What subjective depending on who you ask, whereas action-centred

What are the
different approaches to the study of Leadership, Management and Teamwork and
how are they relevant to today’s workplace? Choose at least two different
theories for each topic and discuss critically how they are relevant to current
organisational practice.

 

In
this essay, I will be discussing; two theories of Leadership, these being Adair’s
Action-Centred Leadership, as well as Transformational Leadership and how this
compares to Transactional Leadership; two management theories, the first approach
I will talk about is Fayol’s Five Elements of Managerial Activity, and how
Hamel’s Practice of Management resembles the former, the second approach is
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y; and two teamwork approaches, Belbin’s Team
Roles and Patterns of Communication in Teams.

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“Leadership revolves around vision, ideas,
direction, and has more to do with inspiring people as to direction and goals
than with day-to-day implementation. A leader must be able to leverage more
than his own capabilities. He must be capable of inspiring other people to do
things without actually sitting on top of them with a checklist.” (Bennis, W.,
1989, p139)

 

Adair’s
action-centred leadership (1973) is an approach that focuses on what the
leaders do. The success of a leader within this theory depends on whether the
leaders are able to meet three needs, these being; achieving the task, building
and maintaining a team, and developing an individual. This theory is heavily
reliant on the basis that leadership can be taught and is not dependent on an
individual’s traits or behaviour – unlike the Qualities (Traits) Approach which
concludes that leaders are born and not made (Mullins, 2016: p314) This is a
primary reason why action-centred leadership prevails the qualities approach,
as the traits that a good leader should possess are highly subjective depending
on who you ask, whereas action-centred leadership simply focuses around whether
the three criteria were met. The action-centred leadership theory has a model
which is figuratively based on three overlapping circles, these representing
the task, the team and the individual. People expect their leaders to help them
achieve the common task, build the synergy of teamwork, and respond to
individuals’ needs. (Adair, J.E., 1973) For action-centred leadership to be
considered a success, all three criteria must be met simultaneously, the task,
team and individual must be considered at all times. If an individual’s needs
are not met then the team will suffer disconnectedness, meaning that the task performance
will be impeded. The way each of these needs are met differ greatly, the
individuals needs mainly revolve around salary and psychological needs such as
achievement, personal growth and recognition, whereas the team needs training
and motivation in order to accomplish the task, which cannot be done alone.
Action-centred leadership is still relevant within todays workplace due to the
fact it is an adaptable model; however, it can be said that the theory is
outdated as it doesn’t necessarily take into account the wide variety of
business structures that are in use within the firms of today. An example being
many organisations today have opted for a flatted structure as these provide
better communication channels, yet these weren’t as popular when Adair’s
action-centred leadership theory saw its inception.

 

Another
leadership theory is transformational leadership, which consist of charismatic
leaders who provide vision, a sense of mission, instils pride and gains respect
and trust. (Bass, B.M., 1990, p4). The concept of transformational leadership
was initially created by James M. Burns in 1978, but was altered by Bernard M.
Bass in 1985. Transformational leadership is seen as a creative, yet quiet way
of leadership, and has four basic elements, these being; idealised influence,
which is the charisma of the leader; inspirational motivation, relating to the
behaviour of the leader; intellectual stimulation, where leaders solicit new
approaches; and individualised consideration, which is when leaders listen and
have concern towards the growth and needs of the followers. (Mullins, 2016:
p326). Transformational leadership is intended to transform or revitalise a
business or organisation into one that operates better due to followers of
transformational leaders having a sense of loyalty and trust within their
leader. A transformational leader is often seen as the opposite to a
transactional leader, who aren’t wanting to change or improve a business, more
so to keep the business the same. Transactional leaders generally rely on
rewards and punishments in order to appeal to the self-interest of their followers.
The relationship between a transactional leader and their followers exhibits a
relationship of mutual dependence, where the follower will do something for the
leader in exchange for something else. Transformational leadership is relevant
to current organisational practice because it encourages change, and can also
integrate a transactional leadership style within it, whereas a pure
transactional culture focuses on everything in terms of explicit and implicit
contractual relationships. (Bass, Avolio, 1993, p116). Both pure
transformational and transactional leadership styles however would not be
beneficial in today’s workplace, as there are components from both that many
followers would want from the alternative leadership culture, an example being
a follower getting a monetary reward in exchange for doing something as well as
feel as though they were part of something bigger. This has meant that these
leadership styles are still aspirational for many firms and businesses alike.

