Styles of Organizational Leadership

Abstract

The focus of this study was to review a range of styles of leadership that organizations often employ to achieve specific goals. The paper was based on a journal article that focused on investigating the level of satisfaction of various leadership styles in an organizational setting. Their study shows that different organizational styles can be used in varying circumstances. Although transformational leadership is increasingly becoming popular in modern society, there are cases when other leadership approaches may be more appropriate. A leader must understand which style is appropriate for each situation.

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Introduction

Leadership is critical in any organizational setting, and the approach that a leader takes to govern his or her people defines how successful the group or organization can be. According to Metcalf and Benn (2013), leadership has been transforming over the years. Many organizations are now embracing new styles of leadership that can facilitate close engagement between top managers and junior employees. Advanced education is empowering employees, and it has become necessary for leaders to appreciate that new power and to tap it in a positive way for the success of their organization. Limbare (2012) says different situations may require different styles of leadership. The approach that one takes when handling recruits in an entity that needs to learn is different from the approach that is required when handling highly experienced and knowledgeable employees within a firm.

The leadership approach that one embraces can be motivating or demoralizing, depending on the perception of the governed. It can promote or discourage learning and innovation. Ghaleb and Orabi (2016) warn that in many cases targets fail to be realized because of the inability of the leader to understand the appropriate leadership style that is needed based on the prevailing forces. A leader needs to understand his or her people, define goals and objectives to be achieved, determine systems and structures that can facilitate the process of realizing the goals. He or she should then select the most appropriate leadership style to use (Carter & Greer, 2013). This paper will be based on the article by Rothfelder, Ottenbacher, and Harrington (2013), although the works of other scholars will also be incorporated. Thesis: In this paper, the researcher seeks to explore various leadership styles, especially the transformational, cross-cultural, and democratic approaches, which have gained popularity in the recent past, and how they can be applied in a practical organizational context.

Appropriateness of the Title to the Focus of the Study

It is important to determine the appropriateness of the topic of the primary article used in this paper. The article should facilitate a detailed understanding of various leadership styles and their relevance in modern organizations. The topic of the article, the impact of transformational, transactional, and non-leadership styles on employee job satisfaction in the German hospitality industry, is very appropriate for the focus of the study (Rothfelder et al., 2013). As Metcalf and Benn (2013) states, within a specific organization, it is possible to find cases where different styles of leadership are necessary. It is the responsibility of those trusted with leadership to know when it is appropriate to use different styles based on the current needs. The title of this study focuses on the various styles of leadership, which are employed by the given organization under varying needs. The topic of this article will support our research. It will facilitate a review of the literature where the researcher will look at a range of existing leadership styles and cases where they are necessary. The review of the literature will help in justifying the main leadership approaches common at this company. The topic also shows that primary data collection will be necessary. The researcher will need to collect primary data from the participants to determine the leadership style used in the selected organization.

Research Problem

In the current competitive business environment, the success of a firm depends on the leadership approach that the management embraces. Limbare (2012) says that creativity and innovation are increasingly becoming tools that can enable a firm to achieve success in the market. However, the learning culture and innovation must be cultivated among employees. People in leadership must know how to empower their subordinates through regular training. The subordinates should also be provided with an environment where they can be creative in their respective assignments (Chaudhry & Javed, 2012).

Many organizations fail to achieve their objectives because of the poor leadership style that they embrace. A leader must understand when it is appropriate to coach employees, motivate them towards a given direction, or let them work in their respective fields with minimal supervision possible. The leadership style that a firm embraces not only affects the internal stakeholders but external stakeholders as well. A company can only realize its vision and strategic goals if it employs the right leadership skills and strategies. The research problem can be looked at using various theoretical concepts. The problem is very significant, especially in the current business environment where companies face different challenges, the top of which includes dealing with competition and management of talent. A firm that fails to manage its talent cannot effectively deal with the stiff competition in the market. The chosen article gives detailed insight into the research problem.

