Connection Statement Paper Pamela Barnes Introduction The purpose of this paper is to present and defend my ideas about the various leadership theories that have been addressed in the doctoral program. With this purpose in mind, I will focus predominantly on Situational Leadership, first described by Hershey and Blanchard in 1969. This approach has been revised over time by the following researchers since its inception: Blanchard, Cigar, & Nelson, 1993; Blanchard, Cigar, & Cigar, 1985; Hershey & Blanchard, 1977 and 1988.
Through synthesizing the readings from class, I will illustrate the special character of this approach relative to other leadership styles and its impact on organizations. Furthermore, I will identify the implications of using this approach as a conceptual lens as opposed to the other styles. I will close with insights derived from the synthesis and reflect upon the implications for my professional growth as a leader. Knowledge and Synthesis “Situational leadership stresses that leadership is composed of both a directive and a supportive dimension, and that each has to be applied appropriately in a given situation. (Morehouse, p. 89). I believe this is a logical approach to leadership. Utilizing the situational approach does not categorize a person into following Just one leadership style. It embraces all leadership styles and allows leaders to handle every situation utilizing the most appropriate process to determine whether (s)he needs to be more directive or supportive of subordinates. The Situational Leadership II model developed by Blanchard et al. (1985), that extended and refined Hershey and Blanchard 1969 model, addresses four leadership actions that occur based upon the developmental behavioral level of the subordinates.
The actions include; delegating, supporting, coaching and directing. Each of the four quadrants of the model range from working with subordinates that are in need of a leader who is “low supportive and low directive” to “high directive and high supportive” (Morehouse, 90). Therefore, Situational Leadership is completely dependent upon the leader’s correct understanding of the developmental level of each employee; then providing the necessary leadership to accomplish the goals of the organization.
Other leadership theories have focused upon the leader as an individual with his or her skills being independent of the situation at hand or the actions of subordinates. Without addressing these “outside” influences, I believe these theories are missing an Leadership description, the leaders are saddled with the full responsibility of motivating and inspiring subordinates. Yet, haven’t we all worked with those peers who can be labeled as being “unable to inspire”? In fact, Lou Holt, Notre Dame University iconic football coach once stated, “Motivation is simple; you eliminate those who can’t be motivated. It appears to me that the Charismatic view of leadership, focusing solely upon the individual leader, is unrealistic in its dependence upon one person. It also ignores the subordinates and the culture thin the organization. Transformational leadership, as described by Downtown in 1973, also focuses upon the actions of the leader with limited reference to the situation or subordinates involved. One can draw similarities between a Charismatic leader and a Transformational leader, as they both focus upon what I deem as someone with “exceptional” behavior.
Transformational Leadership usually incorporates elements of the Charismatic leader theory, as well (House, 1976). Also, the element of the Transformation leader, by the word “transform” alone, implies that change must occur for the leader to be successful. Souses’ and Poser’s model labeled the following actions of a Transformational leader; modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, engaging others to act and encouraging the heart (Ooze & Poster, 1987). Again, this assessment of leadership leaves out a few variables, including the role of the subordinates and the situation.
This leadership model led me to ponder the following questions. What if a Transformational leader accepts a position in an organization that expects maintenance of the status quo and doesn’t appreciate employees that “question” the current processes or policies? One would hope the company’s expectations would be explained at some point within the pre-employment process. However, that is not always the case. Or maybe, a Transformational leader is brought into an organization as middle management with support from above, only to have a change in personnel in upper management afterwards that has no desire to allow transformation to occur.
Again, the importance of the role of subordinates and the situation, culture or climate within the organization is glosses over within this model of leadership. I believe that the early research done on Trait theory, that again focuses solely upon he leader, hit home with the statement that “an individual with leadership traits who was a leader in one situation might not be a leader in another situation” (Morehouse, 15). We are all vulnerable as human beings and cannot always shine in everything we do.
One of my favorite television shows, Undercover Boss, painfully at times can point out the flaws of corporate leaders in their inability to do the most blue collar positions within their multi-million dollar companies. They are leaders in the boardroom but not on the manufacturing floor, for example. Therefore, a flaw with he Trait theory is that one may possess the requisite leadership traits but not be in a position to utilize them, nor ever have the professional opportunity to do so due to the situation they find themselves in.
Another example that comes to mind involves women in the workforce. I know many women who possess intelligence, self- confidence, determination, integrity and sociability; the leadership traits derived from research conducted by Mann (1959), Stodgily (1974), Carrot et al (2004), who have made the choice to stay at home devoting more time to their children instead of if they choose to, in church or school associations. However, there are some who do not and their leadership skills are missed in the workplace and in society in general.
The limitations of the Trait theory are similar to the limitations in the other theories that do not take into consideration the situation or the impact of those working within the organization. The premise of Salesman’s Emotional Competence Framework, like the many other leadership theories previously described, focuses solely upon the leader independent of outside variables. With debate occurring about the significance of emotional intelligence (that includes empathy and compassion) its role s one of the traits important for a successful leader will continue to be questioned (Coleman, 1995).
I believe we would all like to think that emotional intelligence would be e significant “requirement” for a leader’s success. However, history and life experiences have proven otherwise, in many cases. There are two leadership theories that do take into consideration other variables beyond the leaders that led to my decision to focus upon Situational leadership. They are Authentic Leadership and Path-Goal Theory. In Authentic Leadership, there are strong ties to interpersonal and interpersonal relationships (Terry, 1993).
