The Impact of Personal and Organisational Variables on the Leadership Styles of Managers

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The impact of personal and
organisational variables on the leadership styles
of managers
Summary

This study has attempted to collect and analyse data on a number of personal as well as organisational variables that are considered as potentially useful in explaining the leadership styles of managers. Such data include the gender, age, length of service in present organisation, length of service in an organisation, hierarchy, size and type of organisation, whether a manufacturing or a financial services entity, for example. The objective of the study is to examine the impact of these variables, if any, on the leadership style practices of managers.

In the modern management of human resources it is useful to investigate whether, for example, there is less use of directive form of leadership in preference to consultative, participative and delegative leadership practices. If so, such practices will be in line with the expected liberalisation in today’s world as different from yesterday’s more authoritarian styles of organisational management. It would be useful to know what personal characteristics, such as age, have on leadership practices which is supposedly based on some suggested principles. For example, how do older and younger top-level and lower-level organisational leaders differ in their leadership activities? Knowledge of the answers to these and similar questions can be used to improve the management of human resources.

Respondents to this study identified a number of personal variables during the data collection phase. This included their age, gender, and length of service either in the present organisation or in all organisations in which they have worked. Although a number of variables were thus involved and consequently used in the exploratory data analysis, some of them, like gender and length of service, were not significant, on their own, in the analysis. However, age shows up most significantly in their effects on the leadership styles of the managers. On leadership styles and behaviour, compared with older workers, the researchers found that younger workers feel more comfortable in fast changing environments and are more willing to take risks and consider new approaches. They also operate with more energy and intensity, and have a greater capacity to energise others. In addition, they are more likely to seek out opportunities to take charge and push vigorously and competitively to achieve a high level of results.

When compared to older workers, younger workers also tend to work to develop and promote themselves. Similarly, on leadership styles and behaviour, compared with younger workers, the researchers found that older workers study problems in light of past practices in order to ensure predictability, and minimise risk. They tend to maintain a calmer and more understated (though not detached) demeanour. Older workers tend to maintain an in-depth knowledge of their field and use this knowledge to approach problems. They cooperate and delegate more, in addition to showing a greater degree of empathy and concern for other workers. Contrary to the practices of younger workers, the authors suggest that older workers work to develop and promote others.

Respondents were asked to indicate their overall satisfaction levels with their boss’s leadership styles. Given the hierarchical nature of most organisations, subordinates rated bosses who, in turn, rated their own bosses and so on so that a full picture of the situation with this consideration was obtained. A further examination of the data suggests that managers at higher organisational hierarchy, obviously, tend to use some but not all of the four leadership styles – directive, consultative, participative and delegative. The impression seems to be that before they get to the higher organisational position they would have tried each of the leadership style dimensions and decided to concentrate on only one, two or three of them but not all...
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