1.0 Objective: To explain the nature of leadership, the different types of leadership, the different models of leadership, the qualities of a good supervisor.
1.1 Leadership is the process of encouraging and helping others to work enthusiastically toward objectives… It is the human factor that helps a group to identify where it is going and then motivates it towards its goals. Without leadership, an organisation would only be a confusion of people and machines, just as orchestra without a conductor would only be musicians and instruments. The organisations require leadership to develop their precious assets to their fullest.
1.2 Leadership process is similar in effect to that of the secret chemical that turns the insect pupa into a butterfly with all the beauty that was the pupa’s potential. Leadership, then, transforms potential into reality. Tiny firms develop into giant corporations with the help of leaders. Leadership is the act that identifies, develops, and uses the potential that is in an organisation and its people.
2.0 The nature of Leadership
2.1 Leadership is an important part of management, but not all of it. Managers are rewired to plan and organise, but the primary role of a leader is to influence others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. This means that strong leaders may be weak managers if their poor planning causes their group to move in wrong directions. Though they can get their group going, they just cannot get it going in directions that best serve organisational objectives.
2.2 Other combinations are also possible. A person can be a weak leader and still be a relatively effective manager, especially if one happens to be managing people who clearly understand their jobs and have strong drives to work. This set of circumstances is less likely, and therefore we expect excellent managers to have reasonably high leadership ability. Fortunately, this ability can be acquired through management training and work experience.
3.0 Leadership behaviour:
3.1 People have been concerned about the nature of leadership since the beginning of history. Early research tried to identify the traits that differed between leaders and non leaders or between successful and unsuccessful leaders. Some studies focused on personality factors like intelligence, ambition and aggressiveness, others examined physical characteristics like height, build, and attractiveness. In general, no consistent set of traits that are stable across groups and tasks has emerged despite continued attempts.
3.2 Much of the recent emphasis has shifted away from traits and moved towards identifying leadership behaviours. In this view, successful leadership depends on appropriate behaviours, skills and actions and not on personal traits. This is highly significant, since behaviours can be learned and changed, while traits are relatively fixed. The three different types of skills leaders use are technical, human, and conceptual. Although these skills are interrelated in practice, they can be considered separately.
3.3 Technical skills refer to a person’s knowledge ability in any type of process or technique. Examples are the skills learned by accountants, engineers etc. These skills are the distinguishing feature of job performance at the operating level, but as employees are promoted to leadership responsibilities, their technical skills become proportionately less important. They increasingly depend on the technical skills of their subordinates and in many cases have never practiced some of the technical skills that they supervise.
3.4 Human skill is the ability to work effectively with people and to build teamwork. No leader at any organisational level escapes the requirement for effective human skill. It is a major part of leadership behaviour .
3.5 Conceptual skill is the ability to think in terms of models, frameworks and broad relationships such as long-range plans. It becomes necessary in higher managerial jobs. Conceptual skills deal with ideas, while human skill concerns people and technical skills involve things.
3.6 Analysis of leadership skills helps to explain why outstanding department heads sometimes make poor vice presidents. They may not be using the proper mixture of skills required for the higher level job, particularly additional conceptual skill.
4.0 Situational aspects
4.1 Successful leadership requires behaviour that unites and stimulates followers towards defined objectives in specific situations. All three elements-leader, followers and situation- are variables that affect each other in determining appropriate leadership behaviour.
4.1.1 The interdependence of leader, follower and situation is illustrated by hard boiled superintendent who is still managing the way he was twenty years ago. He thinks that leadership resides in him alone, untouched by outside influences. He fails to realize that as his people and environment change, he needs to change his leadership style. Though his style of leadership was acceptable twenty years ago, it is not acceptable today.
4.1.2 It is evident that leadership is situational. In one situation, action A may be the best choice, but in the next situation action B would be the ideal choice. There can be no standard pattern among leaders since this would suppress creativity and innovations. Sometimes leaders must resist the temptation to be visible in a situation. Even though good leadership involves a set of behaviours, it should not be confused with mere activity when it is not needed. Aggressiveness and constant interaction with others will not guarantee good leadership. At times the appropriate leadership action is to stay in the background keeping pressures off the group to keep quiet so that others may talk, to be calm in times of uproar, to hesitate and to delay decisions. At other times a leader must be more directive and controlling.
