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Understanding Leadership Essay Sample

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Understanding Leadership Essay Sample

Note: Learners must satisfy all the assessment criteria by achieving at least 50% of the marks available for each criterion. The ‘lines/box’ below a question is for guidance purposes only. Marks are not deducted for writing more. It is perfectly acceptable for all answers to be continued on additional forms provided they are attached to the assignment when making a submission. The availability of the form electronically allows learners to expand the ‘lines/box’ as required.

UNDERSTAND LEADERSHIP STYLES

1.1 Describe the factors that will influence the choice of leadership styles or behaviours in workplace situations (24 marks)

According to McGregor there are two types of leaders: Theory X and Theory Y. This belief states that Theory X managers hold the believe that workers are reliant upon incentives and direction in order to stay productive. Also that employees in general are work shy and without constant oversight and control, they will not work. Whereas a Theory Y manager would believe that the workforce is best left alone; that they will share direction of tasks and trust the ideas and self management skills of their subordinates. Although these categories are very black and white and not necessarily applicable in all scenarios, it is possible to (at least loosely) place all leaders into one of the groups.

I believe the quality of the workforce and the type and size of the business is a strong factor in which group a manager will fall into. A large company with a significant staff turnover may be inclined to subscribe to Theory X where they have to squeeze the maximum amount of productivity out of people who do not see their job as permanent. Working in a smaller business with passionate individuals who are in the job they want to be in, who have worked hard to be there and are grateful for the opportunity may be more likely to fit into the Theory Y style of leadership.

However, there are other leadership styles than McGregor’s and these can be influenced in different ways. For example, a manager’s personality (I.e. a combination of their beliefs, experiences and culture) may influence them. Whether or not they are an Autocratic leader, someone who believes they have absolute authority over decision making, monitoring output and holding a firm belief in a company hierarchy (people having authority over others based on their previous merits) may be down to a strict and firm upbringing, possibly a military or religious background, or a public school education. On the opposite side of the coin there is the democratic leadership style, whereby the manager will still ultimately take control, but they will listen to the feedback of their subordinates after making decisions and occasionally allow the workforce to come to their own decisions.

A democratic leader will often use praise and reward to enrich their employees and offer them incentives into taking ownership of their ideas and work. Someone who manages this way is likely to be a trusting person. They may have worked somewhere where they have felt empowered by this style previously, and it is certainly possible that they would have grown up with a lot of people around them (e.g siblings), where decisions were made based on what is best for everybody. It is likely they worked hard to get to where they are, overcoming obstacles with the help of other people, where they may have failed if they had not had that assistance.

Another factor which could influence the management style is the existing culture within the company, if the manager is hired or promoted into a role where the workforce is already quite reliant on authority, if they require constant feedback and approval along with direction and assistance, it is very likely that a manager would have to adopt a Micromanagement leadership style, where the manager is the individual who checks the small details and excessively controls the completion of the work. However if the team is already an autonomous unit, which is usually able to work quite independently then the manager may be able to easily slide into a Laissez Faire role. This would mean they would be able to provide the tools and resources and point their team in the direction they need to be going and take a step back with not much involvement from management until the project is complete.

1.2 Explain why these leadership styles or behaviours are likely to have a positive or negative effect on individual and group behaviour (24 marks)

We can use Transactional Analysis to identify whether or not a management style may have positive or negative effects on an individual or group. Transactional Analysis tells us that people have three ego states: Adult, Parent, and Child. The Adult (“neopsyche”): this state is about productivity, receiving and discovering information and processing the information to make predictions. Actions taken and decisions made whilst in this state are rarely motivated by emotion but knowledge. The Parent (“exteropsyche”) state can be split into two, as can the Child (“archeopsyche”). The Parent state is based on the individual’s interpretation of how their parents or authoritative figures and role models reacted to certain scenarios and can manifest itself in two ways: The Critical Parent who is firm, strict and regulating whilst being very punishing and regulating and the Nurturing Parent who provides security, gives permission and is generally encouraging. Finally the Child state is where a person’s emotions and reactions to a situation mirror how they would have reacted in similar scenarios as a child. This splits into the Adapted Child who will restrain their emotions and socialise, or the Free Child who will remain optimistic and focus on the self.

