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The assignment gives an example situation of Wassmiah, a leader in a hospital, and describes a management style. The style in question is characterized by strict roles, the leader’s direct involvement in distributing tasks, rewards for good performance and punishments for failing to meet goals. This essay will examine the provided example, explain the elements of leadership style described in it, discuss its strong and weak sides, including the effects on employee motivation, and, finally, offer suggestions for improvement.
Identification and Description
Wassmiah’s leadership style is best described as transactional with some authoritarian traits. This is evidenced by its focus on short-term goals and heavy reliance on management by exception (punishing employees for bad performance) and contingent rewards. Wassmiah’s style falls under an active kind of management by exception, where the leader “watches followers closely for mistakes or rule violations and then takes corrective action” (Northouse, 2018, p. 275). A strict hierarchy with well-defined individual roles and the leader’s hands-on approach to crisis resolution represents the authoritarian side of Wassmiah’s style. Overall, the example demonstrates more traits of the transactional approach.
One of the main benefits of the transactional style of leadership is employee motivation. As Deichmann and Stam (2015) observe, it can be “more motivating to followers as it gives them clear direction and appropriate rewards for accomplished goals” (p. 215). In Wassmiah’s case, this seems to be true, as “employees are interested in obtaining the various rewards.” This is especially evident in the case of inexperienced or unambitious employees, who would greatly benefit from clear and unambiguous feedback on their performance.
Another advantage of setting specific goals for an organization makes its overall performance easy to measure. Simply by evaluating the metrics applied to its employees, one can assess how well the group’s goals are met. This information allows identifying problematic areas and shortcomings that need to be addressed. Because of this property, the transactional style is effective in crisis situations when urgent changes are necessary, or in guiding failing companies to recovery.
Wassmiah’s direct approach to employee organization, as evidenced, minimizes employee conflict and work redundancy. By issuing orders directly, they can make all essential decisions themselves, thus ensuring that everyone has straightforward, complementary, and well-coordinated roles. Furthermore, the near-constant oversight and guidance mean that employees have little time when they are idle, without a task, or have difficulty with their current assignment. Ultimately, this allows an organization to be much more efficient, to the extent of the leader’s ability to micromanage.
The focus on short-term goals characteristic of the transactional style of leadership makes it efficient and stable. The benefits of micromanagement and robust organizational structure, as mentioned previously, mean that there are little to no idle periods for employees. Furthermore, a clear and objective-based structure allows for relatively easy and reliable identification of problem areas and consequent deployment of solutions. Therefore, short-term issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently as they arise.
Most of the transactional leadership’s problems stem from the same fundamental principles as its advantages. The focus on short-term stability and smooth operation means the organization is less prepared for the future. The example mentions no long-term plan or vision for Wassmiah’s hospital. The organization may find it difficult to adapt as its environment changes, which happen increasingly often in the modern world. While not unique to the transactional style of leadership, such a failure to foresee and adapt to change is known to have caused multiple large, industry-leading enterprises, such as Nokia and Blockbuster, to fail. A long-term plan and vision for the future are necessary for an organization’s continued survival.
Although less interested or unskilled employees can find encouragement in clear goals and rewards, ones who are more involved with the organization and its goals may find themselves stifled by its rigid structure. Such employees are likely to find the contingent rewards insufficient for their ambitions. Alternatively, contingent rewards and penalties can reduce motivation, and “especially if financial incentives are seen as controlling, they can crowd out intrinsic motivation” (Jensen et al., 2019, p. 10). Therefore, one must take care when designing those incentives or disincentives.
Like any authoritarian approach to management, Wassmiah’s style relies heavily on a single person’s authority and experience. This lack of input from other specialists can cause the organization’s priorities to become skewed over time. As a consequence, preventable crises might be allowed to escalate because their cause factors are not noticed in time. Similarly, opportunities for profit, development, or innovation might be missed by the leader. Furthermore, the organization’s stability would be significantly compromised should a leader become unavailable for an extended period — for example, due to sickness. Therefore, authoritarian leadership tends to be inefficient in the long term.
Due to Wassmiah’s hands-on approach, employees can become dependent on oversight for motivation. As evidenced by the example, the hospital employees might lose focus once they stop feeling observed. This is true under both of McGregor’s theories of motivation. Under Theory X, employees do not want to work and need to be brought into action in some way, such as the promise of a reward or threat of punishment. Once no longer observed, they might lose interest in their work. Under Theory Y, employees are self-motivated, but without a clear goal or vision to work towards, they may find it difficult to find opportunities to decide on tasks for themselves. This once again highlights the importance of a long-term plan for an organization’s success and employee motivation.
Wassmiah’s transactional and authoritarian styles can be complemented by two things: a more democratic approach and a vision. The former would allow workers to voice their issues, allow the leader to identify their grievances, and significantly improve motivation. It would provide more opportunities for personal and professional improvement, benefiting the organization as a whole. The latter, while also helping with motivation, would fit well with the organization’s goal-oriented structure by providing more long-term and abstract objectives. Such objectives will, in turn, work to prevent stagnation in the future. Both of these suggested elements are a part of the transformative style of leadership.
A strong vision or well-defined long-term goal is one of the core characteristics of the transformative leadership style. A transformative leader is capable of creating “a convincing vision that stimulates strong feelings, which contribute to increasing the perception of subordinates about ideal goals and contribute to inspiration to overcome their own interest” (El Toufaili, 2018, p. 131). In the case provided, this improvement should improve employee motivation when they are not being observed. Furthermore, a well-defined goal would enhance the organization, as “contingent reward of transactional leadership becomes more positively related to project success as the level of project goal clarity increases” (Aga, 2016, p. 523). It has been suggested that this approach complements the transactional method Wassmiah demonstrates. Dartey-Baah (2015) argues that a more recent style, known as resilient leadership, is a combination of the two rather than a distinct approach. He claims that this combination “embodies elements of an ideal leadership approach needed to solve the challenges of the present, while focusing on addressing future challenges” (Dartey-Baah, 2015, p. 106). Overall, the transformative style is a strong complement to the transactional style.
The transformative style has a strong emphasis on democratic workplace practices, referred to in its definition as individualized consideration. It describes “leaders who provide a supportive climate in which they listen carefully to the individual needs of followers” (Northouse, 2018, p. 272). Individualized consideration would also improve employee motivation, as “employees became more engaged in their work (i.e., vigor, dedication, and absorption) when their supervisors were able to boost employees’ optimism” (Northouse, 2018, p. 274). Furthermore, an effective exchange of ideas afforded by it would allow the leader to exploit the creative ability of employees productively to obtain innovative solutions for their routine problems. (Jaiswal & Dhar, 2015). Ultimately, this is a powerful mechanism that helps with an organization’s long-term development and prevents stagnation, which is a common problem with the transactional style.
Wassmiah’s organization seems to be stable, but with a significant risk of stagnation in the long term. This is due to the leader’s transactional, somewhat authoritarian, style, which focuses on short-term performance. Furthermore, while the employees’ motivation is high, it relies on contingent rewards and micromanagement, which limits their opportunities for innovation and creativity and requires near-constant supervision. Although some might thrive in such a controlled environment with little ambiguity, others will find it stifling. The most significant issue with the current state of Wassmiah’s organization is the lack of a long-term plan, goal, or vision. One suggestion is shifting to a more transformative style of leadership, which would include formulating such a vision, as well as providing employees with more opportunities for feedback. Overall, introducing those elements is an excellent complement to the present situation, as it allows to compensate for its existing drawbacks without diminishing its strong points.
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