bass, 2010)
- Self concept skills and ability are also crucial and involves the ability of a leader to give credit to other people, place the great good for all beyond personal good and the ability to diagnose their own style without dependence on external validation. (Yukl, 2010)
Adapting leader behavior
Leaders behaviors greatly determines the kind of leadership style they practice hence a key focus of any study on leadership. In that respect, leaders’ behaviors result to three types of leaderships including the Autocratic, democratic and laissez faire leadership hence defining leaders’ behavior in terms of democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire leaders. Therefore adapting to leaders behaviors involves understanding how leaders determine what is appropriate and that which should be done either in terms of dictating or involving others depending on their followers and tasks characteristics.
- Autocratic leaders are those who make decisions on their own without any consultation with their teams. These leaders are useful when decisions have to be made fast and when team input or agreement is not necessary.
- Democratic leaders are those who involve their teams in decision making with different leaders having a varying degree of such allowed input. The types of leaders are necessary when team agreement and input is crucial in decision making. However, the leadership requires balancing because it can present difficulties in managing several and differing perspectives.
- Laissez Fire leaders include those leaders who do not interfere with decision making but rather allows their team members to make decisions on their own. The type of leaders is necessary when the team members involved are suited and capable of making the relevant decisions. On the other hand, the leadership can arise from the leaders being distracted from their responsibilities or being less interested in them which would be a cause of leadership failure in any organization or undertaking. (Fiedler & Chemers, 1967)
In that respect, leaders’ behavior determines their success in leadership as well as the success of the organizations or followers involved. However, although all those leaderships are suited for different situations, successful organizations and teams are those whose leaders can effectively employ different types for different situations to address varying needs and environments in decision making. (Bass, 2010) Further, there are key behaviors for successful leadership which enhances leaders’ ability to have a long-term view and commit to day to day practices that seek to achieve the goals.
- Leaders are usually exited about their responsibilities which aim at achieving exiting goals. In that respect, they are able to inspire others drawing from their own inspiration.
- Optimism defines leaders as they tend to see opportunities in all that happens around them. In that respect, leaders seek for goodness in all situations and people as they also seek to learn valuable lessons from all problems and challenges encountered.
- Leaders’ behaviors also reflect a sense of purpose and meaning marked by clear goals and plans. In that respect, leaders are usually clear as to what need to achieve and how to do it.
- Accepting personal responsibility is also a key feature of leaders’ behaviors. In that respect, leaders do not make excuses but rather progress even in face of difficulties and set-backs
- Leaders view themselves and their efforts as victors over situations and circumstances but not victims. Thus, leaders focus on their goals and solutions rather than criticizing and blaming others for their challenges and failures.
- Leaders are usually action oriented in that they keep a constant motion towards their goals without giving up.
- Integrity also marks leaders’ behaviors where they seek to stand for truth and being honest with themselves and others. (Fiedler & Chemers, 1967)
In light of the above, understanding leaders and their behavior that sets them apart from managers require an application of several models in analyzing the interrelation between the behaviors, their followers and tasks at hand. Among those models that clearly demonstrate the relationship is the path-goal theory, normative decision making model and visionary leadership as discussed below.
The path goal theory focuses on the way leaders seek to motivate their subordinates in order to achieve set goals and objectives. Thus, the theory has an emphasis on the relationship between the subordinates’ characteristics and the leaders’ style of leadership. In that respect, the theory’s application by leaders entails the goal of leaders enhancing subordinates’ satisfaction and performance by focusing on their motivation. In that view, the theory draws from the motivational theory which states that subordinates tend to be motivated when they have certain believes that include:
- Having capacity to do their jobs.
- Their efforts being capable of achieving a given outcome.
- Their efforts payoffs being worthwhile. (Lunenburg, 2011)
Thus, the theory requires application of a leadership style that suits the subordinates’ motivational needs hence calling for leaders to choose behaviors that tend to; supplement or compliment what the work setting misses, to enhance objectives and goals achievements through rewards and information provision as well as to provide necessary elements to subordinates in order to help them reach their goals. Further, this theory suggests a need to increase kinds and numbers of payoffs for subordinates in addition to engaging in continued direction and coaching in order to make the path to the objectives and goals more clear. Leaders are also expected to be responsible for removing obstacles to the goals attainment as well as making work and responsibilities more satisfying. In that respect, path-goal theory can be summarized by the view of interaction between the leadership’s functions and the leaders’ behavior in an effort to attain goals. (Bass, 2010) With that, path-goal leadership defines goals, clarifies the path, removes obstacles, provides support while leaders’ behaviors include directive, supportive, participative, goals oriented responsibilities. Further, the theory states that different leader’s behaviors have different effect on their subordinates’ motivation. Therefore, the extent to which leaders’ behavior is motivational or not is dependent on the subordinates’ characteristics and the tasks characteristics. In that respect, the leaders’ responsibility is helping the subordinates achieve their goals through guidance, direction and coaching along the path to the goals. Thus leaders need to evaluate subordinates’ and tasks’ characteristics and consequently adapt to the suitable leadership style. (Zenger & Folkman, 2009)To achieve that, the theory applies a matrix to identify the most suitable styles for certain behaviors and characteristics as shown in the table below.
