QUESTION Participative leadership style is always more effective than autocratic/directive leadership styles. Discuss. Executive summary Academic and empirical research on workplace leadership covers wide ranging information on leadership theory and characteristics that make a leader effective. The focus of this report is to identify information on behavioural and contingency perspectives of leadership. The path-goal Leadership theory is one of the anticipated contingency theories as it includes different styles of leadership behaviours.
The main aspects of this report are a behavioural comparison, between participative and autocratic/directive leadership and the use of its positive and negative outcomes. The styles differ on the basis of the level of skill and experience required in the work place, situation, task structure and power distance. The Australian workplace is skewed towards the participative leadership aspect as compared to autocratic/directive leadership in the Asian workplace. Table of Contents Introduction Page 4 Theories of LeadershipPage 5 Leadership Theory in PracticePage 6
Leadership across Cultures and GendersPage 7 Situational factors of participative and autocratic/directivePage 9 Leadership style Conclusion and ImplicationsPage 10 ReferencePage 11 Introduction The term leadership is defined as having the power to motivate and efficiently influence a sense of achievement for members of an organisation (Mc Shane et. Al, 2010). Bennis and Nanus (1985) suggest that managers tend to focus on the process by examining if employees conduct activities the right way; while leaders focus their attention on the outcome by ensuring their firms are doing the right things.
Whilst Zaleznik (1977) suggested that in an organisation the managers and leaders are two different types of people. Therefore the managers have the ability to make choice hence maintaining the stability of business. Accordingly the leader works in an opposite direction, to build up new approaches, create new areas to investigate that will withstand long term problems. The leader and the manager, show the conditions favourable to the growth of one may be opposing to the other (Zaleznik 1977).
The leadership behaviour of a manager and the leader is dependent on an effective personality and significant levels of knowledge. The varied studies of leadership cover areas such as trait theories, behavioural and contingency theories, with the latter most theory commonly known as the path goal theory (House 1971). The four types of leadership behaviours coming under the contingency theory are autocratic/directive, supportive, achievement oriented and participative. In this report the comparison between the two leadership styles, only participative and autocratic/directive will be discussed in detail.
Organisational behaviour theories relating to the leadership style such as communication, Hertzberg’s two factory theory of motivation, goal setting and the Hofstede’s research on cultural context will be discussed in detail in this report. Leaders that implement the participative leadership style encourage and play the role of a facilitator and consultant with varied subordinates by taking ideas into account during decision making. On the other hand the autocratic / directive leader informs subordinates about a precise line of procedure by handing down specific work standards and details required of them (Bass 1990).
Theories of Leadership Leadership trait theories differentiate leaders from subordinates with a clear focus on personal qualities and characteristics. Some traits are self confidence, high tolerance of frustration, extroversion and assertiveness (Dubrin and Dalglish 2001). Behavioural theories propose characteristic behaviours that differentiate leaders from subordinates by selecting behaviours for specific groups of people through effective training (Yukl 2002). The path-goal theory of leadership examines the way leaders promote and support followers in achieving the key fundamental organisational goals via communication.
According to Mc Shane, communication is an immensely important tool for organisational learning and decision making thereby influencing organisational effectiveness (Mc Shane et. Al, 2010 p344). Effective communication minimises ‘silos of knowledge’ and improves organisational productivity. Communication also aids employee well being and builds a better work environment. Participative leaders prefer to increase the level of communication and interact with the team members and ask for opinions about alternatives, and collaborate with individuals by obtaining information from employees.
The improved communication between teams thereby results in greater organisational productivity. On the other hand the autocratic/directive leader focuses on how managers communicate and ensures operations are progressing according to procedures by indicating how workers achieve specific goals and tasks. Such leaders have personal characteristics such as high self confidence; decisiveness through an assertive nature which influence the leader to take a particular direction in problem solving.
Such leaders have spent most time providing knowledge and structuring tasks in an organisation (Rothwell 2009) According to the Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation (1986), people tend to be motivated by diverse factors. Hertzberg believed that individuals are motivated by factors a lot higher than basic needs such as career growth potential, fixed wage, interpersonal relations, and daily routine of work, hours of work and an ergonomic office which eventually leads to high self esteem (Michael and Sainfort 1989).
These were termed as the sources of satisfaction and are called motivation factors. The goal setting theory examines the process of encouraging employees and establishing performance objectives through effective role perceptions (Locke 1996). Research has shown that participation in goal setting creates higher levels of employee commitment. Participation increases goal quality, as employees have valuable information that is unknown to supervisors. There is a greater aspect in receiving feedback on the job performance by having an on – going appraisal.
Consequently in the directive style the leader himself has the authority in setting goals and specific tasks required of the employee (Rothwell 2009). Leadership Theory in Practice Communication is a very important tool in the participative leadership style, employees trust information disseminated and believe that leaders will conduct themselves in accordance with the group’s values by being loyal and committed to the group and by participating with other group members in problem solving and decision making. Listening, high levels of concentration and attentiveness play a large role.
