Leadership is a factor that can determine how organizations will perform. Much of the organization’s output and achievement rely on its leaders because of the influence such leaders wield on their subordinates. This paper explores the insights of leaders about how their leadership impacts organizational performance. It is worthwhile to get first-hand information from leaders themselves so that they can assess how their leadership styles affect the people they lead and the organizations they run. Sharing their knowledge on what should be done to help organizations achieve their goals and earn the success everyone longs for is also a valuable endeavour.
Definition and Description of the Topic
Leadership has been defined in various ways. One definition of leadership is “the process through which an individual attempts to intentionally influence another individual or a group in order to accomplish a goal” (Shortnell & Kaluzny, 2000, p. 109). This implies that the leader is given the power to bring people together to work in fulfilling tasks that contribute to the success of the organization. With the leader’s able guidance and supervision, a team can be steered towards the direction it needs to take, and hopefully, its journey will lead it to success.
Because the topic of leadership has been well-studied, several models have been designed to explain various leadership styles. One model is by Blake & Mouton (1985) which has garnered wide interest from the business community and has been used to analyze leadership approaches. The following grid illustrates their model:
Manktelow & the Mind Tools Team (2014)
This model identifies four kinds of leadership and their respective impact on the organization. The kind of leadership is based on the leader’s position on two axes, namely the “concern for people axis” and the “concern for production or task axis”.
The Country Club leader scores high in his concern for people and relationships but low in his concern for production and tasks. This is the kind of leader who wants to keep everyone in his team happy, so he uses a lot of rewards and incentives for people to work on their tasks. This leader is averse to punishment if the team does not achieve their quota. It is because of his fear of jeopardizing his relationship with them. In effect, the team members may tend to be complacent in their tasks and may exploit the leader’s kindness by being laid back and unconcerned with meeting deadlines or requirements. On the other hand, if the leader’s team members truly appreciate his benevolence, they can also take the initiative to work harder to please him. It is up to the leader how to maintain the team’s motivation to be productive at work.
The Team Leader scores high in his concern for his people and his relationships with them as well as scoring high in his concern for their production in the organization. He is able to maintain his friendliness towards his staff while being efficient in motivating them to do their tasks well. He can be strict with them, at times, to produce the results he wants for the organization. This kind of leader is the best because not only are the team members happy and content with his leadership but they are also pushed to contribute much to the organization. On the other hand, the worst identified kind of leader in this model is the Impoverished leader who scores low on both task/production, and people and relationships. This kind of leader is inefficient because of his pattern of “delegating and disappearing” without having any responsibility for his actions. He does not care about what his team members think or feel and just allows them to do what they want.
He is not committed to increasing the team’s productivity and is nonchalant about the impact his leadership has on the organization. Hence, his team members have low morale and are not motivated enough to perform well. Finally, the Produce or Perish or Authoritarian leader may not be concerned about his people but is highly concerned about their productivity. This leader’s main priority is the accomplishment of the tasks he gives his team, uncaring of their personal situations. He does not emphasize cooperation and collaboration but is only concerned about his commands being carried out. He may be viewed as a cold and impersonal individual and does not accept any excuse for delay or non-delivery of results because his mind is set that his way is the only way possible. The impact of his leadership on the team is low morale of the members. However, they are still pushed to their limits in being productive. This is because he does not expect anything less from them.
Another model of leadership discusses what effective leaders practice. This is the Five Leadership Practices Model by Kouzes & Posner (2007). This does not identify a particular type of leadership but instead, reports what good leaders do to make their team members follow them willingly. It has been found that such practices lead the whole team towards success. These effective leadership practices are being able to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage team members. It is believed that if leaders follow these five positive practices with their members, they are assured to earn positive outcomes from them. In turn, it will also bring the organization gainful results.
Data and Results
Short questionnaires were emailed to 8 selected leaders of various organizations, but only 5 returned their completed questionnaires. Since this is a qualitative research method with a very small number of participants, numerical results were not obtained. The chosen participants were instructed to answer each of the following questions concisely and honestly:
- In your opinion, how do you define leadership?
- How do you describe your own leadership?
- How does your leadership affect your organization and the people under you?
- Any recommendations for future leaders?
Leader 1: Director of a Nursing Home
- For me leadership is being able to share my vision with my subordinates so we all work on the same goals
- I can be strict as a leader when it comes to work and my staff knows that I mean business. I check on the smallest details and am serious when I do the rounds. But outside of work, they also know I am easy to get along with. I reward their hard work with good times like I treat them out once in a while when they have been good workers. We all share a great working relationship. Our patients are happy.
- I guess my style of leadership works because my staff has been very efficient. We earn high satisfaction ratings from our stakeholders. Sometimes, it gets stressful at work and I cannot help but be picky, and that drives them crazy, but it also pushes them to do their jobs well. I make it a point to resolve issues, especially personal grievances as soon as I can. It is like keeping my machine well-oiled with a sufficient amount of warmth and humor.
