After taking a leadership class and learning about all the different theories and ways leaders can be effective, I got to analyzing what theories I have used in the past and theories I can use for my future. I used to think effective leaders were natural born leaders who had certain personality characteristics that made them influential. I learned that this style of leadership was the first attempt at studying leadership and it was called the Trait Approach. Many researchers studied military, political, and social leaders and came up with a bunch of characteristics that make up an effective leader. The five major leadership traits that researchers agree on are Intelligence, Self-Confidence, Determination, Integrity, and Sociability (Northouse, 2013). When I read this chapter I was convinced these traits were the reason I had success in the past at leading my team when I was given the role of leader. I am very outgoing and confident in myself. When given the role to lead a team to success, I am determined to do the task right and make sure the team has a part to play. I am a very honest with everyone and when a problem occurs, I will help to resolve it as best as I can if others need my help. But after learning about so many different theories, some I liked and some I didn’t, I began to wonder what kind of leadership theories would work for me.
Leader-Member Exchange theory is an approach I really liked and saw myself using to be an effective leader in the future. LMX is a process centered on the interactions between the leader and followers (Northouse, 2013). A high-quality interaction between leader and followers produce low turn-over rates, positive performance evaluations, higher frequency of promotions, greater organizational commitment, more desirable task assignments, better attitudes, leader gives more attention and support, higher participation, and faster career progress (Northouse, 2013). A leader connects to their employees and establishes a relationship with them that goes beyond the boss, manager, or role model. They have personal conversations and the leader cares how that persons day is going or how they’re feeling. Employees feel more comfortable and close to their leader and the follower will communicate with the leader more. A good relationship allows the follower to ask for help or share a concern freely and the leader can assign task to the appropriate person and encourage employees to stay motivated and help one another out.There are three phases that leaders and followers go through to create a high-quality work relationship. Phase one is the stranger phase. The relationship in this stage is strictly contractual (Northouse, 2013). Communication is limited to only speaking when needing to discuss assignments. Phase two is the acquaintance stage. This is when the leader or subordinate reaches out and tries to makes a personal conversation or work-related resources (Northouse, 2013). The leader and subordinate work together to move the employee into new challenges and out of the contractual job description and defined roles. The leader is starting to empower the employee to want to have more and different responsibilities while communicating they are there to help. Phase three is the mature partnership. The relationship between leader and follower has been established and personal connections have been made. The employee does tasks outside their role and helps others around them. The leader and follower trust , respect, have obligation and depend on each other, (Northouse, 2013). The point of this approach is that the leader and followers have a close relationship where the hierarchy status is broken and each are on the same page of getting work done and taking on tasks one can not do.
Obviously every business is different and needs to be run and lead differently than others. A leader still needs to be flexible to the organization and it’s employees. If one way of leading the team is not working for the organization and/or the employees, the leader will have to adapt. But having that friendly work relationship between all employees and leaders will benefit the organization because employees are free to speak their ideas and thoughts on bettering and creating change for the company.
I really enjoy this theory because I can see myself being this kind of leader. One who wants to connect on all levels with my team and create an open atmosphere. I would want my employees to take on more than their role requires to encourage them to move up in the company but also not to be afraid to speak out when they need help or think they have a better way. I would want my employees to know they can depend on me but I also want to trust they can handle a lot of responsibility. I can see myself using this approach in the future because I like to get to know others who I am working closely with and I like to raise them to do their best as well. A team is more effective when everyone is on the same page, working as hard as the other, has great communication, and can rely on everyone around them.
What kind of leadership theories and approaches can you see yourself using in the future or theories and approaches you use now?
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.