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The Concept of Leadership Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 6th, 2019

Literature Review

What is Leadership?

The concept of leadership can be explained as an individual’s ability to successfully integrate the skills and capabilities of employees within a team or company into a cooperative whole that can work together.

Such a process helps to continue and improve the current operational framework of a company (Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman & Humphrey 2011). As such, the characteristics that can be considered as essential for an effective leader consist of:

  1. Being able to create cooperation and cohesion within a team
  2. Guide the respective capabilities and strengths of employees
  3. Create open lines of communication within a company
  4. Set goals and expectations in order for people to understand what is expected of them (Ali, Nisar & Raza 2011; Amabile, Barsade, Mueller & Staw 2005).

Personality Traits

First and foremost, it should be noted that personality traits for leaders can range from:

  1. Effective conflict management skills
  2. The ability to empathise with employees
  3. Analytical abilities to think without getting personal
  4. A variety of other similar characteristics that define good business leadership (Hyun 2012).

From such a definition, it can be seen that every leader has their own specific set of personality traits with certain characteristics being more dominant than others (Levine, Muenchen & Brooks 2010; Heracleous & Barrett 2001).

It is these dominant characteristics that shape an individual’s ability to become a successful leader since they define what they are capable of doing (Church & Waclawski 1998; Coupland & Brown 2004). These strengths can support success through:

  1. Enabling a person to make analytical instead of emotional choices.
  2. Gives the means to understand and empathise with employees in order to understand their strengths and limitations (Felfe & Schyns 2010).
  3. Creates an effective work environment by reducing the causes of conflict and mitigating problems as they arise (Felfe & Schyns 2010; Ely & Thomas 2001).
  4. Creates a mindset that takes into consideration all possible outcomes and views before making a decision (Walter & Bruch 2009; Churchill 1979).

Theoretical Framework for Analysis

Based on the various theories of leadership that have been examined thus far, it was decided by this study that situational theory will be the primary framework of analysis that will be utilised for examination.

As Verlage, Rowold & Schilling (2012) explains, situation theory ascribes to the notion that type of leadership that is applied (i.e. Authoritarian, Laissez-faire, Democratic, etc.) is based on the given situation and type of company. Latham (2014) states that different companies and organisational frameworks require different leadership characteristics and methods of leading people.

There is no “one size fits all” strategy that would be effective in all possible situations and it is due to this that there exists a myriad of different leaders within a given company. One way of seeing this particular theory in action is in the vertical or horizontal leadership structures that are evident in various companies.

A vertical structure of leadership is normally authoritarian in nature and focuses on task completion according to orders sent from above. This is normally seen in the case of various manufacturing firms and is needed given the recent focus on efficiency in operations through Six Sigma. Examples of companies with this sort of structure are Foxconn, Sony, and even Wal-mart.

On the other hand, horizontal organisational structures ascribe to a more democratic leadership model and are normally seen in companies that place a considerable emphasis on creativity and innovation. Some companies that implement this type of structure are: Blizzard Entertainment, Valve, and Google (Latham 2014).

Based on what has been presented so far, it can be seen that under the situational theory of leadership, the type of industry that a company finds itself in greatly influences the leadership styles that will be implemented within the company.

Methodology

Research Methods

Based on the needs of this report which entailed an examination of a trading company in the central part of Russia, it was deemed that a qualitative based approach would be the most effective means of acquiring the necessary information.

Qualitative research can be described as a type of exploratory research that tries to explain the aspects of a scenario through an in-depth method of examination (Shah & Corley 2006). While it is applicable to numerous disciplines, it is normally applied to instances which attempt to explain human behaviour and the varying factors that influence and govern such behaviours (Shah & Corley 2006).

Research Design

In order to create a feasible method of examining the leadership quality of the various managers that would be examined, it was determined that a survey based method of examination that utilises questionnaires would be the most effective method in getting the necessary data.

This was done since a survey based qualitative study works through a sampling technique wherein a small segment of the population is utilised in order for a statistical inference to be made on the population as a whole.

