Management and Leadership Influencing Skills

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Introduction

Leadership is a cornerstone of management and, in parallel, one of the most multidimensional concepts in this sphere of knowledge. Although the meaning of the notion seems to be apparent, developing an exact definition is a challenging task, as every particular individual regards leadership through his or her own lens. Meanwhile, the perspectives vary from person to person depending on social status, experience, and others. It is, therefore, more reasonable to describe and discuss leadership in an appropriate theoretical context than simply define it. The critical point is the unacceptability of power-based methods, oppression, and autocracy, along with the preference for mutual respect and understanding.

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Sources of Authority and Leadership Influence

It is possible to synonymize leadership as motivating or inspiring, hence describing it as the ability to organize people into a team for achieving a common goal or, probably, as the art of doing that. Involvement in such activity requires a range of features and skills that actually make an individual a leader. In accordance with one of the popular models, the so-called distributed leadership, the essential feature is authority, which determines a person’s credibility (Woods, 2016). In other words, this theory means delegating leadership to the individuals that have a certain power.

Leadership by Authority

The latter may have different forms depending on its sources that specify the ways in which the leader predominates the other team members. Social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven described five key bases of power in 1959, notably, legitimate, reward, expert, referent, and coercive (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d., para. 4). Within this paradigm, authority can be derivable from the right to command, award, or punish the other, who are, consequently, subordinate to the leader. Professional competence and attractiveness can empower those who have them as well, increasing their chances of gaining leadership.

The given approach may seem to be maximally natural as well as democratic since it considers the expectations and preferences of team members, but in fact, it has limitations. The primary drawback of leadership by authority is the lack of “a uniform hierarchy” due to the changeability of the participants’ roles (Woods 2016, p. 165). Simply stated, hardly any human being is able to have eternal authority in all spheres. Thus, the legitimate power of a president or a CEO ends immediately together with their ruling, as it belongs to a position rather than a person (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). Neither is expert power universal, which derives from intelligence, since a particular individual may outperform his or her fellows in one sphere but be outperformed in the other. Therefore, the model of such a kind is situationally appropriate rather than reliable on a long-term horizon.

It is worth mentioning that authority can be formal, positional, and informal, or personal. The former comprises the duties that a certain appointment presupposes, while the latter emerges naturally from the interpersonal relations within the work team. Notably, the employee whom the other particularly respects for certain reasons has more authority as compared to ordinary participants. Expert power that is mentioned above exemplifies this phenomenon and typically belongs to someone who is able to “understand a situation,” “suggest solutions,” and “use solid judgment” (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d., para. 16). An attractive appearance may give its owner a different type of personal power, referent, which is possible to compare with a status of a celebrity. In general, informal authority in groups derives from being outstanding, hence out-competing the other by certain criteria.

Leadership Influence

The peculiarity of both an individual who occupies a powerful position and an individual who has earned special respect for his or her personal qualities is the ability to be influential. This means to create an effect on the “behaviors, attitudes, opinions and choices of others” (Human Resources University of Florida n. d., p. 1). Without a capacity for working on the worldviews of the surrounding people, leadership is impossible since organizing and inspiring a team involves communicating the importance of the common goal to each of its members.

It is, however, not reasonable to confuse the concept of influence with those of control or manipulation since it does not utilize any force-based methods. Instead, a leader has to build relationships of trust with other team members so that they find it appropriate to rely on him or her as their supervisor (Human Resources University of Florida n.d.). This is a prolonged and frequently challenging process that involves being honest, explaining the motives of certain actions in a transparent manner, responsibility for the decisions, and meeting the expectations. An individual who behaves in such a way has a chance to become a credible leader.

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Framework for Managerial Leadership

Managerial leaders perform both of the roles that gave the name to this position; notably, they are responsible for planning and coordinating activities as well as inspiring and aligning people. Therefore, it is critical for a strong managerial leader to think strategically, be good at conflict management, and know how to overcome uncertainty and ambiguity. In addition, they should be soft and treat team members as collaborators rather than subordinates because proper attitude proves to favor self-improvement incomparably better than oppression (Rao, 2017). Such a paradigm corresponds to the definition of transformational leadership, as it allows for positive changes both in particular individuals and in the entire social system.

Communicating a Clear Vision

Although management is not completely synonymic with leadership, these activities require similar communication skills; in addition, as said above, they are combinable. Both managers and leaders have to interact effectively with the team so that all of its members have a clear understanding of the goals as well as the ways of reaching them (Chartered Management Institute 2020). This is possible solely on the condition of developing the skills that are listed and described below.

Clarity

No ambiguity is acceptable in situations where several people are to reach a certain goal, which makes it essential for their supervisors to give clear instructions. In other words, each of the team members needs to have a complete understanding of his or her role in the project as well as the desirable results. In a work environment that lacks clarity, trust and motivation are low as well, and “mediocrity is the norm” due to insufficient dedication (the Human Resources University of Florida n.d., p. 2). This determines the essentiality of instructing and explaining as the initial step towards the successful completion of the goals.

