Leaders behavior

A theory of leader effectiveness concentrates on contingencies as they influence the effectiveness of various leader behavior styles. Leaders can choose the degree to which they engage in four kinds of leader behavior:

1. Instrumental Behavior: very similar to Initiating Structure, consisting of planning, organizing, controlling and coordination subordinates closely in their tasks;
2. Supportive Behavior: very similar to Consideration, consisting of displaying concern for the interests, needs and well being of subordinates;
3. Participative Behavior: characterized by sharing information and an emphasis on consultation with subordinates;
4. Achievement Oriented Behavior: setting challenging goals, expecting subordinates to perform at the highest level, and continually seeking improvement in performance.

This model has been labeled a Path Goal Theory of leadership effectiveness, because it proposes that a leader’s choice of these behaviors should be premised upon a goal of increasing personal payoffs to subordinates for work goal attainment the path to these payoffs as free of obstacles as possible. The path goal model, furthermore, is a contingency model, in that it posits that the appropriate mix of such leader behaviors depends on two major sets of factors:
(a) individuals being supervised, and (b) the characteristics of the work environment.

Individual characteristics influencing the impact behaviors include: (1) Ability – the greater the employee’s perceived level of ability to accomplish a task, the less the individual will accept direction or instrumental behavior on the part of the leader. (2) Locus of control – this is the degree to which employees believe they have control over what happens to them. Those who believe that they have a great deal of control over that happens to them are said to react more favorable to a participative leader, and others would prefer a more directive leader. (3) Needs and motives – the particular set of needs that are felt strongly by an employee will affect the impact of a particular set of leader behavior on that person’s performance. People with a high need for autonomy will probably react negatively to instrumental kinds of leader behavior.

A number of organizational characteristics, in addition to subordinates, are also proposed by path goal theory as influences on the effectiveness of leader behavior. Specifically, three broad groups of work environment properties have been studied: (1) subordinates’ tasks – the degree of structure involved in work operation; (2) the work group – informal work group norms and cohesiveness; and (3) organizational factors – stress levels in the work situation, situations involving high uncertainly, and the degree to which rules, procedures and policies govern an employee’s work.

A full explication of contingency leadership theories is beyond the scope of this article. It is important, however, to note that present research on the topic of leadership is just now beginning to yield an understanding of the complexities of leadership phenomena. The practice of leadership involves elements of the leader’s own personality and behavior, complex relationships between the leader and subordinates, informal group characteristics, and a variety of characteristics, of the formal environment within which work activities are carried out. Any formula then, that proposes to make one an effective leader by adopting a single ideal leader style is hopelessly wrong and anyone purporting to sell such a formula is no more of a help than were the snake oil salesmen of 70 or more years ago.

The very concept of leadership – inducing others to work towards an objective raises a fundamental question in management: How can people be led to perform at higher levels of productivity? The manager as leader must seek some theory or model for motivating others.

Several theories have received a great deal of attention. We shall summarize one that is built on assumption of man’s basic nature and one that is focused on the human environment. Both classifications offer guidelines for mangers to induce others to perform. Of course, all these theories come from psychologists.

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