Social Psychology. Leadership Styles

Introduction

In every organization there is need for leadership. The role of leadership is to provide strategic directions for both the employees and other significant stake holders of a given organization (Harrison et al, 2009). It is important to note that leadership has been considered to be one of the key components for organizational development. Due to this, so many authors have done a lot of literature work about leadership and its roles within an organization. Hence, the subject of leadership has become very popular. The conception of leadership is very crucial when it come to managing organizational changes and ensuring effectiveness in corporate organizations. All these leadership concerns within organizations have led to explosion of literature and writings on leadership as many executives and managers seek leadership solutions. Consequently, many people have also come out as leadership experts to provide these leadership solutions (Griffin, 2002).

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The interest in the issues of leadership gained its momentum in the early periods of the 20th century. Following great interest on leadership during the same period, several leadership theories came up. Some of these theories emphasized on those qualities that make a distinction between those who are leaders and those who are their followers or subjects. However, some of the theories look at the situational factors and levels of skills of those considered to be leaders. Leaders are never born as leaders; but they acquire leadership skills through learning how to deal with people. In learning how to deal and handle people, individuals pursuing leadership careers are always forced to consider learning various psychological tactics to use in influencing their follower. It is important to note that there is good and bad leadership both of which make use of psychology to influence their followers. Hence, psychology and leadership are part and parcel of influencing people to behave or act in a particular manner (Griffin, 2002).

The Meaning of Leadership

In attempting to define what leadership is, it is crucial to point out that the concept has been defined in various ways by different people. This makes it a bit confusing for an average individual to comprehend what the true meaning of leadership is. However, close examination reveals that there are no great variations in what the true definition of leadership is. Some individuals view leadership in terms of hierarchy; for instance, the president, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Directors amongst others. Contrarily, some have also viewed leadership as not only related to position; but in this case, leadership has been associated with some power. Given traditional practices, leadership is associated with power to dominate a collection or group of individuals.

However, in the modern society, the influence of power is fast vanishing and individuals are moved by ideological powers rather than power by positions. But, there is nobody who can monopolize ideas and ideologies; for this reason, leadership may be viewed as a form a guerrilla war. It is something that is localized and fluid. Those who hold this kind of ideology about leadership argue that the upshot is that leadership enhances a new strategic direction for individuals working in organizations or groups and does not necessarily need to be linked to a position. In this case, any individual who have good ideas to defend before people have the capability and potential to exhibit leadership in every aspect of group interactions. In this sense, being a leader has nothing to do with team management (Koenig, 2009).

Leadership has also been defined as the ability of an individual to get others do what he or she wants them to do even if they do not like or want it. According to Warren Bennis, leadership can be conceptualized to mean the energetic practice of making other people to fully and willingly commit themselves to a given course of actions to achieve common or shared goals and objectives. He further argues that leadership is simply about understanding what people are; this may entail knowing what they want and how they would like to be handled in the process of undertaking their daily duties. Moreover, according to a co-founder of Ford Foundation, leadership is about persuading people that that they need to do what one wants them to do in a manner to portray that they are the originators of the task or ideas (Klann, 2003).

The most current leadership theories seem to be biased towards horizontal leadership model which places more emphases on team work and collaboration amongst groups of individuals. According to these theories, centralized leadership does not have the capability of meeting the varied needs of large corporate organization, especially in the case of multinational organizations. In this case, every team members is supposed to be trained and nurtured as leaders to be able to assume leadership roles as situations may demand them to; therefore, it means that individuals should cognitively be prepared to take up roles of leadership whenever necessary. Leadership is about working in team; teams encourage feeling of belongingness, ownership and pride amongst team members as they go about their shared or common purpose (Komives, 2009).

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So, leadership has multifaceted dimensions that are closely interlinked. Over the past several decades, the line between leadership and following has been evident. However, in the current period, especially in the 21st century, the distinction between leadership and following is becoming negligible. This means that leadership is becoming less and less associated with position of authority. The focus is being placed on considering everybody within a group or organization as a leader. Therefore, leadership is about influence; the ability of an individual, position notwithstanding, to convince people, irrespective of their position within an organization, to act in a particular way constitutes leadership. But, to be able to exert such influence, one must have certain cognitive skills to be able to determine moods of other team members and any other follower; this is important in determining what to engage team members in or in manipulating the psychology of the followers or fellow team members about a given issue of concern (Jowett, 2007).

