Many people believe that leadership is an issue that can be developed through training. Others especially those in the olden days believed that leaders were born. But I have come to realize that leadership is a diverse topic. This can be seen right from its definition to the many theories that have been put forward to try and explain leadership. There are many definitions of leadership and theories on leadership are still growing. In this paper, we will look at the background of company XYZ, which will be discussed together with a look at the type of industry in which it operates.
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The different theories put forward on leadership will be looked at paying attention to its definition and how it is analyzed in the context of Company XYZ. Here, the leadership styles and qualities of the person behind the success of this company will also be critically analyzed in line with the many leadership theories that have been put forward. This paper will also compare and contrast the different opinions given by theorists. We then critically analyze the theories and wind up with their summary.
Company XYZ is a privately-owned equity firm that has specialized in dealing with investments across several sectors. It has interests in the banking and financial sector, it is engaged in hotel and hotel management, it has investments in real estate and information technology, it has strategic investments in the entertainment sector, it has ventures in supermarkets and upscale fashion retailing. Company XYZ has also invested heavily in media, telecommunications, healthcare, and also in the industrial sector. Company XYZ has major investments in Saudi Arabia and other developing markets particularly in Africa and in the Middle East, besides other international investments. Company XYZ was founded in the 1980s and is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.
What is leadership?
As already mentioned, there are many definitions of leadership. The definition that one picks on is very important because it shows how one views leadership. In this case, I will use the definition given by one author called Yukl because it brings out leadership as a process. It also tackles the issues that I think are important to those leaders who want to fulfil their leadership responsibilities. This author defined leadership as “the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives” (Yukl, 2010 p. 8).
To clearly understand leadership in Company XYZ, I will employ the use of theory because theories show how leadership works and its implications in an organization. The theories I believe will address fully this subject are, Fiedler’s contingency theory, Transformational theory of leadership, authentic leadership theory and the trait and behaviour theories of leadership.
Fiedler’s Contingency Model
This model was developed by Fiedler’s a scholar dealing with organizational behaviour. It is mainly a situational model of leadership, the first one that tried to explain how leaders develop. In this model, Fiedler assumes two things, first, that a leader’s performance depends on “the degree to which the situation gives him control and influence—that is, the likelihood that he can successfully accomplish the job” (Fiedler, 1977, p. 29), and second that the leader’s performance depends on “the leader’s basic motivation—that is, whether the leader’s self-esteem depends primarily on accomplishing the task or on having close supportive relations with others” (Fiedler, 1977, p. 29).
In this model, Fiedler believes that leaders are task or relationship motivated. This two combine to produce a leadership style that can withstand change. He strongly believes that for any leader to be effective, he or she should learn how to adapt leadership situations so that they match with the leadership style and the degree of control wielded.
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Fiedler used what he called the Least Preferred Coworker scale (LPC) to assess leadership styles whereby leaders are asked to select among their workers, a worker whom he can not work well with. This worker is then rated using opposing viewpoints. Critical leaders about the worker will receive a low LPC score while those who cared more about the work will get high LPC score. In this model, three aspects are identified as determinants of situational control.
These are the leader-member relation approach, which depends on the measure of confidence, trust and respect that subordinates accord their leader, the task-structure approach, which depends on the extent to which tasks are structured or not structured, and the position-power approach, which shows the extent to which the power held by a leader influences issues like hiring and firing subordinates (Gitman and McDaniel, 2008, p.1).
Relating this theory to this case, I see that Mr Faisal matched his leadership style with appropriate situations. This helped him improve the performance of Company XYZ. He learned how to avoid any situation that he suspected might bring him a failure and only went for those situations that brought success to his Company. This is suggested by Fiedler on p. 176. Fiedler’s leader situation match approach was effectively used by Mr Faisal and this was seen in the way his leadership improved worker behaviour on the job as it was seen in the improved worker performance. This theory has enjoyed a lot of support from many people researching on leadership; however, it also has some important concerns that should be addressed.
Many flaws can be found in this theory. Many studies do not appreciate the way the LPC score is interpreted specifically when differentiating task orientation and relationship orientation. Fiedler himself acknowledged the flaws and tried to rectify the theory by coming up with the Cognitive Resource Theory. In this theory, he proposed that a leader’s performance is determined by how he incorporates experience and intelligence and his behaviour and the situation. This means that the LPC model does not address all the issues regarding leadership. This does not, however, mean that this theory should be rejected; it only shows there more to leadership than what the theory gives (Fiedler & Garcia, 1987).
