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How leadership styles impact organisational performance (1)

Leadership is all about influencing people to get the work done through inspiration rather than using coercive powers and authority. Thus, today’s article focuses mainly on the transformational leadership paradigm because it is based on the relationship of the leader with its followers rather than the authority element.

Some experts describe leadership style as a consistent set of behaviours or patterns, proposing two dimensions in leaders’ behaviours: structure initiation, which includes task-oriented leaders, and consideration, which provides for relation-oriented leaders. These two dimensions got most of the concentration of researchers till the mid-1980s.

Then the concept of transformational leadership emerged and was found to be empirically independent of task and relationship orientation and could be directive or participative, depending on the situation or their personal characteristics. There are suggestions that followers report to be satisfied with those leaders who possess both relation and task-oriented behaviours.

Writers such as Oldham and Cummings describe leadership style as a combination of style characteristics, an implicit leadership philosophy, and a set of management skills typical of each style. The emphasis on performance and people is described through leadership style, whereas a leader’s role and assumptions about people is described through leadership philosophy.

Management Skills, however, include management skills characteristics of a style. Thus, a leadership style can be defined as a leader’s style of providing direction, motivating people, and implementing plans. It is the result of the philosophy, personality, and experience of the leader

Leadership is a process by which an individual influences the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours of others. The leaders set a direction for the firm; they help see what lies ahead; they visualise what they might achieve and how to achieve it; they encourage and inspire the subordinates.

Thus, leadership, being the ability to guide followers for achieving shared goals, influence others through inspiration and charisma or by using power, a name of commitment, hard work and excellence, has several dimensions, paradigms, styles, and ways described by earlier theories. Leadership has been defined through several theories where most experts categorise leadership into four major perspectives (1) Trait Theories, (2) Behaviour Theories, (3) Contingency/Situational Theories, (4) Neo-charismatic Theories.

Some leadership experts proposed the personality and traits that a successful leader must have to engender an effective organisational performance. Under this theory, the focus is primarily on finding a group of heritable attributes that differentiate leaders from non-leaders.

Here, trait leadership is explained as an integrated pattern of personal characteristics that reflect a range of individual differences and foster consistent leader effectiveness across the various group and organisational situations.

Read also: The leadership style that breaks the bias

The next perspective is the behavioural theories of leadership pointed out two dimensions, initiating structure and consideration. At this point, consideration is regarded as a leadership behaviour through which the leader establishes rapport with their employees, two-way communication, mutual respect, and understanding. Consideration includes behaviour indicating trust and warmth between the supervisor and their group and emphasising group members’ needs.

On the other hand, Initiating Structure is regarded as a leadership behaviour through which the leader defines or facilitates group interaction toward goal attainment. The leader does this by planning, scheduling, criticising, initiating ideas, organising the work, defining member roles, assigning tasks, and pushing for production.

Consequently, many studies also offered related behavioural theories of leadership. The Behavioural theory assumes that the success of a leader is based solely on how they behave. It does not consider inborn traits or capabilities. Instead, they look at what leaders actually do and how they conduct themselves.

Third, some experts also developed other models of leadership, namely the contingency and situational styles of leadership. The two leadership dimensions were about the task and relationship behaviours of leaders.

These two dimensions received considerable attention in cross-cultural studies and combined their degrees into four specific leadership behaviours: telling, selling, participating, and delegating.

According to the contingency theory, leaders adopt a suitable leadership style depending on the followers’ readiness. The telling style is ideal for unable and unwilling followers.

The selling style is effective for unable and willing followers. The participating style is helpful for able and unwilling followers. The delegating style is adequate for able and willing followers.

The fourth leadership perspective is that the Neo-charismatic leadership theories are mainly represented by transactional and transformational leadership. For instance, in 2004, Avery categorised leadership into four leadership paradigms, namely classical, transactional, visionary, and organic.

Other behavioural science researchers, like Judge and Piccolo, also suggested three dimensions of transactional leadership, namely contingent reward, management by exception-active, and management by exception-passive.

Meanwhile, one of the named proponents of transformational leadership, Bass, submits that transformational leadership is not a rare phenomenon, limited to a few extraordinary leaders. On the contrary, it can be found in various degrees in all kinds of groups and organisations.

Please look out for a continuation of this article.