SOCI 3328: Organizations: Structures, Processes, and Outcomes
“Discuss the different leadership styles that you have read about in the text. Pick one of the leadership styles that you think best fits the boss you discussed in the Forum comment and state why you think this style fits this leader.”
A quick glance at Figure 5-1, Leadership Variables, on page 97, in the book Organizations, provides a solid overview regarding the very many complexities that impact leadership styles. Traits, skills, behavior, power, and intervening/exogenous/end-result variables are interwoven elements that have a huge impact on not only the leaders themselves but on their subordinates. A leader’s effectiveness can very much be influenced by how well the leader meets the needs of their team(s); to do so requires some fluidity in the way a leader manages his/her responsibilities. And, as I’ll share below, it is possible to for a “leader” to embody all the common elements of leadership, but still, fail at leading his/her team.
There are many elements to consider when thinking about what makes an effective leader. Per the book, the most important element of leadership is charisma. The more charismatic someone is, the apter they are to find themselves in a position of leadership. Beyond charisma, at the heart of leadership, four distinct styles have emerged: autocratic, consultative, delegative, and participative. Each style represents a different way of managing the direction of a team. Autocratic leaders tend to make all the decisions for their team without asking the members of the team for any input or feedback. Their decisions are somewhat autonomous and arbitrary. Consultative leaders will afford their team a chance to share their ideas, feedback, and input, but ultimately consultative leaders tend to make their decisions independent of the group. Delegative leaders will give pertinent info to key members of their team, and allow them to make the decision(s). And finally, Participative leaders fully involve the team/group that will be affected by decisions and allows them to make decisions. Each leadership style has its place; however, studies have suggested that the Participative (or group-based) style is the most effective in producing solid outcomes for the groups/teams. With the responsibility of leadership comes great power, and how one determines to nurture and navigate that power
However, not all who are in positions of leadership exhibit any productive traits associated with leaders, they are just the top dogs in charge. For example, the boss I mentioned in the forum post, was everything except a leader – even though in my professional community at large he is considered a charismatic leader. He is, in fact, the opposite. He prefers concentrated power (within himself) that dominates rather than leads. He manages from a place of traditional authority and believes compliance is an expected return on his efforts, and conflict is simply the result of insubordination. To him, employees are easily replaceable and professionalism is of no concern to him. If he were to have a leadership style, it would be more autocratic than anything else. He made all the decisions, and they were almost always wrong. He did not like to be challenged, yet he would hold you accountable when his decisions failed. Or he would simply throw you under the bus in front of your team, your clients, or your other managers. Expletives included.
I was unaware of how abusive a boss could be when I launched my career and took the position with the aforementioned boss. I was too naïve and completely unprepared to deal with something like this. This type of “leadership” runs rampant in the tech community, and his type is rarely held accountable. He who has the money wins and this boss definitely holds significant purse strings. In fact, he sabotaged a job I took immediately following my exit from his company. He actually called that current boss and manipulated a situation which left me just shaking my head, and I told that boss I wasn’t putting up with any of this and I left that position too. Since then, I’ve quietly taken odd jobs here and there within the community I’m affiliated, but my financial situation hasn’t improved much since I quit the job with the horrible boss. Out of fear of retribution, I’ve not moved forward in my career, and in fact, have decided to pivot, go back to school, and move into the field I’ve always wanted to be in: law.
In closing, leadership styles can directly impact the health and productivity of any given team/group/community. It is important for the right leaders to be placed in the right positions, and for those leaders to be able to move through their managerial/leadership responsibilities in such a way as to meet the needs of their team. I think, considering all the different elements on the Leadership Values chart, being an effective leader takes someone who is both conscientious and charismatic.