Conclusions about Fiedler’s theory
No one can ignore the fact that much research has been carried about this theory and more support for it realized. This support, however, has not stopped others from criticizing it. Many argue that Fiedler’s theory was based on research done on military training. Others argue that the LPC score can not be trusted 100% and the fact the Fiedler himself developed another theory was proof enough that something was missing in the original theory. This theory also fails to address the most important elements in leadership used by Mr Faisal at Company XYZ. It fails to tell us that leaders should motivate followers to work beyond expectations and also leaders striving to develop others. The next two leadership theories address these issues.
Hersey and Blanchard also came up with a situational leadership model that shows how leaders should adjust their styles of leadership to match the needs of their subordinates. This is, therefore, a contingency theory that looks at the followers as a measure of success of leadership. Here, it is argued that it all depends on followers to either accept or reject an individual as a leader, that effectiveness does not depend on what the leader does, rather on what his or her followers do. Hersey and Blanchard came up with four behaviours that followers can exhibit (Schermerhorn, 2010, p. 320).
There are situations where followers can be both unwilling and unable to carry out a given task. Followers at times are unable but willing to perform assigned tasks. Followers can also be in a position to carry out some duties but unwilling. Lastly, followers may be in a position and willing to carry out a duty. Leaders, in this case, don’t have much to do; they are only supposed to be lenient and delegate duties. Mr Faisal realized that company XYZ was not just about him, but about the workers as well. He, therefore, respected their views and their capabilities. This enabled him to know who and when to delegate duties as the situation dictated. This leadership style created a good rapport between him and his workers, who reciprocated by working hard to oversee the success of company XYZ (Prosser, 2007, p. 50).
The Vroom-Yetton expectancy model
There is also the Vroom-Yetton expectancy model that tries to determine how much participation leaders need from their followers before making decisions (Anon 2008, 145). Five leadership styles are presented in this model. These are; the telling approach where leaders look at problems and make independent decisions before informing their followers. The selling approach, where leaders get information from followers concerning a problem, makes decisions independently and convinces the followers to carry out the task.
The consulting approach involves leaders getting advice from followers, makes independent decisions, and informs the followers about them. The join approach requires leaders to get suggestions from followers, makes decisions independently and informs followers. Lastly, the delegate approach, where leaders work hand in hand with followers in coming up with answers to problems. As already shown in the situational leadership theory, as a leader, Mr Faisal employed the delegate approach. He always works hand in hand with his workers sharing views and ideas on problems in the company. This saw him arrive at appropriate solutions that enhanced the success of the company (Vroom-Yetton, n.d., p. 1).
This is one of the most appreciated leadership theories that were developed by House. This theory is so motivational to the extent that it links needs to satisfaction, which is all dependent on how effective their performance turns out (Leadership Theories, 2004, p. 1). In this theory, followers are trained, guided, supported, and rewarded to perform effectively (Kritsonis, 2004, p. 5).
House came up with four behaviours that are exhibited in leadership (Anon 2008, 259). House’s view differs from that of Fiedler in that he assumes that leaders have flexibility. He, therefore, means that an individual can exhibit any or all the styles of leadership as the situation dictates. The theory also presents two categories in which contingency variables can be found. There are those found in environments that fall outside employee’s control. Here, it is argued that environmental factors help in determining the behaviour that leaders should have to maximize employee effort (Griffin, 2007, p. 332).
The second category involves those that are inherent in the personal traits of employees; in this case, personal traits dictate how behaviours in the environment and those shown by the leader are interpreted. This means that a leader’s behaviour will not be effective if it does not match with the environmental structure and with the characteristics of employees. This theory is well seen in the application in the way Mr Faisal studied the needs of his followers in different situations and came up with ways of satisfying them. He always congratulated hardworking employees by giving them rewards. Employees with home or workplace problems were always given time off to sort them out. He always made sure that employees had salary increments during hard economic times. This is why he was liked by his employees (Plunkett, 2007, p. 452).
Transformational leadership and the Full Range Model
Transformational leadership theory is concerned with the creation of a positive change in one’s followers by caring about each other’s interest. Many leaders use the transformational style of leadership in their organizations. It is said that this theory lends its origin to charismatic leadership. Avolio (2010) defined charismatic leaders as “those who could energize others through their use of symbols, images, stories, and rhetoric to perform extraordinary levels” (p. 4).
The leader and his or her followers work together in a mutual process in improving each other through high standards of motivation and morality. Such leaders usually set the standards for values and ideals to be adhered to by the followers. After setting these values and ideals, transformational leaders can use charismatic methods in drawing people to follow them (Hall et al., 2009). Mr Faisal employed this style by using spiritual and social values to motivate workers at company XYZ. He knew very well that, such values are important because they make people feel uplifted. Working with him, we always felt connected to a higher purpose.
