A Study of Leadership Styles and their Impact


By

T.V. Rao
Chairman
T V Rao Learning Systems Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad
With the assistance of
Raju Rao
Director
T V Rao Learning Systems Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad
 


A Study of Leadership Styles and their Impact

Paper presented at the Academy of Human Resources Development International Research Conference on HRD in Asia, 2002, IIM, Bangalore

This study attempts to identify the impact of three different leadership styles on the learning climate generated in the organization as perceived by 48 top level managers in a company. The leadership styles studied are: benevolent or paternalistic style, critical style and developmental style. The impact variables studies include the extent to which they produce loyalty and dependence, resentment and counter dependence and learning, job satisfaction and morale. The study indicated that while benevolent style creates dependence and resentment, critical style creates resentment and it is developmental style that tends to creates learning and job satisfaction. The findings are in expected directions. The implications of these findings for change in leadership styles using 360 Degree feedback are discussed.

Keywords: Leadership 1, 360-Degree 2, Emotional Climate 3.

Introduction: What is Leadership? Some contemporary Observations

No matter what leaders set out to do-whether it's creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action-their success depends on how they do it." ( Goleman, 2002, p.3)

Leadership has been defined in so many ways and by different authors and experts.
Noel Tichy and Cohen (1997) the authors of "Leadership Engine" points out:

The scarcest resource in the world today is the leadership talent capable of continuously transforming organizations to win in tomorrow's world. The individuals and organizations that build Leadership Engines and invest in leaders developing other leaders have a sustainable competitive advantage.(p.8)

According to Tichy and Cohen:

Winning leaders with a proven record take direct responsibility for developing other leaders

Winning leaders can articulate and teach to others about how to make the organization successful. They tell stories about their past and explain their learning experiences and beliefs

They have well-developed methodologies for teaching others.

Leadership talent can be nurtured and it is never too late or early to develop one own leadership abilities and talent of others.

Leaders are normally viewed as those people who motivate one or more people to do a specific thing.

Warren Bennis says that the basis of the leadership is the capacity to change the mindset or framework of the other person. (Tichy, and Cohen, 1997)

Briane Lee (1997) of Franklin Covey after reviewing a number of studies on leadership states after a review of modern definitions of leadership that leadership is

* An intensely human enterprise, and does not fit neatly into definitions and boxes. Leaders have all the spontaneity, unpredictability, frailty, vulnerability and potential that is possible in the human race. If we are to lead with honor, we must start with the premise that flexibility, adaptability, and wisdom are possible, that we have seeds of greatness in us, and if we care deeply about the lives of others, we can work together to accomplish worthwhile things." (P265).

Tom Peters (1997) quoting Warren Bennis points out that one thing in common to most leaders is that they all make mistakes but bounce back from them. They use failures as building blocks.

The ability to spend more time framing contexts and less time defining the content more through coaching and supporting rather than directing and controlling becomes the model for middle managers (Ghosal and Bartlet, 1997)

Hessebbein and Cohen (1998) of the Drucker Foundation say that leaders exist at all levels of the organization. They identified the following traits of leaders:

They excel seeing things from fresh eyes and they challenge status quo

They are energetic and seem to be able to run through obstacles

They are deeply interested in a cause or discipline related to their professional arena

They can tap convictions of others and connect them to the organizational arena

They help every one see what their everyday work means to larger purpose They have a high quest for learning

They are open to people and their ideas

They are driven by goals or ideals that are bigger than what an individual can accomplish

They are willing to push themselves from comfort zones even after they have achieved success

Smart (1998) in his book on "Top Grading" lists 50 critical competencies for top graders. Some of these include: Intelligence; Analytical skills; Judgement and decision making; Conceptual ability; Creativity; Strategic skills; Pragmatism; Risk taking; Integrity; Initiative; Excellence; Self awareness; Adaptability; Listening; Team Player; Assertiveness; Communications; Political savvy; Running meetings; Vision; Change management; Conflict management; Energy; Ambition; Enthusiasm; Tenacity; and
Balance in life.