Focus

The awareness of why each of the team members is important is another helpful tool for organizing them without authority. Thus, the basics of the Cohen-Bradford influence model involve not solely prioritizing the objectives but remembering “the very reason why you want to influence these people” as well (Loehr, n.d., para. 7). In other words, a managerial leader should have a clear view of why he or she needs a certain person in the team and how such collaboration is actually or potentially beneficial. Such an approach enables separating work objectives from personal motives and focusing on the former.

Negotiation

It has already been mentioned that appropriate managerial leadership presupposes an equitable relationships among all of the participants to enable maximal unity and involvement. An effective partnership, in turn, means mutual openness, simply stated, negotiation rather than obedience. A supervisor should be able not solely to communicate his or her viewpoint to the other but listen to carefully welcome alternative opinions, and consider them as well. This is important because the purpose of the interaction both among the members of a team and between them and the leader is to reach a consensus rather than domination. In addition, showing respect to everybody is one of the most reasonable ways to strengthen the influence (Human Resources University of Florida). Being a good listener, therefore, is as important as profound speaking skills.

Motivation

This is the basis of leadership since team members do not agree to contribute to the productivity of teamwork unless they realize the sense of their actions. The supervisor’s motivation is, however, primary, as sharing the passion is among the most effective ways to “ignite” the other (Human Resources University of Florida n.d., p. 2). It is not sufficient to simply have a vision; effective communication with team members involves being enthusiastic and able to transmit the excitement to each of the participants. This apparently requires various approaches that depend on the members’ personal values, but a competent leader has to know how to find the common features.

Identification of Common Areas

Teamwork presupposes finding some common ground, which can comprise the traits, values, or benefits from the participation that the members share. Within the above Cohen-Bradford model, this requires an understanding of what is important for each of the coworkers, including the leader themselves, so that it is possible to offer anything valuable to everyone (Loehr, n.d.). This allows for better dedication as well as building relationships of trust within the team since human beings have an inclination to form stronger attachments to those with whom they have common features.

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Developing Personal Responsibility

As the duties of a managerial leader involve both planning tasks and organizing people, he or she is responsible for completing the former and the well-being of the latter, which are actually intertwined. Otherwise, it would be impossible to coordinate everybody’s actions appropriately and reach maximal productivity because personal needs would be the main priority for the participants, if not their only interest.

Maslow’s Pyramid

Maslow’s hierarchy apparently provides one of the brightest illustrations of the above. Notably, it shows that human beings are able to focus on esteem and self-actualization solely on the condition of satisfying their physiological as well as safety needs (MasterClass staff, 2020). Simply stated, few to no employees can work enthusiastically and diligently in case of, for instance, ignoring their health problems or impossibility to support themselves. Considering this, a leader has to remember that collaboration presupposes exchange; in other words, team members need sufficient reward for investing their time and effort in the company. The essential skills in this context are respect towards the other and realistic thinking that prevent a supervisor from treating coworkers as if they were robots.

Alderfer’s ERG

Other theories, such as ERG by Paul Alderfer, offer a similar view of motivation. Notably, E in the acronym stands for existence, which comprises “basic material requirements for living,” or physiological as well as safety needs (“Alderfer’s ERG Theory,” n.d., para. 10). The other two letters mean relatedness and growth, respectively, which order drives to the following conclusion. Successful completion of the goals begins with providing comfort and security to all of the members, and the next stage is developing trusting relationships both among them and between the leader and them. This, in turn, requires such skills as respect for the other’s needs, empathy, and openness to feedback.

Summary of the Necessary Skills

As apparent from the above, the level of productivity at the workplace correlates directly with that of motivation, which, in turn, derives from the corporate culture. A positive environment that is based on mutual respect and productivity boosts the enthusiasm of team members, for which reason a managerial leader has to be able to create it. For this, a competent professional needs a range of interpersonal skills.

It is critical to be aware of the needs, preferences, and values of each team member to be able to encourage and support him or her where appropriate. Specifically, all of the coworkers should understand their roles in the project as well as the benefits from participation, while the leader should realize why each of them is necessary. This mutual importance allows for a strong emotional link, due to which it may be sufficient to remind the members of their functions as well as motives to restore their enthusiasm. In addition, understanding and respecting each other’s worldviews and lifestyles promote agreeing on both the goals and the ways to achieve them sooner than it would do in an atmosphere of negligence. Therefore, a team leader should know how to identify common areas in the members and favor the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The delegation, Management Control, and Empowerment in Achieving Goals

Delegation and Management Control

Both delegation and management control are popular techniques for achieving goals, but the approaches that they employ are different. The former means shifting both authority and responsibility “for particular functions, tasks or decisions” from a manager or a leader to one of the subordinates (Hoff, 2019, para. 1). Meanwhile, management control involves a comparative analysis of planned and actual performance for identification and further correction of the difference in case there is any (Bhasin, 2019). Both techniques can improve work productivity on the condition of an appropriate application.

