Martin Luther King Jr once said that, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus” (Prentice, 2013). Such is the kind of leadership that is expected from the new Manager of Neo Steel Ltd, a leader who has ready solutions for the subordinate’s problems. This is just one of the many duties and traits of a leader should posses that we will come across as we analyze leadership styles and approaches. The knowledge of the skills and the possession of the attributes of the possession alone are not enough, what is of essence is the ability of the leader to apply the skills in varying situations and environments. Questions such as when does a leader have enough leadership skills will also be addressed.
Task 1: Replacement of Leadership (Neo Steel)
To most people the success of a leader is usually determined by the economic strides that a company takes. However, this is not always the case. A leader is not judged by his or economic achievement but on the leadership portrayed. This is a factor that most departmental heads and managers fail to realize with the ripple effect reaching to the top management. Any employee in a leadership position ought to realize that his or her success is not as a result of his or her own effort but those of the coordinated effort and support of fellow employees. Therefore a leader needs to show concern, care, compassion and appreciation to fellow employees. It is only through realization that the success of a leader is dependent of follower behavior and acceptance that a manager or head of department becomes a leader.
The developers of the Situational Leadership, Model Hersey and Blanchard noted the importance of relationship behavior which they termed as supportive behavior. Its role was to provide ‘socioemotional’ support better known as ‘psychological stroke’ (Vasu, Stewart & Garson, 1998). They acknowledged that leadership was not all about execution of tasks but was a subject of conditional context and tasks and relationship dimensions (Martin, 2005). The approach outlined 4 distinct approaches that a leader should use to address four subordinate development levels which DuBrin named as the enthusiastic beginner, disillusioned learner, capable but cautious performer and the self reliant achiever (2013).
Neo being a manufacturing company, it involves a lot of processes and unique situations which professionals may not be in a position to learn in the school curriculums thus can only be learnt in the industry. Therefore the application of the four approaches should be customized to fit the industry. The first group is the enthusiastic beginners who are individuals who have low competence but are highly motivated. The best approach to this is coaching as it involves an interactive session and the leader might as well learn. The group of disillusioned learners is best addressed using the directing approach. This approach involves the leader taking a high directive role and close supervision especially in the manufacturing industry where every component has to be up to the required standards. The supporting approach on the other hand is used for capable but cautious performers who usually need just a little bit motivation for their commitment to be at the required standards. Finally the self-reliant achiever is an own leader and the best way to approach them is by delegating duties in a hands off approach as there exist a high level of trust between the leader and the achievers. These are the individuals that the new director should seek to recruit as heads of department as they will instill the motivation to the rest of the organization and have good knowledge and respect for the company’s culture and practices.
The understanding or failure to understand these approaches is what determines whether the company should maintain or replace the leader. The main reason behind this is that the company’s workforce is more important than a single individual whose only role is coordinating. The leader’s ability is what determines the worker’s behavior towards their duties and towards the leadership of the company as a whole. Therefore the leader needs to understand that the follower determines the leadership style (Yukl, 2006). The recognition of this factor does not only help in determining which approach to this but also it facilitates the leader’s acceptance among the followers. For instance in the military a soldier who is engaged self-starter is allowed to accomplish tasks on his own as it also helps him learner more while a timid uncertain soldier is given instructions, training and guidance (task behavior).
In situational Leadership model, the success of a leader is anchored on the followers since the method of leadership to be applied is determined by the followers. Therefore a situation where followers reject a leader may form a basis for replacement. The model therefore calls upon the leaders to be cautious and diligent while classifying the type of workers they are dealing with. The modern multigenerational workplace posses a major challenge to leaders who want to use a single style among a specific group of people (Daft, 2011). Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of New York City Transport is an example of leader who primary applied one of the leadership style (Directive) which was really successful. However, this approach led her to be rejected by some City Council members and neighborhood leaders (Daft, 2011). For a profit making company such as Neo Steel which already has its name tainted cannot afford a fall off with the workers and hence would rather appoint a new leader.