Review of Literature

The article by Rothfelder et al. (2013) provides a detailed review of the literature about the chosen topic. The literature is relevant to my topic because it looks at a variety of leadership styles and the manner in which they should be applied. Through the literature review, it will be possible to understand popular leadership styles used in modern society and contexts where they are appropriate. In this section of the paper, the researcher will look at common leadership approaches that have been in use in different organizations under varying circumstances as explained in the article and other related articles talking about the same topic. The following are the popular leadership styles:

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Autocratic Leadership

According to Rothfelder et al. (2013), autocratic leadership is one of the oldest leadership styles that have been used in various organizational settings. In this approach, everything is centered on the boss who enjoys immense power. Such a leader can decide to embrace a given strategy without consulting anyone, and the followers are expected to obey such decisions without question. Autocratic leaders tend to enjoy a unique power over their subordinates, and it enables them to rule without being questioned (De-Vries, 2012). They may enjoy powers to punish or even dismiss an employee at will without any significant consequence. The subordinates, for fear of punishment or dismissal without warning, are forced to obey the leader at all times. Such leaders often govern with fear, and rarely do their followers be allowed to make independent decisions. They are required to receive instruction and follow them keenly (Choudhary, Akhtar, & Zaheer, 2013). This style of leadership is increasingly becoming less popular in modern society where leaders need to engage employees in decision-making. However, it may be necessary in cases where a leader needs to iron out bad elements such as underperformers or inciters within an organization.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership is another style of governance that is gaining popularity in the modern organizational setting. In this approach, subordinates are actively involved in the decision-making process (Ghaleb & Orabi, 2016). The leader appreciates the need to engage the junior officers and to delegate some responsibilities to them whenever it is necessary. The subordinates understand that they have a role to play in the decision-making process, but appreciate the fact that the final decision must be made by the leader. Democratic leadership style is very appropriate when a leader is handling highly knowledgeable and talented subordinates. The leader appreciates that it is possible that the subordinates would be in a better position to interpret a given situation. As such, an environment is created that allows them to share their views and to be active in the decision-making processes. Communication, honesty, creativity, fairness, competence, and courage are attributes, which are highly encouraged in this style of leadership. However, Limbare (2012) warns that it is important to ensure that this approach of leadership is not abused, especially when subordinates fail to respect the authority of the leader.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership, according to Metcalf and Benn (2013), emphasizes the consistent introduction of change in an organizational setting. Transformational leaders know how to motivate their subordinates so that they can deliver better results than they originally believed they could. Such a leader must first understand the current capacity of the employees. He or she should then work out ways of making these employees achieve even greater results. The leaders work with targets. When the subordinates meet the initial target, a new higher target is set to ensure that the employees can stretch themselves to the limit in terms of performance (Ng & Sears, 2012). A transformational leader should be capable of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the employees. When working with the subordinates, the leader will always focus on helping them fight their weaknesses while at the same time taking maximum advantage of their strengths. In many cases, transformational leaders have satisfied and more committed followers. The commitment and satisfaction arise from the fact that the primary goal of the leader is to empower the employees constantly and enable them to achieve greater results, some of which may be beyond their expectations. Limbare (2012) says that in the current competitive business environment, transformational leadership is one of the most popular styles of leadership because of the need to ensure that employees are constantly motivated and effectively empowered to deliver the best results in their respective workplaces.

Cross-Cultural Leadership

In the current globalized society, it is common to find organizations, which are highly diversified in terms of race, religion, level of education, gender, age, and many other demographical factors of the employees. Limbare (2012) says that people tend to be unique in their way of thinking as defined by their demographical factors. In such an environment, a leader must be careful not to embrace an approach of governing that a section of the employees may consider retrogressive. Cross-cultural leadership focuses on managing such diversified groups. Such a leader must understand the diversity of the workforce, and the manner in which it makes them unique. In such an organizational setting, people often prefer grouping based on their race, religion, level of education, and gender among other factors. A cross-cultural leader should break such demographical barriers and encourage these employees to engage other people who may not necessarily share their backgrounds.

