To What Extent Does the Success of a Leader Depend Upon the Group S/He Is Leading? Discuss with Reference to Relevant Theories and Support with Examples.

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  • Topic: Leadership, Management, Situational leadership theory
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To what extent does the success of a leader depend upon the group s/he is leading? Discuss with reference to relevant theories and support with examples.

This essay will begin by defining the meaning of leadership and whether the success of a leader depends upon the group it is leading. We will look at different styles and approaches of leadership as well as compare it with management by using examples and relevant theories. The essay explains leadership as an aspect of behavior and evaluates contingency theories of leadership and situational factors which determine the characteristics of leadership. Furthermore, we will discuss the nature of managerial leadership and the exercise of leadership power and influence.

There are many definitions of leadership; however, it is believed that there is no agreed definition of this term. ‘Getting others to follow’, ‘getting people to do things willingly’ or ‘the use of authority in decision making’- all these statements are examples of defining leadership. According to Crainer (1995) there are over 400 definitions of leadership and it is a veritable minefield of misunderstanding and difference through which theorists and practitioners must tread warily. Taffinder (1995) suggests that everyone has a theory but, although we know a lot about management, we do not know as much about leadership. Handy (1993) believes that the search for the definitive solution to the leadership problem has improved to be another endless quest for the Holy Grail in organizational theory. Therefore, it is hard to define leadership; nevertheless, it is possible to identify the term as when one person influences the behavior or actions of other person. Good management leadership helps to develop team work and the integration of individual and group goals. It aids intrinsic motivation by emphasizing the importance of the work that people do. (Laurie J Mullins 1999).

Management is sometimes seen as very similar to leadership; however, it is viewed as getting things done through other people to achieve stated organizational objectives. Leadership does not take place within the hierarchical structure of the organization. As Belbin (1997) suggests that leadership is not part of the job but a quality which can be brought to a job. Management includes planning, directing, organizing and controlling where as leadership consists of communicating, encouraging, motivating and involving people. Due to its complex there are many different ways of analyzing leadership. (Laurie J Mullins 1999).

Firstly, managerial leadership examines the qualities or traits approach. It attempts to identify ‘personality traits’ and other attributes of the effective leader. Leadership consists o certain inherited characteristics or personality traits. This approach focuses attention on the person in the job and not on the job itself. For example, a study, by Jennings (1961) concluded that 50 years of study have failed to produce one personality trait or set of qualities that can be used to discriminate between leaders and non-leaders. Secondly, the functional or group approach attempts to identify the leader’s behavior affects, and is affected by the group of followers. The attention is focused on the functions and responsibilities of leadership, what the leader does and the nature of the group. It assumes leadership skills can be learned and developed. Drucker and Kotter (1990), for example, believe that successful companies seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. The functional approach is associated with the work of John Adair (1979, 1984) and his ideas on action-centred leadership which focuses on what leaders actually do. There are three main areas of need within the work group: the need to achieve the common task, the need for team maintenance, and the individual needs of group members. Thirdly, leadership as a behavioral category draws attention to...
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