Daniel Goleman (1998) considers Emotional Intelligence as central to leadership. In his chapter on the competencies of stars Goleman identifies personal and social competencies as constituting the emotional competence. The following characteristics have been included in his framework:

Personal competencies determine how we manage ourselves. These include:

1. Self-awareness (knowing one's internal states, resources, and intuitions). This includes emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence.
2. Self-regulation including managing one's internal states, impulses and resources. These include self-control, Trustworthiness, Conscientiousness, Adaptability, and Innovation
3. Motivation, including the tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals. These include Achievement drive, Commitment, Initiative, and optimism.

Social Competencies that determine how we handle relationships. These include:

1. Empathy or awareness of others' feelings needs and concerns. These include understanding others, developing others, Service orientation, Leveraging Diversity, and political awareness. In others.
2. Social skills dealing with adeptness at inducing desirable response. These include
Influence, Communication, Conflict management, Leadership, Change Catalyst, Building bonds, Collaboration and Cooperation and building team capabilities.

Goleman observes "Emotional, a role whose essence is getting others to do their jobs more effectively. Interpersonal ineptitude in leaders lowers everyone's performance: It wastes time, creates acrimony, corrodes motivation and commitment, and builds hostility and apathy. A leader's strengths or weaknesses in emotional competence can be measured in the gain or loss to the organization of the fullest talents of those they manage." (P32).

Goleman indicates that the traits of outstanding leaders transcend cultural and national boundaries. The most effective CEOs have been found to have three main clusters of competencies. The first two fall under emotional intelligence. They include: personal competencies like achievement, self-confidence, and commitment and the second consists of social competence like influence, political awareness and empathy. The third clusters of competencies are cognitive: they think strategically, seeking out information with a broad scan, and apply strong conceptual thinking. They blend all these into an inspired vision and influence the thinking of others.

Jefery Peffer (1998) observes three qualities of most successful transformations:
" Build trust
" Encourage change
" Measure the right things and align the incentive system to new practices
Peffer argues that a people centered approach can increase profits and give competitive advantage to itself.

Goleman (2002) in his recent book on "The New Leaders" Has presented enough evidence on how moods of people influence their work and productivity and how leaders in turn through their styles influence the moods of their people. He presented evidence through a number of studies indicating the following:

Negative emotions like anger, anxiety, or a sense of futility powerfully disrupt work;

Best leaders find a way to understand and improve the way they handle their own and other people's emotions;

When leaders drive emotions positively it results in resonance and when they draw it negatively it results in dissonance;

People take their emotional cues from the top and besides affecting their direct reports leaders also send out ripple effects through out the organization;

When people feel good they work at their best the more positive the moods of the top management are more cooperatively they work together and the better are the results.

The climate created by the CEOs among their direct reports predicted the business performance of their organizations;

How people feel about their working for the company accounts for about 20 to 30% of the success of the company.

Goleman (2202) identified the following six leadership styles:
1. Visionary Leader: who moves people towards shared dreams
2. Coaching leader who connects what a person wants with the organization
3. Affiliative leader who creates harmony by connecting people to each other
4. Democratic leader who values people's input and gets their commitment through participation
5. Pace setting leader who meets challenging and exciting goals
6. Commanding leader who soothes fear by giving clear direction in an emergency.
Goleman highlighted the appropriateness of each of these for different situations.

Leadership Styles

Rao (1986) has classified the leadership styles, on the basis of the earlier research at the Indian Institute of Management, into the following:

A Benevolent or Paternalistic leadership style in which the top level manager believes that all his employees should be constantly guided treated with affection like a parent treats his children, is relationship oriented, assigns tasks on the basis of his own likes and dislikes, constantly guides them and protects them, understands their needs, salvages the situations of crisis by active involvement of himself, distributes rewards to those who are loyal and obedient, shares information with those who are close to him, etc
A Critical leadership style is characterized as closer to Theory X belief pattern where the manager believes that employees should be closely and constantly supervised, directed and reminded of their duties and responsibilities, is short term goal oriented, cannot tolerate mistakes or conflicts among employees, personal power dominated, keeps all information to himself, works strictly according to norms and rules and regulations and is highly discipline oriented.

