For this paper, I have been asked to assume the supervisor’s position as a clerical support assistant for an organization’s Marketing Department. To fulfill the responsibilities of this role in the best possible manner, it is essential to analyze several leadership theories and decide which leadership style is the most suitable.
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Lewin’s Leadership Theories
According to Kurt Lewin, there are three major leadership styles:
As the name suggests, this leadership style is when the leader takes an autocratic role, and the subordinates are given the minimal opportunity for decision-making and participation in planning. (Clark, 1997) The advantage of this leadership style is that associates are clear about their roles and performance expectations. They are aware that there will be consequences if they do not perform. Thus, it might be believed that assuming this leadership style would enhance performance levels in some cases. However, I think that this leadership style should only be used when a particular employee does not seem to be working well. It might be that in this case, some stern action is required, and the leader needs to assume an autocratic stance to get the employee’s work up to a certain standard. In the contemporary business world, this leadership style is looked down upon more and more. Employees now do not react favorably to this style of leadership. Research shows that people are most likely to leave jobs where their bosses have an autocratic style of leadership (Vugt, 2002). In other words, this leadership style could result in higher employee turnover. Thus, I would refrain from using this leadership style most time.
This leadership style gives the employee a little more autonomy in that the leader allows the employee to participate in decision-making. However, the ultimate decision-making power still resides with the boss. (Clark, 1997) I believe that this leadership style is best suited to my personality and works well in enhancing the employees’ job commitment and motivation levels. This is because the employee feels more involved and has a feeling of ownership of his work. At the same time, since the ultimate decision-making power resides with the leader, the boss is still in a position to ensure that the most suitable decision is taken. Another advantage of this leadership style is that it taps into the employees’ knowledge base. Sometimes, since subordinates do most clerical work, they might have more knowledge about a specific topic or process than the leader himself. Thus, taking the subordinate’s input can add value to the decision.
According to this leadership style, the leader leaves the decision-making authority ultimately to the subordinates. However, the responsibility for any decision made still lies with the leader. (Clark, 1997) I believe that this leadership style can be used when the subordinates are competent and can be trusted to make the most optimal decision. This leadership style would further enhance motivation and job satisfaction because the employee’s opinion and the conclusion are given the most weightage. Thus, his involvement and job commitment would also be further enhanced. However, I would not be comfortable with not having the final say in a decision that I would be held responsible for. I believe that if the leader is held accountable for the decision, he should have the right to make the ultimate decision or the right to approve or disapprove of the decisions made by the subordinates.
Other leadership theories put forward to include:
This leadership style is based on a transparent chain of command and a strict system of reward and punishment. When the boss gives an order, it is expected to be carried out at all costs, and if the subordinate fails to do so, he will be held accountable regardless of the causes behind his failure. I believe this leadership style is now outdated. Just like Lewin’s authoritarian leadership style, this should be used only in rare circumstances, e.g., if an employee is not performing well and something needs to be done to rectify his behavior.
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According to this leadership theory, the leader should inspire subordinates and lead with enthusiasm and energy.
According to this theory, the best leadership approach differs from situation to situation, and various case factors need to be considered to determine which leadership style is best.
After analyzing all leadership theories, I have concluded that there is no one best leadership style to manage my subordinate effectively. Even though I am most comfortable with the participative style, research shows that even the participative style is not always the best way to go; it depends on the culture of the organization, as well as the level of employee organizational maturity. (Rad, 2006) Thus, the best leadership style to adopt depends on numerous factors, e.g., the employee’s level of maturity and personality traits. Some people might be more motivated by an authoritative boss and others by one who is more accommodating to others’ opinions. Therefore, I believe that the situational style of leadership is most effective, as it states that I must analyze various situational factors before choosing which leadership style is best to adopt.
Vugt, M, V. (2002). Autocratic leadership in social dilemmas: A threat to group stability. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 40, pages 1-13. Web.
Clark, D. (1997, May 11). Leadership Styles. Web.
Rad, A, M, M. (2006). A study of relationship between managers’ leadership style and employees’ job satisfaction. Leadership in Health Services, Volume 19, pages 11-28. Web.
ChangingMinds.org. Leadership Theories. 2009, Web.