Transformational leadership can not be complete without looking at transactional leadership. Avolio and Yammarino (2002) show that transactional leadership “focuses on clarifying employees’ role and task requirements and providing followers with positive and negative rewards contingent on performance” (Kinicki and Kreitner, 2009, p. 358). This leadership style fits well with the explanations given by many theories such as the Path-Goal Theory and Fiedler’s theory.
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The transformational theory is very vital to any leader because its outcomes are encouraging provided it is implemented well. The said outcomes include trust, admiration, loyalty and respect for the leader. These are exactly the outcomes we experienced at Company XYZ. They helped Mr Faisal lead effectively and accomplish the goals he set for us. He made sure that he won his employees’ admiration, trust, respect and loyalty. As already mentioned, he provided his workers with rewards according to their performance and needs.
The Full Range Model
The FRM of leadership incorporates both transformational and transactional leadership. According to this leadership style, the leader both transforms and motivates his or her followers. Effective leaders are, therefore, those who incorporate these two leadership styles, they should be both transformational and transactional just the way Mr Faisal applied them at Company XYZ. He both transformed us into good workers fit workers in any workplace and he also motivated us using appropriate means encouraging us to work without feeling overburdened or exploited.
Conclusions about transformational theory
So far research supports the fact that individuals can be taught to be transformational leaders, although, more is needed in its implementation. Some argue that the theory does not address the moral character of a leader. But still, this theory is important if it is used well. It only needs little research to show how it can be effectively used. This is why we have to look at the authentic theory.
The Authentic Leadership Theory
This theory tries to incorporate ideas from the earlier leadership theories. It is said to have originated from the transformational leadership when Avolio (2010) tried to see if there can be two kinds of transformational leaders, authentic and inauthentic, what they simply referred to as pseudo-transformational (Avolio, 2010, p. 1). Such a leader is exactly like a transformational leader only that he lacks the moral attribute of being transformational.
Avolio (2005) therefore, defined authentic leadership as “knowing oneself, being consistent, and having a positive as well as a strength-based orientation towards developing oneself and others” (Avolio, 2005, p. 194). An authentic leader, therefore, knows what he stands for, his values; he will only pursue those actions that are in line with his values and seeks to develop himself and others. This describes well Mr Faisal; he knew that for him to be seen and be regarded as a leader, he had to be consistent in his actions, words as well as values. This enabled him to receive support from us workers.
Yukl (2010) also agrees that the actions of authentic leaders are determined by their strong values and beliefs. They don’t lead because they want favours or a liking from their followers. It is their values that motivate them to always do what is right and fair to all. Transparency, trust and respect always prevail between them and their followers. Workers at company XYZ were always transparent, trustful and respectful because they saw Mr Faisal as their role model. The authentic leadership theory is still new, however, it has those who support it and others criticizing it just like the other theories (Ehrhart & Klein, 2010, p. 1).
Conclusions on the authentic leadership theory
This theory proposes that leadership should be all about being true to oneself and one’s values. The theory is still new, therefore, has a room of being developed further. It nevertheless explains an important aspect of leadership, which if used well, can help leaders lead their followers effectively.
I believe that Mr Faisal has applied the different theories of leadership at company XYZ. It is evident from the leadership qualities that he has been able to incorporate an effective leadership style in company XYZ that enabled him to take risks as opportunities for the company to grow. He was able to match his leadership style with the situation that he was in. He has employed the leader-member relationship approach in his leadership style. This saw workers accord him a lot of trust and respect. Tasks at company XYZ are highly structured because Mr Faisal has ensured that there is a strong relationship between him and the employees. I, therefore, strongly think that the contingency theories best explain his leadership at Company XYZ.
In these theories, an effort was made to identify those characteristics that define leaders. Theorists came up with trait theories on the premise that people who became leaders have inherent traits different from what others have. People are usually singled out as great leaders using their traits. They assume that people have intrinsic values that make them leaders. In trait theories, key behavioural or personality characteristics that are shared across the leadership spectrum are usually used to determine great and worse leaders.
Traits cannot be used in determining who is a leader and who is not, although many theorists agree that leadership traits can be shaped by environmental factors in which people are born making them leaders. Therefore, we can comfortably conclude that traits alone cannot determine a leader, but they are vital in helping leaders get the necessary leadership skills. There are indeed certain traits that made Mr Faisal into what he was, a good leader. He was authoritative, charismatic, considerate, and also a good listener. These traits are the ones that enabled him to earn the respect, trust, and loyalty from his workers and other stakeholders at company XYZ.