Different Types of Leadership Styles

There are a many types of leadership styles used differently in varied situation. Understanding the available numerous types of leadership styles is one of the crucial components in the development of leadership. To be an effective leader, it is argued that one should consider developing as many types of leadership styles as possible. In the process of leadership, one has to determine situations under which leadership can be delegated; concerning this, it is important to note that delegation of leadership tasks is only possible with certain style of leadership, for instance, participatory style of leadership; the process of delegation depends with one’s perception of the need to delegate duties or on the situation under which it may be necessary to carry out the delegation of duties and responsibilities. The various types of leadership styles are as discussed below (Glanz, 2002).

Autocratic leadership

This is otherwise known as authoritarian leadership. In this type of leadership style, the leader provides a clear guideline on what is required to be done; besides, the leader gives clear expectations on when things are to be done and how they should be done. In other words, an autocratic leader seeks to make as many of the organization’s decisions as possible and is keen on having the monopoly of decision making besides seeking to retain as much responsibilities as he or she can instead of making use of complete strategy of delegation of duties. It is also important to note that in this leadership style consultation is minimal and the subjects only receive instructions which are they are expected to carry out without much questioning; in fact in this case, the subjects can only seek for more clarification and not offer different opinions on what the autocratic leader has given his or her verdict. Here, there is also a distinct line between the leader and the followers. In most cases, such a leader does not directly engage with followers (Kapena, 2000).

Autocratic style of leadership is appropriate in certain situations and inappropriate in some circumstances. It is best applicable where there is no time for consultations such as the need for an emergency action or response. The leadership style is also appropriate in cases where an expert in an area works with those with less knowledge on a given matter or task; where the leader is the only or the most knowledgeable member of a group. Autocratic leadership has always been evident in political environment, especially where democracy is lacking (Kapena, 2000).

Individuals who end up becoming autocratic leaders are said to have acquired such traits at their early childhood. According to the psychoanalytic theory, the social norms and values that are initially presented in the personality of the father get internalized in the process of the development of the child. It is during this process when the unconscious development of super-ego takes place. For instance, the development of a strong super-ego may take place where a child is forced to tolerate his or her autocratic father who may also be very strict. This creates unconscious conflict within the child; these conflicts may be resolved where as an old and mature person, the grown up child let loose his or her super-ego on other individuals who he or she seeks to dominate as a leader. It is therefore clear that an autocratic leader might have acquired autocratic traits right from childhood as either or both of the parents might have cognitive influence on him or her (Kapena, 2000).

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Participative leadership

This is also known as democratic leadership. According to research studies that have already been done on participative leadership, it has been found out that it is the most effective style of leadership. Unlike autocratic style of leadership where the leader makes all the decisions, a democratic leader gives guidance to members of the group that he or she leads. The democratic leader allows other group members to have their input by contributing their different ideas. Leaders who use this style of leadership motivate their followers to fully participate in the organizational or group decision making process. Even so, the leaders still maintain the authority to have the final say on any decision to be made and adopted for the group or organization. Other research findings have also revealed that members of groups or organizations where participative leadership is practiced are more proactive and creative than those working under other forms of leadership styles (Rothwell, 2009).

The proponents of participative style of leadership argue that the employees and or group members are enthused to work hard and can work more effectively as they are involved and fully committed in the group’s or organization’s goals and objectives. Moreover, the members can challenge themselves and get into creativity. Otherwise, it is also important to realize that this style of leadership has its short falls. The style of leadership does not allow for quick decision making as almost every body within a group or organization may want to make their contributions in the decision making process. Therefore, this leadership style may not work in situations of emergencies where consultation may not be necessary. According to evidences presented by research findings, the individuals who assume the roles of participatory leadership must be able to understand group psychology and should be able to effectively apply psychometrics to be aware of what each of the group members can effectively do without straining (Rothwell, 2009).

Participatory leadership is said to liberate the mind and also make the group members to be cognitively complicated. Besides, the group or organization members are not liable to experience extremity of positions. They are also not likely to have prejudicial minds and possess non-discriminatory behavioral traits. It is also important to point out that being a participatory leader is not inherited, but can be learnt through training and learning; it also requires that an individual possess the necessary skills that will enable him or her to be an effective participatory leader. The perception that employees or ordinary members of a group should be allowed to participate in decision making process normally originates from one’s subconscious; given this, it is important to mention that different people have their perception of what kind of leadership is always appropriate (Rothwell, 2009).

