Thursday, January 30, 2014

Withdrawal Defense Mechanisms

In the last byte, we looked at compromise class of defense mechanisms. In today's byte, we look at withdrawal as a means of defense in case of conflict. 

The following table we summarize the various withdrawal defense mechanisms

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Compromise Defense Mechanisms

In the last byte, we looked the aggressive defense mechanisms. In today's byte, we look at the Compromise defense mechanisms. 

The following table summarizes the various defense mechanisms.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Aggressive Defense Mechanisms

In the last byte, we looked at the power relation in organizations and the interventions that could be considered. In today's byte, we look at the aggressive mechanisms that act as a defense mechanism.

Conflicts often arise within the context of a performance appraisal session. People do not react well to negative feedback - when individuals are frustrated, as they commonly are in interpersonal conflicts - they respond through many classes of defense mechanism. 

The first of this class of reactions is the aggressive defense mechanisms. The following table provides an overview of the same.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Power Networks 2

In the last byte, we looked at the concept of power-networks - we could summarize the discussion on the power relationships and the intervention using the following diagram.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Power Networks

In the last byte, we looked at the ways to deal with intrapersonal conflicts. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on the interpersonal conflicts and specifically focus on the power networks.
To effectively manage interpersonal conflicts one would benefit by understanding power networks in organizations, defense mechanisms exhibited by individuals and ways to cope with them. The emphasis in today’s byte is on the power networks.
There could be three forms of organization power networks:
  • equal vs. equal
The focus in this form is on the win-loose kind of an approach to problems, one tries to maximize its power at the expense of others. This form of conflict could lead to low self-esteem, and other distress symptoms. Improving the coordination between parties could help manage these conflicts.
  • high vs. low
This form of conflict entails the person with a higher power trying to control the others and the person with lower power trying for more autonomy. Typical symptoms include - job dissatisfaction, low organizational commitment, turnover etc. Coaching and Counseling are found to be effective.
  • high vs. middle vs. low
This is typically experienced by middle managers. Improved communication amongst parties can reduce the role conflict and the ambiguity. Training is also found to be very effective.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Managing Interpersonal Conflicts

In the last byte, we looked at the various forms of conflict. In today's byte, we look at how one could manage the various intrapersonal conflicts.
The source of Intrapersonal conflicts resides primarily within an individual and thus intrapersonal conflict can be managed with careful self-analysis and diagnosis of the situation. There are 3 particular actions that can help prevent or resolve these conflicts:
  1. When seeking a new job, one would benefit by finding out as much as possible about the values of the organization. The differences between the organizational and individual values are often the source of person-role conflicts. The better the fit, the more the satisfaction and commitment and less likely to leave the organization.
  2. Role analysis is a good tool. Through Role analysis the person who has such conflicts could ask the role senders what is expected - this reduces the ambiguity.
  3. Political skills can help buffer the negative effectives of stress that stems from role conflicts.  Negotiating role expectations when conflicts occur using the political skills
All the above forms of conflict can be managed; the first step is really understanding the many forms.
We shall move on next to discuss interpersonal conflict handling.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Forms of Organizational Conflicts

In the last byte, we looked at how globalization has begun affecting conflicts in organizations. In today’s byte, we look at the various forms of conflict in an organization.
We could group conflicts into the following forms:
  • Interorganizational Conflicts - this refers to conflicts that occur between two or more organizations
  • Intergroup Conflicts - this refers to conflicts that occur between groups or teams in an organization
  • Intragroup Conflict - this refers to conflicts that occur within groups or teams
  • Interpersonal Conflict - this refers to conflict that occurs between two or more individuals
  • Intrapersonal Conflict - this refers to the conflict that occurs within an individual
  • Interrole Conflict - this refers to the conflict a person experiences amongst the multiple roles in his or her life
  • Intrarole Conflict - this refers to the conflict that occurs within a single role, such as when a person receives conflicting messages from role senders about how to perform a certain role
  • Person-role Conflict - this refers to conflicts when an individual is expected to perform behaviors in a certain role that conflict with his or her personal values

Monday, January 20, 2014

Conflict in the context of global organizations

In the last byte, we looked at some of the structure issues that could give raise to conflicts. In today's byte, we look at how conflict is influenced by the increasing globalization.

Many Multi-National companies employ people from different ethnic and cultural groups. This gives rise to vast differences amongst individuals and increases the potential for conflict.
Individualism means that people believe that their individual interests take priority over society's interest. Collectivism on the other hand that people put the good of group first. Given the cultural contexts, individualism/collectivism could lead to have a lot of influence conflict in managerial context.
Power Distance across cultures is another source of conflict in the era of globalization. The source of conflicts in case of power distance would result from the way one respect people in higher levels of power.
How people perceive the uncertainty and how they attempt to avoid uncertainty is another source of conflict in the scenario of globalization. Some cultures handle uncertainty better than others.
Time orientation is another dimension that could lead to conflicts when working with people across different cultures. Chinese are generally having a long term orientation, while the US and Russian countries have a short term orientation.
We next look at the various forms of organizational conflicts.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Structural causes of Conflict

