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Example research essay topic: University Of Michigan Leadership Styles - 2,206 words

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... p. 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's trong 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.

Theories 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.

Cheers 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...

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Research essay sample on University Of Michigan Leadership Styles

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