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Leadership Theory

In the early Ohio State leadership study we learn that effective leaders embodied a considerate character in their relations with their peers and subordinates; Always showed a personal concern for their interpersonal relationships. The effective leader was also showing concern for the accomplishments of tasks, and therefore came up with structures to be followed by subordinates as well as the leader and peers. The leader further coordinated activities among different subordinate. In the Michigan Leadership study, we learn that effective leaders demonstrated three particular traits lacking in other leaders. These are: task-oriented behaviour where the manager concentrated on tasks that ensure that subordinates are able to accomplish their tasks. These tasks include planning, technical assistance or scheduling of equipment. Secondly, the effective leader displayed a relation-oriented behaviour becoming more helpful to subordinates and showing appreciation as well as recognizing outstanding work by subordinates. Thirdly, the leaders showed a characteristic of participation such that supervision is undertaken as a group task and the leader provides guidance for the group.
Questionnaires have been the most study method used in the research on effective leadership. Unfortunately, results from this method have provided two difficult problems of interpretation. The first is that behaviour description questionnaires showed biases. They use ambiguous questions whose response is subject to the respondent’s interpretation of the question. Secondly, questionnaires are subjected to respondents who may show personal bias and respond in the same way on different questions so that answers reflect the wishes of the respondent instead of actual unbiased facts. Apart from displaying bias errors, questionnaires suffered the interpreting causality when used in survey studies. This was caused by the difficulty in assigning the direction of causality when a significant correlation was found between leader behaviour provided by subordinates and criterion measures.
Critical incident studies are research methods that use behaviour response incidents collected using interviews or questionnaires to a large number of respondents. The approaches tell us that effective leaders show the behaviour of planning, and coordination, supervising subordinates, creating and maintaining good relationships with their subordinates as well as superiors, peers and outsiders. Lastly, they assume responsibility for decisions, following of organization policies and performing duties. The high-high theory of management states that effective leaders show a great concern for people as well as production. However an evaluation of research into the theory does not validate the theory. Instead, research finds out that effective leaders use a mix of the two without being great at both of them so that their behaviours simultaneously show concern for both people and task. The leader is able to reflect this by emphasizing on how they behaved while interacting with subordinates rather than when they interacted.
Taxonomy behaviour constructs provide a categorization of identified behaviour that is relevant and meaningful to all leaders. This has allowed studies to produce the same sort of behaviours categories making it easy to integrate the studies’ results. Different taxonomies proposed by different theorists show a major difference because behaviour categories are not tangible attributes of the real world but they are abstractions. Secondly reason for the difference is that behaviour construct can be created on different generalities. Such that same taxonomies contains a mix of constructs at different levels of abstraction which results in further confusion. The method used in the development of the taxonomy is also responsible for the differences observed in taxonomies. When more than one method is used, the outstanding method becomes more important than the rest when selecting behaviour categories. During comparison of taxonomies the difference becomes apparent as each uses a different number of behaviours, levels of abstraction and range of behaviours.
Planning allows an effective manager to properly engage subordinates in accomplishing tasks. Clarifying of roles and objectives forms the core of the initiating structure behaviour of the manager and monitoring operations and performance facilitates the effectiveness of other behaviours. Specific relations behaviours are important in demonstrating a concern for people. They are namely; supporting which results to less absenteeism as well as a reduction in other non-favourable behaviours of subordinates like alcoholism. Secondly, developing offers mutual cooperative relationship as it allows subordinates faster career advancement. Lastly, recognizing allows the manager to communicate using symbolism their values and priorities. Recognitions occur in the form of praise, awards and recognition ceremonies.
To sum up, between 1950s and mid-1980s effective leadership research demonstrated a focus on two behaviours. In recent years, meta-categories have been embraced in research. Behavioural taxonomies have also served as descriptive aids for us to understand better complex events after analysing them. To show consideration and concern for a person’s feelings, managers use supporting, developing and recognition as relations-oriented behaviours. On the other hand to demonstrate task-oriented behaviour effective managers use planning, clarifying and monitoring. Planning will involve decisions on objectives and their priorities while clarifying will include assigning of tasks and finally monitoring will include getting feedback needed for evaluation. The findings of this chapter have built on the description of a manager form the previous chapter and carryon to become specific on effective managers.

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