Task 1: Group activities and leadership styles
Evaluate how theories of leadership have developed and judge their relevance for leadership today.
The completion of a three hours group activity set in the university centre as directed by your tutor. A reflective learning log will also be completed and submitted as an attachment to your assignment. The reflective learning log will be composed of your own observations and activities, where you have observed or experienced leadership. (A Performa will be supplied or students can create their own).
Using your learning log from task one, undertake a reflective analysis and critically appraise leadership evidenced from you own observations and experiences, linking in with your use appropriate contemporary theory to support your discussion.
Activity 1 – Magic Stick activity
This activity was undertaken by five people where they were instructed about manoeuvring the stick down to the floor by simply using two fingers. Since it is a joint undertaking of five people, the leadership style that would best fit into this activity is participative style. Here, input and efforts of every team member would be valued and used by the leader to make serious decisions.
Initially the activity was undertaken by the team members without the presence of any team leader. The activity was being performed in an improper manner and not in the right direction. Here, Belbin’s theory could have been used that suggests no individual is in fact perfect, but a team which he is a member to can be a perfect one with mutual understanding. However, there was no specific leadership style followed by the members and the presence of an effective leader lacks completely. Participative style leadership that lacked within the team involves every member to participate in the process and their opinions would enable the leader to take effective decisions on behalf of the team members. This style encourages member morale greatly and all jointly strives to meet the challenges of the team.
If there was an effective leader since the very beginning, then the activity would have attained success. This led to its delay in completion. The activity is said to have failed due to the lack of a participative leadership style. The members were not encouraged adequately to meet the existing challenges of the group activities.
The activity required three members to participate in the activity of building a tall tower with midget gems and tooth picks. The group building the tallest tower would be considered the winner. In this case, situational leadership theory of Hersey-Blanchard would be of immense help.
During the activity undertaken by three members, one of the team members in the specific group pursued a democratic style approach but in a less intense manner. The democratic leaders usually make final decisions but also involve efforts from the team members. The team members have higher creativity and job satisfaction at the end of increased productivity. The leadership model that the activities can be based upon is the situational leadership model of Hersey Blanchard. This theory suggests the use of various leadership styles based upon the maturity essence of the team members. The member who is immature must be given a more direct approach, and those with experience must be imparted with more delegating style.
Activity 1 - Magic Stick activity: Participative style leadership
The member as specified in the group should have taken a more democratic style with increased involvement of team members and not just delegating instructions. This would have been more encouraging for all team members.
The three group members united to build a bridge with newspapers, cello tape, DVD cases and solid objects. The group with innovative design and increased strength would be the winner. The transactional leadership style has been implemented during the group activity.
The activity taught the members that they are nothing but servant leaders who create value for the community by intentionally as well as consciously providing back to the community for community services. The three members who were engaged in the activity were made to implement transactional style of leadership. A team leader assigns tasks to team members and at the end of the process either rewards or punishes the members as per their performance results. This style of leadership ensures pre-determination of goals and the members are required to follow these along with the direction of the leader to accomplish overall goals.
From the activity, it may be concluded that any group activity may be undertaken only with the cooperation of the team members. Here in this case also, the group activity succeeded due to the effective implementation of transactional leadership style. The members were motivated adequately to achieve the pre-determined goals of the leader.
During this activity, five team members were engaged and they were provided a situation to analyze. The members were required to think upon the issue and make appropriate decisions. The group with most effective solution and recommendation in the shortest time period would be the winner. Since it is a joint undertaking of five people, the leadership style that would best fit into this activity is participative style.
The activity led to some learning sessions like brainstorming and exhibiting skills and competencies. Each group exhibited different leadership styles. Some reflected autocratic leadership where a leader made a decision without engaging any of his team members. This is quite discouraging for other members. Democratic leaders engage team members in the decision making process but themselves make the final decision. One of the groups that exhibited laissez faire leadership style was the winner. Participative style leadership that lacked within the team involves every member to participate in the process and their opinions would enable the leader to take effective decisions on behalf of the team members.
The most appreciated form of leadership style is the laissez-faire style that allows enough freedom to the team members to do their work and set own deadlines. The leaders provide every support to the members and hardly interfere with the team decisions. The Lewin’s model is useful as it encourages leaders to be less autocratic.