Even though study of this form of leadership is in its infancy, it comes at a time when many people want “the real deal” the leader who “has it all” and can show people to the “promised land”. I believe they are looking for the antithesis of the selfish Enron leaders. They desire leaders that are trustworthy, forthright and that they can relate to. Robert Terry’s Authentic Leadership Approach focuses upon tow basic question; “what it really going on? ” and “what are we going to do about it? ” (Terry, 1993). In other words, leaders must authenticate what is going on and develop (then commit to) authentic actions.
This Ochs on actions is different than Bill George’s approach that focuses on the leader’s characteristics, one of which is establishing positive relations with others (George, 2003). Reviewing the relationship aspect of this theory is what prompted the focusing of my connection paper on the Situational Leadership Theory. The example Morehouse describes as an authentic leader is Nelson Mandela. Couldn’t we also view Mr… Mandela through a Charismatic leader lens, or as someone exhibiting Path-Goal Theory, or does he simply possess all of the traits outlined by Mann et. Al? Morehouse, 2012, p. 213) Finally, was it the situation Mr… Mandela found himself in and his ability to use various leadership strategies with all of those involved that made him successful? There are many ways to view his leadership style and elements of all theories seem to appear and overlap. The last theory I will examine is the Path-Goal theory (House, 1971). There are many similarities that tie it to being closely related to the Situational Leadership Theory. The Path-Goal theory focuses upon motivating subordinates to accomplish designated goals (Northwest, 2012, p. 25). It even uses some of the same terminology including: characteristics, and receive and supportive leadership. It is slightly different in that it focuses upon individual tasks, as compared to situations, but there are definitely many similarities in the structure of the theory and the expected outcomes of successful leadership. In finalizing the synthesis of Situational Leadership theory, relative to other theories, it should be noted that I view this type of leadership as being closely related to the cultural frame as defined by Bellman and Deal (2003).
Situational Leadership takes organizational culture and its impact on the situations leaders may find themselves in. Application A portion of my personal definition of leadership involves facilitating members of a group in the completion of a task or achieving a goal. I believe the difficulty is that each individual and situation that occurs within the group requires different forms of facilitation. Some require each step to be dictated to them, while others thrive when given free reign. Some need the leader to be dispassionate and detached, and others need someone who is empathetic.
To me, Situational Leadership is a theory that covers every combination of these scenarios and is applicable to each particular taxation. Therefore, I apply an evaluative process to each person that I work with. An example of my personal use of the Situational Leadership theory occurred when I initially began working with a new assistant. I found myself implementing the “coaching” mode by focusing my communication on achieving the goals of the task at hand which included inputting data into a new system.
However, I was still supportive and considerate of his input. In this manner, I was portraying the “high directive, high supportive” manner as described by Hershey and Blanchard. With the understanding that individuals move up and down the line within this leadership style, I reassessed what style I should use when working with him on a different project. Due to the fact we were under a deadline for project completion, I used a more direct style of leadership, but low supportive, when working with him.
In both cases, the outcomes were successful and I maintained a positive, professional rapport with him. Reflection In many ways, I equate Situational leadership to what I promote as my view of “fairness”. Being “fair” in a professional setting is not providing everyone with the name thing; it is providing each individual with what they need to accomplish goals. For example, if John Doe performs best when given verbal praise for progress on working on a project and limited direction on how to continue, then that is what I will strive to give him.
If Jane Doe, performs best while working on a project when a leader gives specific written directives that acknowledge her accomplishments but also outlines future steps to take, then that is what I will strive to give her. However, as described within the Situational Leadership theory it is always important for the deader to realize that subordinates move back and forth between the four quadrants of the model relative to the situation they are placed in. Therefore, I view this form of leadership as most realistic in its requirements for a leader to be flexible and to not remain in a “fixed style” in every situation.
As far as what knowledge I have learned or what has been reinforced while in the University of Missouri doctoral program, I would say many things have been reinforced and the research and naming of different leadership theories have brought them to the forefront of my thoughts, when observing others in my oracle. I find myself thinking, “ham, that person is lacking in charisma”, or “this subordinate involved and the situation that the person is in. ” Furthermore, I believe already having two degrees in educational administration has given me a strong foundation to synthesize then reflect upon my past leadership actions and those of others.
The doctoral program and specifically the interactions with those within my cohort have given me great opportunities to grow my own leadership skills. Implications for Leadership Practice In developing this connection paper, it became evident that I do have a good feel or the various leadership theories and that my connection paper also has ties to the work I am undertaking for my dissertation. There are many implications for my leadership practices, in my current role as a middle manager in an institute of higher learning.
If institutions of higher education are to be true learning organizations (Bellman & Deal, 2003), then successful leaders must learn how to identify and address situations and develop a plethora of skills to deal with each scenario. I can cite numerous examples where the situation has dictated how I work with a colleague, a subordinate or a superior. Do I provide more direction or do I lend support based upon the person involved and their strengths and weaknesses in working through the situation?
Even though the Situational Leadership style fits my professional mode of operation, I find that reviewing the other leadership theories and being exposed to the results of research regarding those theories has been positive and will further improve my leadership skills. Summary It is the level of both leader flexibility and practicality that drew me to using Situational Leadership conceptually comparing it to other leadership theories and its impact on organizations. All of the theories we have studied during the program have merit and maintain elements of applicability in defining successful leadership.