 

Leadership
within current organisational practice is completely different from management.
Leaders lead the way, with followers following them, whereas managers have
people working for them. “To manage is to forecast and plan, to organise, to
command, to coordinate and to control”. (Henry Fayol, 1916). Management is
vital in how effective a business or organisation is when it comes to carrying
out tasks, as a manager is someone who is in control of an organisation or
group of staff and is the same person who is held accountable if anything goes
wrong.

 

One
approach to management is Fayol’s Five Elements of Managerial Activity (1917).
This approach consists of five steps, which are Planning, Organising, Command,
Co-ordination and Control. (Mullins, 2016, p354) Fayol believes that planning
is the hardest of these functions because it requires the whole group or firm
to engage. The second element, organising, means that there must be enough
staff in order to complete the task effectively. Command is giving your
delegates or subordinates tasks that they need to complete. Co-ordination is
when the whole firm or organization are functioning better because tasks are
allocated effectively. Finally, control is when you know if everything is on
schedule and if the tasks completed are up to standard. Fayol’s Five Elements
of Managerial Activity could be linked in with the more recent Hamel’s Practice
of Management (2007), which has a similar set of objectives albeit slightly
longer. These practices of management are; setting and co-ordinating objectives;
motivating and aligning effort; co-ordinating and controlling activities;
developing and assigning talent; accumulating and applying knowledge; gathering
and allocating resources; building and developing relationships and balancing
and meeting stakeholder demands. One of the ways that Fayol’s theory links to
Hamel’s theory is because all of the practices from Hamel’s list fit into one
of Fayol’s Five Elements of Managerial Activity. Both Fayol and Hamel’s
managerial approach are relevant in today’s workplace because they provide a
solid guideline for effective management which can be adapted and tailor to a business’s
needs. However, while Fayol’s theoretical influence has stood the test of time,
his impact on practice was much more limited. (Smith, Boyns, 2005, p1) Even
though Fayol and Hamel have an adaptable managerial theory they are both, to an
extent, vague to start with.

 

Another
approach to management is McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y (1960), where
supervisions style depends on how subordinates behave. The assumption of people
who fit the Theory X criteria are that; the average person is lazy and has an
inherent dislike of work; most people must be coerced, controlled, directed and
threatened with punishment if the organisation is to achieve its objectives;
the average person avoids responsibility, prefers to be directed, lacks ambition
and values security most of all; and motivation occurs only at the
physiological and security levels, in reference to the Maslow’s hierarchy of
needs. At the other extreme to Theory X is Theory Y. Its assumptions are; for
most people, work is as natural as play or rest; people will exercise
self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which they are
committed; commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with
their achievement; given the right conditions, the average worker can learn to
accept and to seek responsibility; the capacity for creativity in solving
organisational problems is distributed widely in the population; the
intellectual potential of the average person is only partially utilised; and
motivation occurs within the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs diagram at the
affiliation (love/belonging), esteem and self-actualisation levels as well as
the physiological and security levels. (Mullins, 2016, p368).

 

Theory
X is a management style that has fallen out of favour, however is very much still
prevalent in various work environments, where manual labour or mass production
occur. One reason it is still used is because the managers of these employees
know that they are not motivated by performing the same task over and over
again and believe that the employees are solely motivated by the money that
they will get from performing the tasks. An example of Theory X management can
be seen in a fast food store, where the jobs are fairly low-skilled and low-paid,
and employees are preforming tedious tasks for long shifts, with the only
motivators being the physiological and security levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy,
physiological needs referring to the satisfaction of hunger and thirst and the
ability to function normally, while security needs mean that the employee feels
safe within their job and don’t have to worry about being financially insecure.

