There are several theories on leadership that seek to determine how leaders behave, and why they behave in such a manner. The situational theory of leadership and the Leader-Member Exchange theory of leadership are among the two main leadership philosophies that explain the situation in detail.
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While situational theory of leadership explains how managers act differently in varying situations, the Leader-Member Exchange theory explains how managers develop different relations with their subordinates.
This paper seeks to discuss the aspect of leadership philosophy together with the relevant profile elaborately and summarise the aspects of the theory. Equally, the paper will provide an example of a personal leadership development plan that integrates key reasoning and constructs of the theories as postulated.
Situational Leadership Approach
Situational theory draws its basis from the belief that behaviour theory is inadequate for the world mainly due to the complicated nature of work and society. Specific behaviours remain only suitable in certain situational contexts. Situational leadership theory, also referred to as contingency theory, defines leadership on the basis of what leaders can do under different circumstances.
The main reason why this happens is due to the fact that different forces exist, both internal and external, which affect reactions of leaders. Thus, in this context, it is impossible to define what leadership is without giving due consideration to specific situational contexts.
According to the situational theory, the actions of a leader are influenced by the prevailing circumstances. Equally, behaviours also have to be associated with specific environmental situations.
The environmental situation which determine the manner in which a leader or a manager behaves may include the size of the organization, the level of worker maturity within the company, as a well as a combination of critical contingencies which, together, influence choice of action or behaviour.
In this regard, it is prudent to point out that situational factors remain finite and differ depending on several contingencies. A particular leader, for instance, will behave effectively in certain situations but not in others (Fairholm and Fairholm 11).
Among the several situational theories that have been postulated include the Path-Goal theory whose main basis is the consideration of issues that motivate individuals. The motivation to behave in a particular way is related to the expectation of end results and the extent to which a person desires the end goal (Baker 10).
The Leader-Member Exchange Theory
The Leader-Member Exchange theory, abbreviated as LMX theory, looks at leadership as an interaction process involving both the leader and the follower. The theory also revolves around the dyadic exchange kind of connection between the leader and the follower.
Within work group relations, the relationships between the leader and members of the team are further divided into tiny working relationships due to the belief that relationships vary and develop between leaders on the one hand and individual workers in the team.
The LMX theory’s assumption is that leaders and their followers form part of an exchange relationship in the sense that the followers follow the leaders for the purpose of expecting to receive something from their leaders while the leaders head the rest of the team as they also receive something from the followers. Thus, it is the exchange relationship and its resultant quality that forms the basis of analysis.
Observation of leadership behaviour points out at the tendency by leaders to often behave differently towards different subordinates. The in-group refers to subordinate members of staff whose relations with the leaders are good or favoured. Leaders pay heightened attention to “in-group” members. In addition, “in-group” members have the priority of accessing more organizational resources.
On the contrary, subordinates who are disfavoured by their leader form an out-group. Unlike their colleagues, they enjoy very little, if any, valued resources of the organization from their leaders. To differentiate “in-group” from “out-group” members, leaders identify common traits in regard to age and gender among other traits among the members.
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A worker considered to be competent in the execution of his or her job may easily be granted in-group membership status (Winkler 47).
Summary of the directive and achievement style of leadership
All managers falling within a command chain are supervisors. The directive manager instructs the subordinates lying directly beneath them what is expected of them, in terms of roles and tasks. The manager is also expected to provide a blueprint detailing how the job should be done, as well as monitor the performance and attainment of requisite standards to realize the goals.
Often, directive leadership is best suitable in circumstances where organisations have integrated the human resource department within their structures (Barker 49). Directive leadership emphasizes more on strict HRM guidelines and policies, a factor that has also been noted to demotivate workers rather than inject the much needed motivation.
The market circumstances are never stable and, therefore, it is not easy to determine a single leadership style that leaders can permanently rely on. As the internal organisational circumstances and external pressures affect the organisation, the business or organization is likewise forced to adapt to these conditions and circumstances. The best suitable leader for this organisation will also eventually change.
For instance, an organization planning to undertake a restructuring programme that will entail re-branding the entire organization will require a different type of a leader or manager, separate from the kind of leader or manager that will be required to direct the organization in the course of stability.
