An Approach to Leadership

Leadership in practice at work is of or can be of different styles depending on the manager. Theoretically leadership may be categorized into different paths of approach. But in practice the style and rewards depends on the manager. The leadership styles are called theoretically by different names but according to me each manager follows his own style of leadership. Theoretically knowingly or unknowingly he may be following some style.

Like other approaches, the path goal model of leadership tries to help us understand and predict leadership effectiveness in different situations.

The path goal approach is based on the expectancy model of motivation which states an individual’s motivation depends on his or her expectation of reward and attractiveness of the reward. Managers have a number of ways to influence employees. The most important is their ability to provide rewards and to specify what employees must do to earn them. Thus, managers determine the availability of “goals” (rewards) and the “paths” that will earn them.

A manager’s leadership style influences the rewards available to employees, as well as employees’ perception of the path to those rewards. An employee centered manager for example will offer not only pay and promotion, but also support encouragement, security and respect. Those types of managers will also be sensitive to differences between employees and will tailor rewards to the individual. A task oriented manager, on the other hand will offer a narrower, less individualized set of rewards, but will usually be much better at linking employee performance to rewards than an employee centered manager. Employees of a task oriented manager will know exactly what productivity or performance level they must attain to get bonuses, salary increases, or promotions. The leadership style most effective in motivating employees depends on the types of rewards they most desire.

The path goal theory of leadership for managers can be identified by two variables that help determine the most effective leadership style: the personal characteristics of employees and the environmental pressures and demands in the work place with which employees must cope.

Personal Characteristics:

The leadership style employees prefer will be partially determined by their personal characteristics. Some studies suggest that individuals who believe their behavior affects the environment favor a participatory leadership style, while those who believe events occur because of luck or fate tend to find an authoritarian style more congenial.

Employees’ evaluations of their own ability will also influence their style preference. Those who feel highly skilled and capable may resent an overly supervisory manager, whose directives will be seen as counterproductive rather than helpful. On the other hand, employees who feel skilled may prefer a more directive manager, who will be seen as enabling them to carry out their tasks properly and earn organizational rewards.

Environmental Pressures:

Environmental factors also affect the leadership styles preferred by employees. One such factor is the nature of the employees’ tasks. For example, an overly directive style may seem redundant and even insulting for a highly structured task. If a task is unpleasant, however, a manager’s consideration may add to the employee’s satisfaction and motivation. Another factor is the organization’s formal authority system, which clarifies which actions are likely to be met with approval (coming in under budget, say) and which with disapproval (coming in over budget). A third environmental factor is the employees’ work group. Groups that are not very cohesive, for example usually benefit from a supportive, understanding style. As a general rule, a leader’ style will motivate employees to the extent that it compensates them for what they see as deficiencies in the task, authority system or work group.

All Managers obtain the necessary information from subordinate(s) then decide on the solution to the problem themselves. They may or may not tell subordinates what the problem is when they request information. The role played by subordinates in making the decision is clearly one of providing the necessary information to managers rather than generating or evaluating alternative solutions.

Whatever may be theoretical name a leader who can ultimately succeed as a manager and has some basic qualities of leadership. The manager can sharpen his leadership skills as the time passes by and can ultimately be a ‘Leader’ of leaders.