Questions About Leadership

What are some guidelines for exercising authority? Reward Power? Coercive Power?

Leadership is one of the most talked-about and important factors in all walks of life whether it is in society, business or politics. Throughout the ages, leadership has played a part in shaping the life of human beings across the globe. But it was only in the early 1900s that this aspect began to be studied and theories related to the same began to be formulated. Whatever may be said in different theories, leaders often use some base or guidelines in exercising their power. It would depend on the ability, mentality, and the situation faced by the leaders. It may also be that a single leader may use more than one guideline in exercising power over their subordinates. Some major guidelines are given below. (Leadership styles and bases of power, 2007).

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Coercive Power

This is the method by which leaders use coercion to exert power over their employees or followers. It can also be called the stick approach (from carrot and stick approach). This was one of the most widely uses forms of leadership across the world in business until modern management thinkers began to formulate ways in which productivity could be improved by treating employees as human beings rather than as a producing machine.

In coercive style, the feelings and opinions of the employees are not taken into consideration. Usually, there will be some form of punishment if the employee fails to carry out his orders properly. Lately, this form of leadership is not very popular especially in developed and developing economies. Some situations in which coercive power can be exercised are during a crisis, emergency, or where the survival of the firm itself is at stake.

Reward power

Reward power is an instance where workers are given rewards apart from their basic salary or wages in completing the work. The reward could be given for achieving or exceeding targets, finishing a stipulated work on or before time, or even for producing better quality of work. It can also be given for disciplined work. Rewards can be monetary and non-monetary. Monetary rewards are generally in the form of additional cash calculated according to some predetermined criteria. Non-monetary rewards can include health care plans, paid vacations, etc. one of the most powerful non-monetary rewards is simple words of sincere praise. Reward power is being widely used in business circles nowadays.

Legitimate power

This power comes from the legitimacy of the post held by the leader. A CEO is said to have legitimate power over his subordinates due to the official position held by him. This is also the case with managers and supervisors. Such persons can order employees to work solely based on their position. This power is lost once the leader is exited from the position.

Referent power

This type of power is available to the leader due to the respect he earns from his subordinates. People with charisma will usually hold this type of power and are seen more in social and political circles. This could be a lifelong power for the leader. In informal groups, this power can be stronger than legitimate or reward power.

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Expert power

This power arises from the knowledge of expertise of the leader in his chosen field. To continue having this power, the leader should constantly update himself with relevant information. This is also not linked to positions within the organization. For example, an e mechanic (expert) coming to repair equipment in the CEO’s office will have the power to require his boss to perform relevant acts on his request.

Which skills are most important at lower, middle, and higher levels of management?

To be a good leader, certain qualities are imperative regardless of the levels of management. Most organizations are categorized into top, middle-level, and low-level management. The lower-level management needs managers more than leaders and the top-level management requires leadership more than management. The middle level may need a combination of both leadership and managerial skills.

So, essentially the lower and middle-level leadership should have more managerial skills while the top-level management needs more leadership skills. Some of the common aspects that are relevant to all levels are the ability to manage people, communication skills, problem-solving skills, ability to get information, awareness of activities within the group, the ability to act accord according to the situation, etc. One aspect that sets apart top-level skills from lower-level ones is the vision of the leader. Top-level management needs vision while the lower-level leader needs to grasp it and communicate the same to his subordinates in practical terms.

Ultimately, it is the vision and consequent strategy that is based on the vision that will reflect the performance of the whole firm. There are other differences in skills for top and lower/middle-level management. These differences are taken from the article titled ‘Leader vs. Manager.’ ((n.d.), Bennis & Goldsmith). Leaders have to innovate and change as per circumstances while a manager has to implement the innovations and change. Leadership is more original while a manager is the copier of the originality of the leader. Leadership is based more on trust while the manager relies more on control. Views are a long range for leaders and short term for managers.

Maintaining the bottom line is more important for managers while leaders look further at the horizon. The leader has to focus more on people while a manager focuses more on systems and structures in the organization. The leader asks why and why not while the manager asks how and when. Finally, the most used cliché to show the main difference between the two is that “The leader does the right thing while a manager does things right”.

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So a top-level manager is a manager as well as a leader. Some factors that are important for lower-level leaders are close monitoring of the performance of their subordinates, implement the orders from the top and middle management, and implement training and development programs initiated by top management. Managerial skills are relevant for lower and middle-level management while leadership skills are more relevant for top management. Middle management may require some of the skills of the top management as well.