The replacement of a leader may not be specifically caused by the relationship of the leader and the followers but may be as a result of other situations such as; the company’s Board of Directors unanimous decision, a company’s culture, a political or religious situation or even on the basis of instability such as the case in Ukraine may be the cause of replacement of a Pro-Russia leader. However, in the case of Neo the replacement of a leader who has experience both in Europe and America which has a wide range of cultures can only be limited to the leader’s behavior and approach to the workers. It is however important to note that it might be a difficult start for the new leader if the workers believe that the previous leader was wrongly accused.
Task 2: a) Leadership Approaches
Leadership is quite a complex institute in the modern world and its approach has evolved from the two grids dimensional to a multidimensional approach. The one thing that has not changed is how the results are rated. For instance it’s quite fascinating to know that Napoleon Bonaparte is seen as an effective leader however in a very different way as compared to Mahtma Gandhi or Queen Elizabeth I (Raynolds & Chatfield, 2007). A leader can lead in so many ways which are externally determined by factors such as the environment or internal factors such as the leader’s personality. There are various approaches to leadership such as the Lewin’s leadership styles, Behavioral leadership theory, Great Man theory, Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership theory, Path-Goal theory and Transformational Leadership Theory.
Lewin’s leadership theory is a product of research under the leadership of psychologist Kurt Lewin and was published in 1939 (Cherry, 2014). The research discovered 3 specific approaches to leadership namely authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire leader though further research has discovered other approaches. The Authoritarian leadership which is also known as autocratic leadership is a type of leadership whereby the leader gives a clear set of instructions on how things should be done. It can actually be termed as a completely ‘hands on’ approach.
Participative leadership which is also known as the democratic approach to leadership is usually termed as the most effective leadership style. A democratic leader doe not only offer guidance to the group but also involves the members in decision making however he has the final say on the decision (Raynolds & Chatfield, 2007). The third and final approach is the Laissez-Faire or the delegative type of leadership. The leader offer or little or no guidance to team members and the decisions are also made by the group members. This approach is usually appropriate for highly trained professionals.
Transformational leadership theory is a product of a more complex approach to leadership. The theory states that transformational theory focus on high normative needs and intrinsic needs of individuals (Vasu, Stewart & Garson, 1998). The theory depends on the synergy between the leader and the followers. Transformational leaders usually charismatic a character that helps them to provide sense of mission by providing vision to the followers a factor that instills pride in the followers and hence ‘transforming them.’ This leads to the followers putting the needs of the organization above almost everything else. This type of leaders provide inspiration to the followers as well as provide intellectual stimulation in the organization through giving personal attention to employees who are coached, encouraged and advised (Vasu, Stewart & Garson, 1998). The leaders also empower their employees or followers through sharing with them the responsibilities.
Behavioral theory was developed as replacement of the trait theory as it emerged that leaders were not born but made. This approach to leadership was rooted in the theory of behaviorism and focused on leaders’ actions and not mental qualities (Cherry, 2014). This approach has the view that behavior is as a result of conditioning. Therefore the leader was determined by his reaction to people needs while at the same time the followers would be influenced by actions of the leader (King & Lawley, 2013). The leadership grid which is part of the theory argued that the team management style that has high concern for the people and production is the most effective. Therefore in the case study the new Neo Steel director would be judged by the impact on the behaviors of the employees as well as on the production side where the company is still struggling with impact of recession.
Path goal which was developed by Robert House argues that a leader’s efficiency is based on the motivation, satisfaction and performance of her subordinates (King & Lawley, 2013). The theory identifies various types of leaders who display various behaviors. The achievement oriented behavior approach to leadership aims at encouraging performance and excellence through setting goals and challenges for the employees. A supportive leader behavior on the other hand focuses on supporting the subordinate’s psychological well being. The participative leader behavior finally involves a situation where the leader consults with employees in issues regarding preference in performing job requirement (Cross, 2014). Neo Steel stakeholders can use this approach to determine how well the new Director is performing since it is all it requires is the employee’s feedback.
