Leadership In Organizations

Research Settings

The research was conducted at the major bases of operation where a range of foreign workers were available including pilots, air hostesses, technical personnel, ground crew as well as consultants. The range of nationalities was huge and included people largely from Far East Asia, Western Europe, South Asia, China and North Africa. People from South America, Eastern Europe and Russia were absent as the airline does not service these locations. Moreover, there were no employees from the Middle East as the region provides poor recruitment opportunities for the airline. Given the diversity available, it can be safely assumed that research could be carried out with satisfactory precision.

Traditional Leadership in Organisations

Leadership can be described as the combined processes of social influence through which once can recruit the support of others to achieve common goals. Traditionally leadership has moved from more authoritarian styles to ones that encourage participation in order to achieve common objectives. Various theories have been involved to delineate leadership which are dependent on a number of factors. The most common factors include traits, function, vision, situational interaction, behaviour, values, power, intelligence and charisma as well as others.

The perspectives on evaluating effective leadership have emerged as far back as Plato’s age where leadership was seen composed of personal traits above anything else. This view prevailed largely till it was replaced well after the nineteenth century as the behavioural and style based theories took centre stage. These styles emerged as the trait based approach was heavily criticised and a careful observation of various “successful” leaders was carried out. Various schools of thought emerged and these are discussed below briefly to enhance understanding.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is centred on the provision of a positive stimulus to certain behaviour. This enhances the likelihood of such behaviour in the future too. Over the years, positive reinforcement has been employed successfully at large business establishments such as Frito-Lay, 3M, Goodrich, Michigan Bell, Emery Air etc. and this has led to improvements in productivity. Empirical research in the last two decades has hinted that positive reinforcement is responsible for around 17% increases in performance where applied. Often the methods used are inexpensive such as praising employees so this results in performance increases at low costs.

Are the leaders positively reinforcing their employees?

Nearly all the leaders are positively reinforcing their employees using appropriate rewards. The labour is positively reinforced through incentives such as verbal encouragement, line staff and maintenance staff is encouraged by giving them cheap food and lodging. The management is being positively reinforced through cash bonuses as well as free air tickets subject to their supervisor’s recommendations.

Situational and Contingency Theories

Some theorists believe that varying circumstances tend to produce leaders with varying capabilities and traits. For example, a situation of crisis will give rise to an authoritarian leader while a situation of consensus building will breed a democratic leader. This ideology has progressed over the years to espouse various theories namely being the Fiedler contingency model, Vroom-Yetton decision model, the path goal theory and the Hersey-Blanchard situational theory.

According to Fiedler, leaders could be relationship oriented or task oriented where the relationship oriented leaders performed best in intermediately favourable situations while the task oriented leaders fared best in highly favourable or unfavourable environments.

The Vroom-Yetton decision model was based on taxonomy for various leadership situations through which normative decisions were arrived at. Various leadership styles were expressed through situational variables that helped to define what approach was better to the situation at hand. This model was also known as the situational contingency theory.

The path goal theory espouses four different kinds of leaders as the achievement oriented, directive, participative and supportive. Their behaviours are contingent and depend on environmental factors as well as follower’s characteristics. The models are seen as fluid and can be adopted by anyone in any situation depending on the requirements of the situation.

The situational theory of Hersey and Blanchard relies on four differing leadership styles that are dependent on four different kinds of followers. For effective leadership, the model holds that the leadership style must be well synchronised with the fitting level of follower expectations. This model makes leadership a function of the leader’s behaviour as well as the behaviour of the followers.

The leaders in general are quick to adapt to new situations such as the transfer of new employees, the emergence of a new set of consultants etc. The leaders adapt to various responses by the labour effectively for example a recent labour strike by multicultural maintenance workforce was dealt with authoritatively and when the labour leaders realised a weak position they backed off. Similarly, the previous Managing Director was removed by widespread strikes by pilots, captains and air crew strikes. The participants were cross cultural and their leaders were quick to adapt to pressure by the government.

By: Ammarah Khan

    

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