Explain the path-goal theory of leadership

The path-goal theory of leadership was propounded by Robert House and Mitchell. It is of the opinion that the leader has the ability to motivate, satisfy and improve the performance of subordinates. As the name suggests, the leader has to develop a goal out of his vision and set a path for his subordinates to follow to achieve that goal. In the process, the leader has to first make clear to the subordinates the way or path to follow. He must then remove or guide in removing obstacles along the path. He must also set and provide relevant rewards and incentives so that the employees are motivated to follow the path and achieve the goals set for them. The creators of this theory also say that there are four styles of leadership that a person can follow depending on his mentality, capability, and situation.

Supportive leadership

As the name suggests, the leader follows a supportive style in the process of achieving goals. Support can be given by providing facilities, giving the right working atmosphere, giving support to and motivating the employees, etc. The leader can also show his support by raising the self-esteem of the employee through words of sincere praise for doing the work correctly and also make efforts to make the job more interesting. Concern for the needs of the employees is also another factor in this type of leadership. All this indicates that this type of leadership is mainly effective in a situation where the work is repetitive boring or in some cases even dangerous.

Directive leadership

This is a style where the work needs constant direction from the leader. So the leader has to be on hand most of the time to see that work is being done in the right way at the right speed. In case he sees a variance, he has to give the right directives to correct the situation. This type is suited to jobs that are complex and complicated. It is also a useful method to follow if the workers are new to the job or are inexperienced.

Participative leadership

In following this style, the leader takes into consideration the opinions and suggestions of the employees in completing the task. This type will be characterized by regular meetings between employees (or their representatives) and the leader. This style is best suited in situations where the job might be complex and the employees themselves are experts in their fields. Being experts they can assist the leader in making the right decisions.

Achievement-oriented leadership

This type of leadership is best suited when the employees are ambitious and also when their work is challenging or complex. The leader’s approach would be to set challenging targets for the employees and also providing suitable rewards when the targets are achieved. High quality of work and also an element of self-improvement will also be expected of the worker.

There are some criticisms of the theory. It assumes that all people especially the workers will always act rationally. Another one is that there is the best way to follow and a leader can select any of the four methods mentioned above to achieve the goal.

What behaviors are usually associated with charismatic leadership? What skills and traits are important for charismatic leaders?

Modern management thinkers often stress that leaders are developed and not born. But with regard to charismatic leadership, the assumption may not be true. Charisma is a quality that is possessed by only a few people. An article titled “Charismatic Leadership” quotes Max Weber on the aspect of charismatic leadership. It says that charismatic leadership is defined as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him.” (What is charismatic leadership? Description, 2008). In the article, charisma is also explained as follows.

Charisma is some exceptional individual quality or qualities that set apart an individual from the majority of other human beings. Such quality (or qualities) will make people believe that the possessor has some supernatural, superhuman, or at least some exceptional power. Such power can not be achieved or possessed by other individuals and is often considered to be divine or at least exemplary. This state of being will be enough for people to accept him as a leader even if that person does not intentionally try to be a leader. Many other prominent theorists have provided characteristics (skills or traits) that are essential to be considered as a charismatic person.

The same article gives the opinion of some of these theorists regarding this aspect. Robert House has stated that a charismatic leader will possess a dominant personality and that he will have a strong desire to influence people. Two other important characteristics are that he will be a self-confident person and more importantly, he will be a person with strong values and will believe in them implicitly. Jay Alden Conger and Ravindra Nath Kanungo are of the opinion that such leaders will have a vision, will be sensitive to the needs of the environment and their followers, will have the ability and mentality to take personal risks, and will even behave in an unconventional fashion.

But this type of leadership can be both positive and negative. Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi referred to as the ‘Father of the Nation’ in India, is an example of charisma that was positive. Adolf Hitler who could sway millions of his countrymen to his evil views was an example of a negative charismatic leader. The charismatic leader will often find himself virtually unchallenged in all that he says and does. This is very useful in times of great difficulty or when a great visionary outcome is expected.

He will have to be energetic and will be good in rhetoric. But this blind belief can have negative results as well. If the intention of the leader is evil, it will not be challenged. Such leaders may eventually move towards narcissism. Accountability for his actions may not exist. Finally, depending on such leadership is not practical because people with a combination of leadership skills, vision, and charisma are very rare.

What are some guidelines for transformational leadership?

In the absence of charismatic leaders, one of the methods that can be followed by leaders is to use the transformational approach to leadership. In this approach, the end result would be that the organization and the followers themselves will be transformed for the better while following such a leader. Like charismatic leaders, transformational leaders will also have a vision that can inspire followers and will be passionate about achieving the vision.

They will also be energetic and enthusiastic persons. The first step is formulating a vision which might be done by the leader himself or even be adapted from somewhere else. Whatever may be the case, the leader will fully believe that achieving that vision is very important. The next step would be to transfer or sell the vision to potential followers. This is a very patient process and will take a lot of energy and commitment on the part of the leader. Some of the followers may buy the vision immediately while others may take more time. But the leader will never stop in his attempt to transfer the vision.

