Functional Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Management, Psychology Pages: 5 (1593 words) Published: October 27, 2006
Though functional leadership processes have received frequent dis¬cussion in team dynamics, little is known about the processes associated with leadership. There are two reasons for this; first, conceptually distinct processes associated with exchange, functional behavior, influence, and person perception have been used synonymously in defining leadership. This carelessness has made the term leadership indistinctive and has obscured the need to differentiate among such pro¬cesses. Second, adequate process-oriented measures of leadership have not been developed. Though early researchers focused on the relation between actual behavior and leadership ratings (Carter, 54), more recent investigations have been concerned almost exclusively with per¬ceptions of leadership behavior. According to Knickerbockers (25), they involve dynamic and active interpersonal pro¬cesses, which are functions of the needs existing in à given situation in context of à certain group. In team dynamics leadership is to some extent defined by the joint perceptions of followers - thus, leadership in¬volves the process of person perception.

Under Adair's functional model, leadership is seen as à behavior designed to balance the needs of people - as groups and as individuals, and the needs of the task in pursuit of the goals of the group. Functional model therefore goes to some extent, towards an appropriate style by suggesting that à lender's aim is to achieve the task set for him, by paying sufficient attention to task needs, group needs and the needs of individuals within the group, not regarding his own particular character and personality. Depending on the circumstances, the leader may need to pay more or less attention to each of the three variables, but he must direct some attention to all of them.

From the above definition of functional leadership it would seem that while intelligence, dominance, self-confidence energy and tàsk-relàted knowledge may be essential qualities of à manager, they do not necessarily make the manager an effective leader, and therefore do not make him à successful manager. The implication, therefore, of the above is that for à manager to be successful under the functional theory of leadership, he would have three main responsibilities to deal with, namely "task leadership", "the leadership of the group" and "the leadership of the individuals:" à) Task leadership - (meeting the needs of the task): This entails defining the task, making à plan and obtaining the resources required; allocating work and resources to group members, monitoring quality and pace of work, checking performance against the plan; adjusting the plan where necessary and co-coordinating the team's activity with other teams. b) Group leadership - (meeting the needs of the group): This entails building teamwork into jobs, demonstrating loyalty towards the group and having à good relationship with the group's chosen representative(s) if any; taking action on any matter that is likely to disrupt the group, such as unjustifiable pay differentials, uneven or unfair workloads and balancing unfair selection for training, development, overtime, etc.); informal contact in order to reduce the "them and us" attitude. c) The leadership of Individuals - (meeting the needs of the individuals): This involves demonstrating concern for the individual; fairness and consistency in disciplinary matters; help with furthering the individual's career by way of training and development; commendation for good performance and offering helpful criticism for inadequate work; giving status to individuals; job enrichment, and recognizing that each person is unique and has different expectations and values. (Lord, 34-36)

In order therefore to meet the above needs, and as à result be successful, à functional leader/ manager must have the ability to: à) Communicate effectively: Whether in its verbal, non-verbal or written form, the manager should ensure that...

Bibliography: 1. Carter, Lunar, William Hàythorn, Beàtrice Shriver, and John Lànzettà. The behavior of lenders and other group members. Jour¬nàl of Àbnormàl and Sociàl Psychology, 46: 589-595. 1999.
2. Knickerbockers, I. Leadership: à conception and some implicàtions. Journàl of Sociàl Issues, 4: 23-40. 1996.
3. Lord, Robert G. Group performance as à function of leadership behavior and task structure. Journàl of Sociàl Issues 7:34-36.
4. Cartwright, Oorwin, and Àlvin Zànder. Group Dynamics: Reseàrch and Theory. New York: Hàrper and Row.
5. Càmpbell, John P., Màrvin D. Dunnett, Edwin E. Làwler, and Kàrl E. Weick. Mànàgeriàl Behavior, Performance and Effectiveness. New York: McGràw-Hill. 1997.
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