Delegative leadership

Delegative style of leadership is otherwise also known as Laissez-Faire leadership style. Under this type of leadership style group members are allowed to make decisions. This style of leadership is used where the leader has fewer qualifications in a given area of work and hence relies greatly on employees or group members who are qualified; this implies that the leader transfers the process of decision making to either one or more employees but otherwise remains accountable for any decision made. In this case, the group members are allowed to make and implement decisions in consultations with the leader. This kind of leadership requires that a leader has trusted knowledgeable employees or group members (Volberda, 1999).

Recent research activities have found out that individuals’ creative performances are related to their cognitive empowerment; but the empowerment can effective come in terms of delegation of duties where the group members or employees are entrusted with certain tasks. Through delegation, an individual can gain lots of experience and hence become more productive and appreciate being part of the group or organization (Volberda, 1999).

Delegative leadership is very important in boosting the confidence and self motivation in employees or members of a group, however, this type of leadership style also has its weaknesses. The leadership style is not easily used where the leader is the only qualified individual in a team where all other members are not qualified in undertaking a particular task. Besides, this type of leadership style cannot be used in a learning environment, especially where new employees or members have just been recruited into an organization (Volberda, 1999).

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a kind of leadership in which a leader spots the required changes and then establishes a vision to inform the change process that is either already created or yet to be created. The leader can guide the change process by effectively utilizing motivation and also execute the change process with the assured commitment of the members of the group. Several authors have posited that transformational leaders go far beyond exchange relationships and inspire others to accomplish more than what they believe they can accomplish, especially in a work environment, motivated employees can do more than what is expected of them and in the process assist in the achievement of organizational goals and objectives (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

Several leadership researchers have argued that transformational leadership entails four important dimensions. These dimensions are idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, motivation and inspiration. Idealized influence has been viewed as when the leader undertakes the right thing and hence attracts the respect and trust of fellow members of the organization. Inspirationally, the transformational leader holds high expectations and motivates his employees to accomplish far much more than what they believe they can produce. Inspired employees are normally highly productive and have full commitment to an organization’s mission goals and objectives; in other words, motivated employees are most likely to feel honored and valued and therefore feel part of the operations of the organizations. Intellectual stimulation is about encouraging the employees to offer challenges to the status quo and go ahead to answer their queries; in this case, the transformational leader should be able to provide new ways of looking at the old challenges and provoke the search for the appropriate solutions. Scholars have also argued that a transformational leader who is a considerate individual should treat each employee as an individual, take time to train those employees and should also appreciate the employees’ achievement (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

Psychologically, researchers have posited that there is a great link between transformational leadership and psychological wellbeing; this means that transformational leadership is associated with the well being of employees of a given organization. Besides, according to leadership researchers, transformational leadership has also been linked to work and psychological well being. More research findings show that employees working under transformational leader experience positive attitudes, high self esteem and high level self confidence. Therefore, transformational leadership is about continuous change of ideas. In other words, it is a bout being innovative and creative within a given organization (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

As much as the transformational leadership has several of its advantages, it is important top note that the transformational leaders are not always right in their actions and decisions; some times they make errors that may be costly to the organizations in which they are leaders (Nelson & Cooper, 2007). It is important to note that this kind of leadership has the potential of changing into other forms of leaderships, especially to autocratic leadership style. It is argued that for one to become a great and successful and transformational leader, he or she must possess four fundamental strengths: first, an individual must muster his or herself. Self mastery is important in understanding one’s self and hence can overcome the barriers to his or her successful leadership career. Second is the transformational mind-set; one must cognitively apply a given set of personal beliefs and principles in the transformational leadership process. Third, influence must form a fundamental leadership trait of a transformational leader. Without influence, which is crucial for all types of leaders, a transformational leader may not be able to accomplish any task or achieve any organizational objective. The fourth and last is that the individual must have development skills so as not waste time looking for ways ensuring the development of skills by the employees (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

Most effective settings for transformational leadership

Transformational leadership, as has been discussed earlier, is an innovative leadership style that has great support for positive changes. For this matter, transformational leadership requires some body that is extroverted by nature (Kase, 2008). This is because working with people to achieve a common purpose in an organization requires that one, as a leader, must be able to be very social and outgoing; such kind of people can attract the attention and collaboration of people. Besides, this type of leadership need individuals with charisma; people who can pull others towards them and rally them behind a common purpose.