The recession period saw many small and medium sized businesses close shop due to low sales and low sales with some selling the remaining stock at throw away prices. However in a case or recession this must not happen, using the situational leadership approach a business should be in a position to survive through recession with great ease. The period of recession creates panic in many businesses a case that is easily manageable by a leader who knows his/her employees and address the worst hit by directing approach. The direction might also be in a position to identify the unwilling and lay them off during the recession to reduce the operational cost and rehire them during recovery. This will avail more time for the leader who will momentarily suspend delegation of duties and result to supporting to avoid any mistakes which definitely will lead to closure of business.
Task 2: b) Contribution of Theories & Models to Effective Leadership
Leadership has an unprecedented impact on an organization and its success. The leadership is actually what determines whether an institution is successful or a failure. They shape up the culture, values, processes, level of employee motivation and the spirit of the organization. The strategies that an organization takes especially in times of crisis are usually single handedly determined by the leaders. Therefore any information or knowledge passed on an organization’s leader will have an impact on the organization. Though it might not be implemented directly, it will influence the decisions that the leader will make.
The two most common types of leaders in the modern world are democratic and transformational leaders. Democratic leadership is the most advocated type of leadership especially in the political arena. Instead of the individual upon whom the leadership mantle has been bestowed upon leading, the group leads itself. Though this approach is not applied in all institutions, decision making within groups within an organization is democratic. However the biggest problem in this approach is that it is based on the assumption that each individual has an equal stake which is not the case (Germano, 2010). The other issue is that the approach has a high probability of poor decision making. Therefore a leader, who knows the short comings of this approach, will be in a position to address them before they occur.
Transformational leaders on the other hand aim at changing those they lead not to fit their personality but to achieve the organization’s goals. They use knowledge, vision and expertise to change those around them in such a way that their impact is still felt after they are gone (Germano, 2010). James McGregor wrote that “it’s is a relationship of mutual elevation and stimulation that converts followers to leaders and may convert leaders to moral agents.” This creates an endless cycle of leaders who are a product of each individual leader. This can be termed as the most effective system in a company like Neo Steel as it motivates creativity and is a source of inspiration for the draining work that takes place in the steel industry.
Charismatic leaders have both the vision and the personality to motivate followers to achieve the vision (Germano, 2010). They usually change the spirit of the whole of the organization to that befits their personality. This approach however has one major problem; lack of continuity. Since the leadership is based on the strength of a personality, it erodes most of potential leaders’ personality leaving a power vacuum. The understanding of this should however help organizations prepare in advance though the transitions are not always successful. The application of this approach is exactly contrary to the autocratic approach. The autocratic approach is only judged two basis. Successful application of this approach makes you a management genius while failure means you are dictator.
The success of chain stores is usually based on the close coordination between the managers of the chain stores and their subordinates. This was the result of a case study done in Texas. The good coordination therefore reflected as better sales. The leadership of the entire chain of stores however ought to democratic. This type of leadership applies helps the stores to customize its products to fit the culture of the surrounding community. This is the same as the delegation of duties approach used to manage Tesco, one of the leading grocery sellers in the UK. The democratic leadership gives individual store managers a chance to be creative and also faster problem solving for the entire chain of stores.
Task 3: a) Cross-Cultural Leadership
Today’s businesses are increasingly becoming global as the local market become ever competitive and new markets emerge in developing economies. This development however has its own challenges which the businesses have to overcome for them to succeed. The biggest challenge has been cultural challenges as the businesses are trending a completely new market in terms of foreign investments or in paths that have only been trodden by a few. Therefore it has become a necessity for such companies to recruit, develop and retain multicultural leaders who have the technical and social ability to navigate both challenges and opportunity of a more connected world (Soo, 2012).
The context of multicultural leadership involves a deep understanding and ability to relate with different cultures to understand their values and specific context (Soo, 2012). This can be achieved by application of various multinational principles which have been specifically developed for multicultural environments. The primary leadership principles include; vision, serving and leading others to greatness (Rentfrow, 2007). Goleman, who developed the principles, termed them as “climate drivers that have the most positive impact on an organization.”