In the last byte, we looked at the structural causes of conflict. In today's byte, we look at the personal factors as a source of conflict.
  • SKILLS AND ABILITIES - Diversity in skills and abilities could be positive sometimes, but could also turn out to be potentially a source of conflict when jobs are interdependent.
  • PERSONALITIES - Individual personality differences play a crucial role when in organizations. A specific style of an individual could be useful from the organizational perspective, but may be hated by co-workers
  • PERCEPTIONS - Individual differences in perceptions are another source of conflict. Not all of team members perceive the same aspect of what they are trying to achieve too!
  • VALUES & ETHICS - Individual sets of values and ethics and the translation of these into a workplace concept could be a potential source of conflict in organizations.
  • EMOTIONS - Individuals carry in emotions from a different context (may be home) into work place and this could be hard for people to deal with and b a source of conflict.
  • COMMUNICATION BARRIERS - Language, Distance, etc could distort the message and potentially lead to conflict.
  • CULTURAL DIFFERENCES - Lack of understanding of another culture and their values could be another source of conflict.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Structural sources of organizational conflict

In the last byte, we began our discussion about the sources of conflict. We listed the structural sources of organizational conflict in the last byte; we shall discuss these in a bit more detail here.
  • SPECIALIZATION - When jobs are highly specialized, employees become experts at certain tasks.  Highly specialized jobs could lead to conflict as people would be little aware of the tasks that other's perform.
  • INTERDEPENDENCE - Sometimes work requires groups or individuals to depend on one another to accomplish a certain goal.  This dependency is not an issue as long as the process works smoothly, however it could soon turn into a blame game when there is a problem.
  • COMMON RESOURCES - Sharing common resources by multiple people could be another source of conflicts. This escalates in case the resource is scare.
  • GOAL DIFFERENCES - When multiple groups work towards maximizing a specific group objective, the lack of understanding of other's objective is the common source of this.
  • AUTHORITY RELATIONSHIPS - A supervisor-subordinate relationship is another source of conflicts as one has authority over another. Through greater emphasis on team approach, empowerment etc the potential for such conflict reduces.
  • STATUS INCONSISTENCIES - Resentment amongst people due to strong status differences (between management and non management say) is a source of conflicts.
  • JURISDICTIONAL AMBIGUITIES - Unclear lines of responsibilities within an organization is the source of such conflicts.

Conflict - Structural & Personal Causes

In the last byte, we discussed about the how managers could identify between functional and dysfunctional conflicts. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on the cause of conflict.

The sources of conflict could be classified into 2 categories:
  1. Structural - these stem from the nature of the organization and the way work is organized
  2. Personal - these arise from the differences amongst individuals

Following diagram is a quick summary of some of the causes of organizational conflicts -


Identifying functional and dysfunctional conflict

In the last byte, we looked at the issue of dysfunctional conflicts, and built a case for the need to be able to identify between functional and dysfunctional conflict.

Distinguishing between conflicts and being able to diagnose it as good or bad isn’t an easy task. The context of the conflict and the parties involved are key considerations for a manager in being able to diagnose the situation.
Some of the key questions that could help the manager diagnose the type of conflict could be:
  1. Are the parties approaching the conflict from a hostile standpoint?
  2. Is the outcome likely to be a negative one for the organization?
  3. Do the potential losses of the parties exceed any potential gains?
  4. Is energy being diverted from goal accomplishment?

If the answers to a majority of the questions listed above is "yes" then the conflict is probably dysfunctional.
Once the type of the conflict is diagnosed, the manager could either work to resolve it (in case of dysfunctional conflicts) or stimulate it (in the case functional ones).
We next explore the causes of conflict in organizations.

Dysfunctional dimension of Conflicts

In the last byte, we looked at the functional dimension of conflicts. In today's byte, we look at the dysfunctional dimension of conflicts.

Dysfunctional conflict as we mentioned is an unhealthy, destructive disagreement between two or more people. The issue with such a conflict is that it takes way the focus away from the work to be done and places the focus on the conflict itself and the parties involved.

Such excessive conflict drains energy that could be used more productively. The key aspect is identifying a dysfunctional conflict is that its origin is often emotional or behavioral. Disagreement that involves personalized anger and resentment directed at specific individuals rather than specific ideas are dysfunctional!

People with a dysfunctional behavior could generally be found to act before they think and they often rely on threats, deception, and verbal abuse to communicate.
In dysfunctional conflict, the losses to both the parties may exceed any potential benefit from the conflict. This emphasizes the interest in being able to diagnose such conflict early; we shall deal about this in the next byte.

Dysfunctional and Functional Conflict

In the last byte, we looked at the positive and negative consequences of conflict. In today's byte, we discuss about functional and dysfunctional conflict.

We claimed looking at the consequences that functional conflict should be encouraged and dysfunctional conflict has to be discouraged. The challenge really is distinguishing between dysfunctional and functional conflict.

