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Situational Leadership in Organizational Behavior and Relationship Management

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SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND CONTINGENCY THEORIES Executive Summary This ensuing essay is a formal discussion on the need for leadership change based upon continuously evolving situations in modern day conglomerates . The introduction summarizes situational leadership followed by a critical analysis on the same. The latter presents various leadership styles which are respectively applied in specific types of situations and tasks.

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Recommendations are provided at the end along with the conclusion.

Introduction The present day conglomerate story is strewn with complexities which are hard to define or comprehend . At the center stage of such complexities is the concept of staff welfare. Being the most significant connection between the company and the customer , successful employee relation is the cornerstone that every corporate wants to excel at . The way in which staff relate to clients is of paramount importance as ‘customer delight’ is a direct resultant of the same .

Hence modern day literature on leadership has devoted considerable focus on comprehension of different leadership approaches adopted in specific sorts of situations. Better or worse employee management skills is the key differentiating factor as far as profitability gaps are considered. In the following writings, we try to evaluate the various concepts which provide us a detailed evaluation of staff management issues and application of the latter in present day management policy. Critical Analysis

We are confronted by a scenario in which a manager at a particular company is conducting a meeting with his one downs. The number of such people is 10. The staff are disgusted and flabbergasted at the heinous manner in which senior management has been treating them. The manager overheard certain staff comment that they felt like ‘cogs in a machine’. However in the other divisions of the company , the situation is not as grim and staff are given their due recognition and respect.

Hence came in the need to preach and practice ‘situational leadership’ which would help in erasing such differentiated inter departmental behavioral patterns. But another manager by the name of William is completely averse to such idea and feels that employees should be thankful for being hired, in the first place. Wage income earned by the staff is their means of survival and provision of the same by the company entitles the latter to put in place tough work standards that need to be complied with .

Thus arises the paramount importance which needs to be attributed to the concept of situational leadership , since the latter is the most effective tool which can bring an end to rigidities in leadership behavior that will ultimately see a contented workforce delivering on higher efficiency and productivity . Literature on leadership has been focusing more and more on a situational theme rather than the more traditional dictum of a traditional kind. The situational approach is flexible and adaptive in character as opposed to the traditional variant that kills innovative thought in management.

Leadership styles can be differentiated as – coaching , affiliative, commanding, pacesetting , visionary and democratic. A forward looking leader is one who appropriately adopts one or more of such styles depending upon the task and occasion in question. Goleman along with other colleagues, is of the belief that employee engagement and performance drive of the greatest magnitude can be achieved if one has a cautious concoction of the visionary approach, coaching, the affiliative approach and the democratic approach.

Post the Goleman era ,further inroads into the phenomenon of corporate leadership suggest that leadership cannot be effectively defined by any one single approach . On the contrary , multiple styles describe leadership and such styles are contingent on varying situations. Thus came into existence, ‘contingency theories’ on leadership which elaborated on the adaptation of management styles to the requirements of a specific situation, group and the manager’s own personal values. We now make a humble attempt to investigate some of these theory hypotheses : )Fiedler’s contingency theory : During the course of his study on contingency theory literature between 1964 and 1967 , Fred Fiedler tried to establish the linkages between the leadership style and performance of a group , in changing situational circumstances. In his opinion , three basic situational variables alter the extent of ‘favorableness’ of a situation when we consider a leader: (i)Leader-Member connect in respect of trust ,confidence and respect. (ii) The definition and overall purview of the task in consideration. iii)The amount of leadership control exercised by the leader over his sub ordinates. ‘Very favorable’ or ‘Very unfavorable’ situations called for an authoritarian(task oriented) fashion of leadership. On the contrary ,when unstructured tasks were investigated upon, low leadership control and good leader-member relations marked a ‘medium favorable’ situation . This situation would be best supported by a democratic (relationship oriented) style of leadership. However a standard criticism of this model, is the fact that the favorability variables are mostly qualitative in nature and difficult to be estimated.

Also the least preferred co-worker(LPC) scale formulated by Fiedler to determine leadership patterns, with the help of a lucid questionnaire asking leaders to specify the individual they collaborate least with , in terms of sixteen extremes ,has been under the scanner in terms of the rationale . Studies concerning the LPC scale have elaborated that LPC scores of a particular leader can vary , thus not providing any conclusive evidence of leadership pattern. Nevertheless, Fiedler’s work has to be viewed as a catalyst that encouraged further studies in the contingencies of leadership. )Path-Goal theory : The Path Goal theory is a far more empirical research model on the concept of contingency theory . It was formulated as a correction to the previous Ohio State studies which presented the fact that though successful leaders tended to be optimistic with both the initiating structure and consideration sets of leadership, there were exceptions. The basic ground to this model is expectancy theory . This theory claims that definition of an unambiguous path to a particular achievable situation could act as a tool of motivation .

But if such path is already chalked out, additional inputs from the leader to his one downs could be felt uncalled for and thus satisfaction with the leader would diminish.

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Thus higher consideration results in higher satisfaction in case the staff works on repetitive tasks and aiming to initiate structure gives greater results in ambiguous work situations. The Path-Goal theory of leadership has not been without its share of critics. Having predicted resultant scenarios of different task structures, it has also beeped upon inconsistent research outcomes.

