Leadership Essentials For Managers

Leadership Essentials

LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS GUIDE

The leadership essentials guide is useful for aspiring managers, new managers, or experienced managers. It helps professionals to think about and explore ideas of leadership. It is useful to be able to talk leadership language. So let’s start with the contents listing of topics which will be covered.

Contents

  1. INTRODUCTION TO THE MANAGEMENT PROFESSION
    a. Psychology In The Workplace
    b. Circumstances Of Managers
    c .The Management Profession is Unique
    d. The Challenges New Managers Face
    e. Today’s Managers Versus Yesterday’s Managers
  2. LEADERSHIP DEFINED
    a. What Makes A True Leader?
    b. Why Do Leadership Roles And Hierarchy Exist?
    c. Leadership Is A Group Process
  3. LEADERSHIP TYPES
    a. Charismatic Leadership
    b. Inclusive Leadership
    c. Destructive Leadership
    d. Strategic Leadership
    e. Structured Leadership
  4. LEADERSHIP TECHNIQUES
    a. How To Become A Leader And Be Accepted As A Leader
    b. Phases of Leadership: Analyzing, Defining, and Achieving
    c. Creativity, Wisdom, Intelligence & The Synthesis Of Stories
    d. Conflict Management
    e. When To Be Fair And When To Be Unfair
    f. Power of Leaders
    g. Leadership through Power
    h. The Power Method

 

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE MANAGEMENT PROFESSION

1.a  Psychology in the Workplace: This idea of psychology in the workplace has become a popular one. In the workplace, the employees show all sorts of different behaviours. Some employees would rather work at some other job. Some behave unprofessionally. Some do not aim to reach their full potential. To have a happy and productive workforce, aspiring leaders or managers need to study some of the techniques developed by industrial organizational psychologists. From these techniques, one can learn about human behaviour. Specifically, one can learn methods of enhancing performance, and the performance of colleagues and subordinates.

1.b Circumstances Of Managers: The management profession is a profession which is desired by many workers across many different industries. Like many other professions, it is associated with status, prestige, control, wealth, achievement, respect and many other positive things. In reality, manager’s deal with things such as: freedom, powerlessness, insecurity, respect, and conflict. First, if they are in the middle of a hierarchy, one in which they must follow rules, orders and regulations, then they are more restricted than they are free. Second, there are various new and modern leadership working structures such as collective leadership, which can make managers, feel powerless. Third, it is difficult to be secure in oneself if the nature of the decision-making means that one has to constantly assess, control and deal with risk. Fourth, in modern times, the new generation seems to be more against the idea of authority than previous generations, offering managers less respect. Fifth, managers are often forced into dealing with other’s conflicts, rather than their own. As you can see, managers have unique circumstances among professionals and they must deal with and solve psychological challenges.

1.c The Management Profession is Unique: The purpose of the professional title is to denote a certain consistency and quality level that has been achieved. However, the quality of managers is not a consistent thing. There is a lack of standardized performance among managers. Now, for comparison’s sake, other professionals such as engineers or programmers, most of them are standardized and most are good, with a few exceptions. When it comes to management, the opposite is true, with many being bad and only a few great ones. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. First of all, management skills are not something that is practiced by workers. Second, many professionals have to undergo strict and long-term academic training, experiential training and licensing. This is not the case for management. People can often be promoted into management without anything at all. Third, many managers’ who are promoted are still expected to perform their previous role as contributor. This diverts their energy from their development as a manager. Fourth, many managers do not have adequate training, mentorship, supervision, or role models from which to gain the professional insights and expertise necessary for the role. Fifth, many workers are promoted into the management role, in a make it or break it scenario, and as such do not have adequate preparation and training for the role. As you can see, there are many factors, which work together to harm and limit the professionalism of many people as they go through this profession.