  • Functional Conflict - is a healthy, constructive disagreement between two or more people
  • Dysfunctional Conflict - is an unhealthy, destructive disagreement between two or more people.

Functional conflicts can produce new ideas, learning and growth among individuals. By developing a constructive conflict, individuals develop a better awareness of themselves and others.
The awareness doesn’t just limit itself to individuals, it could help teams develop an improved working relationship - by working through disagreement two parties feel they have accomplished something together.
Functional conflicts can lead to innovation and positive change for the organization too - i.e. functional conflicts tend to encourage creativity among individuals, this positive form of conflict can translate into increased productivity.

Conflict - Consequences

In the last byte, we began our discussion on conflicts. We also mentioned that not all conflicts are bad! Following is a summary of the consequences of conflict:

Given the consequences of conflict detailed about, the key to conflict management is really to stimulate functional behavior and resolve dysfunctional behavior. We shall discuss these in greater detail in the next byte.

Conflict and Negotiation

In the last byte, we looked at a few guidelines for leadership. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on conflict and negotiation.

To have a common understanding before we begin our discussion, we shall have to define conflict. Here is our definition as per the reference book:
"Conflict is any situation in which incompatible goals, attitudes, emotions or behaviors lead to disagreement or opposition between two or more parties."
The business market place with its increasing competition and globalization magnifies the differences amongst people given their personalities, values, attitudes, perceptions, languages, cultures and nationalities. Thus, today's organizations face a greater potential for conflict than ever before.
Given the increasing diversity in business workforces, we have a unique scenario where we also have an ever increasing potential for compatibility and conflict!
It is important to note: Not all conflicts are bad! Some types of conflicts encourage new solutions to problems and enhance creativity in the organization. We shall discuss about this dimension in the next byte.

Guidelines for Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at the cultural differences that a leader would need to keep in mind. In today's byte, we look at some guidelines for leadership. 

Leadership plays a very influential role in organizational behavior and achieving organizational effectiveness. Following are 5 useful guidelines for leadership:
  • No two leaders are the same - leaders and organizations should appreciate the unique attributes, predispositions, and talents of each leader. There is value in this diversity.
  • There is no single best style of leadership - there are organizational preferences in terms of style. The choice of leaders who challenge the organizational culture, when necessary, without destroying it.
  • Participative, Considerate leader behavior demonstrate a concern for people appear to enhance the health and well-being of followers in the work environment. This doesn't imply, however, the leader cannot ignore the team's work tasks
  • Different leadership situations call for different leadership talents and behaviors. This may result in different individuals taking the leader role, depending on the specific situation in which the team finds itself.
  • Good leaders are generally good followers too. Although there are distinctions between their social roles, the attributes and behaviors of leaders and followers may not be as distinct as is sometimes thought of.

Leadership - Cultural Differences

In the last byte, we looked at dynamic followers. Today we look at the aspect of cultural differences in leadership.

We have discussed about situational leadership where in leadership is influenced by the situational context in which the leadership act is shown. Extending this, we could say - we would need to consider the cultural influences in leadership scenario. Culture is definitely an important situational variable when exercising influence and authority. Leaders who think could groom themselves into being global leadership would need to be flexible enough to alter their approaches when crossing national boundaries and working with people in foreign cultures.
Here is a small illustration of how the culture influences: Leadership in the American context where the American workers follow traditional Protestant work values. In China the influence is from three perspectives - Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism; these are harmonized to create work values such as trust, hierarchy, loyalty and network.
To be effective, leaders must understand other cultures and be sensitive to the minor diversities and not assume homogeneity to be existent.

Dynamic Followers

In the last byte, we looked at our discussion on Effective Follower. Today we discuss about Dynamic Followers.

A general assumption about followers is that they are someone in a powerless, dependent role - they do not take up potent, active, significant roles. Dynamic followers are more contemporary, and play a healthy role.
A dynamic follower is a follower who is a responsible steward of his or her job, is effective in managing the relationship with the boss and practices self-management.
Over time, dynamic followers become a trusted advisor to the supervisor/boss by keeping the supervisor/boss well informed and building trust and dependability into the relationship. Another nature of these dynamic followers is that they are open to constructive criticism and solicit performance feedback actively. They share the needs and are responsible in functioning.
Note: It takes time and patience to nurture a good relationship between a follower and supervisor.

Effective Followers

In the last byte, we looked at some of the characteristics of 4 groups of followers. Today we discuss about effective followers in a bit more detail.
Effective Followers: These followers are active, responsible, and autonomous in their behavior, while also being critical in their thinking without being subordinate or disrespective.
These followers have been found to be most valuable to a leader and an organization because of their active contribution. They possess four essential qualities:
  1. They practice self-management and self-responsibility. This implies that a leader could delegate to an effective follower without anxiety about the outcome.
  2. They are committed to both, the organization and a purpose, principle or person outside themselves. They are not self-centered and self aggrandizing.
  3. They invest in their own competence and professionalism and focus their energy for maximum impact. They are on the lookout for challenges and ways in which to add to their talents or abilities.
  4. They are courageous, honest and credible. 
Given the above, they could be understood as self-leaders who do not require close supervision.