A Developmental leadership style is characterized as an empowering style, where the top manager believes in developing the competencies of his staff, treats them as mature adults, leaves them on their own most of the times, is long term goal oriented, shares information with all to build their competencies, facilitates the resolution of conflicts and mistakes by the employees themselves with minimal involvement from him.

Developmental style by nature seems to be the most desired organization building style. However some individuals and some situations require at times benevolent and critical styles. Some managers are not aware of the predominant style they tend to use and the effects their style is producing on their employees.

This classification is based on the observations made by Stewart and Rao (1976) as a part of a collaborative study by the author and David McClelland of Harvard University using the Psychosocial Maturity models of Stewart (Stewart and Rao, 1976). In this model when the TAT stories written by adults in response pictures that are supposed to arouse Achievement and other motives, were analyzed, they were found to depict characters (heroes and others) in ways that represented the Freudian developmental stages. Superimposing these observations and analyzing the styles of Indian Managers the author formulated the three leadership styles mentioned above.

Objectives of this Study:

This study aimed at the following:

1. To study the impact of the three leadership styles on the feelings each of them generate among the subordinates who work with the leader;
2. To assess the magnitude of the relation ship between the style shown in different situations (goal setting, management of mistakes, etc.) and the feelings generated among the subordinates (dependency, resentment, empowerment etc.); and
3. To study the extent to which each of the nine situations are related to the overall style and examine the magnitude of their predictive ability.

The Instrument

The Leadership styles questionnaire that assessed the style of dealing with nine different situations like managing rewards, managing conflicts, managing mistakes, assignment of tasks, communication etc. For each situation three alternative styles that are supposed to most characteristic of Indian Managers (on the basis of previous research) were presented and the assessor was asked to indicate which of the extent to which each of the styles characterize the individual. The respondent assessed on a five points scale. The points were later converted into a percentage score. The style average was calculated using the average score obtained by each candidate on the style item. The instrument used had items like the following:

Managing mistakes:

a) Comes to the rescue of subordinates and salvages the situation whenever they make a mistake
b) Does not tolerate mistakes. Gets emotional and reprimands when mistakes re made
c) Helps subordinates to learn from mistakes

In the above item (a) represented benevolent style, (b) represented critical style and (c) represented developmental style.

The nine situations where styles were assessed include: goal setting, information sharing, managing conflicts, recognizing and rewarding good performance, decision making, performance monitoring, providing resources and support, and management of failures by subordinates. In each of these situations the benevolent style or paternalistic meant valuing relationships, treating with affection, providing active guidance, taking charge of the situation, acting like a father figure etc. The critical style meant criticism, direction, reprimanding, exhibiting impatience, and short term goral orientation and theory X type beliefs. The developmental style meant providing minimum guidance and letting the individual act with autonomy and investment on competence building and professional way of dealing with things.

The impact items measured the extent to which the subordinates feel dependent on the boss and develop personal loyalty to him/her, the extent to which they resent his presence and avoid work and avoid the boss, the extent to which they feel empowered and growing, learn, have job satisfaction and morale. Six items measured the impact.

The Sample

The sample consisted of 48 senior Managers from an organization. They were assessed by a total of 578 assessors (colleagues, seniors and subordinates) on the Leadership Styles questionnaire. They were assessed on nine situations and six impact items. The candidates also assessed themselves on their leadership styles and their impact. Self assessment was treated separately and the combined assessment of all the others on each candidate was taken as representing the leadership style as well as the impact. Thus the sample is considered as 96 (N= 48 self assessments and 48 average of other's assessments). Thus in all on 27 leadership items and six impact items self and others assessment was made.

Data Analysis:

Across the nine situations nine items represented benevolent style, nine represented critical style and nine represented developmental style. The average of the scores on the nine items falling under each style category gave the style score. The style score therefore is the extent to which the style was exhibited by the candidate across the nine situations. The scores wee converted into percentage scores. Taking each individual self assessment as well as combined assessment of all the other (aggregate feedback of all the others on that item expressed in percentages) was taken. Coefficients of correlation were computed between the styles and their impact. The styles were correlated using the overall scores across all then items.

