Contemporary approaches to leadership

 Contemporary approaches to leadership

Over the past two decades we have witnessed the emergence of new perspectives on leadership theory. For instance scholars are increasingly talking about the difference between transformational and transactional leaders; some researchers are revisiting the early trait theories, and a growing number of students now focus on the characteristics of charismatic and visionary leaders. Two key contemporary approaches to leadership transformational transactional leadership and charismatic  visionary leadership are briefly examined here.

Transformational and transactional leadership

There is a stream of research in the leadership area that focuses on differentiating transformational from transactionl leaders(bass 1985a bass and avolio 1990 burns 1978). Most of the traditional leadership theories and models that we have reviewed in this chapter ( for instance the Ohio State studies fiedlers model the path-goal theory and the LPM) focus on transactional leaders. Transactional leaders guide and motivate their subordinate towards the completion of goals by clarifying role descriptions and characteristics (kreitner et Al 2002). First these leaders tend to use rewards to motivate employees. Second they tend to take corrective action only when followers fail to complete the required task or under perform. On the other hand transformational leaders pay attention to the concerns and development needes of their subordinates encourage followers to examine old problems in new ways and perhaps most importantly are able to inspire organizational members to go out of their way in order to achieve common goals. Interesting transformational leaders are usually portrayed as heroes within and outside of their organizational settings they seem to have a great effect on their subordinates often contributing settings they seem to have a great effect on their subordinates often contributing to cultlike organizational cultures. Although at first glance transformational and transformational leadership appears as opposing approaches in reality transformational leadership is built on top of the transactional approaches in reality Seltzer and bass 1990) while empirical research increasingly supports the notion that transformational leadership is superior to the transactional approach especially in organizational and military setting (see bass and avolio 1990 parry 1992) the debate on leadership goes on unabated.

Charismatic and visionary leadership

Contemporary leaders like Mark Zuckerberg the chief executive of Facebook and Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur behind the virgin group, are often described as charismatic business leaders. Charisma originates from ancient greeks, who coined the word as gift of grace. They considered charisma as a divine gift. Zuckerberg has been repeatedly pictured in the business press as a genius who armed with quintessential zeal and enthusiasm keeps his troops fascinating and productive and continuously propels Facebook forward 

Another renowned example is Richard branson. The 63-year old billionaire at time of publication ) has never been seen wearing a tie and always keeps his hair long these details embody the unconventionality that characteristics the virgin groups identity. Branson is also often referred to as the dream boss, the leader who inspire his subordinates with great vision and charisma. Virgin group tends to enter long establish industries by make banking better starts here mission statement is reflected in several ground-breaking for the industry initiatives. For instance savers will get the same interests rate through all distribution channels online phone post or branches ( most banks keep the best deals for online customers who are cheaper to deal with). Such charismatic leaders have the ability to exert great influence on their followers; they inspire people to behave in certain ways. They are generally enthusiastic self-confident and passionate about their business.

 Taking into consideration the growth of hero leaders in today's competitive business environment and the increasing recognition that charismatic leadership is positive correlated with high follower performance and satisfaction, leadership researching increasingly seek to identify the main characteristics of these charismatic leaders have five key characteristics (see Robbins and Coulter 2002) they have a vision they are sensitive to the opportunity and threats posted by the external environment in achieving their vision and are alert to their followers needs and requirements and they behave  in ways that are extraordinary compared to non-charismatic leaders. Although a number of studies still claim that exhibit charisma in their actions ( caudron 1998). A number of leadership researchers are therefore   moving beyond this notion of charisma and focusing on the concept of what they term visionary leadership. Visionary leaders create and articulate a realistic  credible and attractive vision of the future that improves the present situation (Robbins and Coulter 2002  473). In this sense we are talking about vision that transforms the way we do business and often changes peoples lives . Consider the vision that created the first personal computer, the first online bookstore the first PC web retailer that removed the middleman the list is long. Steve jobs of apple Jeff bezos of and Michael Dell of Dell computer are all prominent example of leaders with clear and compelling that inspired enthusiasm and mobilized energy across their organizations. So what are the characteristics of a visionary leader? Research has highlighted three key qualities:

*Ability to explain vision to subordinates. Being visionary per se is not enough visionary leaders need to be able to clearify communication their vision clarify its requirements and explain what they expect from their followers in order to fulfill this vision.