Developing trust in the leader and showing personal integrity is very important for such leaders. Once the process of selling the vision has started, the leader will simultaneously begin the steps to achieve that vision. Some leaders would have already formulated a clear-cut plan while others may follow an exploratory approach towards goal achievement. In many cases, the vision may be clear, but the path to follow may not be so. In such a case, the need for corrections and adjustments will arise. The leader will be aware that there will be obstacles and problems even though he may not be sure what they are.

What is important for such leaders is that some progress is being made even if it is quite slow. The leader never stops trying to sell his vision all through the process. Such leaders will also be in the thick of the action. They are never afraid to own up responsibility for their actions as well as the actions of the leaders in the process of achievement. He will be constantly motivating and encouraging his followers. “They also make continued efforts to motivate and rally their followers, constantly doing the rounds, listening, soothing and enthusing.” (Leading the charge: Transformational leadership, 2008).

This whole process will help to bring a high level of commitment to the vision on the part of the followers. One factor that stands out in such a style is the use of symbols, rituals, and ceremonies by the leader. The core belief of transformational leaders is that a clear-cut vision can be achieved with lots of enthusiasm, hard work, and commitment. The transformation part of the process is achieved when the organization itself is transformed according to the wishes of the leader. Another aspect is that many of the followers themselves will be transformed in the process and can become potential leaders themselves.

Such leadership may not succeed in a well-run organization where the people working there are very satisfied with the way things are run. Like charismatic leaders, the vision and commitment may be strong, but need not be correct or ethical. Another common feature is that near-impossible goals can be achieved through transformational leadership.

How important is top-level leadership in organizations?

There are three levels of managers or leaders in any organization. First are the top-level managers, which constitute the chief executive officer, the president, and the board of directors. Second is the middle-level manager, which includes the general manager, divisional manager, branch managers, etc., and then comes the first-level managers, which consist of supervisors and other lower-level managers. (Management levels, 2007). The importance or significance of the top-level leadership can be emphasized by giving a quote that “fish rot from the head down”. An organization will survive and become successful only if it has an efficient and effective top-level leader.

If the top-level leaders are weak then automatically the entire performance of the organization will become weak. It is the top-level leaders who are framing the objectives and policies of the organization. If there is any default in the top-level planning, it will reflect in the whole organization. So the top-level leaders play an important role in every organization. The top-level leaders set the organizational goals and make strategic planning so that the goal is achieved effectively with the available resources. They also see to it that the subordinates are performing according to the organizational plan. If there is any diversion from the planned policies, top leaders has the right to control and take strict action against the subordinates.

Controlling is one of the important functions of the top management which will reduce the difference between the actual effort and the planned objective. Top level managers represent their company to outside firms and also the government. They also balance the whole affairs of the firm and maintain the dignity and prestige of the firm. They recruit and fill various vacancies of the firm with eligible and most competent work force so that the decorum of the firm is not deteriorated.

The recruited personnel are given a clear idea about the objectives of the firm and also about the nature of the jobs they have to perform. The employees are given timely motivation and rewards according to their performance, which will make a satisfactory work force in the organization and there will be a good working atmosphere in the organization. Top leaders can exert much influence on their subordinate workers through the authority and the power they have. The subordinates observe their leaders and they try to follow and adopt the quality and behavior of their leaders. Thus the top level leaders must have positive qualities, so that it will have a positive influence on their subordinates also. (Why there is a need for different levels in management, 2008).

How are group decisions affected by the size and composition of the group?

Decision making is another function or responsibility of the top level management. Decision making is the process of make out and choose the most important alternative that are available to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. Through decision making the uncertainties related to the future activities are reduced and there is a choice of adopting the most suitable alternative which will reduce the cost of the organization. Decision making starts with the recognition of different alternatives and they have to choose the most appropriate alternative for achieving the objective within minimum cost. There are different approaches to the decision making process.

The fist one is the authoritarian approach, in which the top level management makes the decision according to their experience and knowledge It is the top management which is engaged in the decision making process and they have to covey the decisions to the entire group of subordinates and receive their acceptance. Another is the group decision making approach in which the group will discuss and analyze various possible alternatives and agrees upon a common decision.

The group often posses different ideas and values and so that they can effectively contribute to the management. Each group has its own contributions which are different from the other group, and each group will contribute different ideas to their authority so that the decision making is made more efficient and easy. Group decision making is affected by the size and composition of the group. The size of the group affects the decision making depending upon the task they are performing. Larger group are more suitable for finding out some definite facts and smaller groups are suitable for action associated responsibilities.