Laissez-faire Leadership

According to Metcalf and Benn (2013), the laissez-faire leadership approach is a unique style of governing employees. When using this style, a leader is expected to give the subordinates maximum freedom at all times. A leader in such a system is not expected to interfere with the work of the employees unless it is very necessary. The subordinates would make reports to the leader in a manner they consider appropriate. This style of leadership is common when handling highly specialized subordinates who are self-driven and capable of delivering the best results with minimal supervision (Ghaleb & Orabi, 2016). It also works well when a leader has to work with subordinates who are more skilled and experienced than the leader is in that particular field. As such, it becomes necessary for the leader to allow them to work with minimal interference. However, it is important to note that it is less popular and less effective than other leadership styles discussed above. Other more popular leadership styles include transactional leadership, coaching leadership, and charismatic leadership. A leader should understand the prevailing forces in the environment and then come up with the most appropriate leadership style that can be used to manage employees to deliver the best results.

Research Method

In this section, it is important to discuss the research method that was used to tackle and answer the research problem in the article by Rothfelder et al. (2013). It will help readers to understand the manner in which the conclusion made in the study was arrived at and the relevance of applying the findings to a specific organization.

Data Collection Method

In this article by Rothfelder et al. (2013), data was collected from two main sources. Secondary data came from books, journal articles, and reliable online sources. They formed the basis of the literature review in the article. Primary data was obtained from a sample of respondents from a selected group. It was important to get their view about the impact of transformational, no-leadership, and transactional styles of governance used in their organization. The researchers developed a simple questionnaire as an instrument to help in the data collection process. The instrument was used to collect the needed data from the respondents.

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Sampling

Sampling was used in this study to help the three researchers in the collection of primary data from the field. The researchers were able to identify 116 participants through a simple random sampling method, but only 101 participated in the study. The researchers ensured that there was a proper balance for the participants in a managerial and non-managerial position to enhance the reliability of data by reducing bias among the respondents.

Statistical Analysis

The primary data that the researchers collected from the participants were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Quantitative analysis was used to help in demonstrating the popularity of the leadership styles and their impact on the organization. Statistical evaluation of data was considered appropriate in identifying the most appropriate in determining the appropriate leadership style. Qualitative analysis was used to determine the relevance of various leadership styles in different management contexts. In this article, the researchers used a t-test to determine job satisfaction when using appropriate styles of leadership within an organization.

Possible Sources of Error

The researchers made an effort to control major sources of error that could influence the results of their study. One of the possible sources of error was a personal bias of the respondents who were involved in the primary data collection. The researchers made an effort to avoid personal bias when identifying the respondents, collecting data from them, and analyzing the collected data. Collecting data from managers and non-management employees also reduced bias among the respondents.

Summary of Results

The results obtained from the analysis of primary data were presented in a clear manner in this article. In their analysis, the researchers focused on comparing the impact of the three leadership approaches (transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire) on job satisfaction. They conducted a regression analysis, and the results show that transformational leadership has the highest level of job satisfaction among the sampled respondents at 0.80 (Rothfelder et al., 2013). The majority of the respondents stated that they felt motivated when undertaking their jobs when a leader embraced the transformational leadership style. It helped them in discovering unique talents that they never knew they had, especially when positively challenged to deliver greater results. They noted that when this approach of governance is used, the subordinates are offered an opportunity to test their new skills and talent at their workplace without the fear of possible reprisals from the top leaders. The style also promotes the empowerment of the employees through regular training and gives them an opportunity to participate actively in the process of decision-making within their organization. The analysis shows that transformational leaders are critical when a firm is running under a strict budget and is under pressure to meet the set goals. Such a leader can break down the strategic goals of the organization into specific tasks to be undertaken by individuals or groups of people (Samad, 2012).

The results show that transactional leadership is common but not a very popular form of leadership in an organizational setting. It had a value of 0.02 as per the regression analysis conducted. The respondents stated that transactional leadership is a short-term based approach to leadership that should be used only on a given set of conditions. It may be necessary when undertaking a project within a firm that needs to be completed on specific terms and conditions. It can be used alongside other more popular forms of leadership such as the transformational approach to governance. Laissez-faire was found to be the least satisfying style of leadership that an organization can use. The regression analysis results show that it had a value of -0.6 based on the data collected from the respondents (Rothfelder et al., 2013). Instead of having a positive impact like the other two approaches of leadership, it has a negative effect on both the employees and the managers. To the employees, the lack of direction from the leaders that are always characterized by a laissez-faire approach to leadership makes it impossible to achieve success in an organizational setting. It is important to have a leader who can correct the subordinates when they make mistakes and encourage them when they are working as per the expectations of the stakeholders (Ghaleb & Orabi, 2016). To the leaders, this approach of governance takes away their oversight authority. They are reduced to minor players in the activities of their employees, with minimal authority to direct, correct, encourage, or even punish employees whenever it is necessary.