Data Gathering Technique

A questionnaire technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory appraisal.

The justification for choosing a questionnaire based approach for this study is grounded on the fact that the participant will have the ability to respond to the researcher’s questions more directly and thus provide more information. An analysis of related literature will be used to compare the study findings with research on various strategies utilised by the industry being examined.

Participants

The research participants that will be used in this paper will consist of 30 to 40 employees (managers and other high level employees) that will be recruited in a medium sized company within Russia.

Data Analysis

The primary method of data analysis in this study involves an individual review. The individual review will primarily be the researcher examining the collected response data from the managers that were interviewed and comparing it to the data obtained from the literature review.

Analysis

The data shows that different types of leadership styles were being implemented within the company with varying levels of success. Each leadership style ranging from democratic to an authoritarian style was entirely based on the situation that the manager or the executive found themselves in.

The data is thus in support of the situational theory of leadership that was mentioned in the literature review section of the study which stated that the type of leadership utilized is often influenced by the situation and type of environment that a leader finds himself in.

The implications of the data in this particular case show that leaders adjust their leadership styles based on how they want to control their employees and how they want to be perceived.

The data showed that perception and control were often the deciding factors behind the type of leadership style chosen and, as such, can be considered as necessary factors when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of different leadership styles in varying industries or departments.

Reference List

Amabile, T, Barsade, S, Mueller, J, & Staw, B 2005, ‘Affect and Creativity at Work’, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 367-403

Ali, Z, Nisar, N, & Raza, A 2011, ‘Impact of Personality Traits on Leadership Styles of Secondary School Teachers’, Interdisciplinary Journal Of Contemporary Research In Business, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 610-617

Church, A, & Waclawski, J 1998, ‘The relationship between individual personality orientation and executive leadership behaviour’, Journal Of Occupational & Organisational Psychology, vol. 71, no. 2, pp. 99-125

Churchill Jr., GA 1979, ‘A Paradigm for Developing Better Measures of Marketing Constructs’, Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 64-73

Coupland, C, & Brown, A 2004, ‘Constructing Organisational Identities on the Web: A Case Study of Royal Dutch/Shell’, Journal Of Management Studies, vol. 41, no. 8, pp. 1325-1347

Derue, D, Nahrgang, J, Wellman, N, & Humphrey, S 2011, ‘Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: an integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity’, Personnel Psychology, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 7-52

Ely, R, & Thomas, D 2001, ‘Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes’, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 229-273

Felfe, J, & Schyns, B 2010, ‘Followers’ Personality and the Perception of Transformational Leadership: Further Evidence for the Similarity Hypothesis’, British Journal Of Management, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 393-410

Heracleous, L, & Barrett, M 2001, ‘Organisational change as discourse: Communicative actions and deep structures in the context of information technology implementation’, Academy Of Management Journal, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 755-778

Hyun, J 2012, ‘Leadership principles for capitalizing on culturally diverse teams: The bamboo ceiling revisited’, Leader To Leader, 2012, vol. 64, pp. 14-19

Latham, JR 2014, ‘Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research’, Quality Management Journal, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 11-15

Levine, K, Muenchen, R, & Brooks, A 2010, ‘Measuring Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: Why isn’t Charisma Measured?’, Communication Monographs, vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 576-591

Shah, S, & Corley, K 2006, ‘Building Better Theory by Bridging the Quantitative–Qualitative Divide’, Journal Of Management Studies, vol. 43, no. 8, pp. 1821-1835

Verlage, H, Rowold, J, & Schilling, J 2012, ‘Through Different Perspectives on Leadership: Comparing the Full Range Leadership Theory to Implicit Leadership Theories’, E Journal Of Organisational Learning & Leadership, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 68-91

Walter, F, & Bruch, H 2009, ‘An Affective Events Model of Charismatic Leadership Behavior: A Review, Theoretical Integration, and Research Agenda’, Journal Of Management, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 1428-1452

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