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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice Essay Sample

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Abstract
Keywords: trait theories, behavioral theories, contingency theories, transactional leadership, and transformational leadership theories

Written Assignment 2: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice Leadership is a topic with many different types of styles. It is also a concept that overlaps with management activities. Working in the corporate world for over twenty years has afforded me the opportunity to interact with both effective and non-effective leaders and managers. The leader who possesses the most important characteristics of an effective leader is a man by the name of Otty. Otty is a leader who possesses traits consistent with many types of leadership styles. These include the following theories; Trait Approach, Skills approach, situational approach, contingency theory, leader-member exchange theory, transactional leadership and transformational leadership.

In relation to trait theory, Otty possesses several of the major leadership traits that include intelligence, sociability, and integrity. According to the findings associated with this theory intelligence is positively related to leadership. Findings have determined that leaders have a higher intelligence than nonleaders. “Sociability is a leader’s inclination to seek out pleasant social relationships” (Northouse (2013) p. 26). Otty’s sociability is an example of a leader who seeks out pleasant social relationships. It is stated is leaders who sociability are friendly, outgoing, courteous, tactful, and diplomatic. Having sensitivity to others’ needs and show concern for their well-being. Otty has an understanding of good interpersonal skills. Honesty and trustworthiness is another important trait of a leader. Integrity inspires confidence in others. When he does what he says he’s going to do creates trust and loyalty. Otty’s integrity makes him a leader who is believable and trustworthy.

Otty’s skills approach to leadership outlines his structure for consistency in the development of his skills during his career as a leader. The skills and abilities related to his leadership style are directly correlated to problem solving and social judgment skills. His competencies in this area identify the significant aptitude for formulating definitive problem solving solutions. “Problem-solving skills demand that leaders understand their own leadership capacities as they apply to possible solutions to the unique problems in their organization” (Northouse (2013) p. 48). The role that Otty plays in his leadership capacity is to ascertain the issues and problems in the department and offer immediate solutions for resolution. This skill is essential to the skills model. In addition to problem-solving skills, Otty displays social judgment in support of the organizational goals. His unique perspective on thinking about a problem as someone else permits him the ability to understand different outcomes. This is also essential in relation to skills approach.

In regards to style approach, Otty’s behaviors related to tasks and relationships are based on how goals are accomplished. There are times when the task behavior is used to direct others to complete the goal. Moreover, Otty’s team management style places strong emphasis on both tasks and interpersonal relationships. “The leaders stimulates participation, acts determined, gets issues into the open, makes priorities clear, follows through, behaves open-mindedly, and enjoys working” (Northouse (2013) p. 81).

Situational approach is defined as where the leader focuses on leadership in situations. Otty’s leadership is composed of both “directive and a supportive dimension” (p. 99). This in essence is the way leaders match their style according to their followers. In this style, Otty is able to understand and curtail his leadership style in situations that enable him to be directive and supportive according to the situation. In some instances, his style may require a higher directive and low support. This would depend on what level of support the follower needs for a task or relationship behavior. Otty has been in more of a coaching level recently with several of the subordinates due to the nature of the tasks.

In the contingency theory, leaders match their style to situations. Otty’s LPC (Least Preferred Coworker) score would most likely be high. Due to his effectiveness in leading others in a moderately favorable situation. His motivation is led by relationships. Otty is known to spend many lunches with current and past team members. The leader-member exchange theory (LMX) conceptualizes leadership as a process centered on the interactions between leaders and members (p. 161). Otty’s style is closely related to this theory where he develops relationships with his followers. As the relationship grows, the phases adapt to the leadership style. This theory can be applied in various types of organizations and defines how leaders closely relate to their subordinates. Otty builds trusting relationships with all of his subordinates. “Transactional leaders guide followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements” (Armandi, B., Oppedisano, J., & Sherman, H., 2003, p. 1080).

As a transformational leaders, Otty does not always pay attention to the concerns and developmental needs of followers. There are some instances that he may help them look at old problems in new ways. However, for the most part, his focus is the goal. He does encourage subordinates to question their established views including those of the leader. He always says to question the answer and then question the answer again. As a transformational leader, Otty is concerned with inspiring his followers to accomplish great things. His motivational techniques enable him to be a mentor and a role model for his followers. His encouragement creates emphasis on innovation and ideals. A transformational leader can provide followers with information about building trust and foster collaborations with others that contribute to organizational success.

Otty’s style as a transformational leader enables him to encourage others and celebrate their accomplishments. Recently, an organizational goal was achieve and Otty celebrated with a departmental barbeque on a rooftop in Center City Philadelphia. This was a true testament to his leadership by emphasizing the success of the team. Otty’s effectiveness as a leader is not shy of ineffective capabilities also. Otty is more an effective leader as opposed to non-effective leader but could benefit from some direction from a relationship perspective. There are times when Otty picks and chooses the followers that he associates with on a daily basis. His relationships are formed by performance level. Otty could benefit from having a higher level of sensitivity to subordinates receiving special attention and some subordinates who do not (p. 173). This is consistent with the LMX theory on how to build trusting relationships.

Perhaps, leadership is a topic with many different types of styles that overlap with management activities. A leader like Otty possesses traits consistent with many types of leadership styles. These include the following theories; Trait Approach, Skills approach, situational approach, contingency theory, leader-member exchange theory, transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Since one leadership style isn’t a cookie cutter theory, leaders like Otty have the ability to pick and choose items from each style and make it their own unique way of leading.

References

Armandi, B., Oppedisano, J., & Sherman, H. (2003). Leadership theory and practice: A “case” in point. Management Decision, 41(10), 1076-1088. (ProQuest). Northouse, P. (2012). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE. Print.

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