Seeing those trait theories did not define well who leaders are, theorists came up with behavioural theories. Here, it is strongly argued that leaders are made not born, that successful leaders have behaviours that can be defined and learned. They ignore the inborn traits and dwell on what leaders can do. Proponents of these theories strongly believe that if success can be measured by actions that can be described, then anyone can easily act similarly to succeed. Behavioural theories made a big shift from trait theories in that they assume that people can learn leadership instead of assuming that leaders can only be born. They tend to imply that everyone has a chance of becoming a leader contrary to the trait theories that tend to separate people basing on leadership potential.
Behavioural theories deny those without leadership traits a chance of becoming leaders. This means that behavioural theories suggest that one can identify and isolate those behaviours that lead to leadership failure so that he or she can become a great leader. Therefore, both behavioural and trait theories attempted to find one best style of leadership that can be used in all situations, but using selected situations or behaviours did not achieve that goal. Mr Faisal is adaptable to every situation that faces him, he is always alert to the social environment around him, and he also ambitious. He has incorporated these with sensitivity towards employees; he has established mutual trust with them, and he is always concerned about their affairs. This has enabled the company to grow to where it is now (Doyle & Smith, 2001, p. 1).
As it is seen, leadership is a diverse subject that needs thorough research and understanding of the theories to apply it effectively. All these theories define who Mr Faisal was according to how they rate him. We have seen that there are certain behaviours and traits that made Mr Faisal a great leader; however, traits and behaviour alone can not conclusively define him. Fiedler’s theory of leadership helps in knowing a persons leadership style and how he or she incorporates it with the situation to fit his needs.
However, the LPC score in this theory does not give clear and conclusive answers to leadership. I feel that the transformational and the authentic leadership styles have best described who Mr Faisal was right from their definitions. They both suggest that effective leaders inspire their followers to work beyond expectations, exactly what Mr Faisal used to do. Authentic leaders add that leaders should aim at developing themselves and others thereby creating positive outcomes that benefit all. These theories still need more research; however, I think if combined, they can bring out good leadership in any leader.
I think that a combination of transformational and authentic leadership theories can best explain what effective leadership should be. If one follows these theories, then one is bound to get a leadership style that will produce significant changes in the organization in terms results because the resultant leadership will give people motivation, it will create trust, commitment and loyalty to their leader.
Leadership is diverse and therefore is understood differently by many. In this case, I have used Yukl’s definition of leadership because it brings out leadership as a process. It also tackles the issues that I think are important to those leaders who want to fulfil their leadership responsibilities. Different individuals have different ways of influencing others; these different ways constitute what is called leadership styles. There are many leadership styles as we have shown through the many theories on leadership. We have discussed Fiedler’s contingency model where Fiedler believes that leaders are task or relationship motivated. This two combine to produce a leadership style that can withstand change.
Situational leadership theory was an expansion on Fiedler’s theory made by Hersey and Blanchard and looks at follower readiness and willingness to carry out assigned tasks. The Vroom-Yetton expectancy model tried to establish the extent of participation that leaders need from their followers before making important decisions. The last contingency theory we looked at was the path-goal theory which looks at task performance and human motivation as determinants of effective leadership (Path, 2010, p. 1). This theory suggests that leaders should remove any obstacle in way of goal attainment and give followers support by guiding them along the way to achieve organizational goals.
Transformational leadership theory says that leadership should create a positive change among the subordinates in a mutual way whereby the interests of each are taken care of. The authentic theory defined an authentic leader as one who knows what he stands for, his values, one that only pursues those actions that are in line with his values, and seeks to develop himself and others (Miner, 2007, p. 194). Both behavioural and trait theories attempted to find one best style of leadership that can be used in all situations, but using selected situations or behaviours did not achieve this goal.
In this paper, we have looked at theories that explain who a great leader is concerning the leadership employed by Mr Faisal in company XYZ. Theories looked at including the contingency theories of leadership, which included Fiedler’s theory, situational leadership theory, Vroom-Yetton expectancy theory, path-goal theory. All contingency theories argue that there is no single style that can define who a leader is, but leaders use many leadership style contingent to the situations; the transformational theory of leadership and full-range model.
These argue that individuals can be taught or transformed into any type of leader; the authentic theory of leadership argues that leadership is all about being true to oneself and one’s values; trait and behavioural theories of leadership attempted to find one best style of leadership that can be used in all situations, however never works in reality. Therefore, it is only the transformational and authentic theories of leadership that seem the best in defining who a great leader is despite that fact that they still require more research on them.
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