Changes in Leadership Styles

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  • Topic: Leadership, Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity
  • Pages : 5 (2001 words )
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  • Published : February 13, 2013
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"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it,
for the greatness is already there."
~ John Buchan
As America entered the industrial era, men of vision lead the way. At the time America was a largely uneducated country. Subsequently, leaders, especially in industry and business, wielded power in ways that are very different from those we are accustomed to today. In the essay Refining Leadership for the Next Century, McFarland lists the following old-style management notions: * If I’m the boss, I’m not supposed to make any mistakes. * If I’m in charge, no one should question my authority. * If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself. * If we create new things around here, they should be my idea. (as cited in Wren, 1995, p. 457) Today we can only scratch our heads and ask, “What were they thinking?”

It seems almost impossible to imagine that this type of autocratic, dictatorial control typified those who were considered the leaders at the beginning of the 20th century. Fortunately, due in large part to the demise of authoritarian dictators such as Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler and despotic regimes such as of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gadhafi, Manuel Noriega this leadership style on a governmental level is declining, albeit slowly and, in many cases, reluctantly. Industry, on the other hand, has been and continues to be the early adopter of changing leadership styles. This adaptation has led to so many definitions of what leadership is that simply defining the term has become not only a challenge but a virtual impossibility. Thus it is my position that leadership is not something that can be defined by “what” it is; rather, it must be defined by “how” it is accomplished. This conclusion is supported by detailed studies conducted in the 1950’s by the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire, groundbreaking research that concluded that there were two overarching groups into which people who were perceived to be leaders could be grouped, based on their leadership style. One was labeled consideration and the other initiation of structure. As the labels imply, the considerationists included the leaders who exhibited concern for the feelings of those who were followers, while the other leaders were more goal- and task-oriented. This latter group was more likely to consist of individuals who gave orders with an expectation of achieving results through direction (as cited in Wren, 1995, p. 84). In his article Contemporary Leadership Theory, ___Chemers utilizes definitions developed by Kahn and Katz, and Bales and Slatter, who described these groups as “employee oriented” and “production oriented”, and ”task oriented” and “sociemotional,” respectively (as cited in Wren, 1995, p. 84). It is my contention that in contemporary American society the use of unconcealed authority guarantees the demise of a leader and the evolution of an antithetic counterpart committed to that demise. This new leader rises to the top level of governance/management as a challenger propelled by the support given him/her by those he/she expresses and exhibits concern for and about. These types of individuals, who exist at every level of society are referred to as Citizen Leaders by Professor Richard A. Couto (as cited in Wren, 1995, p. 11). As suggested by this project, leaders come in various shapes, sizes and colors, from many different creeds social backgrounds and occupations. They are our political leaders, our community leaders, our religious leaders, and our business leaders. They exist everywhere. For example, as a nation we are currently being assailed from every media source by presidential campaign ads and slogans describing the candidates' every characteristic, quality, and shortcoming. Each message is designed to affix itself to our emotional sensitivities and convince us that either the candidate is the best person we can elect to lead us, or that voting...
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