Free «The Effective Leadership Style» Essay Paper
Table of Contents
Any organization along with its structure, systems, and staff needs to be controlled. Otherwise, there will be total chaos; as a result, it may face various difficulties and even bankrupt or close down. However, there are people who are able to control all the necessary processes in an organization. Such people become leaders and are responsible for organizing working processes properly in order to achieve the desired results. In fact, leadership is an extremely responsible and very difficult duty. In other words, it is the art to make other people do what is needed to be done. However, it means not simply making employees obey; instead, leadership implies that it is crucial to motivate them to do what is necessary and to work better. Leaders help the whole staff to organize a working process so that it is comfortable for all the members and possible to achieve a desired result on time. Leaders set a right direction of a working process, provide employees with an inspiring vision, and create something brand new, including some approaches and specifics of their way of working. Therefore, any leader follows a particular leadership style with the help of which he/she can go outside the framework of the existing leadership styles and add something that is comfortable or typical for him/her and his/her subordinates. In order to be a good and successful leader, it is necessary to be acquainted with various leadership styles to be sure when it is necessary to utilize them. Thus, the research introduces such phenomenon as leadership in an organization, describes the main aspects and concepts of the leadership styles, and analyzes the differences between them in order to identify the most effective one.
Before discussing leadership, its aspects, models, and styles, it is necessary to give the definition of the terms leadership and leader. The phenomenon of leadership can be explained in various ways. For instance, leadership is a paradigm of approaches and methods that are applied to provide the control over people (Bowerman & Van Mart, 2015). Another explanation can be introduced in the following way: leadership is the way a person influences others with a view to achieving specific goals. Both explanations are correct because they introduce the different concepts of leadership and one may provide a dozen or more of similar definitions. However, for this research, the following definition is used: leadership is a process when one person influences, leads, and assists others in order to achieve common goals. This definition is more complex as it underlines the main obligations of the leader, which are to assist and to lead (Bowerman & Van Mart, 2015). Many people do not differentiate terms leader and boss or employer. However, there is a big difference between these terms.
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To be a leader means to provide control over others and to lead people, while to be a boss also means to control, but it may not include the last point, which implies leading. The boss never performs the work of his/her employees; for this purpose, he/she hires them. The leader, in contrast, always stays at the forefront of a team or group of people. The leader knows how to do work well and how to create conditions and train his/her followers so that they could perform the required work (Glanz, 2002). In other words, he/she is not a strict boss who only demands to demonstrate results; the leader is a person who explains how to do tasks and demonstrates how it could be done well. Now, when one has a clear explanation of the leader, it is necessary to explain how this person uses leadership to provide the required control.
Every leader is an individual who uses specific knowledge, skills, and experience to perform his/her obligations (Glanz, 2002). The way the leader uses leadership concepts and puts them into practice is called a leadership style. Despite the fact that all leaders are unique because there could not be two leaders with the exact leadership styles, one can outline five main leadership styles, which lie in the foundation of any leader’s style (Gosling, Sutherland & Jone, 2012). Five leadership styles are autocratic, paternalistic, democratic, laissez faire, and transactional (Gosling, Sutherland & Jone, 2012). All of them have different methods and approaches that the leader may use in order to influence his/ her followers. For instance, a democratic leadership style provides a lot of freedom to the followers; in fact, the leader makes a decision according to the majority of voices in his/her team. However, an autocratic leadership style is absolutely different because the leader has total power over his/her followers and may make a decision even if all of the subordinates are against this idea (Lussier & Achua, 2010). Nevertheless, it cannot be said that there are good or bad leadership styles because one gives more freedom and, thus, is more democratic. The more detailed analysis of all leadership styles will help to detect strong and weak sides of each leadership strategy and demonstrate in which situations each of them shows the highest effectiveness.
In order to estimate the effectiveness of leadership styles, it is worth presenting each of them and explain their main points. The first leadership style under discussion is democratic leadership. The name of this style explains its main specifics; this leadership is based on the traditional democratic principles when the majority decides how to act and what actions to take. All members of a group are able to introduce their ideas freely, without distinction of position. The role of the leader in such a team is to introduce the will of the majority but not to dictate his/her ideas (Northouse, 2015). The democratic leadership style is very useful in multi-divers organizations, where every opinion for improvement is very important. This leadership involves encouraging people in conversation and sharing ideas about the development, improvements, and problem-solving activities. The main advantage of the democratic leadership style is flexibility. When a situation changes frequently, it is necessary to take wise and well-thought actions. In this case, the democratic leadership style presents the biggest opportunities because one receives as many ideas as many followers there are in a team. Nevertheless, the biggest disadvantage of this leadership style is the same as its advantage. It provides many possibilities; thus, sometimes it is very difficult for the leader to choose one idea among the great number of choices. In addition, the leader should listen to all ideas and demonstrate respect for them since one of the main principles of this leadership is encouragement. If the leader does not encourage his/her followers to provide their ideas, he/she eliminates the democratic approach in this leadership style. Moreover, in a critical situation, when there is no time for discussions and a decision should be taken in the shortest period of time, the democratic leadership style demonstrates its weakness because the leader cannot make a decision without his/her team.
