Personal Characteristics of Employees

The leadership style employee preference will be according to House, partially determined by their personal characteristics. Individuals who believe their behavior affects the environment favor a participatory leadership style while those 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 counter productive rather than helpful. On the other hand, employees who feel less 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 and Workplace Demands:

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 disproval (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’s 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.

At New Hope Communications, a publishing company based in Boulder Colorado, CEO Doug Greene faced a problem attracting the types of leaders his company needed. He observed, “we knew we needed better thinking and leadership, but couldn’t afford it”. Greene dealt with the problem by introducing flexible employment approach he called “part time” leadership. Part time leadership allows smaller growing companies to attract the kind of talent often associated with larger more established companies. Drawing talent from other geographic regions, it enables employee to contribute to the company without having to relocate. For example, Ron Moyer former calculation director for Institutional Investor is now responsible for New Hope’s circulation strategy and planning – part time. Though he does not live in Colorado, he and Greene are in constant communication through e-mail. By being involved in separate entities, these people can bring more to the table. They are leaders, Greene asserted, with the kind of involvement that goes with it.

Deciding when to involve subordinates:
In their 1988 book Vroom and Arthur Jago criticize the path goal theory because it fails to take into account the situation within which managers decide to involve employees. As a solution, they extend the classic Vroom-Yetton model of situational leadership to include a concern for both the quality and the quantity and the acceptance of decisions.

The original Vroom-Yetton model was developed in 1973 to help managers decide when and to what extent they should involve employees in solving a particular problem.

Depending on the nature of the problem, more than one leadership style might be suitable. Research by Vroom and others has concluded that decisions consistent with this model tend to be successful and those inconsistent with the model are generally unsuccessful. Moreover, employees seem to prefer managerial decisions consistent with the model.

Vroom and Jago have extended this approach by hypothesizing that the effectiveness of a decision depends on the quality of the decision, the commitment made to the decision and the time expended to make the decision. They also believe that the overall effectiveness of leadership is a function of the effectiveness of decisions minus the cost of making the decisions plus value realized in developing people’s abilities by means of decision making. It is possible to make to series of highly effective decisions, but if these decisions do little or nothing to develop the abilities of others or if the decision making process is cumbersome or costly then the decisions in questions will lower the overall human capital of the organization.

Obviously some people adjust to different life situations more easily than others. No reasonably alert manger whose employees are clearly uncooperative ad whose group‘s performance is declining will persist in using a specific leadership style without at least questioning its effectiveness. Thus, it is possible that individuals can learn how to diagnose a leadership situation and can, at least to some extent, alter their style to make their leadership in that situation more effective. In organizations as elsewhere in life, flexibility is desirable.

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