- What did I do?
In accomplishing the assignment, I had to undertake the study of various leadership theories and models. I perceived models as trials to functionalize increased theoretical leadership aspects and render them convenience to be used by consultants and organization. I had to highlight upon some of the theories like trait theory, skills theory, situational theory, contingency theory, path-goal theory, transformational theory, transactional theory, servant leadership theory, etc. I strongly agree to the acquired learning that the real test of leadership would be depicted by assessing the ability of a leader to gain his followers (Northouse, 2007). I have learnt that a leader can impart vision to his followers but what is more important is the need to convince others and not just tell them what is vital and what not.
Activity 2 - Midget gem tower activity: Hersey-Blanchard's situational leadership
Trait theory – Trait theory refers to the integrated style of personal attributes which reflect a varied range of differences of individuals as well as foster leadership effectiveness across different organizational situations.
Situational theory – Situational leadership refers to the type of leadership that reflects upon specific situations within organizational management. This is in fact a part of contingency leadership theory.
- How do I think/feel about this?
I felt I came across many such important knowledge and assumptions about an effective leader and how a leader may bring about some positive changes around the organizational environment. I have learnt that leadership is not possible in reality without positive followership, whereby a leader motivates his members completely to accomplish the desired organizational goals. I feel to have acquired adequate level of knowledge related to the topic. I opine that any effective leader basically satisfies two areas – key personality and that of experienced or acknowledged.
- How well (or badly) did it go?
The study about the leadership concept went quite good and as planned. The progress of the assignment was aligned to its pre-determination of key steps to be undertaken. The leadership theories and concepts were thoroughly highlighted and reflected upon with their practical application in the real world and environment. After completion, the outcomes were contrasted with the desired goals. This reflected that the experience went really good as expected(Zamer and Scheiner, 2014).
- What did I learn?
I learn that leadership is not to be learnt but rather the quality needs to be developed from within from the very basic stage. A firm can adopt any style of leadership at a given time based on the demand of the situation. There is no specific leadership style for all organizations. I have learnt that a leader can impart vision to his followers but what is more important is the need to convince others and not just tell them what is vital and what not. Situational leadership theory suggests that a leader may make the most suitable choice of option depending upon the situational variable (Rafferty and Griffin, 2004).
- What will I do differently next time?
Next time when I undertake any role of a leader, I would ensure that I keep some important learning in mind. As a leader I need to ensure that I make efforts to develop and maintain my followers as followership is the most important requisite for any leader (Pinnington, 2011). Next time, while guiding my members I would ensure that they are encouraged thorough to participate in various accomplishments of task. Participative theory states that a specific style would be most effective when a leader takes every input of others into account. I would also ensure that my members are made to participate in the decision-making process under my guidance. I would attempt to inculcate values within the group so that the members are positively reinforced to take up challenges (Northouse, 2007).
- What have I achieved?
Undertaking of the assignment imparted me the learning that it is not enough just to possess great ideas or creativity. It is more important for a leader to know all tactics of developing and maintaining followership and guide them in the positive direction to realize accomplishments of goals. I have acquired the learning that though my position as a manager or supervisor imparts me the authority to undertake tasks and organizational objectives, this power is not enough to allow me to be a good leader (Owen, 2012). Thus, I get assigned leadership by virtue of my position, and I display emergent leadership by impacting followers to achieve great accomplishments.
- What have I learn about myself?
Activity 3 - Building a bridge: Transactional Leadership style
About myself I have learnt that I need to have an honest understanding of myself, my learning and knowledge, and what I am capable of doing. It is the followers of a leader and not the leader himself who decides about the success of a leader (Mortimer, 2002). If my followers fail to trust or lack confidence in me, they would not be inspired properly. To achieve success, I need to be successful at convincing my followers. I need to possess the fundamental requisite to have a proper understanding of human nature like their needs, emotions, values, and motivation. I personally gained the knowledge of the following leadership styles:
Contingency theory – These are a group of behavioural theory which state the absence of one specific style of leadership style. It also states that some leadership styles are effective at certain situations while others at other different situations.