1.d  The Challenges New Managers Face: When a person is promoted to management, the rest of the colleagues will react in different ways. The people, who are competitive in nature, probably want the manager to be unsuccessful. In this way, they will then have a chance take the spot. There are those that are only somewhat competitive. These people may be jealous of the new manager’s success, and they may or may not do things, which will make the new manager’s role difficult. Then there are people that simply want to embarrass the manager, perhaps by creating certain situations or asking certain questions that expose the new manager’s lack of ability and knowledge. Then there are those that will merely be curious, and will watch the new manager. Others will pretty much be, the “agreeable people”. These people will see the new manager’s authority as a way in which they themselves can advance. The rest will simply wait and see how the new manager performs. Obviously, the new manager is in the role where they are watched and judged on a continual basis. Most new managers have to prove themselves.

It is not only important to consider how others react to someone’s promotion, but also one must consider the actions they would take in the new role. Among the many things, which the new manager must focus on, they must also focus on their own initial actions. Many new managers, once given control, they like to display the fact that they have this newfound control over others. They do this by making changes. This is problematic because change is something that is feared by the subordinates. The new manager should wait on the plans to institute change. Further, another consideration that a new manager must make has to do with the fact that there will be some competition between the new manager and the opinion leaders within the group. The followers may check the decisions, which the manager will make with the opinion leaders. As such, it is a good idea to have separate discussions with the opinion leaders than with the rest of the group. Then, once ideas are considered and things established, the ideas could then be presented and proposed to the rest of the group.

1.e Today’s Managers Versus Yesterday’s Managers: Today’s managers are different than yesterday’s managers. They derive their leadership strength differently. Today’s manager derives leadership strength from the use of meaning. Yesterday’s manager derived their leadership strength from their power. The difference lies with the fact that today’s manager has far less power than yesterdays’ manager. Nowadays, there are limitations placed on the use of power, and there are rules and regulations, which most managers have to contend with. This difference has meant that modern managers have had to go the extra mile; they have had to adopt new skills. Today’s managers need far more social skill to be successful than was needed by past managers in the similar positions. Here’s an example to demonstrate the difference. Today’s manager exerts power in a subtle fashion.

 

2. LEADERSHIP DEFINED

2.a What Makes A True Leader? It is useful for aspiring managers, new managers, or experienced managers, to think about and explore ideas of leadership. At the very least, it is useful to be able to define: what does a leader do and what makes a true leader. So let’s start answering these questions. Some people think of the leader as someone who can direct a group of followers. However, a true leader doesn’t make others do things, the true leader inspires action.

Leaders should use their influence to get others to achieve a goal. Using influence is better than using compliance. Compliance is not something that stirs feelings of enthusiasm and passion out of the followers, and is therefore less efficient. In addition, attempting to use compliance, can lead to feelings of rebellion among the followers. This could lead them to go do the opposite of what is needed. A leader needs to convert others towards having the same ideas and goals.

It may be easy to communicate in a compliance-seeking manner, but it is not imaginative, not engaging, and not as effective. The leader must inspire the followers to align their goals, ideas and objectives with those of the leader’s. By putting in more effort into the followers, such as, by providing them with rich examples, ideas, and knowledge, their passion will be stirred, and this will allow them to self-motivate. They will then be converted to the leader’s cause and path.

2.b -Why Do Leadership Roles And Hierarchy Exist? Leadership roles exist for a reason. We wouldn’t have roles like team lead, supervisor, manager, general manager, or executive, if the roles were redundant or not needed in the organization. The leadership roles exist, because the hierarchy within the organization provides the organization with a competitive advantage. It has been found that the handling of numerous complicated tasks can be most efficiently handled, when they are broken down into hierarchy. So management type roles make organizations able to handle tasks more efficiently. The way the leaders schedule, sequence, and organize the tasks ends up determining the efficiency and success of the organization. In addition, hierarchies serve other functions. For example, the people with most competence are placed higher up the level in the hierarchy, such that they are able to then transfer their skill down the hierarchy to their subordinates. The hierarchies facilitate efficient skills and knowledge transfer. In addition, there is also the matter of speed. Hierarchies are often used in places like the police force or the military, because hierarchically driven organizations have a quick response time to challenging situations. In short, leadership exists, to manage efficiently the hierarchies of organizations towards gaining a competitive advantage.

