Effective Leadership Styles

Introduction

The leadership has been considered as the most significant paradigm in defining the success of an organization. Relying on right style of leadership in right circumstances in an important parameter for defining motivational level of workforce and it can lead to higher levels of employee related outcomes. Based on increasing importance of leadership for contemporary organizations, the current essay has incorporated the repertory grid exercise with an aim of highlighting characteristics of effective leaders. The essay is comprised of different sections. Firstly, the different theories of leadership have been considered including trait theory, behavioural theories and full range theory. Secondly, the two business leaders who are considered as effective in technology industry and one who is considered as ineffective are mentioned and their leadership style is analysed further through repertory grid in third section. Finally, the implications for practice are provided and study is concluded.

1.Theories of Leadership

Leadership can be termed as a social influence process in which leader requires voluntary participation of the followers with an aim of fulfilment of organizational goals. A leader needs to adopt the right set of characteristics under the umbrella of effective leadership style, in order to attract and influence subordinates in positive manner (Bass and Stogdill, 1990). The leadership style is a consistent pattern of behaviour which is being possessed by a leader and there are various styles which can be adopted by leader. There are three main theories of leadership that are defining leadership styles including; trait theory, behavioural theory and full range theory of leadership (Bhatti et al., 2012). The trait theory emphasized that individuals have some innate traits which differentiate their way of leading from others. The traits are characterized as stable over time and they have the potential to influence behaviour of people. Among various personality traits, there are some traits which hinder the effectiveness of leader, while other fosters it (Spector, 2014). Such as, some individuals are high in outgoingness, while others are shy. According to the view of modern trait theorists, the traits of leaders emerge over time depending upon circumstantial factors and some substantial straits of good leader are; intelligence, flexibility, communication, competence and openness (Avolio and Yammarino, 2013).

Moreover, the behavioural theory of leadership provides that behaviour of the leader is an important predictor of success of leader’s style. There are two main types of leaders characterized as task oriented leaders and people oriented leaders (Landis, Hill and Harvey, 2014). The task oriented leaders are authoritative and people oriented leaders are participative. The former has greater concern for tasks and they are maintaining higher degree of control over people and their core behaviours are initiating, organizing and gathering information for increasing effectiveness of task (Tiftik, K?l?ç and Saglam, 2015). While, the latter is associated with motivating the staff by laying emphasis on human relations. The people oriented leaders lay emphasis on behaviours such as encouraging, observing, listening and coaching of their followers. Moreover, the behavioural theory also characterize leaders as autocratic and democratic.

Finally, the full range theory of leadership sheds light on transformational and charismatic style of leadership. According to full range theory of leadership, there are four characteristics which are compulsory in an effective leader including; individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation and idealized influence (Gladden, 2014). The transformational style of leadership is an important leadership style for contemporary organization which have higher level of inclusion for employee motivation. The transformational leaders focus on learning and growth of its work force and they can inspire the followers in best possible way (Javed, Jaffari and Rahim, 2014). Along with this, the situational theories of leadership are contributing that style of leaders needs to consider contextual factors into account and they may switch between different leadership styles based on contingency variables.

2.Analysing Leadership styles of effective leaders

3.1 Leadership style of Bill Gates

The Bill Gates has co-founded the Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975 and during his career in Micro soft, the Gates has held the position of CEO and chairman. The Gates was among the top 10 Fortune leaders and he was recognized as one of the embracing leader who promoted innovation in company. Viewing from the lens of leadership style, the Gates has possessed mixture of leadership styles ranging from autocratic to participative (Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, 2013). Under the umbrella of trait theory of leadership, the Gates has five following traits; intelligence, skilfulness and competency, determination, integrity and sociable-ness. All of these traits of leader can foster higher level of competence among employees and this is the reason that Microsoft has gained competitive advantage based on leadership approach of Gates.

Along with this, the behavioural theory of leadership indicates that Gates has adopted both task oriented and people oriented approach of leadership depending on the situational factors. The Gates has fostered loyalty and trust of his employees either by directing them to achieve the desired outcome or by encouraging them with potential learning prospects (Chhokar, Brodbeck and House, 2013). However, the task oriented approach of Gates outweighs the people oriented approach and Gates has more inclination for achieving desired results through people. Further moving through behavioural theory of leadership, it can be seen that Gates has adopted autocratic style of leadership as he is competent and intelligent to handle situations (van Heck et al., 2012). The Gates has not offered substantial level of authority to its followers, therefore, lacking participative style of leadership. Finally, the Gates was more transactional, when he created Microsoft but later on he adopted some aspects of transformational leader and made efforts to motivate employees by arousing emotional states of employees (Johnston and Marshall, 2016). Therefore, the Gates has combination of leadership styles and it had made him an effective leader among the business world.