Results

Relationship between Leadership Style and Subordinate Feelings and Reactions

The coefficients of correlations obtained between the three leadership styles taking into account all the nine situation and the six type of feelings or emotional climate generated by each of styles is presented below:

Benevolent style

Benevolent or paternalistic style was correlated with feelings of loyalty and dependence of subordinates on the manger. (r = 0.51)
Benevolent style was also related to feelings of dislike for the boss and tendency to avoid work ( r = 54)
Benevolent style was negatively related to feelings of development, empowerment, growth and independent thinking ( r = -0.5), learning (r = -0.4), morale (r= -0.5) and satisfaction (r = -0.4)
These indicate that those who are close to the leader develop dependency on him/her while those who are not close to him/her develop resentment and other associated negative feelings.
Critical Style

Critical style highly and positively related to resentment and dislike for the boss and work (r = 0.75)
It was moderately and positively correlated with dependency and personal loyalty (r = 0.47)
It was negatively correlated with empowerment and growth (r = -0.6), learning (r= -0.5), morale (r= -0.6) and satisfaction (r = - 0.6)
These indicate hat critical style also is not a desirable in general and leads to disastrous consequences.
Development al Style

Developmental style was positively related to empowerment, growth and independence (r = 0.73), learning (r = 0.77), morale (r = 0.85) and satisfaction (r = 0.84)
It was negatively correlated with dependence (r= -0.4) and feelings of resentment or dislike for the boss or work (r= -0.7)
The findings make it clear that developmental style is the most desired style in terms of creation of a growth oriented, developmental, and learning culture.
These data indicate that it is the developmental style that creates most positive emotional climate. This is in very similar to the findings of McClelland on the characteristics of an Intuitional Leader.

Relationship between situational style and the overall style

Item total correlations were computed between each of the items and the overall style across all the nine styles. Table 1 presents details. The coefficients of correlations are indicative of the predictive ability of each situation for the overall style of the candidate.

The table indicates that all except one of the items dealing with management of mistakes have a reasonable high predictive ability as indicated by the item total correlations. The coefficients of correlation re rather high.

Table 1: Coefficients of correlations between the style shown in each situation and the overall style scores across all the nine situations.


S. No.

Item Content or situation

Item total correlation between the item dealing with the style

Benevolent

Critical

Developmental

1

Goal setting or assignment of tasks

.79

.57

.75

2

Information sharing

.75

.59

.83

3

Managing mistakes

.05

.68

.86

4

Managing conflicts

.52

.61

.78

5

Rewarding or recognizing good performance

.81

.71

.89

6

Decision taking

.7

.76

.86

7

Performance monitoring

.75

.76

.81

8

Resource and support giving

.81

.74

.82

9

Responding to  failures

.74

.67

.84


The above table indicates that there is a good degree of homogeneity in the predictive value of the individual items of the overall style.

Relationship between the style in different situations and the feelings generated

The coefficients of correlations computed between each of the items (27 items) and the six emotional climate or impact items are presented in Table 2.
The table indicates that almost all the benevolent style items

Table 2: Coefficients of correlation between the various styles and emotional climate generated by them

