Leadership is a social influence phenomenon which functions to persuade, motivate and unite members in a group towards achieving shared objectives (House et al., 2002). Research has shown that there is a positive relationship between a leadership style and the ability to influence others’ psychological state. (Keltner, Gruenfeld & Anderson, 2003). That is, higher productivity and greater satisfaction are recorded when members’ needs are understood and satisfied (House, 1996, p.340). The issue of whether leaders should strictly be a goal oriented or people oriented to have been the subject of much research. Both sides of the debate defend each concept as more effective than the other, but these findings do not resolve the issue. Instead, it can be argued that other equally important factors such as leader and follower characteristics, task structure, gender roles, cross- cultural differences and various other situational demands have an impact on leadership approach. Effective leaders place importance in identifying distinctive qualities of individuals in a group and are ever willing to provide motivation and support towards achieving a common goal (House et al., 2002). Consequently, greater cooperation, understanding and support of decision are achieved. The essay aims to discuss effects of various leadership approaches on member motivation and satisfaction.
The early leadership theories presumed that leaders are naturally disposed with exceptional qualities and are born to lead (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). Later, the concept expanded associating virtuous trait attributes. Among other trait attributes, personality and intelligence were most associated as the mark of great leaders (Judge, Bono, Ilies & Gerhardt, 2002). However, research on social stereotyping indicated otherwise. The powerless individuals in a group are inclined to fit a leader with preconceived attributions not found in common people (Overback & Park, 2006). By doing so, the followers submit to the powerful in exchange for recognition and direction. Great leaders are often described as visionaries and intellectuals, but whether such leaders have the capacity to focus on the well-being of followers is questionable. For example, Fiske (1993) illustrated how dominant male leaders used biased justification to exert control over minority women workers. Elevated power has been the main reason why leaders have trouble recognizing members’ positive progress (Keltner et al., 2008). Numerous studies revealed that control oriented leaders are prone to overlook member’s concerns, thus causing low morale and disunity among group members (Keltner et al., 2003; Fiske, 2010).
McGregor’s (1960, as cited in Bobic & Davis, 2003) theory X and Theory Y brought about the shift to behavioural perspective of leadership. McGregor’s (1960) view was that leaders are to balance the aims of organization with the needs of workers. Basically, McGregor used Maslow’s (1943, as cited in Bobic & Davis, 2003, p.242) hierarchy of needs to determine the two type of human nature. McGregor (1960) quoted that type X individuals are categories of people who dislike work and must be forced to perform by use of authority, pressure and threat. Type Y individuals, on the other hand, enjoys work, exercise self-direction and self-control to achieve group and personal objectives, seeks responsibility and are highly creative in solving a wide variety of complex organizational problems (McGregor, 1960). Therefore, workers in Theory X category will be approached using autocratic style, whereas one in Theory Y will be approached with democratic style.
McGregor‘s (1960) theory overlooked other significant factors such as gender roles and cross-cultural behaviours influencing decisions and actions of leaders. Majority of woman leadership style is indicated to fall back on participative approach and men are more comfortable with the directive approach (Eagly &Johnson, 1999). In cultures with fewer power distances, a democratic style leadership works better than the autocratic approach and in cultures, which accept high- power distance as a norm, autocratic approach produced better results than the democratic style of leadership(Dickson, Hartog & Mitchelson, 2003).
In desperate circumstances, for example, during the war-like situations, the majority of people would rather choose a leader, who is autocratic than democratic (Vugt, 2006). However, the same approach produced resistance in other social dilemmas. The autocratic or the directive approach entails leaders to assume full responsibility in identifying problems, objectives and course of direction for the group (Weihrich, 1975). Moreover, the leader has to ensure that operating procedures are strictly followed while maintaining high levels of performance. This being the case, subordinates have few opportunities to voice concerns, ideas and feedback (Vugt et al., 2004). Consequently, there is no commitment from the subordinates to the group objectives. Evidence indicated that members rather work together in a democratic manner, solving group problems amicably, than through autocratic approach (Vugt et al., 2004).
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- Raja Sree R Subramaniam (Author), 2011, Leadership Concepts in Relation to Member Motivation and Satisfaction, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/313658