Leadership Styles and Models

Leadership and management might seem like one and the same thing, but this is not the case. The roles that leaders and managers play in the workplace are quite different. They might be working towards achieving similar objectives, but their approaches are quite different. They tend to exert different forms of influence on their teams. To begin with, managers tend to rely on authority to motivate their teams to attain various objectives. The managers allocate tasks to the teams and expect them to execute the jobs merely because the employees receive a salary for it. It is quite different when it comes to leaders. Leaders try to inspire, influence and appeal to employees at an individual level. They get the best out of people by aligning their individual objectives to those of the organization. Another difference is that managers direct employees into doing various activities while leaders lead by example. It is likely that a manager will be expecting his/her employees to undertake activities that himself/herself cannot. This is not the case with leaders. They have the tendency of showing employees how things are done so that they can have a blueprint to follow. Managers are also likely to react to change while leaders persuade employees to make changes. This means that leaders have control of various changes taking place since they anticipate the changes. It becomes easier for employees in this environment compared to those working under managers. Another difference is that managers tend to exercise power over employees while leaders try to develop power with employees. This has an impact on how employees perform both in the short-run and long-run.

There are several leadership styles at the disposal of many organizations. The styles are used in different ways and tend to have different impacts. Autocratic leadership style is characterized by the tendency of a single individual having control over all decisions and entertaining little to no input from group members. This style is used in situations where employees have low motivation and the project being undertaken involves new team members. It is also used during contingencies or emergencies; when there is severe pressure to make instant decisions and during change implementation to avoid resistance. The positive impacts associated with autocratic leadership are quick decision making, increased productivity and reduced inefficiencies. Negative impacts, on the other hand, include high staff turnover, staff demoralization, and stifling of creativity.

Democratic leadership is another common leadership style. It is an open style whereby ideas move freely, and they are discussed openly. There is more emphasis on delegation and consultation. This style of leadership is more suitable where engagement and empowerment of employees are highly regarded. It is also useful in areas where creativity is required and when dealing with knowledgeable workers where their expertise is greater than that of the leaders. The positive impacts of this style include employees’ job satisfaction, increased creativity and innovation and staff development. Negative impacts on the other hand, include slow decision making, potential communication failures and decisions based on compromise.

Laissez-faire leadership on the other hand, is more of a hands-off style where leaders allow team members to make decisions. There is a high level of autonomy and delegation. Leaders are mostly involved in the provision of guidance and support. This style is used where employees have strong skills or experience, are self-motivated, have proven track records and are comfortable to work without any supervision. The positive impact associated with Laissez-faire leadership style is staff empowerment and increased job satisfaction. Negative impacts on the other hand include the potential for low productivity and poor role definition for managers.

Among the common theories and models of motivation there is Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Theory and Herzberg Two Factor Theory. Maslow’s theory suggests that employees are motivated by way of satisfying their needs. The needs are organized in a hierarchical manner whereby lower needs are satisfied before higher order needs. The first hierarchy comprises physiological needs. These are the basic needs like water, food, shelter, air among others. It is followed by safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization. The theory’s application in the workplace is that employees whose lowest levels of needs are yet to be met, will make most of their employment decisions based on safety, compensation or stability concerns. This is where most employees get worried in case some of their colleagues are fired. The actualization of these needs leads the employees to desire social gratification. This is the point where their self-esteem starts to matter and employers ought to be careful about how they treat them. Under self-actualization, the employee is interested in growth and personal development.

In Herzberg Two Factor Theory, job satisfaction and dissatisfaction tend to act independently of each other. Hygiene factors tend to affect job dissatisfaction while motivator factors affect job satisfaction. Hygiene factors include job security, wages, working conditions, relationships with managers among others. Motivator factors on the other hand include an opportunity for promotion, stimulating work, recognition and status and a sense of achievement. Applying this theory at the workplace is not easy since reducing aspects that cause dissatisfaction does not result to an increase in satisfaction. Employers should ensure that hygiene factors are sufficient to deter employees from becoming de-motivated and at the same time ensure that the work is rewarding for the employees to work harder. High achieving employees should be recognized and the employees should have training resources to continually develop themselves.

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