Primarily, delegation promotes multitasking, as it creates a possibility to focus on more than one large-scale objective in parallel. In addition, it can strengthen the relationship between the leader and team members, as giving the authority to another individual presupposes a high level of trust (Hoff, 2019). Finally, it stimulates the self-actualization of the team members, as they normally receive the tasks for which they have a propensity. For instance, delegating the supervision over a marketing department to a marketing director would lessen the load for the CEO and/or enable him or her to gain additional control over problematic areas.

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It is, however, essential to consider that delegation means spreading and sharing responsibility rather than rejecting it. Thus, in the above example, it would be unacceptable to neglect the department after assigning the supervision to the director. Instead, he or she should perform as a CEO’s assistant, which involves regular reporting and consulting when necessary. This is actually the essence of an appropriate corporate hierarchy, where both authority and responsibility grow together with the position.

Regarding management control, it involves the adaptation of the corporate policies, strategies, and plans to the changing circumstances, hence minimizing productivity losses. This requires constant awareness of the situation, which, in turn, is impossible without involvement. Therefore, it is not sufficient, for instance, to punish the employees in the trading department in case the sales are lower as compared to the plan. The manager is to identify the sources of the failures, then modify or redesign the strategies accordingly and influence the personnel to implement the innovations (Bhasin, 2019). The primary steps are to ensure that each staff member realizes the objectives and knows how to achieve them, which is the leader’s responsibility.

Empowerment

Another popular motivational technique is employee empowerment which enables and encourages the personnel to make influential work-related decisions and charge them with additional responsibility. Although this definition is similar to that of delegation, the two concepts are not synonymic, mostly because the latter “raises followers” while empowerment “raises leaders” (“Delegation and empowerment,” n.d., para. 1). Consequently, delegation is primarily applicable to critical moments, such as a period of financial downturn or an outstandingly busy season. Empowerment, by contrast, is more relevant in tranquility when there is sufficient room for creativity and experiments.

In terms of teamwork and the achievement of goals, both techniques can be effective but both require time and effort for preparation. A frequent example of empowerment is authorizing front-line employees who interact with customers directly to do that without consulting a supervisor on a constant basis. Specifically, within the so-called Ritz Carlton model, the staff have the right to make service recovery decisions up to a certain sum of dollars (Lotich, 2019). This approach has a range of advantages; notably, it relieves the administration of the necessity to respond personally to each case as well as encourages front-desk employees to evaluate the consequences of their decisions.

It is apparent from the above example that proper empowerment presupposes certain limitations, such as the maximal sum of money within which employees can pass resolutions. Otherwise, the probability of poor judgment and unwanted consequences grows considerably, especially if a team member lacks appropriate experience. Empowerment brings greater responsibility, to which a subordinate is to adapt, and it is more reasonable to do that gradually, for instance, with the help of regular in-house training that targets at developing leadership skills.

Results of Applying the Approaches

On the condition of the appropriate use, delegation and empowerment can increase the resulting influence of a manager or a leader. Notably, in the above instance, a CEO delegates the supervision of a marketing department to a director. At first sight, such a decision seems to reduce the influence of the former, as he or she shares it with another individual. In fact, however, the influence of both grows through developing a trustworthy relationship that, in turn, has several consequences. First, delegation is always based upon mutual respect, which supports the corporate culture and contributes to the workplace’s atmosphere. In addition, productive cooperation between the CEO and the marketing director can be a positive example to follow for the subordinates, hence inspiring and motivating them.

Regarding empowerment, the front-line employees in the second case gain it, which increases their authority and may seem to decrease that of the leader subsequently. In practice, this favors partnership since the team members acquire a chance to experience responsibility, simply stated, to realize what it means to have duties and make important decisions. This allows for a better mutual understanding between them and the manager, improving the climate in the workplace and, consequently, work productivity.

Conclusion

Both concepts of leadership and management are strongly associated with authority, which is, however, not quite appropriate. The main disadvantage of such an approach is the lack of a clear hierarchy, as the authority is possible to gain and lose, depending on the circumstances. Therefore, it is more reasonable to build leadership on influence, in other words, the ability to change the opinions as well as behaviors of other people. This, in turn, requires respect for their needs and peculiarities along with well-developed communicative skills. These characteristics are mandatory for a good managerial leader because they enable the development of relations of trust and partnership that are incomparably more productive than power-based methods of control.

Reference List

Alderfer’s ERG theory. (n.d.) Web.

Bhasin, H. (2019) Management control: Meaning, types, & features of management control. Web.

Delegation and empowerment. (n.d.) Web.

Hoff, N. (2019) Delegation defined… and applied. Web.

Leading by influence. (n.d) Web.

Loehr, A. (n.d.) How to influence others without authority. Web.

Lotich, P. (2019). 13 examples of empowered employees. Web.

MasterClass staff. (2020) A guide to the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Web.

Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.) French and Raven’s five forms of power: Understanding where power comes from in the workplace. Web.

Rao, M. S. (2017) The importance of managerial leaders in the 21st century. Web.

Woods, Ph. A. (2016) ‘Authority, power and distributed leadership, Management in Education, 30(4), pp. 155-160. Web.

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