5.0 Leaders as followers
5.1 With few exceptions, leaders are also followers. They nearly report to someone else. Leaders must be able to wear both hats gracefully, to be able to relate both upward and downward. They need validation from higher authority just as much as they need support from followers. In formal organisations of several levels, the ability to follow is one of the first requirements for good leadership. It is the key that unlocks the door to leadership opportunities and keeps the leader in balance with the rest of the organisation.
5.2 There is a view that most people fail in jobs because they lack followership skills. These are behaviours that help a person to be an effective subordinate, and may include avoiding competition with the leader, acting as a loyal devil’s advocate, and constructively confronting the leader’s ideas, values and behaviour.
6.0 Path goal model of leadership
6.1 This model states that the leader’s job is to use structure, support and rewards to create a work environment that helps employees reach the organisation’s goals. The two major roles involved are to create a goal orientation and to improve the path toward the goals so that they will be attained.
6.2 Leaders identify employee needs, provide appropriate goals, and then connect goal accomplishment to rewards by clarifying expectancy and instrumentality relationships. Barriers to performance are removed, and guidance is provided to the employee. The result of the process is job satisfaction, acceptance of the leader and greater motivation. This is demonstrated in the figure below.
6.3 Goal setting plays a central role in the path-goal process. It is the establishment of targets and objectives for successful performance, both long run and short run. It provides a measure of how well individuals and groups are meeting performance standards.
The basic premise underlying goal setting is that human behaviour is goal directed. Group members need to feel that hey have a worthwhile goal that can be reached with the resources and leadership available.
6.4 The Six Steps of Goal Setting
6.4.1 Although finding a vision can be quite a creative challenge, the process of getting that vision implemented can be fairly easy if you follow the six steps of:
Vision – Goals – Objectives – Tasks – Time Lines – Follow Up:
6.4.2 Step 1 – Vision:- The first step in setting goals and priorities is to personally develop what the organisation should look like at some point in the future. A junior leader, such as a supervisor or line manager, will mainly be concerned with a department, section, or small group of people, while senior leaders set the vision for the entire organisation. However, both types of visions need to support the organisation’s goals.
6.4.3 The mission of the organisation is crucial in determining your vision. Your vision needs to coincide with the big picture. The term “vision” suggests a mental picture of what the future organisation will look like. The concept also implies a later time horizon. This time horizon tends to be mid to long term in nature, focusing on as much as 2, 5, or even 10 years in the future for visions affecting the entire organisation. However, leaders such as supervisors or line managers tend to have shorter time horizon visions, normally 6 months to a year.
6.4.4 The concept of a vision has become a popular term within academic, government, defense, and corporate circles. This has spawned many different definitions of vision. But, the vision you want should be a picture of where you want your department to be at a future date. For example, try to picture what your department would look like if it was perfect, or what the most efficient way to produce your product would look like, or perhaps if your budget was reduced by 10 percent, how you could still achieve the same quality product.
6.4.5 Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th century economist, theorized that most effects come from relatively few causes; that is, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the possible causes. For example, 20% of the inventory items in the supply chain of an organisation accounts for 80% of the inventory value.
6.4.6 Some leaders fall into the time wasting trap of going after the 80% of items that only have a value of 20% of the total net worth. Your visions need to picture the 20% that will have the greatest impact on your organisation. Although it is nice to have small victories every now and then by going that easy 80%, spend the majority of your time focusing on the few things that will have the greatest impact…that is what a good leader does.
6.4.7 Once you have your vision, it needs to be framed in general, in measurable terms and communicated to your team. Your team then develops the ends (objectives), ways (concepts), and means (resources) to achieve the vision.
6.4.8 Step 2 – Goals: The second step involves establishing goals, with the active participation of the team. Goals are also stated in measurable terms, but they are more focused. For example, “The organisation must reduce transportation costs.” This establishes the framework of the vision. Follow the Six Steps of Goal Setting described above.