Achievement leadership is about attaining desirable goals and objectives often not attained by others. A leader who pursues leadership ought to set demanding goals both at the work place as well as within him or her in order to propel self-improvement. The leader must also translate the ideas of achievement to the entire team so that the combined effort of each worker may lead to development and progress.
In pursuing to achieve desirable goals, the high standards which are expected need to be demonstrated by the leader so that the followers can know exactly what to do. Without the leader demonstrating the capabilities of the followers, it is difficult for the set objectives to be attained. Thus, faith from the leader must be extended to the followers to give them the necessary determination and support towards goal attainment.
Achievement oriented leadership is best applied particularly in circumstances where the task being undertaken is considered to be complex. Leaders who show their followers what way to follow are considered to be effective leaders. There is always one right way of attaining goals and objectives which the leader always has insight on yet the followers are unable to see.
This portrays the leader as knowledgeable while the follower looks up to the leader. Equally, the follower is often completely rational, where the rightful methods are deterministically selected basing on the situation at hand (Lussier 365).
Personal Leadership Development Plan
- To improve on last year’s productivity by half or 50 per cent such that this year’s performance may be one-and-a-half times more than last year’s performance.
- To develop a leadership style that is flexible and visible.
- To enhance team work impact through delegation of duties.
Professional Learning Needs
I need to increase particular skills and knowledge in management so as to enable me control performance effectively as required. I also need to improve on inner individual qualities, such as confidence, commitment to attainment of change, and improve self-belief. These improvements will support the desired developments and translate to results.
I intend to put in place indicators that reflect on my actual performance in terms of providing a feedback mechanism.
The monitoring mechanism will indicate whether all the targets anticipated to be done differently were indeed achieved, and whether the leadership style being employed is competent in terms of giving desirable results. Feedback from the immediate manager will point out as to whether the performance is meeting the desired objectives or whether it is below the targeted results.
I will provide feedback concerning new processes that I intend to start, which will lead to the attainment of targeted outcomes as well as support the monitoring of benefits realised as a result of changes. Feedback on work progress and targeting will also be important.
Information also needs to be provided for purposes of performing business reviews and evaluating the overall change process for purposes of supporting re-designing in case changes do not meet the desired objectives. Measures should also point out as to whether results are being delivered accordingly and in conformation to realistic ways.
Concrete milestones must be used as perfect determinants of results achievement in order to effect the full implementation of the necessary changes in the organisation. In other words, the performance indicators will need to be accurate and sensitive.
A provision of inventory touching on all resources like money, time, people, and skills will need to be concrete and measurable. The inner organisational resources like culture and values also need to be well accounted for and ensure the resources are aligned to the task (Yost and Plunkett 56).
Leadership has been analysed and summarised into theories that distinguish different styles and application. Among the theorised styles of leadership are the situational or contigency approach and the leader member exchange theory, abbreviated as LMX. In situational leadership approach, it is assumed that leaders act in different ways in accordance with the circumstances that afflict them.
The LMX approach, on the other hand, assumes that leaders relate differently with their subordinates, either in a favourable or disfavourable manner. The directive leadership style offers that leaders have to always show the way to their followers in order for objectives to be easily realised.
Achievement leadership style determines in advance the right goals to be attained before setting out to achieve or realise the same. A personal leadership development plan will include key areas such as personal objectives, professional needs, feedback mechanism, and the resources required in order to align the skills with the expected targets.
Barker, Anne. Transformational Nursing Leadership: A Vision for the Future, New York, NY: National League for Nursing Press, 1992. Print.
Fairholm, Matthew and Fairholm Gilbert. Understanding Leadership Perspectives: Theoretical and Practical Approaches, New York, NY: Springer, 2009. Print.
Lussier, Rober. Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, Skill Development, New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Winkler, Ingo. Contemporary Leadership Theories: Enhancing the Understanding of the Complexity, Subjectivity, and Dynamic of Leadership, London: Springer, 2010. Print.
Yost, Paul and Plunkett Mannion. Real Time Leadership Development, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print.