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Behavior Leadership Theory

What really makes a good leader? Psychologist and managers tried to answer this question.“Chronologically, the first answer to what makes a good leader was that leaders are not made, they are born” (Fairholm, 1991).This was the first theory of Leadership, the Great Men Theory.

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Many other theories were divided by Fairholm and these are the following: theories based on who the leader is, wherein this group focuses on the leader‘s characteristic; theories based on what the leader does, wherein the behavior theory belong to this group.

It is focused on studying leaders’ behavior so that it can be reproduced by followers; and the theories based on the Environment of the Leadership. Leadership is a difficult topic to study because leadership is a “fuzzy” concept. For decades, social scientists and practitioners have been struggling to come up with the ultimate definition of leadership, to explain its mechanisms, and to draw the line between leadership and management. They have produced a number of definitions and theories.

Long time ago, determinants of leadership has been identified by behavioral theorists, so that people could be trained to be leaders. Since the best styles of leadership can be learned, training programs have been developed to change managers’ leadership behaviors. During the World War II, the leaders of the academy left the Isle of Traits and set sale for the Isle of Behaviors by the 1940s. They suspected that the X and Y Theory of Leadership of Myers or Briggs, was some kind of fraud. The military wanted to know if leaders could be trained, and if so, what behaviors made them most effective.

The Academy of Leader Professors wanting to get tenure, fame in time of world crisis, and fortune decided that some new theory of leadership must be found or all their jobs would be as extinct as dinosaurs. Working with the Army and with universities, two biggest “Page#2” bureaucracies in the world, it was mostly about transactional behavior, being autocratic or democratic to increase the transaction rate or quality. The game of life in organizations was never to be transformed and their quest was to find universal leader behavior styles that correlate with effectiveness and are optimal transactions in all situations.

Squire Fleishman and Sir Katz set off for the Isle of Behavior in separate ships as they are desperate to establish a behavioral settlement, but found out that Scribe Lewin had already established a behavioral settlement and an Iowa University since 1938. On the Isle of Behaviors, leader (transactional) behaviors became observable and their study turned objective and measurable. Different Universities wanted to make its mark and study what do leaders do by using some statistical methods, then the Ohio State and Michigan University competed for the education of the peasants.

Fleishman became King of Ohio State and Katz was made King of Michigan University. Lewin was already King at Iowa. Each mustered their armies and prepared to battle for leader behavior territory. Sir Mintzberg, knighted by the Canadians, resettled in the Isle of Behavior and decided to go and look to see if leaders did any planning, organizing, controlling, or leading. He actually observed and recorded the progress what transactions that leaders do. The world was shocked to discover, that leaders had a hectic, frantic, and fragmented transaction life, and did little of the behaviors thought to take place.

Some leaders were only figureheads, but he did confirm Sir Merton’s view, but noting all the roles that leaders do. While the Isle of Behavior was oversupplied with two-factor studies of behavior and observations of roles here and everywhere, that great explored, Prince Yukl decided that process was more important than some list of universal behaviors. And by 2001, Prince “Page#3” Howell and Knight Costley joined the search for process. They still liked to isolate and measure behaviors, but wanted to do this in the study of processes. They made great maps of the world of leadership, charting each territory.

Leaders were reduced from traits or greatness to just psychoalgebraic behavioral equations, to styles or just transactions. But alas most of the Leader Behavior Academy had already set sail for the Isle of Situation. It seemed obvious that Traits and Behaviors to be effective depended upon the Situation. If there were universal behaviors, they are not optimal in all situations. Therefore a great expedition set forth to the Isle of Situation in the 1960s, with new waves of migration each decade since. This is where the arts of transformation were rekindled. The behavior of Leadership has two main theories, transaction and transformation.

This is what we call the “X” dimension of behavior leadership theory. It is the X dimension that focuses on the Behavioral School of leadership. The X dimension runs from Transactional to transformational leadership, as studied by Burns (1978) and Bass (1985). This is a classic dualism in leadership studies. Burns looked at modal thinking (the means over ends reasoning) in the early stages of development and held that the leaders are transactional in their behaviors. Transactional leadership requires a shrewd eye for opportunity, a good hand at bargaining, persuading, reciprocating (Burns, 1978:169).

A transformational leader, on the other hand, recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower and looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower. Eventually transformational leaders were thought to engage in behaviors that “Page#4” changed the game, even changed the world. Douglas McGregor described Theory X and Y in his book, The Human Side of Enterprise, that X and Y theory 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. The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid if he or she can. 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.

The average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, wants security above all. This theory 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. The expenditures of physical and mental effort in work are as natural as play or rest. “Page#5” External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means for bringing out effort toward organizational objectives. Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement.

The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept but also to seek responsibility. 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. 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. Note that with Theory Y assumptions, management’s role is to develop the potential in employees and help them to release that potential towards common goals.

Theory X is the view that traditional management has taken towards the workforce. Many organizations are now taking the enlightened view of theory Y. A boss can be viewed as taking the theory X approach, while a leader takes the theory Y approach. Notice that Maslow, Herzberg, and McGreagor’s theories all tie together: Herzberg’s theory is a micro version of Maslow’s theory (concentrated in the work place). McGreagor’s Theory X is based on workers “Page#6” caught in the lower levels (1 to 3) of Maslow’s theory, while his Theory Y is for workers who have gone above level 3.

McGreagor’s Theory X is based on workers caught in Herberg’s Hygiene Dissatisfiers, while Theory Y is based on workers who are in the Motivators or Satisfiers section. Whatever theory applied by any organization , the greatest chance of being successful is when all of the employees work toward achieving its goals. Since leadership involves the exercise of influence by one person over others, the quality of leadership is a critical determinant of organizational success. Thus, leaders study leadership in order to influence the actions of his followers toward the achievement of the goals of the organization.

Leadership studies can be classified as trait, behavioral, contingency, and transformational. Earliest theories assumed that the primary source of leadership effectiveness lay in the personal traits of the leaders themselves. Yet, traits alone cannot explain leadership effectiveness. Thus, later research focused on what the leader actually did when dealing with employees. These behavioral theories of leadership sought to explain the relationship between what the leader did and how the employees reacted, both emotionally and behaviorally. Yet, behavior can’t always account for leadership in different situations.

Thus, contingency theories of leadership studied leadership style in different environments. Transactional leaders, such as those identified in contingency theories, clarify role and task requirements for employees. Yet, contingency can’t account for the inspiration and innovation that leaders need to compete in today’s global marketplace. Newer transformational leadership studies have shown that leaders, who are charismatic and visionary, can inspire followers to transcend their own self-interest for “Page#7” the good of the organization.

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