Limitations of the Study

The researchers identified a number of limitations in their study, which is worth noting when interpreting the findings. One of the main limitations was the use of 101 participants in this important project. The researchers felt that this was a small sample size given that it was to be used for generalization to the entire population. The researchers felt that the issue of diversity was not effectively covered enough to facilitate the generalization of the findings. The researchers also emphasized on the fact that data was collected in Germany. Popular culture and practices in Germany may not necessarily be the same as that of the United States, Japan, or Australia (Du, Swaen, Lindgreen, & Sen, 2013). The leadership that the Germans find to be appropriate may not be necessarily popular in the United States. Generalization of the findings beyond Germany may not be appropriate. The researchers pointed out these limitations in their study.

Conclusion

In this article, the researchers have presented their conclusion in a clear and concise manner. Their conclusion is supported by and strongly based on the data that they collected and analyzed from the respondents. Their conclusion is also based on the review of the literature that they conducted. It is important to note that the researchers have not over-generalized the findings. They have indicated the contexts under which their findings can be put to practice based on the setting of their research. In their conclusion, the researchers explain that leadership is very critical in an organizational setting. Leaders provide vision and guidance to their subordinates so that a given goal can be achieved within a given timeline. Their study also shows that no single style of governance can be appropriate for all the settings and circumstances that a firm may be in at a different time. Successful organizations have learned how to embrace various leadership styles based on the prevailing market forces. A leader must understand the forces, which it has to deal with to achieve the desired goal. It should then identify the most appropriate leadership style that it can use to achieve the set goals.

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Application

It is important to understand how the information obtained from this article can be applied in a practical context within an organization. The conclusion made in the article can be applied in various practical contexts. In the modern business environment, companies find themselves in challenging situations where they have to work with a tight budget to achieve several goals within a short time. People management is one of the critical components of success in such challenging environments. When managing people, a leader must choose the most appropriate style based on the prevailing circumstances. The findings of this study can help a leader to know when a given style of leadership would be appropriate. Transformational leadership is one of the most popular styles of governance that can be used in various people-management contexts. Cross-cultural leadership style, on the other hand, can be used in managing people of diversified backgrounds. Democratic leadership should be used when managing highly skilled and experienced employees whose input is regularly needed when undertaking various activities. It allows them to participate in decision-making processes.

References

Carter, S. M., & Greer, C. R. (2013). Strategic leadership: Values, styles, and organizational performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 20(4), 375-393.

Chaudhry, A. Q., & Javed, H. (2012). Impact of transactional and laissez faire leadership style on motivation. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(7), 258-264.

Choudhary, A., Akhtar, S., & Zaheer, A. (2013). Impact of transformational and servant leadership on organizational performance: A comparative analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 433-440.

De-Vries, R. E. (2012). Personality predictors of leadership styles and the self-other agreement problem. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(5), 809-821.

Du, S., Swaen, V., Lindgreen, A., & Sen, S. (2013). The roles of leadership styles in corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 114(1), 155-169.

Ghaleb, T., & Orabi, A. (2016). The impact of transformational leadership style on organizational performance: Evidence from Jordan. International Journal of Human Resource Studies, 6(2), 89-100.

Limbare, S. (2012). Leadership styles & conflict management styles of executives. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 48(1), 172-180.

Metcalf, L., & Benn, S. (2013). Leadership for sustainability: An evolution of leadership ability. Journal of Business Ethics, 112(3), 369-384.

Ng, E. S., & Sears, G. J. (2012). CEO leadership styles and the implementation of organizational diversity practices: Moderating effects of social values and age. Journal of Business Ethics, 105(1), 41-52.

Rothfelder, K., Ottenbacher, M., & Harrington, R. (2012). The impact of transformational, transactional and non-leadership styles on employee job satisfaction in the German hospitality industry. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 12(4), 201-214.

Samad, S. (2012). The influence of innovation and transformational leadership on organizational performance. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 57, 486-493.

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