*Walk the talk. Visionary leaders need not only talk about their vision but also proselytize by behaving in ways that continually promote and reinforce their vision.

*Ability to extend or apply the vision to different contexts. Visionary leaders need to be able to make their vision relevant to different parts of their organization different stakeholders employees in different countries and so forth.

All of these theories of leadership have contributed to our understanding of what makes an effective leader. But how does this relate to our concern with processes of change creativity and innovation? In exploring this question the next section examines the important of leadership as a vehicle for mobilizing these process in organizational settings.

 Why do  teams fail?

In recent years management theorists and practitioner have overemphasize the importance of teams often viewing teamworking as the panacea for a myriad of management problems. Teams have been used to combat a wide range of workplace issues ranging from performance improvements to organizational change initiatives. In practice however teams have not always succeeded in securing their objectives and hence it is worth examining some of the reasons why teams fail.

 Lencioni (2002) identifies five dysfunctions of a teams consistent of absence of trust fear of conflict search for artificial harmony rather than constructive debate lack of commitment and avoidance of responsibility. Other reasons for team failure include the following ( Adams 2001 lasksen and lauer 2002 yeung and Bailey,1999)

*Hidden agenda. This refers to the belief that some team members are building their own empires or are using team members to advance their own careers instead of utilizing them as a means for achieving the teams and organizations goals.

*Lack of understanding. Misunderstanding and misconceptions regarding the credibility of team members are brought together for the first time.

*Lack of leadership. This situation usually occurs when the team leader does not have the appropriate skills to lead a team or where team members do not acknowledge an individual as their leader.

*Wrong mix of team members. As we have already discussed teamwork requires an appropriate mix of expertise,skills and personalities. A team that is unevenly balanced can face either the danger of generating too many ideas or no ideas at all.

*Unhealthy team environment. The team may not be effective if team members feel that the expectations set either by the client or the team leader are unrealistic.In such cases many problems arise due to the fact that some team members cannot cope with the resultant uncertainty and stress.

*Treating a team like a group. Some organizationals label a group as a team but then treat the team as nothing more than a collection of people.

The team development process

Similarly to organizations and products, work teams also have their own development process. During the period, when researchers used to refer to groups and teams interchangeably. Tuckman and Jensen(1977) proposed that team development involved five stages namely forming stroming norming performing and adjourning. Let's look more closely at each of these five stages.

      The forming stages focuses on the initial setting up of teams in which members try to figure out what they are supposed to be doing. This stage is characterized by ambiguity in terms of the teams goal structure and direcrion. Hence most of the team members are inclined to hide their feelings.

     The second stage is storming. This is the time when members accept the fact that there is a team for the first time. But they often experience tremendous conflict while they try to determine how they fit into the evolving power structure of the team. Hence stroming is a stage where team members often express strong views and these sometimes may lead to an open rebellion. This is the reason why many teams stall during the early stages of their development.

      The norming stage is where initial relationship develop and the team members begin to organize themselves. At this stage the group identifies a set of expectations and agrees on acceptable behaviour. These expectations are defined as behavioural norms. The outcomes of the norming stage is that team members understand their roles and a we attitude is initited. This is what team members understand their roles and a we attitude is initited.  This is what we refer to as team cohesiveness from this stage onwards team members try to find solutions to the problems in hand by discussing them openly with each other. The task is no longer an individual challenge it is rather a challenge that synergistically, the whole team needs to address.

The next stage performing is characterized by an emerging sense of team loyalty where there is a contribution by all team members feel that an atmosphere of openness and trust is developed and hence they tend to commit to the teams goals.

  The last stage of adjourning occurs when teams have reached their goals or when the task is completed (temporary committees task forces and so forth) and team members are moving on to meet the next challange. At this stage the reactions of team members are likely to differ some team members may feel proud of the end product that the team has achieved or they may feel sad because the team with which they have developed rapport is going to disband others may be judgemental and criticize the effectiveness of the team.

  These stages of forming storming norming performing and adjourning provide a useful framework to aid our understanding of the Dynamics of the team development process. However it must be noted that although researchers agree on the importance of the team development process and it's stages there is disagreement on the nature of these stages their sequence and their length.


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