Leadership and Group Members

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Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. A definition more inclusive of followers comes from Alan Keith of Genentech who said "Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP THEORY (Hackman & Walton, 1986; McGrath, 1962) is a particularly useful theory for addressing specific leader behaviors expected to contribute to organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory argues that the leader’s main job is to see that whatever is necessary to group needs is taken care of; thus, a leader can be said to have done their job well when they have contributed to group effectiveness and cohesion (Fleishman et al., 1991; Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Hackman & Walton, 1986). While functional leadership theory has most often been applied to team leadership it has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership as well In summarizing literature on functional leadership Hackman and Walton (1986), Hackman & Wageman (2005Knight, and Xiao (2006) observed five broad functions a leader performs when promoting organization’s effectiveness. These functions include: (1) environmental monitoring, (2) organizing subordinate activities, (3) teaching and coaching subordinates, (4) motivating others, and (5) intervening actively in the group’s work. A variety of leadership behaviors are expected to facilitate these functions. In initial work identifying leader behavior, Fleishman (1953) observed that subordinates perceived their supervisors’ behavior in terms of two broad categories referred to as consideration and initiating structure. Consideration includes behavior involved in fostering effective relationships. Examples of such behavior would include showing concern for a subordinate or acting in a supportive manner towards others. Initiating structure involves the actions of the leader focused specifically on task accomplishment. This could include role clarification, setting performance standards, and holding subordinates accountable to those standards. Leadership is one of the most salient aspects of the organizational context. However, defining leadership has been challenging. In reviewing the leadership literature stodgily argued that “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept. Even though leadership is a term that is commonly used, defining leadership in specific terms can prove difficult likely leading to such a large number of definitions. Despite the multitude of leadership definitions, Zaccaro and Klimoski (2001) argued there are several common elements that transcend the many available definitions. Specifically, leadership involves a) processes and proximal outcomes that contribute to the organizational objectives the application of non-routine influence, and is contextually defined and caused. Proximal outcomes that a leader could facilitate in the pursuit of achieving organizational objectives could include developing organizational commitment among subordinates. Non-routine influence implies that leaders must to have discretion in their actions and that their behavior should differ from influence provided through organizational routines. Finally, leadership needs to be considered with respect to the context in which it is occurring. One example is examining how leadership changes across levels of the organization. Functional leadership theory is model that concentrates on how leadership occurs, rather than focusing on who does the leading. It defines the types of behaviors that guide an organization and then looks at how those behaviors occur. Under this model, leadership is a distributed function. People at all levels can participate in guiding the organization. One of the cornerstones of this leadership model is...
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