3.2 Leadership Style of Larry Page

Larry Page co-founded Google in 1998 and became CEO of the company in 2001. Larry has become product president of Google in 2011 and he has contributed significantly growth of company from its inception.  The Larry Page has become the Fortune’s business person of 2014 and considered as role model for business leaders. The philosophy of Larry page is evident from his quote stating that “we are here to build great things that do not exist”. The leadership style of Larry is highly encouraging to promote innovation based on his approach of encouraging new ideas to solve technical puzzles (Giolito and Van Dierendonck, 2015). The Larry Page has motivated employees and he collaborated them for encouraging team work within organization, indicating that he is the supporter of participative and democratic style among the behavioural theories of leadership. His democratic style can be seen in the fact that Larry is encouraging his employees to possess crazy ideas and then he is adopting outgoing approach for considering and accepting the ideas of employees, with higher level of emotional intelligence (Gladden, 2014). The Larry is an introvert leader and he has the ability to listen and accept the ideas of other people which is leading the way of Google towards innovation. The introversion approach of Larry has helped in retention of highly skilled employees as it is the most desirable approach by proactive employees. The Larry has considered collaboration as the most significant practice for enhancing effectiveness of decision making and he has adopted participative approach for managing teams within organization.

 Furthermore, the Larry has been seen as the transformational leader who believe on stimulating employees by empowering them and offering them discretion to participate in decision making process (Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, 2013). Similarly, the Larry has adopted the approach of mutual stimulation and he has become a moral agent of its employees with an aim of raising them to highest level of motivation. The transformational approach of Larry Page has made him inspirational for his workforce, which is evident from the innovation progress of the company.

3.3 Thorsten Heins’ Ineffective Leadership style

Thorsten Heins was the CEO of Black Berry, former research in motion. He joined Black berry in 2012 as CEO of the company and he was criticised for many strategic errors. The leadership style of Heins was highly autocratic and he did not consider opinions of others in decision making process. The Heins has taken many bad decisions which led the Black Berry to failure in smart phone and tablets market in comparison to Apple Incorporation. It was recognized that communication ability of Heins was highly ineffective and he was characterized as “tone deaf” about declining performance of Black Berry. The Heins was lacking the competence to make right decisions which led to lack of competitiveness of Black Barry. The resulting effects of bad leadership of the Thorsten Heins were evident in the form of continually reducing stock value of the company and eventually the company get out of competition completely.

3.Repertory Grid for analysing leader’s effectiveness

The repertory grid exercise was presented by George Kelly in 1955 which has its basis in personal construct theory. The repertory grid exercise can be applied for making comparisons about different personality traits and inferences about personality can be drawn effectively (Malmström, Johansson and Wincent, 2015). The repertory grid can be applied in current study with an aim of highlighting the effectiveness of various leadership styles. The repertory grid allows comparison among various construct of a leader’s personality and it is being applied by the professional psychologists who are responsible for counselling and coaching of individuals. The effectiveness of repertory grid lies in the fact that it offers an unbiased method for in-depth examination of subjects over different constructs and elements.

 

Name

Intelligence

Openness

Flexibility

Communication

Competence

Total score/25

Bill Gates

4

5

4

5

4

22

Larry Page

5

5

5

4

5

24

Thorsten Heins

1

3

 

4

1

4

13

Table 1. Repertory Grid Exercise for trait theory

 

The table 1 above is reflecting the repertory grid exercise for all of three leaders based on trait theory of leadership. The traits included in grid are all possessed by highly effective leaders and it can be seen that the scores of Bill Gates and Larry Page are much higher on leadership traits that are 22 and 24 respectively. Whereas, the Thorsten Heins which has recognized as an ineffective leader has scored less on leadership traits which is 13. The intelligence is considered as an important trait of a leader as intelligent leader can act as a role model for their followers in fostering them to make effective decisions (Asrar-ul-Haq and Kuchinke, 2016). Along with this, the leaders with higher degree of openness are sincere with their followers and they can successfully gain the trust of their subordinates, which is the foundation of effectiveness leadership (Choudhary, Akhtar and Zaheer, 2013). Similarly, the flexibility is the most required trait for bringing innovation through people. The Larry Page and Bill Gates are the most innovative leaders with higher degree of flexibility towards change and they encourage their followers to present new ideas at work. In related vein, the communication is important as the leader is one who has to prepare its followers for change and change management requires extensive and honest communication (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt and Van Engen, 2003). Finally, the competence is most demanding trait of a leader. The competent leader are the main pillars for driving innovation and progress of an organization (Aronson, 2001). Therefore, the Google and Microsoft are blessed with effective leaders and this is the reason of growth of these companies.