6.4.9 Step 3 – Objectives: Definable objectives provide a way of measuring the movement towards vision achievement. This is the real strategy of turning visions into reality. It is the crossover mechanism between your forecast of the future and the envisioned, desired future. Objectives are stated in precise, measurable terms such as “By the end of the next quarter, the shipping department will use one parcel service for shipping items under 100 pounds and one motor carrier for shipping items over a hundred pounds.” The aim is to get general ownership by the entire team.
6.4.10 Step 4 – Tasks: The fourth step is to determine tasks. Tasks are the means for accomplishing objectives. Tasks are concrete, measurable events that must occur. An example might be, “The transportation coordinator will obtain detailed shipping rates from at least 10 motor carriers.”
6.4.11 Step 5 – Time Lines: This step establishes a priority for the tasks. Since time is precious and many tasks must be accomplished before another can begin, establishing priorities helps your team to determine the order in which the tasks must be accomplished and by what date. For example, “The shipping rates will be obtained by May 9.”
6.4.12 Step 6 – Follow-up: The final step is to follow up, measure, and check to see if the team is doing what is required. This kind of leader involvement validates that the stated priorities are worthy of action. For the leader, it demonstrates his commitment to see the matter through to a successful conclusion. Also, note that validating does not mean to micro-manage. Micro-management places no trust in others, where as following-up determines if the things that need to get done are in fact getting done.
6.5.1 Supervision is keeping a grasp on the situation and ensuring that plans and policies are implemented properly. It includes giving instructions and inspecting the accomplishment of a task.
6.5.2 There is a narrow band of adequate supervision. On one side of the band is over-supervision (micro-management); and on the other side is under-supervision. Over-supervision stifles initiative, breeds resentment, and lowers morale and motivation. Under-supervision leads to miscommunication, lack of coordination, and the perception by subordinates that the leader does not care. All employees benefit from appropriate supervision by seniors with more knowledge and experience who tend to see the situation more objectively.
6.5.3 Evaluating is part of supervising. It is defined as judging the worth, quality, or significance of people, ideas, or things. It includes looking at the ways people are accomplishing a task. It means getting feedback on how well something is being done and interpreting that feedback. People need feedback so that they judge their performance. Without it, they will keep performing tasks wrong, or stop performing the steps that makes their work great.
6.5.4 Use checklists to list tasks that need to be accomplished. Almost all of us have poor memories when it comes to remembering a list of details. List tasks by priorities. For example, “A” priorities must be done today, “B” priorities must be done by tomorrow, and “C” priorities need to be followed up with in a few days.
6.5.5 Double check on important things by following through. Strange things can happen if you are not aware of them. Paperwork gets lost, plans get changed, and people forget. If you have a system of checks and double checks, you will discover mistakes, have time to correct them, and minimize any disruptions. Following through may seem to be a waste of your time and energy, but in the long run, it pays off. You will spend less time and energy correcting mistakes and omissions made long ago.
6.6 Inspiring Your Employees
6.6.1 Getting people to accomplish something is much easier if they have the inspiration to do so. Inspire means “to breathe life into.” And in order to perform that, we have to have some life ourselves. Three main actions will aid you in accomplishing this:
Get your employees involved in the decision making process
Know what your organisation is about.
6.7.1 The first condition of learning is that the person must be motivated to learn. You cannot teach knowledge or skills to someone who is not motivated to learn. He must feel the need to learn what you are teaching. Most employees are motivated to do a good job. They want to be able to perform their tasks correctly. Their motivation is the ability to perform their job to standards, in return for a paycheck, benefits, challenges, job satisfaction, etc.
6.7.2 The next condition of learning is to involve them in the process. Keep their attention by actively involving their minds and emotions in the learning process. Have them participate through active practice of the skill or through discussion. You cannot keep their attention with a long lecture. Normally, people pay attention for a short time – less than 30 minutes. They need to use what is being taught or their minds will wander. If you lecture for an hour, very little will be remembered. Instead, give a brief lecture (less than 10 minutes), demonstrate, and then have them practice. Provide feedback throughout the practice period until they can do it on their own. If it is a large complicated task, then break it down into short learning steps:
7.0 Leadership Styles
7.1 Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. There are normally three styles of leadership:
• Authoritarian or autocratic
• Participative or democratic
• Delegative or Free Reign
Although good leaders use all three styles, with one of them normally dominate, bad leaders tend to stick with one style.
