Thursday, April 27, 2006

Leadership Styles & Patterns: A Sociocultural perspective



Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. There are normally three styles of leadership :
  • Authoritarian or autocratic
  • Participative or democratic
  • Delegative or Free Reign

Each of the above styles reflect on the the leader/followers relationships as follows:





Socio-Emotional versus Task- These two styles of leadership represent extreme forms. Most leaders tend to exhibit behaviors from both styles. Some leaders are actually high on both Task leadership and Socio-emotional leadership (combination style). However most leader favor one of these types.


  • Task Leaders- Task leaders are generally concerned with completion of tasks, accomplishment of goals, and the general effectiveness of the work group. Leaders utilizing this particular leadership style are often referred to as directive leaders. They use conditional reinforcement as a management tool. This means they tend to base rewards on performance of tasks, they differentiate among workers based on their relative contribution to the group. They also tend to show more support for given employees when these employees or group members achieve goals. Task leaders also emphasize deadlines, structure tasks, set and maintain definite standards for performance, enforce standardized procedures and generally insure that subordinates work up to capacity. Employee motivation to perform and behavioral change, rather than employee satisfaction is emphasized by the task leader. Task or directive leaders tend to specify not only desired outcomes, but desired means (behaviors) to achieve these outcomes or goals as well. Behaviors and perceptions of task leader include:

  • Main concern appears to accomplishment of group goals

  • Often appears to followers as "company man/women"

  • Solves problems by telling follows how to change their behavior

  • Rewards good performance or disciplines unacceptable behavior.

  • Meeting group goals even at the expense of individual group members

  • Socio-Emotional Leaders (Relationship Building)- Socio-emotional leaders are generally more supportive and accepting of subordinates. They tend to look out for show concern for the welfare of their subordinates. They use unconditional reinforcement, by acceptance of employees and recognition of their worth independent of task performance and goal attainment. This often comes at the expense of corrective action in that socio-emotional leader often withhold criticism, fail to point out errors, or fail to attribute blame or responsibility for poor group performance to employees or group members. They work to build up and affirm the self concept of their subordinates and group members. Employee satisfaction and the building of relationships is the dominate concern of the task leader. The socio-emotional leader's primary objective to the maintenance of a high quality relationship with group members. Building trust is the key to a high quality relationship. Relationship building behaviors include:

  • Supporting (showing acceptance, positive regard, and concern for the needs of others)

  • Making the followers feel that they are important to the success of the team

  • Bolstering the person's self concept through positive feedback and recognition of skills and worth

  • Providing assistance and guidance when needed

  • Taking time to listen to the followers' problems and showing empathy

  • Be willing to help solve followers' problems

  • Developing (increasing skills and facilitating adjustment)

  • Coaching- helping followers to analyze there own performance and skills

  • Mentoring- showing concern for the development of the followers, promoting person's reputation

  • Career development- developing skills for future jobs

  • Recognizing

  • Recognizing significant achievements, important contributions, and high effort

  • Showing true appreciation

  • Empowering followers

  • Seeking advice from followers

  • Conflict Management

  • Keep conflict de-personalized

  • Attempting to develop win-win solutions

  • Recognizing the interests and points of view of followers by the development of shared objectives

  • Combination (Task & Socio-Emotional)- This style is difficult in that it involves the use a high level of interpersonal or emotional intelligence skills. The combination leader works to accomplish group goals by making you effective and recognizing your value. To improve the group's performance, she or he is likely to involve you in the improvement process and involve you in self-diagnosis of your own contribution. You are likely to feel secure in your job and valued. Many times the difference is subtle and determined by the leader's skill in communicating lower than desired performance. Most task leaders make you believe that all they care about is the job that you do. Those who are characterized more as combination leaders also create the perception that they are concerned that you do the job well (company goals), but they are also concerned with you and your development. The combination style is very difficult, but by keeping the focus on group success and using the skills and abilities of followers to solve problems (rather than simply telling them what they did wrong) to make follows feel a part of and proud of that success, leaders approach this style.

Autocratic versus Participative Leaders- The seven basic level of participation are listed and described below. While leaders may use an number of these approaches to problem solving, they tend to have a dominate approach which they use most often
AI: Autocratic or directive style of problem solving. The leader defines problem, diagnoses problem, generates, evaluates and choose among alternative solutions.
AII: Autocratic with group information input. The leader defines the problem. Although the leader diagnoses the cause of the problem, the leader may use the group as an information source in obtaining data to determine cause. Using his or her list of potential solutions, the leader may once again obtain data from the group in evaluation of these alternatives and make a choice among them.
AIII: Autocratic with group's review and feedback. The leader defines the problem, diagnoses its causes, and selects a solution. The leader then presents his or her plan to the group for understanding, review, and feedback
CI: Individual Consultative Style. The leader defines the problem and share this definition with individual members of the work group. The leader solicits ideas regarding problem causes and potential solutions. The leader may also use these individuals expertise in evaluation of alternative solutions. Once this information is obtained, the leader makes the choice of which alternative solution to implement.
CII: Group Consultative Style. Same as CI, except the leader shares his or her definition of the problem with the group as a whole.
GI: Group Decision Style. Leader shares his or her definition of the problem with the work group. The group them proceeds to diagnose the causes of the problem. Following diagnosis, the group generates, evaluates, and chooses among solutions.
GII: Participative Style. The group as a whole proceeds through the entire decision making process. The group defines the problem and performs all other functions as a group. The role of the leader is that of process facilitator.