Followers - Types 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion by classifying followers. In today's byte, we continue this discussion to understand the classification better. 

  • Alienated Followers: these followers think independently and critically, however are passive in their behavior. The result is in these people being psychologically and emotionally distanced from their leaders. They could potentially be disruptive and act as a threat to the health of the organization.
  • Sheep: are followers who do not think independently or critically and are passive in their behavior. They just follow what is being told by their leader.
  • Yes People: these are followers who also do not think independently or critically, yet are very active in their behavior! The uncritically reinforce the thinking and ideas of their leaders with enthusiasm, never question or challenge the leader's ideas and proposals! Being surrounded by yes people could be dangerous to a leader because they are the most likely to give a false positive reaction and no warning of potential pitfalls.
  • Survivors: these followers are the least disruptive and the lowest risk followers in an organization. Their behavior could be understood as - "better safe than sorry".

We shall discuss about effective leaders in the next byte.

Followers - Types

In the last byte, we looked at the concept of followership. It is always an interesting trick when one tries understanding if there is a potential classification of anything that is the subject of study. In today's byte, we attempt to begin our discussion on the types of followers.

We could classify followers into groups based on two dimensions:
a. activity versus passivity
b. independent, critical thinking versus dependent, uncritical thinking.
[Refer to this article for more details:]
We could represent this in the diagram below:

We shall continue this discussion in the next byte.

Leadership: Role of followers

In the last byte, we looked at the concept of servant leadership. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on the role of followers.

The way we are generally thought to distinguish any two segments is by strict compartmentalization. In this context, we distinguish the two roles - leadership and followership as being completely separate from one another! But it is important to understand that this is just a view and as individuals in real world we could be doing both these two roles not just at different times but also at the same time!
The traditional view of followership is generally one where the followers are passive, but in the contemporary setting the follower’s role is an active one with a potential for leadership! This could also be interpreted in some forms as special case of leadership: self-leadership; where the follower assumes responsibility for influencing his or her own performance.
In such cases, the emphasis is on his or her own responsibility and self-control. Being self-lead would mean that the self-leader would perform motivating task with ease, but they would also need to do finish work that is not naturally motivating.
Self-leadership would also help followers to be disciplined and effective; and in fact this forms the first essential steps for an individual to become a leader.
Organizationally, one could use programs like - empowerment, self-managed work teams etc to encourage and activate the follower's role.

Servant Leadership

In the last byte, we attempted to understand some of the differences in women leaders and men leaders, we also hinted a bit on the need to study it further. In today's byte, we look at the concept of Servant Leadership.

Servant leadership assists from the thought that leaders should serve employees, customers and the community!

Developed by Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990), who was the director of management research at AT&T for numerous years, the concept emerged out of his essays.
Another tenet of servant leadership is that work exists for the person as much as the person exists for work - servant leaders try to find out the will of the group and lead based on that.
Servant leaders could thus be seen as stewards who consider leadership a trust and desire to leave the organization in better shape for future generation!
Here is possibly where you could learn more about the movement:

Women Leaders

In the last byte, we looked at the role of trust in leadership. In today's byte, we look at women leaders.

Most of us have heard about - Marissa Mayer, who is the president and CEO of Yahoo! She is working hard to turn around the fortunes of Yahoo! and has shown good promise. On the other hand, we have also heard about leaders like Jack Welsh who was the CEO of GE between 1981 and 2001.

The question then is - do women and men lead differently?
Stereotypes of people generally classify successful managers as having more male-oriented attributes than female oriented attributes! While there is legitimate gender difference that may exist, the same leadership traits may be interpreted differently in a man and women because of the stereotype.
It has been found that women tend to use more people-oriented style that is inclusive and empowering. Women managers excel in positions that demand strong interpersonal skills.
With more and more women assuming positions of leadership in organization, it is apt to know more about the ways women lead.

Leadership - Trust

In the last byte, we began our discussion about the emerging issues in leadership specifically - emotional intelligence. In today's byte, we look at the role of trust in leadership.

Trust refers to the willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of another.

Trust is an essential element of leadership. Trust plays an important role in emotional intelligence.

The implications of the above definition of trust, is that the followers believe that their leader will act with the followers welfare in mind! In an organizational setting where top-management trusts each other, implementing a strategy would be easier - since the team members trust each other, it would be easier to have a "buy-in" from employees on the direction of the company. If employees trust their leaders, they will have a buy in more readily!

Note, it is important to note that effective leaders know whom and how to trust. At one extreme we find leaders who trust no one, they are generally lonely. At the other extreme, we find leaders who trust a close circle of advisors, listening only to them and gradually cutting themselves off from dissenting opinions! Leaders need to evaluate both the competence and the position of those they trust, seeking out a variety of opinions and inputs.