Path goal theory – It is referred to as a process whereby leaders choose specific aspects of behaviours which are best suited to organizational employees within work environment.
- How have I put any theory into practice?
On undertaking the study about leadership, many theories have been evaluated by me. I gained ample information about authentic leadership theory, complexity leadership theory, transactional, and shared leadership theory (Ledesma, 2014). Authentic leadership model focused that leadership is developed when individuals capably observe effective patterns of authentic leader behaviour which motivates open share of information. This imparted me with the idea of authenticity as well as integrity in developing key leadership behaviours. It is also learnt that constructive behaviours must be continuously observed, acknowledged and evaluated through cross-functional levels (Rockwell and Bajaj, 2010).
- How does what I have been doing lead to me becoming better at a skill?
I have learnt that effective leaders are not born, but rather made. If I have that desire as well as willpower, I can become an effective leader. Effective leader develops through a constant process of self-dedication, learning, training, and experiences(Hart, Klosky and Katalenich, 2014). The learning has enabled me to improve my personal skills as a leader in a way that I ensure to inspire my members in high levels of teamwork. Accomplishments in this field are not possible without constant perseverance and study. I need to undertake continuous study and enhance my leadership skills with potential effort, practice, and experience. I learned about the importance of contingency leadership whereby I need to exhibit my leadership qualities as per the situational demands.
- How can I use this to plan for the future?
As leadership is learnt and acquired, the skills as well as knowledge that are processed by an effective leader may be influenced by his attributes like values, beliefs, character and ethics. These contribute directly towards the leadership process, while other traits impart a leader with key characteristics that impart uniqueness to the leaders (Fawcett, 2013).
From my learning that every situation would be different, I agree that different situations demand different solutions. I need to use my own judgment for deciding the best action course as well as leadership style as required by a specific situation.
From the learning log of task 1 based on leadership concepts as given above, I feel to have acquired adequate level of knowledge related to the topic. I opine that any effective leader basically satisfies two areas – key personality and that of experienced or acknowledged. I learn that leadership is not to be learnt but rather the quality needs to be developed from within from the very basic stage (Blomme, Kodden and Beasley-Suffolk, 2015). The leadership model that the activities were based upon are the situational leadership model of Hersey Blanchard, participative theory that states that a specific style would be most effective when a leader takes every input of others into account. The three members who were engaged in the activity were made to implement transactional style of leadership. A team leader assigns tasks to team members and at the end of the process either rewards or punishes the members as per their performance results.
Activity 4 - Sinking Ship leadership activity: Participative style leadership
I have learnt that a leader can impart vision to his followers but what is more important is the need to convince others and not just tell them what is vital and what not. The followership concept highlighted that I may acquire effective ideas, determination and charisma, but all these would be meaningless if I lack the quality of followership(Bullough and de Luque, 2014). While I was undertaking the assignment based on leadership concepts, I came across many such important knowledge and assumptions about an effective leader and how a leader may bring about some positive changes around the organizational environment. I have learnt that leadership is not possible in reality without positive followership, whereby a leader motivates his members completely to accomplish the desired organizational goals (Northouse, 2007). Some important aspects that resonated with me throughout are authentic leadership, followership, and ethics in leadership. I have learnt it clearly that a leader who has all the qualities can surely bring about big changes within the organization that would be positive and beneficial for all the associated members. I thoroughly agree to the learning that innovative leadership needs to embody authenticity to express values and also embrace the followers as well as ethical decisions would be based on creative thinking and not upon short-term results (Einarsen, Aasland and Skogstad, 2007).
A firm can adopt any style of leadership at a given time based on the demand of the situation. There is no specific leadership style for all organizations. In future, if I get an opportunity to practice leadership attributes, I would first consider the environment I am working under. I strongly agree to the acquired learning that the real test of leadership would be depicted by assessing the ability of a leader to gain his followers. Undertaking of the assignment imparted me the learning that it is not enough just to possess great ideas or creativity. It is more important for a leader to know all tactics of developing and maintaining followership and guide them in the positive direction to realize accomplishments of goals. When I would be practicing leadership, I would try my best to stick to my own values and encourage my members to beat against all odds.
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