The follwoing diagram should illustrate the how the level of subordinates maturity impacts how often a leader will interfer with his people work, and the extent of delegation he/she is going to give:



Transformational Versus Transactional Leadership


  • Transactional Leaders- Transactional leaders views the leader-follower relationship as a process of exchange. They tend to gain compliance by offering rewards performance and compliance or threatening punishment for non performance and non compliance. The transactional leader tends to use compliance approaches 1-5 listed below, in that they attempt to tap the intrinsic process and instrumental sources of motivation.
  • Transformational Leaders- Transformational leaders, in contrast, are more visionary and inspirational in approach. They tend to communicate a clear and acceptable vision and goals, with which employees can identify and tend to engender intense emotion in their followers. Transformational leaders use compliance approaches 6-10 below in that they attempt to tap the self concept and goal identification sources of motivation. Rather than exchanging rewards for performance, transformational leaders attempt to build ownership on the part of group members, by involving the group in the decision process. When transformational leaders are success, they are able to move followers from external to internal control, that is, the desired behaviors or behavioral patterns become internalized rather than being driven through extrinsic exchange. When the behavior becomes internalized, the leader need to monitor employee behavior is greatly reduced. Transformational leaders facilitate this transition from external to internal control by:
  • Changing the mental models of employees
  • Linking desired outcomes to values held by employees
  • Creating employee ownership in outcomes so that positive outcomes validate the self concept of employees.
  • Building strong employee identification with the group or organization.


Compliance: Influence Zones
Every directive, request or command issued by a leader is not the same in the eyes of the employee. Some request involve behaviors the employee would do on his or her own, while directive would not be carried out under any circumstances. Below is a model that describes the degree of resistance a leader would encounter to various requests. The lower down on the list, the greater the resistance. The greater resistance, the more power the leader must have in relation to target to insure compliance.

  1. Preference Zone- Behaviors in the preference zone are those behaviors and activities the target actually enjoys doing and would probably do with any request.
  2. Indifference Zone- These behaviors represent activities for which the target has no preference and is indifferent to. For example, if an employee really does not care if she is assigned to the Boston office or the Providence office, this decision would lie in the indifference zone.
  3. Legitimate Zone- These are behaviors which the target would rather not do but recognizes that it his or her responsibility, as an employee to do when asked. The represent what is called Adequate Role Behavior, which defines the lower limits of acceptance work performance.
  4. Influence Zone- Behaviors in the influence zone represent tasks and activities which the target views as outside his or her normal work duties and responsibilities. To carry out these directives would mean going beyond job requirements and as such are terms Extra Role Behaviors. While the individual perceives these activities as extra roles, he or she can be motivated to perform if the proper source of motivation is tapped by the leader.
  5. Non-Influence Zone- These are behaviors in which the target would not engage under any work related circumstances.


Compliance: Influence Approaches
How does a leader get compliance to a request or directive?

  1. Enjoyment- The leader attempts to convince the target of the enjoyment he or she will experience along with compliance.
  2. Coercion- The leader uses or implies threats, frequent checking
  3. Reward- The leader offers favors, benefits, or future rewards for compliance
  4. Legitimate- The leader seeks to establish legitimacy of request by claiming the authority or the right to make it, or by verifying that it is consistent with organizational policies, rule or practices
  5. Reciprocity- The leader appeals based on feeling of debt (based on past favors) to the leader
  6. Expertise- The leader bases appeal on his/her expertise
  7. Loyalty or Identification with leader- The leader appeals to feelings of loyalty and friendship toward the leader
  8. Appeal or challenge to traits- The leader appeals to the individuals traits such team player, hard worker, or risk taker to gain compliance.
  9. Appeal to Values- The leader appeals to the individual’s values such as concern for students, concern for the environment.
  10. Appeal to Competencies and Skills- The leader appeals based on affirmation of the individuals values skills, such as good leader, or best negotiator
  11. Appeal to goals- Identification with goal- The leader attempts to show that the request is in the best interests of the group and its goals.

Leadership, in my opinion, should always be approached in a holistic way. Focusing on one or few aspects would not substantiate how each of its apects compelements the other aspects that contribute to the development of unique leaders who combine managers' tecnical skills and the personal characteristic that single them out as leaders.



1 comment:

ellenweber said...

This fits well with the MITA method of seeing multiple perspectives that leaders who are most successful tend to use to engage innovative ideas and diverse people! Thanks for the insights here! I'll be reading more on this one because you raised it...