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Taking into consideration the introduced characteristic of the democratic leadership style, one can state that it is useful when the leader has enough time to discuss the issue with his/her team. The ideas introduced by the followers present a great variety of solutions and the leader has to select one out of all others. However, when there is no time for consultations, the democratic leadership style brings more disadvantages than advantages because the head cannot make a rapid decision. In this context, one should remember about another leadership style that may help in such situation, which is autocratic leadership.
Autocratic leadership is absolutely opposite to democratic one, even the names of these styles indicate the differences between them. The autocratic style predetermines that the leader has the total control over his/her followers (Vugta, Jepsona, Harta & Cremerb, 2004). The final solutions are always up to the leader even if it contradicts the ideas and beliefs of the team. One may judge such a leadership style, but it demonstrates its effectiveness. Moreover, this was the most common way of ruling for many years. The autocratic leadership style is very useful when the cost of a failure is too high and one cannot allow even the smallest mistake. This leadership style is suitable for a team of young or inexperienced followers who have poor skills and cannot view the whole picture. However, to be an autocratic leader does not mean to be a tyrant. Autocratic leaders demonstrate respect for their followers and those ideas that they bring (Vugta, Jepsona, Harta & Cremerb, 2004). They should explain the rules before they demand proper performance of obligations. However, the most important thing is to explain why it is necessary to fulfill these obligations according to the rules. Finally, the autocratic leader always educates his/her team before he/she enforces them. According to these facts, the autocratic leadership style predetermines ultimate fulfillment of obligations under the total control of the leader. Despite the fact that the head always makes decisions, he/she demonstrates respect for the ideas of his/her followers and appreciates their contribution.
The democratic and autocratic leadership styles are too different, though they both include great and effective methods of work, which bring a positive result. However, there exists a leadership style that introduces something middle between autocratic and democratic approaches, though it still has more to the autocratic leadership style. This leadership style is known as paternalistic because the relations between the leader and employees are similar to those that exist between parents and children. The paternalistic leader demonstrates much concern about his/her employees (Chen, 2006). The chief always tries to do best for his/her followers, for instance, provide better conditions of work and new benefits. Hence, the leader who obeys this leadership style behaves like a father/mother for his/her children. A paternalistic leadership style is widespread in oriental countries, especially in Japan and China (Chen, 2006). These countries live according to collectivistic but not individualistic principles. They pay special attention to a family and traditions; thus, the paternalistic leadership style reflects the virtues of their reality.
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In western countries, paternalistic leadership is often viewed negatively because mature employees feel uncomfortable when somebody cares too much about them. They want to be more independent and have an opportunity to learn from their own mistakes (Winkler, 2010). Hence, on the one hand, one has strict control and the limited right for free actions; while on the other hand, there are safety and personal benefits. This leadership style will be good for a young and inexperienced team that needs to have a protector, who will always be able to give good advice or to fix the made mistakes.
The paternalistic leadership style is criticized by those employees who have their own style of work and need more freedom to implement their ideas. For such people, the best leadership style that will satisfy all their requirements is laissez-faire leadership. This term is taken from French; its literal translation non-interfering explains its main principle. This leadership style is even more democratic than democratic leadership because it gives unlimited freedom of actions. The leader does not set any goals for a team; he/she does not even indicate the direction (Winkler, 2010). Such a leader performs very little administrative activity and prefers to monitor the group’s actions and provide only slightest corrections or, it would be better to say, recommendations because the leader does not have power over his/her subordinates.