 

Theory
X is a direct contrast to Theory Y however, which is most likely to be seen in
more creative firms, especially in higher up career roles This is because,
unlike a lower skilled job, employees are completing creative and unique projects
to a high standard, whereas if you work in a factory the chances are you are
going to be producing the same item over and over. A good example of this would
be at Google, where employees are encouraged to partake in tasks of their own
choosing, or devote themselves to a project that they feel very passionately
about. Employee’s here have other motivators, as many of the workers get paid a
significant sum of money for their employment, this means that instead they are
motivated by other factors. This is because after physiological and security
needs are met, people feel the need to have a sense of belonging. This is known
as an Affiliation need, which is the need for affection, friendships and a
social circle. After this is fulfilled, employees at said company will look for
other motivators, such as Esteem needs which refers to self-respect and the esteem
of others (Mullins, 2016, p229) and Self-actualisation needs, which is when
only unsatisfied needs continue to act as motivators. Both theories are
relevant to current organisational practice because companies and business
simply aren’t managed the same, and sometimes both theories can be put into
practice in one business – at Apple Headquarters in California, Apple takes a
similar approach to Google and implements Theory Y, as they both have
relatively relaxed work environments, whereas in an Apple retail store, a
harder more Theory X geared management style will be in order, so that the
store is able to meet sales targets and perform at its optimal level.

 

Team
work is defined as “groups of two or more people who interact and influence
each other, are mutually accountable for achieving common objectives and
perceive themselves as a social entity” (Bratton et al, 2007, p. 300).

 

Belbin
said that a team role is “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate
with others in a particular way” and Belbin’s Team Roles consist of nine
types of behaviour and traits that can be seen within a working environment. These
roles are; Plant – creative, imaginative, problem-solver; Resource Investigator
– extravert, enthusiastic networker; Co-ordinator – mature, confident,
decision-maker; Shape – dynamic, driven, challenger; Monitor-Evaluator; sober,
strategic, judgment maker; Team-Worker – co-operative, perceptive, diplomat;
Implementer – disciplined, reliable realiser; Completer – conscientious,
painstaking deliverer; and finally, Specialist – dedicated, knowledgeable
provider (Belbin 1993). If a team is formed and that team consists of
like-minded individuals, then the members of that team are more than likely to
think similarly to each other, meaning that they may not find the best solution
to a task or problem. Also, people who are alike are more probable to clash and
argue which wastes crucial time within an organisation. This is where Belbin’s
team roles would be relevant in today’s workplace because they indicate that successful
groups have people with varied strengths and weaknesses, and each role plays an
important part, with many of an individual’s strengths overcoming the
weaknesses of another. For example, a Co-Ordinator will delegate effectively
which counters a Completer’s reluctance to delegate (Mullins, 2016, p292).
However, as with all theories and approaches, there are shortfalls, such as
certain group of people may possess all the criteria to work effectively as a
group, but the people in the group may just not like each other, which will
teamwork to a halt.

 

Another
approach to teamwork is patterns of communications in teams, which is a
communication network which shows how members of a team communicate. There are
five common communication networks, these being the Wheel, the Circle, the Y,
All Channel (Comcon) or Chains (Mullins, 2011, p345). Each communication
pattern is best suited for a different style of team. The wheel pattern of
communication has the leader in the centre of the structure, and a number of
subordinates surrounding and all connected to the leader but not to each other,
this enables fast communication between subordinates and leaders. The Circle
has no leader, and is generally inefficient and unorganised when compared with
the Wheel or Comcon, performance for this structure is erratic. The Y pattern
has one leader, followed by a subordinate, who also has a subordinate, who then
has two subordinates, this creates a lengthy chain of command and is not a good
teamwork structure. All Channel structures are the easiest to communicate
between as each member of the team are able to communicate with one another,
abolishing chains of command, this communication pattern assumes all of the
team are at the same level, with no superiority. Chain networks are similar to
the Y pattern, and is not a good teamwork structure due to the long chain of
command and also the flow of communications only goes one way. Patterns of
communication are relevant to current organisational practice because they help
determine how a business communicates, and then the business or organisation is
able to decide to alter their pattern of communication if their current
structure is flawed.

 

To
conclude, each of these theories and approaches that have been discussed still
have relevance within todays workplace, Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership
proves that a leader is made and not born, while transformational leadership
leads the way for change to take place within an organisation. Transactional
leadership shares quite a few similarities with McGregor’s Theory X management
style, while the Theory Y management styles focuses on motivating their
employees by fulfilling more than just their Physiological and Security needs.
Both of Fayol’s Five Elements and Hamel’s Practice Management could prove vital
for being a successful manager within current organisational practice too.
Finally, Belbin’s team roles is a proven way to bring teams together while
patterns of communication in teams is not only important for one team but all
of the sub-teams within an organisation.