2.c – Leadership Is A Group Process: Often times, many people have similar goals and objectives. The motivation required to succeed individually, is very high. As a result, people with similar goals group together. The group requires organization, and this requires leadership. In the leader position, the leader can then uses their influence to organize and motivate the group. Because of the importance of this position, people end up thinking of leadership as an individual thing, or “I” thing. The reality is that leadership is about an interaction between followers and leaders, and that means that leadership is a group process. The prominence of the group should be visible, as it is the followers, which may or may not accept a leader as being a part of the group. If they determine that the leader cannot achieve progress for the group, then the leader will be replaced. The followers are the ones that either accept or reject the potential leader.

 

3. LEADERSHIP TYPES

3.a Charismatic Leadership: Some leaders are more effective than others. What is a key factor which people use to determine whether someone is a better leader than another? The short answer is personality. To show how personality can have a drastic effect on the leadership process, “charismatic leadership” will be discussed.

Charismatic leaders have powerful techniques at their disposal. These types of leaders make their struggle seem to be significant, grand, and heroic. They use techniques such as the exaggeration of plans and then persuade others as to their potential to achieve nearly impossible feats; all acts which motivate their followers. The charismatic leader’s personality influence the followers in such a way, that the leader ends up being considered as a special person.

A skill of charismatic leaders has to do with their ability to spot irregularities, weaknesses or limitations of the current condition or situation. They are then able to formulate a vision, which aims to overcome these problems. The charismatic leader provides the follower a mission, often times this mission appeals to the needs of the follower. In return, the follower offers their support. The followers are afraid that they cannot achieve the objective on their own. It becomes the follower’s hope, that by following someone, the objective is more likely to be met. The psychology behind this is that following a leader provides a psychological benefit, and that is the reduction of fear.

3.b Inclusive Leadership: Inclusive Leadership is a type of leadership which focuses on the quality of the connection, or relationship, between the leader and the subordinates. The aim of inclusive leadership is to promote and enhance this connection. Techniques, which are part of this idea, include; making followers a part of the decision making process, thinking of and treating the followers positively, taking into consideration the needs of the followers, and rewarding those that do good work.

3.c Destructive Leadership: Leadership can make good things happen, but also bad things. Most business people associate the idea of leadership with positive qualities, qualities they themselves aim to possess in order to be selected as leaders. However, leadership can be destructive. To show this, a few areas that are part of destructive leadership, will be summarized.

  • Narcissistic Leadership – Some behaviours include: entitlement, superiority, and the manipulation of others.
  • Toxic Leadership – Can be associated with things such as being controlling and micromanaging.
  • Laissez Faire Leadership – Are calm and passive. They do not do enough work, do not meet their responsibilities, and do not achieve team objectives.
  • Abusive Leadership – Some behaviours include hostility.
  • Dark Charisma – Power sometimes corrupts charismatic leaders. These leaders begin to pursue their own interests, rather than the interests of the company.
  • Unethical Leadership – Unethical leaders lie, manipulate, shift blame, and cause conflicts.

3.d Strategic Leadership: Within organizations, a common leadership type is supervisory leadership. This type of leadership happens in an organization. Strategic leadership has to do with the leadership of an entire organization. When thinking of the term strategic leadership, people often assume it has a great deal to do with planning. But strategic leadership is more than that. Strategic leadership is about being tactical and taking opportunities and making situations work for the company. Also, strategic leaders are inspirational, and use this to get contributions to their causes.

3.e Structured Leadership: When there are great objectives to be achieved, the charismatic leadership is very useful. However, when there are simply regular everyday operations, the structured leadership is more appropriate. During everyday operations, businesses need to operate in an automated fashion. To accomplish this, the leader needs to create systems, rules, workflows and methods. These things are all leadership structures. Some businesses have too few, and some businesses have too many, of these structures. With too few structures, there is too much flexibility, and every problem leads to excessive negotiation and arguments. With too many structures, this can be restricting, such that it demotivates people and gives rise to a countermovement where people strive to have more freedom.