- Take your leadership role seriously because so many people depend on you. Leaders are very influential. Whatever you decide consequently affects everyone in the organization.
Leader 2: High School Teacher
- Leadership is the ability to inspire and influence people to achieve their goals.
- As a teacher, leadership is inherent in my job. I need to be sensitive to the needs of my students and assess what strategies work for them so that we can have a harmonious and productive relationship.
- I need to be consistent with these kids. Even if I am like a mother to them and can be nurturing to them, I can be firm with them when I ask them to do their tasks well. If I let one or two students get away with a low or average output, the rest will follow suit, so I keep pushing everyone to work hard. I want them to maximize their potentials.
- Work hard but maintain a good balance in your life. Take time to enjoy the people around you because they are the ones who can help you fulfill your goals.
Leader 3: Store Manager
- It is something some people are born with but is also something that can be developed. It involves the skill in managing people well and making them do things you ask them to without being bossy or manipulative. It also involves gaining respect from your people.
- I am pretty lax in my leadership because I trust and respect my people. They have been working with me for many years now and because they know their jobs and they do it well, I just supervise them and not order them around.
- We all work great together. Perhaps it is because there are just 9 of us working together, and for a long time now, that we all jive. Being the manager, I still have the last say but they know they are free to suggest or criticize. Their loyalty has earned them the right to be heard.
- Develop a great team. Choose your people well… those whose personalities do not clash with yours. But if one or two do, try to resolve it early on. Still, if it does not work out, it’s better you let them go. It is not worth the stress dealing with difficult people working with you.
Leader 4: Human Resource Manager
- Leadership entails much collaboration and common passion shared among leaders and followers with the leader having the final say.
- I am fortunate to work well with my followers and together, we achieve our goals.
- I am fairly easy to get along with and my staff knows that. But when I am disappointed with the quality of their work, I reprimand them and give them the consequences they deserve. Eventually, the good workers remain good or even improve but the bad ones become good in the end. I am proud of being feared but loved as a leader.
- Be fair and develop commitment in your followers.
Leader 5: Marketing Director
- In my opinion, leadership is being able to command respect and compliance to rules from one’s members.
- My leadership is very professional. When it’s work, it’s work… fun comes later when we deserve it already.
- Although I maintain close ties with my members, when we work together, there is no room for pleasantries so we get done soon enough. I make my team focus on work and we do a pretty amazing job that way.
- Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep your focus and if you work hard enough, success will be in your hands.
Most of the participants seemed to project themselves positively as leaders and in analysing their answers to the questionnaire, their position on the Blake and Mouton Grid was identified.
Leaders 1, 2 and 4 are Team Leaders, high in concern for both relationships with their people and in their concern for their productivity. Leader 3 seems to be a Country Club leader who fully trusts her staff and lets them do their jobs the way they deem appropriate. Leader 5 seems to be the Produce or Perish or Authoritarian leader who is mostly concerned with the production of his team. Regardless of their labels from Blake and Mouton’s model, all the leaders in this study report that their kind of leadership has made positive impact on their organizations. It is evident that they practice Kouzes and Posner’s recommended practices of challenging, inspiring, enabling, being good role models to and encouraging their members in their implementation of leadership duties. Their work environments have been reported as pleasant and the workers who work under them as happy and productive.
Summary and Conclusions
Leaders perform their roles in various ways. The five leaders of various organizations who participated in this study shared their leadership styles and how it impacted their respective organizations. All emphasized the need to establish harmonious relationships with their followers in order to collectively be successful in achieving organizational goals. The leaders maintained various degrees of concern for relationships with their followers and concern for the tasks necessary to be completed, reflecting Blake and Mouton’s model of leadership styles. All claim to be successful as long as positive relationships are maintained with their people. Some report that they can delineate personal relationships from professional ones. They claim that they are able to focus on shared visions and goals for the organization with their members.
It is apparent that no matter what style of leadership they have, abiding by Kouzes and Posner’s effective leadership practices of challenging, inspiring, enabling, being good role models to and encouraging team members is all worth the effort because it brings about success for them as leaders and for the organization.
Organizations should strike a balance between establishing harmonious relationships within the work force and upholding a high standard of performance in the members. It is the leaders’ role to oversee that such a balance is maintained. Hence, it is recommended that organizational leaders be consistently trained in maintaining pleasant personal and professional relationships with people as well as in supervising their members’ performance to ensure that they are delivering the quality of output expected of them. They should also learn to practice Kouzes & Posner’s recommended effective practices of leaders: challenging, inspiring, enabling, being good role models to and encouraging their team members.
Blake, R. R. & Mouton, J. S. (1985). The managerial grid III: The key to leadership excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.
Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2007). The leadership challenge, (4th ed.) San Francisco, Ca: Jossey- Bass.
Manktelow, J. & the Mind Tools Team (2014). The Blake Mouton managerial grid. Web.
Shortnell, S. M. & Kaluzny, A.D. (2000). Health care management: organization, design and behavior, Albany, N.Y.: Delmar Publishers.