The vision principle states that a leader needs to impart a vision by providing focus to the organization (Rentfrow, 2007). Lack of vision for any organizations makes it impossible for any planning to take place since there is no direction upon which to direct the planning. The leader therefore holds the responsibility for creating a vision which will set the organization for future prosperity. The service principle states that ‘a successful leader is a servant of the people.’ The leader therefore may have to may have to have more than one outstanding trait and apply more than one leadership style for the organization to be successful. The final principle states that you cannot manage people into greatness, you can only lead them (Rentfrow, 2007). This implies that the leader of a multicultural organization has to take upon him/herself to prepare the organization to change from an average company to a great organization.
The success however is not achieved just through the application. Fernandez, in the article of ‘CEO China identified three distinct steps which have been a success for other companies. The first step is to serve the organization by adapting to the host culture. The president of Du Pont China indicated that listening is a crucial asset and the organization should approach the market is by listening, understanding and learning (Fernandez and Underwood, 2006). The second step is establishment of a corporate vision for the new market without abandoning your national culture. “The ultimate goal is to combine aspects of Chinese culture with home-country practices,” stated one Korn/Ferry senior client in China (Fernandez and Underwood, 2006). Finally lead the people to greatness with humility and patience (Rentfrow, 2007).
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) which has built a whopping 40% share of the Chinese food market is a perfect example of a company that has excelled in a multicultural environment (Soo, 2012). The fast food company which opened its first store in China in 1987 in the midst of economic reforms overcame all the odds to create a huge customer base. The first KFC in China which was strategically placed centrally contrary to what many thought was greeted with the warmest embrace imaginable by the Chinese. It was the birth of new culture, a redefinition of fast food and a westernized way of having Chinese food. The secret to KFC’s success was its willingness to adapt its menu and attitude to fit the host culture (Drewery, 2011). KFC China actually serves native Chinese dishes alongside familiar western dishes unlike other US based businesses such as McDonalds.
Task 3: b) Improving & Developing of Leadership Skills
Leadership just like learning is a continuous process and therefore you cannot possess leadership skills so abundantly that there is no room for improvement. In developing of leadership the most crucial step is the acknowledgement of the need to learn (Pratt, 2010). This creates a mindset that is ready to learn which enables an individual to be open-minded and therefore you can learn from anybody at in any environment. Another important aspect that should be noted is that by motivating others you develop your leadership skills and abilities as well. Putting these two aspects into considerations there lots of ways of improving one’s leadership skills most of which will be discussed.
The first and most important way is learning your leadership style. This will helps in determining the strength and weaknesses in the specific style. Through this an individual is able to determine whether he is exploiting his or her potential. Encouraging creativity is another way of improving. Intellectual stimulation, which one of the abilities of a transformational leader provides an avenue for developing leadership skills. For instance in Neo Steel, this can be achieved by giving challenging tasks which are within the scope of Neo Director followers who are actually the company’s employees’ abilities so as to stimulate their thoughts. Idealized influence, which is another way of developing the leadership skills of the employees through the Director serving as a role model.
A great leader possesses passion in what he/she does and this is a characteristic that should help in improving the leadership skills. For instance in Neo Ltd, the new Director should have the passion to know more about the company; its employees, culture, history and much more. Effective communication and listening skills is another factor that really helps especially in transformational leadership. Beyond the main ways, a leader or a follower can develop his/her leadership through having a positive attitude, being proactive, doing beyond your job and respectively challenging the status quo.
Leadership is one of the most challenging position that an employee can be offered. This is because it involves managing the most complex organism; man. The leader has to put into consideration the emotions, humanity and respect while addressing an employee’s issue. Its therefore not a surprise CEOs are highly remunerated since they are managing the relationship between people and machines and a bigger percentage of their skills are naturally occurring and their learning process never ends. These are individuals who the entire life a business has been put on their hands and they are expected to keep it alive. Such is the live of a leader.
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