The management has to take more effort in order to manage larger groups. With the increase in the size of the group, it will naturally increase the disagreements with in the groups. In fact, the group may value the different alternatives differently and in order to avoid the disagreement they decide upon a neutral decision which may not be suitable for the organization. This would rather bring negative effect to the decision making of the organization. Therefore smaller group is preferred so that the decision making is made more effective and the cost is also low. Similarly depending on whether the group is homogeneous or heterogeneous, the quality of the decision making also varies.

If the group is homogeneous, the decision making will be more effective, since the conflict is reduced. The group decision strategies also depend on so many other dimensions like the shared level of the decisions, the nature of task they have to solve, the cost of the decisions etc. (Adamowicz). Group composition can also mean the level of leadership in the group. Another factor to be considered is the type of group that exists in an organization. Both these factors will affect the decision making behavior of the group. If the leader in the group (irrespective of the type of group) is effective and or accepted by the members of the group, decision making will naturally be effective.

It does not really matter what type leader is commanding the group. This holds true for both formal and informal groups in the organization. Again, decision making will be more effective (generally) in formal groups. This is because the group leader has authoritative power and the members (who are workers) are duty bound to follow decisions. Hence it is inevitable that a decision is arrived at that should best reflect the organizational goals.

It should be noted here that informal groups can also affect the decision making process (even of a formal group). Such groups can delay, weaken or make ineffective the decisions taken by the formal group. It can be said that a larger group size will affect decisions in a particular way always. Size does not really matter. What is more important is the group composition and also the level of homogeneity of the group. If the group is highly homogenous, effectiveness of decisions can go either way. In other words, if the decisions are acceptable to the group, then the decision making process will be effective. On the other hand, if decisions are against group interests, then the process is bound to be ineffective.

Describe how selection and placement can be used to improve leadership in organizations

Good management needs efficient leaders at various levels. Thus right from the recruitment and selection procedure this should be taken care. If the recruitment and selection process is wrong, it will place wrong person at various position, which will upset the organizational objectives and also the decision making process. The leadership ability is an inborn character; even though it can be created by training or other skill development techniques.

So during the selection process itself adequate attention must be taken to recruit suitable personnel to the appropriate positions. The right selection and placement of the leaders will definitely increase the productivity of the organization with lower costs. So the organization must fix strategies for the recruitment and selection process so that it could be successfully implemented for choosing right persons. The process of recruitment and placement is a costly affair for the company, so careful selection must be made so that addition investment on the selected person could be avoided. It should be noted that in case of selection (especially of fresh candidates), it might be difficult to identify or ascertain leadership potential. What could be done is to find candidates who have the following characteristics and groom them for leadership.

They should be motivated, have character, get well along with others and most importantly be teachable. An organization without good leadership will ultimately loose its place in the market. In the case of new appointments of experienced candidates, it is easier. This is because, their leadership has been proved in other organizations. The common practice that many organizations resort to is to lure leaders from other organizations by offering better incentives and other benefits.

Placement done from within the organization is the easiest way in identifying leadership. Managers will know intimately the quality of the person to be placed and the company can promote or place the right candidate for the right job. But in practice, this might not be so easy since these factors will be affected by organizational politics, union strength and the attitude of the employees towards the newly placed person. Moreover, some organizations (especially in the public sector) will have a policy of promotion and placement according to seniority. In such a case the concept of selecting and placing leaders will be according to chance.

Hence it can be said that in the case of fresh candidates for selection, it is better to assess certain characteristics (mentioned earlier) and select accordingly. They can be then later groomed to become future leaders in the organization. In the case of higher level jobs in middle and top management, efficient leaders can be lured from other organizations through generally accepted staffing principles. The most effective way is internal placement where the candidate with the right leadership quality can be identified (quite easily) and placed in the right positions. It should be noted however that such candidates should be present within the organization. These procedures can assure that the right person for the right job will happen within the organization.

Reference

Adamowicz, Wiktor. Group decision: Analyzing decision strategy and structure in households: Aggregation mechanisms. 10. Web.

Bennis, Warren., & Goldsmith Joan. (n.d.). Both are necessary and important: Future visions: Leader vs. manager. Web.

Leadership styles and bases of power. (2007). Business Reference: Encyclopedia of Management: Int-Loc. Web.

Leading the charge: Transformational leadership. (2008). Changingminds.org. Web.

Management levels. (2007). Business Reference: Encyclopedia: Log-Mar. Web.

What is charismatic leadership? Description. (2008). Charismatic leadership: 12 Manage: The Executive Fast Track. Web.

Why there is a need for different levels in management. (2008). Management-Hub.com. Web.

Questions About Leadership
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