Discuss how leadership operates at various levels within an organisation. In what ways are the qualities of leaders different (or are required to be different) at the different levels? Reference must be made to at least two organisations currently operating in the UK. Recommendations are not necessary. Introduction Leadership is "A process in which leader and followers interact in a way that enables the leader to influence the actions of the followers in a non cohesive way, towards the achievement of certain aims or objectives." Rollinson, Derek Organisation Behaviour and Analysis, Second Edition Financial Times (Prentice Hall 2002)
Leadership is the moral and intellectual ability to visualise and work for what is best for the company and its employees. The most vital thing a leader does is to create team sprit around him and near him, not in a schoolboy sense, but in realistic terms of mature adults. "Lord Sieff, Management and Organisational Behaviour Third Edition, Laurie J Mullins, Pitman Publishing." Leadership In all organisations there is some form of leadership present. The style of leadership which individuals take is personal to them and they will use their style to find ways for the organisation to achieve common goals. All forms of leadership are individualistic, although they can be categorised into four different styles: Democratic, Paternalistic, Authoritarian (dictatorial) and Laissez-faire.
Explanation of Leadership Styles A Democratic style is basically consulting with employees throughout the organisation in decision making circumstances. This links to Trade Union Representative and those who follow McGregor's Theory Y ideology. A Paternalistic style is based on an Autocratic style although decisions are made in the best interest of the organisation. It emphasises human relations and social needs. This style is supported by Elton Mayo and Abraham Maslow. E.g. Schindler from Schinder's List.
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An Authoritarian style assumes that "knowledge is power" therefore retains the necessary information and decision making ability from the lower level individuals. This style emphasises status in an organisation towards the top because being involved in decision making makes your view point important. This links to McGregor's Theory 'X' as this states that the individuals prefer to be directed in their roles and prefer not to have any responsibility. E.g. Adolf Hitler Laissez-faire brings freedom to subordinates, and allows them to function creatively and within boundaries defined by superiors. The leader applies minimal input to the running of the organisation. It gives individuals maximum scope to perform and show what they are capable of in a given business environment. This style is closely linked with the 1920's America Government.
Although the above are the extreme styles of management, leaders tend to incorporate different elements from each style into their own preferred style. Above is an organisational chart which outlines the different hierarchy levels, the roles of each department and each p of control and chain of command. The above image (left) shows the skills that leaders generally possess. Although they are important not all leaders necessarily have all five skills. This justifies why some leaders are 'better' than others. At different levels of an organisation some of the skills that leaders have, appear more important than others.
At the top of an organisation 'vision' and 'intuition' can be seen as more important because the visions a leader, at this level, has can determine the nature of the business, the ethos/culture and the organisational direction. These qualities are required at the top of the organisation in order for 'strategic decisions' to be made. These skills that top level leaders have are utilised by the Board of Directors, Directors and high level managers. It is important to realise that leadership and management are not the same, although the two are interlinked. This is because a manager is in the position to influence subordinate behaviour; therefore the manager is occupying part of the role of leadership. It is then necessary for employees to respect and respond to their authority positively for the manager to qualify for the role of a leader.
The leaders at the middle level can include supervisors, team leaders and depending on the industry, foremen. The leadership at this level differs from higher and lower levels because at this level, it is concerned with more individual tasks and operational activities of the organisations on a day-to-day basis. This is an example why management and leadership are not the same because a supervisor can be a leader whilst they are not in a managerial position.
The lower level consists of employees either core workers or peripheral workers and initially their role is to carry out simple operational activities such as working machinery, packing stock etc. The leaders of the lower levels is achieved in situations when a leader is required to is identified qualities through reputation and experience instead of being physically appointed as a leader. These leaders achieve their status through the people they are leading as opposed to being appointed by those above. These leaders are considered to be role models and will probably achieve promotion because of their leadership qualities.
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