Emotional Intelligence

In the last byte, we looked at Charismatic Leadership. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on emerging issues in Leadership, specifically: Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is important for leaders to be effective. Emotional Intelligence refers to the ability of an individual’s to recognize and manage emotions of one and in others. Emotional Intelligence is equally if not more important than Intelligence or technical skills of a leader.
Emotional intelligence is assumed to be composed of the following competencies:
  1. Self-awareness
  2. Empathy
  3. Adaptability
  4. Self-confidence.
It is common to develop emotional intelligence as one grows old, but however it could be learnt.

Emotional Intelligence affects the way leaders make decisions. In conditions of higher stress, leaders with higher emotional intelligence tend to keep their cool and make better decisions, while those leaders with lower emotional intelligence make poor decisions and lose their effectiveness.

Charismatic Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at transformational leadership and how it is different from transactional leadership. In today's byte, we discuss about charismatic leadership.

Charismatic Leadership is one where the leader uses his/her personal abilities and talents in order to have profound and extraordinary effects on followers.

"Charisma" is a Greek word meaning "gift"; the charismatic leader’s unique and powerful gifts are the source of the leader’s great influence with his/her followers. The followers view the charismatic leader as one who possesses superhuman or even mystical qualities. These leaders often rely on referent power! This form of leadership is found to be effective in times of uncertainty.

Charismatic leaders are believed to chosen born with the "gift" or are those who cultivate the "gift" - i.e. some say: charismatic leaders are born, while other say they are taught.
Charismatic leaders carry not only a great potential for high levels of achievement and performance on the part of their followers but also shadowy risk of destructive courses of action that could harm their followers or others. (e.g. Adolf Hitler)

Trasformational Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at what could be the substitutes for leadership. In today's byte, we look at the concept of Trasformational Leadership and keep differentiating it from transactional leadership.

Transactional Leadership is one in which the leader uses rewards and punishments to make deals with their subordinates. On the other hand, Transformational leaders aspire and excite followers to achieve higher levels of performance.
One often wonders if leadership could only be one of the two forms, however this is not the case - Leadership could be both transformational and Transactional. Transformational leadership could strengthen the effects of transactional leadership. However, even the best of transactional leadership cannot be a substitute for transformational leadership.
Transformational leadership is more effective when compared to transactional leadership since the leader encourages the followers to set goals that are congruent with the followers' own authentic interests and values. This allows the followers to see their work as important and their goals as aligned to their personal aspirations.

Substitutes for Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at the Leader-Member Exchange Theory. In today's byte, we look at what could act as substitutes for leadership.
A simple question that would definitely arise in anyone's mind is - Given all the discussion, could we ever substitute leadership?

The answer seemingly is yes - sometimes situation can neutralize or even replace leader behavior, and this forms the central idea behind finding substitution to leadership. Here are some examples:
  • When one finds a task very satisfying and feedback about performance -  there would be no need for leadership behavior. The satisfaction of the employee comes from the interesting work and feedback there in.
  • Other examples are:
    •     employee's high skills
    •     team cohesiveness
    •     formal controls on the part of the organization
  • It would be interesting to think of a services settings where employees with extensive contact with customers receive a larger amount of the leadership from the customer and the need for formal supervision would be reduced!

Leaders-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory

In the last byte, we looked at what the meaning of each of the quadrants. In today's byte, we look at the concept of leaders-member exchange (LMX) theory.

LMX theory recognizes that leaders may form different relationships with followers. The idea emerges from the observation that, leaders could have two groups of followers - those who are in-group and those out-group. 

In-group followers are generally similar to the leader and are given greater responsibilities, mode rewards, and more attention. They are seen to be working on the leader's inner circle of communications. Given this level of comfort, in-group members could be more satisfied, have a lower level of turn-over, and have higher organizational commitment. On the other hand, the out-group members are outside the circle, and are seen to receive less attention and fewer rewards. They are generally managed by formal rules and policies. 

Employees who have frequent contact with the boss also have a better understanding of what the boss's expectations are, and this agreement leads to better performance by the employee and reduces misunderstanding between employer and employee. 

Recent research indicates that in-group members are more likely to support the values of the reorganization and tend to become models of appropriate behavior.

Situational Leadership Model 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion about the situational leadership model. We continue this discussion in today's byte.

The model uses two dimensions of leadership behavior that were used in the Ohio studies - task oriented and relationship oriented. Follower readiness is determined by the four levels indicated.

According to the model, a leader shout use a telling style (s1) when a follower is unable and unwilling to do a certain tasks - instructions and monitoring are crucial here. When a follower is unable but willing and confident of doing the task - in such a case the leader can use a selling style (s2). In case a follower is able to complete a task but may be unwilling or insecure of doing so, then a participatory style (s3) might be suited. In case the follower is able and willing, the leader could use delegating style (s4).

A key limitation of this model is the absence of a central hypothesis that could be tested, which would make it a more valid, reliable theory of leadership.  However, given its intuitive appeal, this model is widely used an accepted in corporative training and development.

Situational Leadership Model

In the last byte, we looked at the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Model of Normative Decision moving. In today's byte, we move ahead to discuss about the Situational Leadership Model.