 

4.  LEADERSHIP TECHNIQUES

4.a How To Become A Leader And Be Accepted As A Leader: At the beginning, the leader analyzes and assesses the situation that exists. The leader then thinks about future possibilities, or what could be improved upon. The leader then sets some goals that will capitalize on the possibilities that have been discovered. Then begins a fight or struggle towards achieving these goals or objectives. The leader then attempts to recruit others in the same endeavour, to pool effort. To convince others of the objectives, the leader will need to present the idea that things could be better than they presently are. The leader should focus on pushing the idea that others shouldn’t settle on the current limitations or poor situation that exists.

Sometimes, some followers may be against the idea of leadership. They may like the goals presented, but they may not think that they need your leadership. Fortunately, there is a technique, which can be used to convince others that your leadership is exactly what they need! The key is to present the goal and overall situation as an emergency or crisis. The key is to create an atmosphere where the followers fear that they may not be able to do things on their own. You must make the situation seem dramatic. The more dramatic the better! The more dramatic the situation, the greater will be their need for your leadership. By instilling some fear, the followers will want to change things, they will not be sure they can accomplish it on their own, and they will seek out your help. The goal of the leader is to align the fears of the followers, into a shared vision of the crisis. Then the leader can provide a solution to the crisis that involves them as well.

4.b Phases of Leadership: Analyzing, Defining, and Achieving:  The leadership process can be broken down into three ideas: analyze, define, and achieve. To begin with, “analyzing” implies that a leader should do some thinking. An aspiring leader enters a group of people with the goal to take control and lead the group, needs to understand and analyze the group. Analyzing is necessary, because it is impossible to lead a group, which is not understood. What follows “Analyzing”, is “Defining”. Defining is the step in the process where one declares certain ideas to the group. The leader must accomplish three things in this phase. First, the leader has to define the group, has to define themselves, and then has to show the similarities between themselves and the group. Second, the leader then needs to test the waters and propose ideas. Hopefully this will align with the group such that the ideas will be accepted, which will then lead to the creation of policies. Third, the leader needs to make an overall vision. All of these things need to happen in the defining process. And lastly, it’s time to talk about “Achieving”. The leader needs to realize the ideas into tangible results. The leader needs to achieve.

4.c Creativity, Wisdom, Intelligence And The Synthesis Of Stories: A leader should synthesize the attributes into interesting and motivating stories. With creativity, one is able to create new and interesting ideas, ideas that can then become stories. If the stories appeal and make sense to people, then they will follow. Do not underestimate the power of explaining situations and circumstances in the form of a story. With intelligence, one is able to analyze if the ideas created are any good. Intelligence also allows for a full end to end analysis, from the idea, which aims to solve a problem, to the plan for solving the problem, to the observation of the problem solving taking place, to the final result. And finally, with wisdom, one is able to pursue the common good. Wisdom involves the use of both knowledge and attitude. Synthesizing wisdom, intelligence, and creativity allows a person to lead effectively. Effective leaders are able to use their creativity to create content that they can use as part of stories towards motivating followers. The alignment between the leader’s story and the follower’s stories will determine the leader’s success.

4.d Conflict Management: Between the followers, there can be disagreements, tension, and even conflict. The leader must try to regulate such conflict through diplomacy. To accomplish this, the leader must give each side the chance to speak and voice their opinion. After all the points are made, the leader needs to communicate the points provided, so that each side understands each other’s viewpoints. Unfortunately, this process would work if people did not have opposing interests or emotionality, but this is simply not the case. The leader needs to do more than this. As part of the debate, frustration may set in, and people may start to react uncontrollably. The manager needs to control the potentially escalating situation by acting consistent, controlled, rational, and logical. Further, the manager must make a point to not get drawn into the conflict and to use good judgment in making decisions. All of these things should help to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

There are times, however, where control of the situation is lost. Usually, when people are in a conflict, they have a choice to make. They can both lose control of themselves and escalate the conflict, or they can tone it down, inhibit their aggression and maintain control. The benefit they seek in losing control is that they will then pursue their own interest in trying to dominate the other party, thus getting their way. However, if they choose to inhibit their aggression, then they are prioritizing on maintaining the quality of the relationship. Unfortunately, many people give in to their impulses and lose control of the conflict situations. The reason for this is unfortunate, and it is that once the conflict has occurred, it leaves a permanent mark, one that cannot be undone. The end result is that trust is lost in the relationship.