It is easy to assume that the Adult state is always the most positive state, and in some cases it can be and it certainly should be strengthened. However there is symbiosis between other adult states which can lead to great productivity. It is also possible that two ego states can clash and create a negative results within the workplace.

The Micromanagement leadership style, for example, will certainly bring out the Parent state in the in the manager, and the subordinates may possibly remain in the Adult state and simply process the feedback and act upon it. However it appears more likely that it would cause the subordinate to revert to the child state. If the manager is overly critical and regulating such as in the Critical Parent state (which is likely with this style) then it could invoke the Adapted Child state whereby the subordinate would react negatively, discuss their unhappiness with their colleagues and be less likely to want to discuss issues with the management when they feel they are having problems. This could lead to a “You’re okay, I’m not okay” scenario and this would not be productive.

The ideal Laissez Faire management scenario would be both manager and subordinate remaining in the Adult state. If this management style is being applied in the right situation, and the team is independent enough to maximise on their potential without strong guidance, this will lead to an “I’m okay, you’re okay scenario”. However if it is applied in the wrong scenario it could lead to an Adult state management with a Free Child state subordinate, where the manager is not taking control and the employee is reacting poorly to the lack of guidance, doing the minimum required or veering from their path and believing they are achieving their potential. This would be a false “You’re not okay, I’m okay” scenario where it is actually “You’re not okay, I’m not okay”.

Another way to analyse whether or not a style is producing positive or negative results is to look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is a theory that certain criteria need to be met for people to feel their lives are fulfilled on different levels, with each level more fundamental than the last. The levels in ascending order of importance are: Self-actualisation, esteem, love/belonging, safety and physiological.

Under a strongly Autocratic or Theory X type management style it would be very easy for the subordinate to feel that their needs are not being met on the esteem level, since being overly critical could lead to a lack of confidence, self-esteem and the feeling that they are not being respected. In an extreme scenario it could also cause the individual to feel their needs are even at risk at the security level, in that they may feel they do not have job security if they are too frequently under harsh critique which is not handled well. It is very likely that if one of these styles is too harshly applied it will lead to a “You’re okay, I’m not okay” situation.

However, a well managed Theory Y or Democratic style could easily open up the self-actualisation level of needs, where the individual is free to be creative, solve problems and be spontaneous. This will absolutely lead to a “You’re okay, I’m okay” scenario. However if this is poorly managed it could fail at the esteem level, where the subordinate has no respect for the leader and they feel too much of the decision making process is being left to them. This could cause them to feel that here is not enough guidance from the management and could even lead to an Adult state employee with a Child state management. “You’re not okay, I’m okay”

UNDERSTAND LEADERSHIP QUALITIES AND REVIEW OWN LEADERSHIP QUALITIES AND POTENTIAL

2.1 Assess own leadership behaviours and potential in the context of a particular leadership model and own organisation’s working practice and culture using feedback from others (State your findings below) (28marks)

According to Belbin, a Team Worker is someone who prefers to take the time create a working relationship with their colleagues supporting their team – someone who does not like to make decisions which may upset the integrity of the team. After taking Belbin’s team-skills test, I found this to be my strongest result. I believe of all of the possible results this is the most accurate for me personally. The team, to me, is always the most important thing. Harmony in the group and a good working relationship, in my opinion, is always going to provide the most productive results. In a scenario where a single member of the team was the cause of a failure for a task, I would prefer to take the blame myself or allow the whole team (including myself) to take the punishment rather than place the blame on one single team member, and have them face the consequences from more senior management. That way everyone can learn from the mistake and hopefully people will be motivated to keep up the good work for everyone’s sake and at the very least, it could inspire some camaraderie.