The situational leadership model was developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard and suggests that leader's behavior should be adjusted to the maturity level of the followers.
We could simply visualize the model in the diagram below:

Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model. We continue the same in today's byte.

We mentioned that the key to normative decision model is that a manager should use the decision method that is most appropriate for a given decision situation.  We could find a more detailed discussion on the model at the following link:
The following figure is an indication of how a manager could choose the decision suitable for the scenario.

Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model

In the last byte, we were discussing about path-goal theory. In today's byte, we begin looking at Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model.

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model helps leaders and managers known use employees participating in decision making process. This model helps recognize appropriate decision making strategy to use.

Following are the decision making described in the model:
  • Decide: The manager makes the decision alone either announces it or "sells" it to the group
  • Consult Individually: The manager presents the problem to the group members individually, gets their inputs, and then makes the decision
  • Consult Group: The manager presents the problem to the group members in meeting, gets their inputs, and then makes the decision
  • Facilitate: The manager presents the problem to the group in meeting and acts as a facilitator, defining the problem and the boundaries that surround the decision. The manager's ideas are not given more weight than any other group member's ideas. The objective in this approach is really concurrence.
  • Delegate: The manager permits the group to make the decision within the prescribed limits, providing needed resources and encouragement.

(Points from reference book)

Path-Goal Theory 3

In the last byte, we looked at which of the leadership style would be appropriate according to the Path-Goal Theory, based on the follower's aspiration. In today's byte, we continue the discussion further.

In addition to the consideration that the leader should provide to the follower in deciding his/her leader behavior; the work environment is also to be included. The workplace characteristics like - task structure, work group, authority system; combined with the follower characteristics like - ability level, authoritarianism, locus of control; are to be considered in adopting a leadership behavior.
An example would help make this point clear - If the followers are highly trained professionals, and the task is difficult, yet achievable one - an achievement oriented style adopted by the leader would be more appropriate than any of the other ones.
Given that this theory assumes that leaders adapt their behavior and style to fit the characteristics of their follower and the environment in which they work - it is evident that there would be a lot of variety to be taken note of. Researchers today are focusing on what style works best in specific situations by including factors like - organization size, the leader style - visionary/transactional etc  to be able to help strengthen the theory.

Path-Goal Theory 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on the Path-Goal Theory of Leadership. We continue the discussion further in today's byte. 

If we carefully observe the path-goal theory, we note that Robert House has based the leadership effectiveness theory on the Expectancy theory of Motivation. The basic role of the leader is thus, to clear the follower's path to the goal and he/she may use one of the four leadership behavior styles as appropriate - with the primary motive of helping followers clarify the path that paths that lead them to work and personal goals.
The leader selects of the four leadership behavior style as shown, one that is most helpful to the follower at a given time.
  1. Directive style is used when the leader must give specific guidance about work tasks, schedule work and let followers know what is expected
  2. Supportive style is used when the leader needs to show concern for the follower's wellbeing and social status
  3. The Participative Style is used when the leader must engage in joint decision-making activities with followers.
  4. Achievement oriented style would be used when the leader must set a challenging goal for followers and show a strong confidence in them.

Path-Goal Theory

In the last byte, we discussed about the leader's effectiveness based on the situation. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on The Path-Goal Theory proposed by Robert House.
We could better understand the Path-Goal Theory by looking at the key concepts shown in the diagram below:

Leadership Effectiveness

In the last byte, we looked at the favorableness of a situation and its role in determining the leadership style. In today's byte, we look at how leadership effectiveness varies with situation.

Contingency theories claim that leader's effectiveness is influenced by the right situation. Studies indicate that, Low LPC (task-oriented) leaders are found to be more effective in situations that are very favorable or very unfavorable. On the other hand, leaders who have high LPC (relationship-oriented) leaders are found to be more effective in the intermediate range of situational favorableness.
Other researchers have also indicated that - relationship oriented leaders are found to be encouraging the team learning and innovativeness, which helps the product reach the market faster. An important cue in the role a relationship oriented leader could play in a new product development teams!
Very often, it’s possible that a misfit occurs - the leader's style might not suite the situation at hand. It is unlikely that the leader can be changed as the leader's need structure is considered an enduring trait according to the theory. In such situations, Fiedler recommends that the leader's situation would be reengineered to suit the leader's style.
In summary: The primary contribution of Fiedler's theory is the attention drawn towards the leadership situation.

Contingency Theories of Leadership 3

In the last byte, we looked at the concept of Least Preferred Coworker and the scale used. In today's byte, we look at the situations factor's influence in Fiedler's Contingency Theory.

In the beginning of our discussion on Fielder's Contingency Theory, we had mentioned that there are three dimensions that influence the leader's style of leadership. These are:
  1. Task Structure: The degree of clarity, or ambiguity, in the work activities assigned to the group. This includes the number and clarity of rules and regulations and procedures for getting the work done.
  2. Position Power: The authority associated with the leader's formal position in the organization. This includes the leader's legitimate authority to evaluate and reward performance, punish errors, and demote group members.
  3. Leader-Member Relations: The quality of interpersonal relationships among a leader and the graph members. The quality of leader-member relationships is measured by the Group-Atmosphere Scale, composed of nine eight-point bipolar adjective sets.
A favorable leadership situation is one with a structured task for the work group, strong position power for the leader, and a good leader-member relation. An unfavorable leadership situation is one with an unstructured task, weak position power for the leader and a moderately poor leader-member relationship. Between these two extremes, the leadership situation has varying degrees of moderate favorableness for the leader.

