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Leadership is a process, through which a person helps other people to accomplish a given task in an efficient manner. When organizations do not have effective leaders, their goals and objectives are not met. Most organizations have been noted to increase their interest in leadership in the twentieth century (Northouse, 2009). This paper will analyze various theories, and in particular the situation leadership theory associated with leadership, and various leadership styles that leaders can adopt in order to become effective in their roles.
There are various early theories, which distinguish between the leaders and the followers. They include contingency theory, behavioral theory, participative theory, and situational leadership theory. Contingency theories usually focus on the variables that are related to the environment and determine the appropriate style of leadership that suit a particular situation. It stipulates that there is no single form of leadership that is appropriate in all situations. Successful leadership depends on the leadership styles and qualities of the followers (Wart, 2005). The theory enables leaders to adopt a variety of leadership styles that can suit their environment in a best possible manner. However, the strategy can also distract the leaders from focusing on the critical leadership strategies; thereby, rendering them ineffective in their leadership styles (Northouse, 2009).
Behavioral theory focuses on the belief that leaders are made and not born. The theory has its roots in behaviorism. It does not focus on the mental qualities of the leaders. It stipulates that people can learn the ways to become leaders by teaching and observing. Its benefit is that it encourages people to believe in actions that they undertake; thereby, enabling them to be more productive. However, the theory can be misleading, especially if people become overconfident in their leadership style, even if their style of governing is wrong.
Participative theory demands that the ideal leadership is the one that allows other people to bring in their input, so that the best strategies can be adopted (Houghton, 1996). Once the participation is allowed, people remain committed to the decisions that made. However, in this theory, the leader decides whether to allow the input of others or not. It is beneficial, since it allows the input of others; thereby, ensuring that the leadership styles adopted are effective. However, the weakness of the theory is that there are the leaders, who are usually self-centered and believe in making decisions on their own without consulting others. Such leaders are often ineffective in their leadership styles (Northouse, 2009).
Situational Leadership Theory by Hersey-Blanchard
Situational leadership style was developed by Kenneth Blanchard & Paul Hersey in 1969. It refers to a situation when the leader of an organization must align the style of leadership in order for it to fit the level of development of the followers being influenced. With situational leadership, the leader bears the responsibility of changing the style and not the follower to adjust to the leader’s style. Therefore, the style changes frequently in order to address the needs of other employees in an organization. Hersey-Blanchard classified the theory into telling, selling, participating, and delegating as the best leadership style of management.
Telling and Directing
In telling and directing, the leadership of the organization makes the decisions and informs others. This style of leadership is also termed as micro-management, since the leader gets involved closely with the workers. It is a top-down approach, where employees perform tasks the way they are told.
Participating and Supporting
In this style, more responsibility is passed to the followers. The leader provides direction, and the decisions eventually lie with the follower. The leader provides feedback and increases the confidence and motivation through rewarding the tasks accomplished. Many employees work well in this style, but lack the confidence to achieve them.
Delegating is the style where the leader is involved, but in the least amount, with the employees. The employees are responsible for selecting the tasks and the instructions they will take. Even though the leader may still be involved for feedback purposes, it is on the lower level than with other leadership styles in discussion. With this style, the employees know their role and do it with minimal supervision.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Situational Leadership Theory
Situational leadership calls for the managers to reflect on the situation at hand and adjust their style to it. This style of leadership has been effective. Several companies with managers utilizing this type of leadership are more successful than those that do not. However, this leadership style has its weaknesses as well.
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When working with people striving to meet the expectations of a manager, consistency is crucial. In a situation, where the style of leadership is put into practice by the experienced managers, the result will be a behavioral inconsistency. Employees will not know the sort of response to expect from the managers from day to day running of the organization. This will create an environment of fear and uncertainty. The situational leadership style should not alter the personality of the managers.
The situational leadership style depends on the several factors to succeed. Management specialists note that situational leadership limits the ability of good leaders to amend the situation before they adapt their response to it. There are equal chances that the situation will be different in response to leadership, if the leader alters the circumstances.
It is crucial for the leaders to factor to a great extent the employee perception. To intelligent employees, situational leadership can be seen as manipulative. Such employees can view this theory as an inauthentic style of communication. In this case, the leader loses reliability and trustworthiness with employees. Situational leadership can be transparent to some extent.
Situational leadership theory is the most appropriate leadership style to be used in the management. With the application of this theory, employees will realize more productivity; hence, more rewards and recognition. According to Martin (2011), leadership is not the title, status, or power that one holds in the organization. Instead, it is the ability to influence in order others to pursue and to achieve the objectives of the organization. The leaders, who practice the democratic, participatory, or laissez faire style of leadership are more likely to make a positive difference in the organization. Such styles of leadership are more involving, and all parties are allowed to voice opinions. As a result, a leader is more likely to make a positive difference, because he or she will provide leadership “for the people” and “by the people”.