Path-goal theory matrix:
Source: (Fiedler & Chemers, 1967)
Normative decision theory
In an effort to enhance leaderships’ effectiveness, Yetton and Vroom developed the normative decision making model that was meant to explore how subordinates, leaders and situational factors influences the subordinates participation in decision making and its consequence on a group’s performance. The model was developed through an investigation of the decision making process that managers applies. The investigation bore a continuum of decision making processes that range from completely autocratic to completely democratic in which all group members are allowed an equal participation. (Bass, 2010) In that respect, the levels of participation in normative decision making are as described below.
- Autocratic process involves two levels of decision making AI and AII where in AI, the leader solely makes the decision or finds solutions to a problem on their own with use of information that is available to them at that given time. In AII, the leader seeks to obtain relevant information from their followers but makes the decision on their own without consulting. In that case, information provided by the followers is just a response to a request for information rather than a consultative process between them.
- Consultative process also involves CI and CII where in CI; the leader seeks to share the issue with their followers on an individual basis seeking for suggestions and ideas while not engaging the followers together as a group. The leader decides with or without consideration of the followers’ suggestions and ideas. In CII, the leader shares the issue with their followers as a group in a meeting and seeks to obtain suggestions and ideas from the members. In this case, the leader also decides with or without consideration of the followers’ suggestions and ideas.
- Group process involves GII where the leader shares the issue with their followers in a group where they all suggest ideas and evaluate them with an aim of reaching an agreement. In this case, the leader acts as the coordinator of the process in order to ensure that the group focuses on the issue. In that respect, the leader takes the group’s decision and implements it to address the issue. (Bass, 2010)
The model also involves identification of the criteria that leaders should apply in evaluating decision’s adequacy. In that, the model describes a criterion that suits all the five levels of decision making process using decision quality and acceptance as the crucial factors and measures of a decisions’ adequacy.
- Decision quality suggests that for decisions that have alternatives for better or worse, the better alternative should be the choice for the leader. This measure was included in the model as a guide for decision’s choice where the decisions have possibility of having measurably or objectively better outcomes for an organization or a group.
- Decision acceptance measures the followers’ acceptance of the decision as theirs and is critical where the followers are involved in its implementation. This helps to reduce the need for the leaders’ supervision and monitoring of compliance as subordinates already own the decision. (Fiedler & Chemers, 1967)
Further, the model proceeds to describe what needs to happen in order to protect the decisions’ quality and acceptance. With that, the model seeks to eliminate unsuitable decision making processes by use of questions which relate to the amount of information that is available to the leader and the followers as well as in respect to the situational factors. This involves application of a decision tree that helps leaders to identify the suitable level of followers’ participation in a decision making process. The tree works with questions indicated from the left to the right and options to answer yes or no with all the paths leading to specific decision making processes that suit the situation and the issue at hand. After the alternatives are established, the leader has several choices which require consideration of other factors including time in order to choose from the alternative processes. In that respect, if time is crucial in the decision making the leader should choose the less time consuming process with the best being autocratic AI and the least being GII. On the other hand, if time is not an important factor, the leader could consider other factors like the need to develop their followers decision making skills which would make the most consultative method most suitable and the least consultative less suitable. (Yukl, 2010)
Visionary leadership involves a leader who is committed and engaged in providing the team or organization with a vision that they identify with and which is aligned with their values. In that respect, the leadership provides motivation for team members or followers who then tend to exhibit extra effort in order to achieve the vision. In visionary leadership, there are certain conditions that have to be fulfilled for success including:
- The team has individual and personal satisfaction in attainment of the objective irrespective of its reflection of their abilities and skills. In addition, the team has to feel that they serve a greater social purpose.
- The mission’s nature is crucial as the team members are less interested in validating their self concept rather interested in benefiting other people.
- The team members believe in a need for an extra role in their behavior as helpful in their goals attainment.
- There is need for feedback to the individual members on accomplishment of the mission when an extra role is exhibited. (Fiedler & Chemers, 1967)
Further, there are some leaders’ behaviors that are crucial for the visionary leadership to be successful.
- The leader must be responsible for articulating the visions and missions in terms of their benefits to other people as well as their social importance. In that respect, the leader attaches an emotional marker to the mission if it involves helping others.
- The leader involves and engages the subordinates and team in the missions’ development.
- The leader continuously provides feedback to the team on the group actions’ consequences to others. (Zenger & Folkman, 2009)
The discussion has demonstrated that leaders differ from managers in respect of their nature and extent of responsibility with managers being focused on maintaining the status quo while leaders seek to change the status. However, both managers and leaders share some functions in respect to organizational and teams’ management and responsibilities ranging from seeking to enhance performance and productivity. Further, the analysis has demonstrated that there are various types of leaders whose styles are determined by their nature of relationship between them and their subordinates. It is also notable that the leaders behaviors plays a key role in harmonizing the subordinates efforts and attainment of the group goals which is in-turn determined by the characteristics of both the subordinates and the tasks at hand. Therefore, leaders’ success is determined by their ability to apply suitable styles depending on the situation at hand. In summary, the difference between managers and leaders is marked by the ability of managers to harness behaviors and motivation to drive attainment of goals unlike managers who rely on control and command systems to achieve their objectives.
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