My secondary roles according to Belbin would be Coordinator and Shaper. A Coordinator is an individual who can identify the strengths within a team and knows exactly where to allocate resources in order to achieve the goal. A Shaper is someone who likes to make decisions and use their initiative, and are allowed to do things in their own way. I personally find being a Coordinator marries perfectly with being a Team Worker. I prefer to identify the strengths of subordinates and find out what they are happiest doing, then I would try to find a balance between the two and allocate them tasks based on that analysis. Being a Coordinator greatly supports being a Team Worker in that if everyone is assigned their correct roles and achieving their potential, they will be happy and the team should build some synergy. Being a Shaper however, is where I believe being a Team Worker turns into being a Team Leader; making decisions for the team and taking the initiative to push the team forward and offer guidance.

After taking the team roles test by Honey, the only strong result which came out for me was the Support role which is defined as someone who is friendly and sensitive to people’s feelings and uncomfortable with conflict. I do agree with this – if a subordinate is struggling with something I would sooner help them before completing tasks of my own. I do not like the idea of someone struggling without any assistance and feeling abandoned, and I would always try to stop this from happening if possible. I also come under Collaborative Leader, according to Honey which is someone who is participative, a good listener and questioner but too democratic. I must say that I have noticed these traits about myself, and this seems to fit me quite strongly, since I will always make it my business to make sure if people are doing okay and if not, why not and how can I help?

After thinking introspectively I have come to a conclusion that I am both a Democratic leader and a Micromanaging leader. I listen and promote enrichment in subordinates but I will also micromanage them to the extent that I will constantly be wanting to know how they are doing and making sure they are not struggling at any step. I believe that I spend most of my time in the Nurturing Parent ego state and I would always hope that my subordinates would remain in the Adult state. Listening to feedback and assistance and acting upon it, analytically and freely researching ways in which they could improve themselves and asking for guidance freely where required.

2.2 Describe appropriate actions to enhance own leadership behaviour in the context or the particular leadership model (24 marks)

According to my results from Belbin, my weakest two roles would be Implementer and Monitor Evaluator. An Implementer is an organised, self disciplined person who can turn chaos into order. I feel like this is certainly an area I could certainly improve on, with schedules and procedures to strengthen my organisation. I certainly feel that if a project was to devolve into chaos, I would struggle to bring back order. I would likely resort to pleading with my team or scrapping everything and beginning again – neither of which are good ways to be. To combat this, I need to learn to write a thorough project specification and adhere to a project lifecycle so that there is always a point to return to if chaos does occur.

A Monitor Evaluator however is an individual who is analytical and cautious and takes an objective view when considering the views of the team. At present I would sooner jump in at the deep-end and “get stuck in” rather than evaluate a scenario first. However, this leads to poor planning and delayed deadlines. I very rarely give an accurate estimated time of arrival. The best way for me to move forward on this is to pay attention to things which have gone wrong and caused bumps in the past and simply take the time to evaluate a new project before beginning work.

My weakest result in Honey’s test highlights what I believe to be one of my biggest shortcomings. I am not a Doer. I will tolerate nonsense, I will not nag people and I am certainly not focused on results. I would sooner make sure everyone in my team is happy, understand what they are doing and how to do it and make sure nobody is struggling than actually push the team forward towards meeting deadlines. I would happily sit through and make sure someone understands why they are struggling and how to move past it than simply do it myself or pass the task to another team member who may understand better. I need to trust that someone isn’t going to either dislike me or become frustrated with themselves if I am critical of their work, and give other members of the team an opportunity to sprint to the finish line rather than making sure everyone in the group is keeping pace.

I steer very clear of Autocratic or Type X methods, which may make me too much of a pushover in that I would heavily struggle to assert my authority or reprimand a member of my team. This is something I believe I will overcome with time as I am given more authority I will learn better how to assert it and as I am placed in scenarios where a single team member is letting the team down consistently and I am left with no other options than to reprimand them, then I will learn to do it. I believe my age and experience are my shortcoming here.

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