 

Name

Democratic approach

Inclusiveness

Inspiration

Emotional Intelligence

Total score/20

Bill Gates

4

4

5

4

17

Larry Page

5

4

5

5

19

Thorsten Heins

2

3

3

3

11

Table 2. Repertory Grid Exercise for behavioural theory

 

The table 2 is based on the repertory grid exercise of behavioural theories of leadership and it is indicating that score of Larry Page and Bill gates are higher than the Thorsten Heins.  The behavioural theories’ aspects that have been considered in present study are; democratic approach, inclusiveness, inspirational and emotional intelligence (Mandell and Pherwani, 2003). The democratic approach is associated with the extent to which leaders distribute their power among followers and let them participate in decision making. The democratic leaders are highly preferable in contemporary organizations due to human resource practices of employee’s empowerment and employee involvement (Leban and Zulauf, 2004). The inclusiveness is the approach of leader to give value to the opinions of their followers. The leaders with higher level of inclusiveness are the initiators of innovation and this is the reason that both Google and Microsoft are highly innovative due to the inclusiveness of their leaders. Followed by this, the leader is required to be inspirational with an aim of motivating the followers. The researchers have provided that highly inspirational leaders have most motivated followers and they contribute significantly in generating positive employee related outcomes within organization (Javed, Jaffari and Rahim, 2014). Finally, a leader should be able to understand the emotions of one self and of others, with an aim of dealing with conflicting and stressful situations (Giltinane, 2013). The emotionally intelligent leader can manage change effectively and they can create positive working environment within organization. It is note able that leaders with higher score on behavioural aspects of leadership are likely to raise the performance standard of their organization, like Bill Gates and Larry Page.

The transformational leadership is considered as a universality based approach which is equally applicable in contemporary organizations. The transformational leader has the ability to connect self-identity of workforce with collective identity of organization, which is the way of motivating employees with the aim of enhancing their self-worth (Ojokuku, Odetayo and Sajuyigbe, 2012).

Table 3. Repertory Grid Exercise for transformational leadership

Name

consideration

Stimulation

Motivation

Idealized Influence

Total score/20

Bill Gates

4

5

5

4

18

Larry Page

5

5

4

4

18

Thorsten Heins

2

3

 

3

3

11

 

The results of respiratory grid for transformational leadership (see table 3) are also indicating higher score for Larry and Gates as compared to Heins. The first perspective of transformational leader is individualized consideration which allows the leaders to encourage the followers through open communication and honesty (Van Dierendonck et al., 2014). The intellectual stimulation is the leader’s ability to challenge status quo for offering creative opportunities to employees. Likewise, the inspirational motivation refers to the approach of transformational leader to articulate vision to followers in the way which enhanced their motivation (Sosik and Godshalk, 2000). Finally, the leader acts as a role model for employees and inspires them for achieving desired objectives. These are considered as the characteristics of highly inspirational and charismatic leader which is considered as the way of advancing high degree of motivation and helps in fostering innovation (Paul and Anantharaman, 2003). It is evident, that both Google and Microsoft have maintained the higher level of innovation based on motivation of work force that is carried out by transformational leadership of the company.

 

4.Implications for Practice

The results of current study are highly important for the practitioners as it has carried out an in depth investigation of the leadership style of successful leaders. The repertory exercise have indicated that there are common characteristics possessed by effective leaders. By relying on results of current study, the practitioners can get to know about the characteristics of an effective leader and the approach to modify leadership style can be carried out. Along with this, the choice of leaders by organizations can be guided by findings of this study providing that there are different theories which define the characteristics of an effective leader and they can be considered by the organizations. The insight of best motivational approaches for employees can be obtained and innovation can be encouraged by relying on flexibility, inclusiveness and participative leadership. It has also strengthened the charismatic view of leadership and provides that charismatic behaviours, personality and emotional intelligence of leaders should be given substantial importance for making decisions of selection and promotion regarding leadership positions.  Moreover, the systematic leadership training programs can be devised in the light of effective characteristics of leaders being highlighted in the present study. For instance, by relying on importance of emotional intelligence, the training program can be designed to increase emotional intelligence of leaders and then tests could be performed to investigate their level of emotional intelligence.

5.Conclusion

There are three different theories of leadership naming trait theory, behavioural theories of leadership and full range theory. These theories has presented some set of traits, behaviours and characteristics which can define the basis of effective leader. In terms of effective and highly successful leaders, the names of Larry Page and Bill Gates are among the most popular, while the Thorsten Heins is considered as an ineffective leader. The repertory grid has suggested that effective leaders possess traits of intelligence, openness, flexibility, communication and competence. Along with this, the leaders with effective set of behaviours are high in democratic approach, inclusiveness, inspiration and emotional intelligence. Finally, the transformational leaders are most effect and they are recognized with the presence of individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence.

 

 

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