Action Research: Application of Contingency Theory to Leadership and the Team Dynamic
Leadership & Motivation A Stajkovic
Leadership & the Team Dynamic Introduction:
As the focus of our final project, we have identified an issue within one of our team member’s organizations where a mismatch exists between the leadership style of the current Vice President of Human Resources and the environment in which he operates. We will use Fiedler’s contingency theory model as support for our argument. Background: The subject, who will be known as ‘Sam’, was recently hired as the Vice President of Human Resources (VP/HR). He was the favored candidate due to his HR experience, high self efficacy, and charismatic leadership style which enabled him to effectively network with senior executive leaders. In addition to his soft skills, Sam possessed expertise in structuring executive compensation and had extensive work experience with public company compensation committees (which are a subset of the profiled company’s Board of Directors). Executive compensation is a critical component of any public company’s disclosure given the level of scrutiny it receives by the external market and investors alike. With that high level of scrutiny, comes an equally high potential for investor, political, and governmental pushback making the role of VP/HR a crucial one subject to high visibility. Sam’s combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities has allowed him to effectively manage up the corporate chain on matters of executive compensation. However, his position also calls for directing his team in the development and implementation of global compensation and benefits programs for corporate professionals in entry-level, management, and director positions. Current observation and experience of Sam’s team has revealed that his Relationship Motivated leadership style, while effective with senior executives, is ineffectual when dealing with his subordinates.
Leadership & the Team Dynamic Subordinate & Task Structure:
The structure of Sam’s team consists of four managers and over 20 support staff whose main work centers around development, implementation and maintenance of the company’s global compensation program, which is highly task-driven. The team’s work affects approximately 99% of the total workforce. It is under Sam’s direction that these duties are to be carried out; however Sam only devotes approximately 5% of his total effort to this cause, with the remaining 95% devoted to the 1% of executive compensation issues. Misalignment Effects: The misalignment between Sam’s leadership style and his team’s need for a task-based leader has resulted in following consequences: • • • • • • • • Failure by Sam to provide his team needed answers and direction in compensation plan development. Without his leadership, any developed plans are not socialized among Sam’s peers and senior managers for necessary support. Sam’s team lacks the power base to manage upwards; however with no direction, they are forced to implement compensation plans for those in higher level positions. Lack of Sam’s response has resulted in pushback from other HR business partners to the point of their refusal to be actively involved in compensation plan development. Team frustration and disillusionment. Team perception that Sam will be advanced in the organization due to his C-Suite connections. Undermining the future political value of Sam’s team members. Lack of organizational benefit from Sam’s expertise.
Sam’s team is not the only one affected. In addition to providing structured, task-based operations and support to his staff, Sam has the responsibility to discharge intensive task laden plans to his peers (VPs). Due to his lack of involvement, neither action has occurred.
Leadership & the Team Dynamic Moving Forward:
There is no question that to be successful, anyone in Sam’s position must...