Recent studies show that the organisations tend to participate in computer – mediated communication (CMC) especially by emails and other networks (Sammarra et. al, 2010). In contrast the directive leader allocates a particular direction outlining the rules and regulations in an employee role. An empirical study on leadership styles was conducted in several leadership schools (Gordon and Patterson 2006). Research methods used included interviews and observations; the result however indicated a lack of validity to clearly delineate the most effective leadership style.
In schools, the principle is revered as the “Leader” of the school with teachers and students having varied expectations from their “Leader”. These expectations have led to senior teachers getting involved in decision making. The practical application of the goal setting theory leads to enhanced performance on the job. It incorporates the process of planning, goal outlines, performance assessment and reward allocation. Leaders with increased work experience or high levels of education generally adopt the participative leadership style for example the I. T. ndustry being project based allows employees to work on varied deliverables resulting in greater levels of flexibility and choice. Performance reviews and reward allocation are based on the completion of these deliverables thereby making it a motivation factor for employees in this line. Directive leadership comparatively is effective in departments requiring inexperienced and unskilled labour especially in manufacturing facilities (Bass 1990). Leadership across Cultures and Genders Another organisational behaviour scholar Hofstede has conducted high levels of research on cross cultural groups and organisations (Hofstede 1980).
This section pays attribute to Thailand in particular and how it differs from westernised societies based on four cultural dimensions: “individualism – collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity – feminity and power distance’’ (Yukongdi 2010). Currently of the most recent empirical research (Yukongdi 2010) stated, that Thailand is ranked low on masculinity, competitiveness and assertiveness in society. The concept of power distance when applied to an organisational setting has led to centralisation and higher degrees of directive leadership.
This stems from the fact that organisations functioning in power distance countries are written off as centralised with considerable inequality between superiors and subordinates (House et al, 2002). Studies conducted on global leadership and organisational behaviour effectiveness (GLOBE), state that Thai employees have a culture of high power distance (Gupta et al. 2002). Employees in such societies are not as outspoken and are generally subjected to repetitive tasks in high-production environments thereby leading to the adoption of the directive leadership style.
Australian employees comparatively have relatively equal power sharing. The relationship between an employer and subordinate is one of interdependence as the boss is dependent on employees for information dissemination and consultation for decision making. This results in several western countries having low power distance. Research conducted has declared that Australian managers are wary of such a style as employees look upon their boss and is considered tedious (Avery and Ryan 2002). In Australia, many employees feel entitled to the right to be involved in major decision making.
Leaders incorporate such opportunities into performance reviews and goal setting thereby giving employees an equitable chance to be involved in such decision making, clearly indicating the practice of participative leadership. Gender plays an important aspect in the leadership style, when the autocratic/leadership style used women tend to be less competitive and skilled leaders than men. Men tend to have more flexibility in the type of leadership they adopt (Rothwell 2009). Significant research shows that women favour a participative leadership style as compared to men.
This stems from the fact that girls have been raised to be more egalitarian and less status oriented (Eagly and Carli 2003). Women tend to have better interpersonal skills than men especially regarding sensitive issues concerning employee development thereby leading to the existence of several female managers in the workplace (Mc Shane et. Al, 2010). Situational factors of participative and directive leadership The benefits of participative leadership are satisfaction of needs for competence, self control, independence and personal growth.
Some of the organisational benefits are increased performance and productivity, quality of decisions and development of subordinates’ potential. The situation where participative leadership may not be as effective is when the employee work tasks are highly predictable and repetitive with no variation in completion methods. The leader must make an urgent decision immediately with miniscule time for information collection. On the other hand directive leadership benefits are role clarity, low stress, high task structure, work and supervisor satisfaction, clear goal definition and expectations.
Organisational benefits include enhanced efficiency and or effectiveness, high quality relations among group members and reduced attrition rates. Directive leadership on the other hand can be ineffective if conducted using inappropriate procedures stemming from inopportune timing and lack of feedback resulting in employees misunderstanding a leader’s intentions. Directive leaders are ineffective in teams where members see themselves as capable and highly experienced individuals who desire to work independently without supervision.
Followers working in a cohesive group with alternate goals which differ from handed-down goals through a directive leader tend to lack inspiration in achieving goals set by leaders. Conclusion / Implications The study of leadership theories is important to all leaders and managers in an organisation regardless of the subject of work involved. This report provided an insight to the various behavioural and contingency perspectives of leadership with special attributes dedicated to the path goal theory of leadership.
Varied comparisons between autocratic / directive leadership styles indicate style preference strongly depend on team dynamics. Labour based teams in production / manufacturing facilities have resulted in the adoption of autocratic / directive leadership styles due to power distances existing between employer and subordinates as compared to the participative nature of the project based I. T. Industry. Different nations have varied power distances with Thailand scaling increased heights on the power distance scale as compared to Australia.
Gender plays an important aspect in the role of leadership style; women tend to incline towards the participative leadership in comparison to men. Workplace culture plays a strong role in style adoption which differs between varied organisational departments such as accounting and marketing. An organisation’s accounting department is home to employees strictly following strict instructions handed down by the financial controller as compared to the dynamic marketing department which is generally given a fair amount of autonomy in making sales.
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