Contingency Theories of Leadership 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on Fiedler's Contingency Theory. In today's byte, we explore it a bit deeper in this attempt.

Fiedler classifies leaders using the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) Scale. This scale asks the leader to describe the least preferred coworker using a sixteen eight point scale bipolar adjective sets. The leader would mark the bank that is most descriptive of the least preferred coworker.

The leaders are then classified - one who describes their least preferred coworker in positive terms (ex: pleasant, efficient, cheerful etc) is classified as high LPC, or relationship oriented; and those who describe their least preferred coworker in negative terms (ex: unpleasant, inefficient, gloomy etc) are said to be having a low LPC, or task-oriented, leaders.

Note that, this technique is a projective technique which asks a leader to think about the person whom he or she can work least well (the least preferred coworker or LPC). This itself makes the score controversial element of the theory as the projective technique would have an extremely low measurement reliability

Contingency Theories of Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at a comparison between the leadership grid and the Ohio State Research. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on the Contingency Theories of Leadership.

The roots of Contingency Theory of Leadership arises from the belief that leadership style must be appropriate to a particular situation. The way one could interpret these theories is - "IF the situation is ____, then the appropriate leadership behavior is _____ ". We shall begin our discussion on these theories with an introduction to Fiedler's Contingency Theory in this byte and continue this further.

Fiedler's Contingency Theory assumes that leaders are either task-oriented or relationship oriented, depending on how the leaders obtain their major gratification. The theory thus, proposes the fit between the leader's need structure and the favorableness of the leader's situation determine the team's effectiveness in work accomplishment.

Task-oriented leaders are primarily gratified by accomplishing tasks and getting work done, while relationship-oriented leaders are primarily gratified by developing good, comfortable interpersonal relationships. Thus, the effectiveness of the type of leaders depends on the favorableness of the situation.
The favorableness of the situation has three components:
  • Leader's position power.
  • Structure of the team's task
  • Quality of the leader-follower relationship.

Leadership Grid 3

In the last byte, we looked at the leadership grid and understood what each of the points on the grid meant. In today's byte, we look at how the classification according to this leadership grid varies from the classifications of the earlier studies.

The leadership varies from the original Ohio State research in two ways -
  1. It has attitudinal overtones that are not present in the original research. (While LBDQ aims to describe behavior, the grid addresses both behavior and attitude of the leader!)
  2. The Ohio state approach is fundamentally descriptive and non-evaluative, whereas the grid is normative and prescriptive.

The grid assumes that the Team manager (9,9) is the best style of managerial behavior, and, based on identifying the current location on the grid and then potentially train oneself to become the coveted - team manager. Thus, the grid is also prescriptive in nature.

Leadership Grid 2

In the last byte, we looked at the leadership grid. Today's session we describe the various points on the grid.

  • (5,5) - Organization Man Manager:    A middle of the road manager
  • (9,1) - Authority compliance Manager:     A leader who emphasizes production
  • (1,9) - Country Club Manager:        A leader who creates a happy, comfortable work environment
  • (9,9) - Team Manager:            A leader who builds a highly productive team of committed people
  • (1,1) - Impoverished Manager:         A leader who exerts just enough efforts to get by

Two new leadership styles have been added to these five:
  • (9+9) - Paternalistic Manager:        A leader who promises reward and threatens punishment
  • (Opp) - Opportunistic Manager:        A leader whose style aims to maximize self-benefit

Leadership Grid

In the last byte, we looked at Michigan Studies. In today's byte, we extend the discussion on classification and look at the following leadership grid.

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton's developed the managerial grid which later was known as Leadership grid, focuses on attitudes of leaders. The two underlying dimensions of the grid are - concern for results, concern for people. 

The grid could be shown as follows.

We shall describe the various points shown in the next byte.

Leadership: Michigan Studies

In the last byte, we looked at the Ohio State studies and classified leadership styles. In today's byte, we look at another attempt to classify the leadership behavior - the Michigan Studies
Given the implications that leadership has on the emotional atmosphere, the Michigan studies identified two styles of leadership - employee oriented and production oriented.
A production-oriented style leads to a work environment characterized by constant influence attempts on the part of the leader, either through direct, close supervision or through the use of many written unwritten rules and regulations for behavior. The emphasis is on getting the work done.
An employee oriented leadership style leads to a work environment that focused on relationships. The leader in these situations would avoid a lot of direct or close supervision and establishes fewer written or unwritten rules and regulations for behavior. These leaders have a higher concern for people and their needs.
Looking back at all the three classifications, one could observe that there has been two broad dimensions emphasized - one focusing and tasks and the other on people!