Item content

Item content
Style

Coefficient of correlation with the style item and its impact as

Dependence

Avoidance

Empowerment

Learning

Morale

Satisfaction

Goal setting

Benevolent

.35

.56

-.41

-.30

-.41

-.41

Critical

.27

.34

-.30

-.23

-.35

-.25

Developmental

-.27

-.46

.55

.57

.63

.60

Information sharing

Benevolent

.37

.37

-.21

-.18

-.25

-.26

Critical

.19

.50

-.27

-.28

-.40

-.35

Developmental

-.39

-.63

.58

.65

.72

.67

Management f mistakes

Benevolent

-.20

-.32

.09

.23

.28

.38

Critical

.14

.32

-.40

-.29

-.34

.26

Developmental

-.33

-.57

.56

.65

.71

.69

Management of conflicts

Benevolent

.26

.19

-.28

-.30

-.25

-.16

Critical

.30

.30

-.33

-.22

-.27

-.18

Developmental

-.24

-.53

.51

.67

.70

.68

Recognition of performance

Benevolent

.38

.48

-.37

-.34

-.44

-.39

Critical

.41

.70

-.60

-.55

-.67

-.57

Developmental

-.32

-.62

.71

.71

.77

.81

Decision Taking

Benevolent

.46

.40

-.36

-.34

-.35

-.35

Critical

.38

.59

-.37

-.25

-.45

-.47

Developmental

-.34

-.57

.62

.62

.71

.72

Performance management

Benevolent

.31

.48

-.37

-.26

-.48

-.44

Critical

.41

.59

-.32

-.28

-.42

-.44

Developmental

-.40

-.56

.65

.55

.70

.71

Resources and support

Benevolent

.53

.57

-.44

-.43

-.51

-.49

Critical

.50

.74

-.50

-.49

-.60

-.60

Developmental

-.37

-.58

.66

.69

.73

.70

Failure management

Benevolent

.62

.45

-.43

-.27

-.41

-.39

Critical

.35

.69

-.32

-.48

-.56

-.52

Developmental

-.26

-.59

.62

.68

.65

.72


The following observations may be drawn from the table:

" Benevolent, relationship oriented and rescuing style seem to create feelings of dependence and resentment among the subordinates. Only in the case of management of mistakes it has not generated any negative climate.
" In managing mistakes employees seem to accept a dependence and did not show any negative feelings
" Critical style seems to have negative climate all the time and in all situations.
" Developmental style in all situations seem o be negatively related to dependence climate and resentment as expected.

Conclusions

The study has clearly demonstrated that developmental style is the most desirable style and it is associated with creation of empowerment, growth, learning, morale and satisfaction on the part of the employees. In Goleman's terms this style creates resonance while the critical climate creates dissonance. Benevolent or relationship dominant style has the potential of creating not only dependence but also resentment and avoidance of work.

Leadership programs in future therefore should focus on the developmental style as a desirable style. The results also indicated the potential of all the nine situations chosen in predicting the leadership style. It looks that the style gets shown consistently in most of the situations.

Leadership style based feedback should perhaps focus on this in future.

References

Ghosal. Sumantra and Bartlett, C.A. The Individualized Corporation. Harper Business Book, NY 1997

Goleman, Daniel. The New Leaders. London, Little, Brown.

Goleman, Daniel. Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, New York, 1998.

Hesselbein, Frances and Cohen, Paul, M. Leader to Leader. Jossey bass, San Francisco, 1999

Lee, Briane, The Power Principle: Influence with Honour. Franklin Covey Co, , Fireside, NY, 1997

Peters, Tom. The Circle of innovation: you can't shirk your way to Greatness, Hodder & Sloughton, London, 1997

Pfeffer, Jeferey. The Human Equation. Harvard business School Press, 1998

Rao, T. V. and Vijayalakshmi, M. RSDQ Model of 360 Degree feedback. In "Rao, T. V., Vijayalakshmi, M and Rao, Raju. (Editors) 360 Degree Feedback and Performance management Systems, New Delhi, Excel Publications, 2000

Stewart, Abigail J. and Rao, T. V. The Stewart Maturity Scale: Indian Adaptation. New Delhi: Manasayan, 1976

Rao, T. V. The supervisory and leadership beliefs questionnaire, in J.W. Pfeiffer and L.D.in Goodstein. (Eds) The 1986 Annual: Developing Human Resources, San Diego, California: University Associates, 111-116

Smart, Bradford D. Top Grading: How leading companies win by hiring, coaching and keeping the best people, Prentice Hall, New York, 1999

Tichy, Noel M. and Cohen, Eli. The Leadership Engine: How winning companies build Leaders at Every Level, Harper Business, 1997, NY
 


T.V. Rao
Chairman
T V Rao Learning Systems Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad
With the assistance of
Raju Rao
Director
T V Rao Learning Systems Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad
 

Source: E-mail February 27, 2007

       

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