Transformational leadership was initially established by James McGregor in the late periods of 1970s for political leaders who were transformation oriented. It therefore implies that politics is one of the effective settings for transformational leadership (Burke & Friedman, 2010). The political arenas are full of transformational leaders who are people like Fidel Castro who led one of the most peaceful revolutions in the history of the world; the revolution can be viewed as one of the major transformations that have taken place in the world. The other transformational leaders include Martin Luther King Junior, who fought for equal rights in the United States of America, Hitler of Germany and Winston Churchill. Religion can also be presented as an effective setting for transformational leadership. Looking at the history of religious, transformational leaders can conspicuously identified; for instance, religious transformational leaders have included Jesus Christ, Buddha and Prophet Mohamed just to mention but a few.

Moreover, establishment of management development program offers an effective setting for transformational leadership. About this, transformational leadership can be applied in the process of designing the management development framework; for this matter, many researchers agree that transformational leadership and fundamental philosophy can be adopted as an integral part of career development within an organization. This consequently makes an organization to be one of the most important effective settings for transformational leadership. It follows therefore that that transformational leadership is important for every organization that has transformational plans or those that are continuously engaged in periodic transformation.

Besides, the management of highly diversified work force requires the application of transformational leadership. About this, it has been argued that a transformational leadership training and development program should be considered as successful if the group or organization has transformed to a level where all the employees are challenged to develop themselves and others who are around them. The success of transformational leadership in achieving all these is greatly determined by policies, culture and structure of the organization; this therefore implies that an organization can offer an effective setting for transformational leadership and also the same can jeopardize the success of the leadership style.

Transformational leadership requires a situation all employees are involved in every aspect of decision making and implementation within an organization. But for all employees or followers to feel part of the organization, the leadership should be able to provide an environment where there is no discrimination or prejudice premised on race, ethnicity and or culture. A setting where employees are engaged without reference to their religious affiliations, race, culture or nationality is a likely effective setting for transformational leadership. The absence of these factors may lead to loss of trust by employees and hence result into degeneration of transformational leadership. It is therefore important for a transformational leader to be sensitive to the difference amongst his or her team members to ensure there is full support of the team members in the course of pursuing organizational goals and objectives.

Gender and transformational leadership

Gender responsibilities are consisted of perceptions concerning the psychological traits that institute the characteristics of an individual concerning sex; this implies that one is socially expected to perform some roles depending on the sex he or she belongs to. This is what is referred to as gender stereotypes. It argued that rise in equivalence in the roles of management played by both men and women over some time may been adequate to lead to the stereotype for both gender. Several researches have been conducted and findings have shown some variation in terms of gender in transformational leadership. According to available research report, females are related above their male counterparts about transformational leadership. As women commenced going to work places from early 1960s, the issue of the leadership roles played by gender started to emerge as a matter of interest to psychologists. During later periods, psychological researchers conducted four metor-analyses to find out gender difference in leadership styles, evaluation, effectiveness and emergence. The research findings indicate that females can be described as relations oriented and also others oriented as compared to men. They may be more concerned with developing individual subjects than men would (Worell, 2001).

According to other research findings, females are considered to highlight and value responsibilities while their male counterparts highlight justice and human rights. Concerning self-serving autocracy, men tend to dominate while women tend to be less self serving authoritarians. Other researchers have also argued that women are not easily conformable, have more self confidence and are highly likely to take risk. Women are stereotyped to be having such qualities such as sensitivity about various issues, expressiveness of emotions, nurturance and individual or personal consideration (Worell, 2001).

The difference in gender, in terms of transformational leadership, is stressed by arguments that the leadership style is has always been a stereotype of masculinity yet some research findings indicate that in terms of charisma, female leaders are more charismatic than men and hence enlist more respect and loyalty from followers or those working under them; basing on this finding, the gender stereotype about transformational leadership should be skewed towards women and not men. Considering the setting, research outcomes indicate that transformational leadership in women increases in an educational setting and reduced in business settings. It is argued that due females are more social and concerned about others than men; this is said to give them transformational leadership advantage over their male counterparts. Nonetheless, generally, the gender difference in terms of leadership is not complete or absolute; the differences are witnesses only in certain areas. This implies that some leadership traits are shared between both males and females. It is also important to note that the qualities of women transformational leaders are not just unique to the female gender; other male leaders possess similar qualities (Worell, 2001).