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The idea of this leadership style is based on a belief that people who set goals themselves are more likely to achieve them successfully. For instance, there was an experiment among boy scouts in the United States. The goal of the experiment was to identify the effectiveness of the autocratic and democratic leadership styles. A group with an autocratic leader showed good results only in the presence of the leader. If there had been no leader, the group would have not demonstrated enthusiasm about performing their functions. However, another group was controlled by a democratic leader and always delivered good results. Despite the fact that the democratic group showed the result a bit worse than the autocratic one, their performance was at the same level all the time, not only under the leader’s control. This experiment indicates the weakness of the autocratic leadership style and the advantage of the democratic and laissez-faire leadership styles.
Experienced and skillful employees do not require strict control and an autocratic leader. They know how to perform their functions well and they are aware of how to improve the quality of work. Moreover, if such employees work under the control of the autocratic or parenthetical leader, they show worse results and have more conflicts in the workplace because their ideas are not always considered by such leaders, though the suggestions are often very constructive.
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The presented leadership styles introduce various types of managing, using mostly the influence on employees or vice versa, giving them full freedom of actions. However, there is one more leadership style that uses both benefits and punishments to provide effective management. This style is called transactional and predetermines that the leader uses all possible measures to provide the biggest influence on his/her team (Bertocci, 2009). Hence, if it is necessary to stimulate the workability of employees, the leader might use benefits to motivate them to work harder. However, if somebody makes a serious mistake, the leader might use punishment to make employees more attentive and show better performance. This leadership style is suitable in critical situations, when mistakes cannot be allowed because the price is very high. Despite the fact that transactional leadership means the usage of the system of both benefits and punishments, it is described by the majority of employees as very stressful.
Transactional leadership is unpredictable because one day employees may receive bonuses and privileges, while the next day their leader provides penalties or even dismiss one of them. The transactional leader is not interested in the improvements; he/she wants that everything remains the same (Bertocci, 2009). Stability is the principle that shapes the leaders’ actions. Thus, he/she uses penalties and bonuses to return the balance to this stability. According to this fact, employees do not like to work under the management of such a leader because he/she is only interested in final results, but they underline that the principles of this leadership style might be beneficial in emergency situations.
The Effective Leadership Style
The introduced leadership styles are the most widespread in organizations today. Every leader chooses the one that is the most suitable for him/her, an organization, a team, and a situation. Nevertheless, the last factor is the most changeable because in one situation it is better to use the democratic leadership style, while in another the autocratic or transactional style is advisable. Hence, it is impossible to determine the most effective or the most beneficial leadership style because they all are important; in other case, there would not be such a diversity of styles. Nevertheless, some skillful leaders could find a solution for this dilemma. In order to compare different leadership styles, analyzing their strong and weak sides, they just accept the fact that all leadership styles are necessary. Thus, they do not choose the best one but apply each leadership style when it is necessary.
The leaders who are able to implement such an experiment say that they use the mixed leadership style. In fact, it is the most appropriate decision since one may use all benefits introduced by different leadership styles and eliminate negative outcomes (Woods, 2004). Moreover, the variety of leadership approaches might be utilized as a hierarchy. For instance, when the leader has to manage a young and inexperienced team, he/she might use parenthetical leadership. The approaches presented in this style will help employees to overcome the first challenges that they face during their career path. The help of the leader-father will be useful on the early stages and demonstrate how to act in different situations.
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Thus, at the first stage of working with employees, it is more beneficial to use paternalistic leadership because others are less suitable. For instance, the democratic or laissez-faire styles will be less effective because they provide too much freedom of actions, but employees do not know how to use it wisely. Autocratic leadership will be also appropriate, but less effective from the training and educational point of view (Woods, 2004). Autocratic leadership does not predetermine too many explanations that are necessary for understanding the principles of work. In addition, transactional leadership will be also inappropriate as this style does not have a goal to learn how to overcome problems.
When the first stage is completed and employees have some experience and skills, the leader may change his/her style to autocratic. At this stage, autocratic leadership includes methods that help employees make their own decisions and introduce ideas. The autocratic leader listens to his/her employees’ suggestions but uses only the most appropriate ones. Hence, employees learn to make a right decision without fear of failure.
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At the next stage, when employees become more experienced in a decision-making process, the leader may give them more freedom and change his/her leadership to the democratic or laissez-faire style (Woods, 2004). Now employees have enough experience and are able to make decisions in accordance with their own knowledge without leader’s control. Transactional leadership should not be used constantly because it does not stimulate the growth and development of the team. This leadership might be applied at any stage but only as a temporary measure for solving some critical situations. Transactional leadership is good in emergency situations, when it is necessary to provide tight control in order to avoid negative outcomes. In all other cases, when there is no such critical need for transactional leadership, this style can be replaced by any other.