Why Do People Tend to Give Leaders Too Much Credit or Blame for Organizational Outcomes? Discuss Using Appropriate Theories and Examples

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The objective of this essay is to critically evaluate why followers and public give too much credit or blame to leaders for organisational outcomes. The content of this essay comprises an analysis of what makes leaders effective and how followers view the leaders’ influence on organisational outcomes. I will discuss a number of theories (attribution, contingency, initiation and consideration) and examples of leaders from international organisations; including James Burke Chief Executive Officer of Johnson and Johnson and Tony Hayward Chief Executive Officer of British Petroleum (BP). These leaders influenced their employees, the public and world media and were subjected to credit or blame.

An effective leader is one who achieves productive results through the use of personal attributes to contribute to an organisation and by influencing others to achieve imperative objectives. An ideal leader looks after those around them and has the aptitude to develop their people into leaders, by inspiring confidence and support. Leaders should allow employees to learn, develop and contribute; increasing capacity to grow for organisations to advance. Diminutive objects and people matter to leaders as they are vital for the success of implementing new decisions, and ensuring they are positively attributed. Leaders should practice what they preach, with the capacity to recognise how to accept blame and criticism all the while being able to give credit.

Leaders frequently share a combination of cognitive skills and personal traits, or at least must do in order to attract followers and to achieve their organisation driven results. Cognitive skills include but are not limited to: technical and professional competence, knowledgeable, problem solving skills, creative, flexible, courageous, innovative, visionary and experimental. Many personality traits are usually related to trends that you are born with, consisting of: enthusiasm, self awareness, self confidence, trustworthiness, emotional intelligence, the need for power and achievement and also a sense of humour. Our personalities are not stable throughout our lives and we behave differently in various contexts. Leaders are no different; their traits also change depending on the situation. Leadership skills and traits are closely related to leadership styles and behaviours.

Every leader has individual styles and behaviours of leadership, although their styles may change after they undertake and complete their studies. Most theories centre on a key idea that leaders have two types of style; task-oriented behaviours and people-oriented style. This can be referred to as participative leadership but is also linked to transformational leadership. Various behavioural approaches to leadership theories exist, but in the main they recognise; some leaders modify their styles to adapt to diverse situations; leaders were relatively consistent in their approach to influence teams; consistent pattern of behaviours and; attempts to specify the difference in behaviour of effective and less effective leaders. Research at Ohio State University identified two styles of leadership; initiating structure and consideration (Schreisheim, 1975). Initiating structure is the degree in which leaders institute structure for group members; assigning tasks, stipulating procedures, scheduling work and clarifying expectations. Consideration is the degree in which the leader creates an environment of emotional supportive, friendliness and trust.

Without initiating structure behaviours, subordinates would not know what is expected, how to coordinate their work with others or how their work relates to any group or organisational goals; resulting in frustration among employees and ultimately influencing their productivity. Similarly, lack of consideration behaviours from leaders can leave employees feeling unsupported, unrecognized, or confused as they try to steer conflicts and issues in their roles without any...
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