Current and Future Trends in Leadership in Organizations

The current leadership is considered as key to organizational success. More attention has been given to development of leadership more than it has ever been. In every organization, every member is required to have leadership qualities and everybody is being viewed as a leader. In this case, individual leadership is no longer the only concern in the process of leadership development even though it remains a vital aspect of leadership development. The current leadership is not described by what a leader does; it is defined as a gradual process that engender and is also seen as the direct result of relationships. This relationship should focus mainly on the interactions of both the leaders and their collaborators and not on only the proficiencies of the leader (Blazey, 2009).

Current leadership development initiatives characteristically give performance and real world utilization of skills through methods like training, action learning and mentoring, coaching, and developmental obligation. A combination of instructions and authentic business setting assist individuals in achieving critical skills and enables an organization to tackle relevant real-time concerns. Organizations consider leadership development as one of the best organizational practices in all levels of jobs; employees training in most organizations mostly include leadership training as part of the training process. Increasingly, most corporate organizations have chief executive officers who mold leadership development through a strict commitment to train leaders within the organizations. It is important to point out that leadership development has taken group dimension rather than individualized dimension where a leader emerges from people already appointed by the top executives and managers (Blazey, 2009).

Projecting into the future, it is worth noting that there is set to be several significant changes in how leadership will be perceived within an organization. One thing to note is that the leadership competence will still be very important in future. However, the competencies will be subject to change due to changes taking place in the competitive environment. Researchers on leadership issues anticipate that leadership competence will be shaped by factors such as global competition, necessity for hasty and very flexible organizations, information technology, teams and varied employee needs. Concerning all these expected changes, organizations will not need lone rangers who keep to themselves to be leaders; the will seek individuals who connects well with people and who are sensitive diversities in terms of culture, race and nationality (London, 2002).

The organizations will require leaders who will be able to help them meet the future challenges; some of the roles that will be played by future leaders include being master strategists, being change managers, network manager or builder and developer of talents and leadership trainer. With increasing rate of technological advancements, organizations will also require leaders who are technology savvy to help the organizations to utilize technology for efficient and effective operations besides improving service delivery. Borrowing from the current leadership development where individual leadership training approach is given less attention, even though it remains crucial, future leadership development will move toward collaborative leadership approach. It is therefore evident that in future, the model of effective and efficient leadership will require an environment that allows the unlocking of the human asset potential it its entirety. Hence, it is anticipated that the future leadership development will be more complex than the current leadership (London, 2002).

Conclusion

Leadership development always plays a major role in organizational development. Leadership is crucial in providing strategic direction within an organization. There are varied types of leadership styles applied in different circumstances within an organization. The types of leadership styles include autocratic leadership style, participatory leadership, Delegative leadership and transformational leadership. Transformation leadership is a type of leadership in which a leader provides a vision for his or her team members; he or she encourages employees or team members to achieve more than they think they can achieve (Harrison et al, 2009).

Several research findings have shown that there is gender difference with regards to transformational leadership. The research findings posit that females are better transformational leaders than men; this is related to the claim that females are more inclined towards responsibility, tenderness and sensitivity while males are more justice and rights oriented. Moreover, the finings indicate that the transformational leadership of women increase in an education setting and reduce in business setting. There are several effective settings for transformational leadership. These are political organizations and churches amongst others (Worell, 2001).

The current transformational leadership is gradually adopting group leadership strategies where every member of an organization is expected to acquire leadership qualities. Leadership development is considered to be key organizational development. Future leadership developments will change a great deal and will be different from the current leadership development. However, it is anticipated that skills competence will still play a major role in organizations but will have to change due to changing challenges facing organizations. Technological advancement will also play a major role in reshaping leadership development; organizations will want to develop leaders who will be able to assist the organizations to utilized technological advancements of the future. Organizations will also seek to have leaders who can create networks and attract collaborators who will help in the realization of organizational goals and objectives. Therefore, lone ranger leaders are highly likely not likely to have a place in the future organizations; extrovert leaders have a lot to gain in terms of future leadership development (London, 2002).

Reference List

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Burke, E. & Friedman, E. (2010). Fundamentals of Public Health Management and Leadership. New Jersey: ones & Bartlett Learning.

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Harrison, J. et al. (2009). Foundations in Strategic Management. Massachusetts: Cengage Learning.

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Worell, J. (2001). Encyclopedia of women and gender: sex similarities and differences and the impact of society on gender, Volume 2. U.S: Elsevier.

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