7.2 Authoritarian (autocratic): This style is used when the leader tells his employees what he wants done and how he wants it done, without getting the advice of his followers. Some of the appropriate conditions to use it is when you have all the information to solve the problem, you are short on time, and your employees are well motivated.
7.2.1 Some people tend to think of this style as a vehicle for yelling, using demeaning language, and leading by threats and abusing their power. This is not the authoritarian style…rather it is an abusive, unprofessional style called bossing people around. It has no place in a leaders repertoire.
7.2.2 The authoritarian style should normally only be used on rare occasions. If you have the time and want to gain more commitment and motivation from your employees, then you should use the participative style.
7.3 Participative (democratic): This type of style involves the leader including one or more employees in the decision making process (determining what to do and how to do it). However, the leader retains the final decision making authority. Using this style is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength that your employees will respect.
7.3.1 This is normally used when you have part of the information, and your employees have other parts. Note that a leader is not expected to know everything — this is why you employ knowledgeable and skillful employees. Using this style is of mutual benefit — it allows them to become part of the team and allows you to make better decisions.
7.4 Delegative (free reign)
7.4.1 In this style, the leader allows the employees to make the decision. However, the leader is still responsible for the decisions that are made. This is used when employees are able to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be done and how to do it. You cannot do everything! You must set priorities and delegate certain tasks.
7.4.2 This is not a style to use so that you can blame others when things go wrong, rather this is a style to be used when you have the full trust and confidence in the people below you. Do not be afraid to use it, however, use it wisely!
8.1 A good leader uses all three styles, depending on what forces are involved between the followers, the leader, and the situation. Some examples include:
• Using an authoritarian style on a new employee who is just learning the job. The leader is competent and a good coach. The employee is motivated to learn a new skill. The situation is a new environment for the employee.
• Using a participative style with a team of workers who know their job. The leader knows the problem, but does not have all the information. The employees know their jobs and want to become part of the team.
• Using a delegative style with a worker who knows more about the job than you. You cannot do everything! The employee needs to take ownership of his job. Also, the situation might call for you to be at other places, doing other things.
• Using all three: Telling your employees that a procedure is not working correctly and a new one must be established (authoritarian). Asking for their ideas and input on creating a new procedure (participative). Delegating tasks in order to implement the new procedure (delegative).
8.2 Forces that influence the style to be used included:
• How much time is available.
• Are relationships based on respect and trust or on disrespect?
• Who has the information – you, your employees, or both?
• How well your employees are trained and how well you know the task.
• Internal conflicts.
• Stress levels.
• Type of task. Is it structured, unstructured, complicated, or simple?
• Laws or established procedures such as OSHA or training plans.
9.0 Positive and Negative Approaches
9.1 There is a difference in ways leaders approach their employees. Positive leaders use rewards, such as education, independence, etc. to motivate employees, while negative leaders emphasize penalties. While the negative approach has a place in a leader’s repertoire of tools, it must be used carefully due to its high cost on the human spirit.
9.2 Negative leaders act domineering and superior with people. They believe the only way to get things done is through penalties, such as loss of job, days off without pay, reprimanding employees in front of others, etc. They believe their authority is increased by frightening everyone into higher lever of productivity. Yet, what always happens when this approach is used wrongly is that, morale falls; which of course leads to lower productivity.
9.2.1 Also note that most leaders do not strictly use one or the other, but are somewhere on a continuum ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative. People who continuously work out of the negative are bosses while those who primarily work out of the positive are considered real leaders.
10.0 Use of Consideration and Structure
Two other approaches that leaders use are:
10.1 Consideration (employee orientation) – Leaders are concerned about the human needs of their employees. They build teamwork, help employees with their problems, and provide psychological support.
10.2 Structure (task orientation) – Leaders believe that they get results by consistently keeping people busy and urging them to produce.
10.2.1 There is evidence that leaders who are more considerate in their leadership style are higher performers and are more satisfied with their job
10.2.2 Also notice that consideration and structure are independent of each other, thus they should not be viewed on opposite ends of a continuum. For example, a leader who becomes more considerate, does not necessarily mean that he has become less structured.
Leadership is influencing people — by providing purpose, direction, and motivation — while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organisation.”