Apparently, such theory gives one greater insights in predicting leader-subordinate behaviors rather than leader-peer interactions. c)Life-Cycle Theory : A more relevant and present day theory of contingency which considers the points discussed till now and puts gives them a shared common perspective is the Life Cycle model. This theory was presented by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard , rests on three key variables – the amount of task-orientation that a leader exhibits , the amount of relationship-orientation along with the quantity of willingness that the staff throw out in the course of the task implementation.

These variables combine with the historical and present performances of the sample staff as comprehended by the leader and also the interactions within their own selves are combine in order to determine the appropriate leadership style. The most interesting result of this model is that a particular leadership trend can come out (sometimes over a finite time horizon) hence pointing to a clear developmental phenomenon ,given delegation of decision-making and responsibility to seasoned team members .

However ,the outcome is opposite in cases where leaders maintain great concern for tasks as well as employees. The above model has often been criticized being a ‘post hoc ‘concept ,unable to be utilized as a predictive framework. Thus the need for change in leadership We have argued in the preceding section of the essay using various models of contingency theories that there is in fact an imperative need for changes in leadership styles, according to varying situations.

William, who in this write-up is all for an autocratic mode of leadership, has not considered certain pertinent issues that creep up silently when such style is enforced. Staff become scared and tense , dependency on the supervisor increases manifold , morale takes a bad hit and absenteeism at work increases. All of these result in low productivity levels and the organization faces trouble. Thus there is a strong requirement for this particular organization to have situational leadership in place , argues our pro-change manager.

A democratic style should be used when the management wants staff to be participative in decision-making and problem-solving. Complex issues require diverse formulation of ideas and the latter is possible only if staff are encouraged to join in the related discussion forums. Such opportunity also provides the staff to form a greater sense of belonging , personal growth and job satisfaction. A ‘laissez-faire’ or a ‘hands-off’ mode of leadership is also effective at times when the sub ordinates in question are highly skilled , perfectly trained and well educated.

Trustworthiness and self-pride in tasks undertaken are two important attributes which the staff should possess ,to make such style a success. We can also talk of the pacesetting or transformational leadership style that forms and retains a context which brings out the best in sub ordinates hence optimizing human and organizational competencies. This approach also helps in bringing about transformation at multiple levels and aligns staff with certain core values along with a common purpose.

We can note from the above arguments that one particular leadership style is rarely effective in managing the present day complex corporation and we must adopt a mix and match of leadership styles in order to bring out the best results in terms of staff productivity and efficiency. Leadership needs to change Cautious self-probe and the ability to change given behavioral traits are key in being successful in altering a particular leadership style . Acclaimed leaders are usually the section of people that have managed to do so.

We can elaborate on some ways in which the leader can alter his management methods: a) He should ask for quality feedback from his team of sub ordinates, such that he understands their unbiased response to the effect of his style on them , on his specific department as well as on the company at large. He should be able to accept truthful answers on his face and should refrain from being offensive at certain responses . Honest feedback by direct sub ordinates is one of the most relevant tools , that informs the leader of areas of improvement and helps him in changing his management style. )Small changes in leadership style should be brought about at the initial stage as opposed to swaying changes since the latter would sweep the staff off their feet. Influences to changes in leadership Some particular factors have a telling effect on leadership styles. These can be enumerated as follows : i)Positive office environment ii)Promoting creative thought iii)Low staff churning ratios iv)Staff Skill set v)Probing and Decisiveness vi)Managing , encouraging and rewarding performance viii)Team work ix)Deveolping both self and team through extensive quality tranings )Client Focus APPEALS TOWARDS CHANGE “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. ”  ? Albert Einstein Conclusion: We have established with the help of the above essay that changes in leadership styles are quintessential to management today and if such approach is adopted we would see productivity and efficiency increase manifold . Recommendations: Thus it is strongly advocated that corporations instruct and encourage managers to participate fully in situational leadership styles.

Democratic style of leadership appears to be the best option in most situations. References: A Primer on Organizational Behavior; Bowditch, Buono, Stewart Seventh Edition, Pages 220-226, Leadership Styles;www. unpan1. un. org retrieved from unpan1. un. org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/unssc/unpan024704. pdf, How To Change Leadership Style; www. ehow. com retrieved from www. ehow. com/how_7579100_change-HYPERLINK “http://www. ehow. com/how_7579100_change-leadership-style. html”leadership-style. html, Factors that influence choice of leadership style; www. ukessays. com retrieved from www. kessays. com/essays/management/factors-that-influence-choice-of-leadership-style-management-style. php , Factors influencing leadership style; businesscasestudies. co. uk retrieved from businesscasestudies. co. uk/tesco/developing-appropriate-leadership-styles/factors-influencing-leadership-style. html#axzz2OyXVYv3j, Quotes about change www. goodreads. com retrieved from www. goodreads. com/quotes/tag/change On Managing People ;Harvard Business Review Press Pages 12-13 Leadership the Challenge; Kouzes and Posner Pages Third Edition Essentials Of Organizational Behavior ;Robbins and Judge Ninth Edition

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