Question: Assess why the use of directive leadership would probably not advisable when workers possess all the following attributes: a) experience b) ability c) need for independence.
A positive working relationship is defined in the organizational literature as one in which the leader (a) spends time talking about the subordinate’s problems, concerns, and expectations, (b) uses active listening skills and is sensitive to issues raised by the subordinate, (c) refrains from imposing his or her frame of reference on the issues discussed, and (d) discusses mutual expectations about each person’s job and about their working relationship (Gerstner & Day, 1997; Graen et al., 1982). Leader’s relations or consideration behaviors, in particular, have been found to predict subordinates’ satisfaction with work (Greene, 1975). Relations behaviors are characterized by mutual trust, respect, consideration of feelings, and warmth and include doing personal favors, consulting, and accepting suggestions from subordinates (Yukl, 2002).
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In the organizational literature, task structure refers to the extent to which leaders define and structure their role and those of subordinates by planning, communicating information, and criticizing in order to obtain a goal (Batlis & Green, 1979). Examples of task behaviors include emphasizing deadlines and standard procedures, assigning tasks, and criticizing members’ work (Yukl, 2002, p. 50).
Autocratic or directive leaders, on the other hand, tend to lack insight about themselves and others, manipulate others to their own ends without consideration of other’s feelings and without respect for them as people (Rosenfeld & Plax, 1975). Thus, it was reasoned that highly autocratic leaders are likely to rely on task behaviors, rarely using relations behaviors.
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Followers and followership have carried negative connotations of subordination down through the ages. Leaders have been seen as all-powerful, whereas followers and followership have been perceived as powerless and dependent. More contemporary views of the roles of leaders and followers suggest more of a sharing of leadership so that one role complements the other.
In work situations within a dynamic environment, the relationship between leaders and followers is crucial for organizational success. Situational leadership, proposed by Hersey and Blanchard (cited in Wren, 1995), described the relationship between a leader’s behavior and a particular aspect of a situation as it relates to the readiness level exhibited by followers. The leader must be attuned to the level of readiness of followers to follow in a given situation. There is a dynamic process in place so that leadership behavior changes in relation to the followers’ response and readiness in order that performance and productivity will be maintained (Hersey & Blanchard, as
cited in Wren).
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Leading and following can be a dynamic relationship that is influenced by how followers respond as a group. Followers within relationships with leaders behave positively; however, in some cases they may adversely affect group leadership. Offerman (2004) suggested that good leaders can be influenced to make poor decisions because of well-meaning followers who are united and persuasive about a particular course of action. In addition, followers who may deceive them with flattery may surround leaders. This behavior may isolate the leader from the unpleasant realities associated with leadership (Offerman). Finally, unscrupulous and ambitious followers may intrude on the authority of a leader to the extent that the leader relinquishes power and the ability to lead and only retains responsibility (Offerman).