Leadership: Ohio State Studies

In the last byte, we looked at a influence tactics used by people. In today's byte, we discuss about Ohio State Studies, which attempted to measure specific leadership behaviors.
The Ohio State Studies developed a questionnaire - Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) which labeled two important dimensions - Initiating Structure and Consideration.
Initiation structure is a leadership behavior aimed at defining and organizing work relationships and roles as well as establishing clear patterns of organization, communication, and ways of getting things done.
Consideration refers to the leader behavior aimed at nurturing friendly, warm working relationship as well as encouraging mutual truest and interpersonal respect within the work unit.
These two behaviors are independent of each other and a leader could lie on any of the four quadrants that could be created on these dimensions. Note, this study is really an attempt to describe leadership behavior and doesn’t evaluate or judge the behavior.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Political Behavior in Organizations 4

In the last byte, we began looking at the various influence tactics used by people. We continue this discussion in today's byte.

The following table adopted from the reference book summarized the various influence tactics.

Political Behavior in Organizations 3

In the last byte, we looked at the use of political behavior. In today's byte, we list some of the influence tactics.

Influence as mentioned earlier, is the process of affecting the thought, behavior, or feelings of another person. This person could be a Boss, a subordinate employee or a coworker. If it is the boss - the influence s called upward influence; if a subordinate employee then a downward influence and it is the coworker - it is lateral influence.
The most frequently used tactics are:
  • Consultation
  • Rational Persuasion
  • Inspirational Appeals
  • Ingratiation
  • Upward Appeal
  • Coalition Tactics
  • Exchange Tactics
We shall attempt understanding these in the next byte.

Political Behavior in Organizations 2

In the last byte, we looked at the definition of organizational politics and political behavior. In today's byte, we continue the discussion further.
By its very nature, politics is a controversial topics; and more so for the managers. While some managers take a favorable view of it, others see it detrimental to the organization. Some workers perceive their workplace to be highly political and find using political behavior very satisfying when they engage into it! These people would then thrive in such an environment. The other section generally finds the office politics distasteful and stressful. It is common to find that most people detect political behavior at all levels of the firm.
Organizational conditions could also encourage political activity - unclear goals, autocratic decision making, ambiguous lines of authority, scarce resources and uncertainty - all these favor political activity!
Political behavior in organizations could affect the organization very negatively when it is strategically undertaken to maximize self-interest.  That is, if members of an organization quite competitively pursue selfish ends - it is unlikely that the concerns of others are paid attention to. The workplace thus would be seen as less helpful, more threatening, and more unpredictable.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Political Behavior in Organizations

In the last byte, we looked at Korda's symbols of power and attempted to understand what each symbol represents. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on Political Behavior in Organizations.
Organizational Politics refers to the use of power and influence in an organization. The term of politics could have a negative connotation, but this is not necessarily true.
Organization is a setting where people have competing interest, an effective manager would need to reconcile these interests. Thus the art of managing necessitates organizational politics. There are various tactics and strategies that could be used to acquire and expand power base. While some of these are sanctioned (approved by) in an organizational setting, there are others which are done without a sanction.
Political Behavior thus refers to actions not officially sanctioned by an organization but taken up to influence others and thereby meet one's personal goals. While in some cases, the goals could be aligned to team or organizational goals; in other cases, the personal goals and interests of others collide with each other; individuals pursue politics at the expense of others' interest.

Power 12

In the last byte, we looked at Kanter’s symbols of power. In today's byte, we look at Korda's symbols of power and attempt to see how these two are different. 

Michael Korda uses rather unusual symbols - office furniture, time power and standing by as symbols of Power.

Furniture gives an interesting indication of the power one holds. Ex: The size of one's desk may convey the amount of power or, a rectangular (rather than circular) conference table could enable the most important person to sit at the head of the table.
Time power refers to the use of clocks and watches as power symbols. Often, we find personal planners left open on the desk to display a busy schedule!
Standing by refers to the obligation on people to be available (connected through internet, cell phones, pagers etc at all times so executive could reach them.
An interesting definition of power by Korda is that - there are more people who inconvenience themselves on your behalf than there are people on whose behalf you would inconvenience yourself.
While Kanter's symbols focus on the ability to help others, Korda's symbols focus on the status.

Power 11

In the last byte, we looked at which sort of power would suit which kind of membership. In today's byte, we look at Kanter's symbols of power.

Organizational charts though depict authority, generally do not tell much about who has power. One of the attempts to understand this was by Kanter. Kanter provides the following characteristics of powerful people in organizations.
  1. Ability to intercede for someone in trouble
  2. Ability to get placements for favored employees
  3. Exceeding budget limitations
  4. Procuring above average raises for employees
  5. Getting items on the agenda at meetings
  6. Access to early information
  7. Having top managers seek out their opinions
We can clearly identify an active, other directed element of power in all the above. One could use these symbols to identify powerful people in organizations.
Aligned to this, Kanter also identifies some of the characteristics of powerless people. One way to overcome powerlessness is to share power and delegate decision making authority to employees.