4.e When To Be Fair And When To Be Unfair: It is wrong to assume that always being fair is a good strategy for leadership success. Sometimes, being fair is advantageous and garners support from others, and sometimes being unfair garners support. People will follow the leader as long as he or she is fair to group members. The leader must show themselves to be similar to the group, and treating themselves and the members of the group similarly does this. Sometimes, leaders treat themselves better than the members of the group, which sets them apart from the rest of the group, which leads to dissatisfaction with their leadership. Also, the leader sometimes treats certain members of a group preferentially. By doing this, the leader is not showing egalitarian fairness to the members of the group, and again, their leadership practice is jeopardized.

There are other times when being unfair garners support, such as being unfair to outsiders when there is a conflict of interest with group members.

Example: There is a study, which discusses this idea. In New Zealand, a study with university students took place. The students were shown a memo from a “CEO” that discussed dividing up time on a Kidney Dialysis machine between two New Zealanders. When the time split was to be equal, the CEO received support. When the time split between a New Zealander and an immigrant was to be equal, the CEO did not receive support. In this study, the students also provided support as long as the CEO provided the New Zealander more time than the outsider. This shows that the leader can maintain support if he is both fair to a member of the group, but unfair to an outsider. The leader must know when to be unfair.

4.f Power of Leaders: There are at three key points about the concept of power, which are useful in the management profession.

First, having power is similar to having freedom. Freedom is about doing things that one wishes, and exerting one’s will. Power is about “the ability to do something or act in a particular way”. So it seems, that the definitions of power and freedom are somewhat similar. Additionally, managers can use their power to accomplish things, but also defend their objectives against attacks and other threats. Without power, the members of the group may leave. Power allows the leader to exert costs on those that wish to leave the group, and as such, group members choose to stay. The endeavour survives.

Second, many people intuitively know that power can affect the psychology of the person who has it. Managers should be familiar with this idea, that is, they should know that: the effects of power affect a leader’s psychological development.

Example: Let’s say a manager asks something of his subordinates. Let’s assume that the subordinates go beyond the call of duty to listen and do more than is requested. The manager sees this willingness the subordinates have in regards to listening to his or her directions. The manager reasons that they must be acting this way as a result of the manager’s own personal charisma. This rationale leads the manager towards increased confidence, which results in behaviour that is more disinhibited. As people notice this newfound confidence, they like it, and they reply with positive remarks. This cycle repeats, and the manager’s confidence grows.

Fourth, in managers need to realize that others have issues with people In a position of power. The people, who have issues with people that have power, are usually afraid of the potential for the misuse of power, or the dark side of power. Though this is the case often, there is a way to make an argument for power. To start off with, the manager can talk about regulation of power. The manager can describe how the monitoring, control and regulation of power works to prevent negative outcomes. Also, the manager will need to find examples of great goals, which have been achieved by those in power. The key is, for great things to be accomplished, power is required. Additionally, the manager can look at emergency and crisis situations, where people in a position of power were able to resolve. Most people want emergencies, catastrophes, conflicts, and crises to be resolved, and will have a tough time to counter argue that it does not require power to resolve these. Therefore, it does not make sense for someone to be against power while also wanting that great things be achieved and crises resolved.

4.g Leadership through Power: Sometimes, managers use power strategically in order to lead. Power is important to management, because a manager that has power is able to influence other people. After being influenced, others will then do what is necessary to bring about the change that the manager seeks. For this reason, lets discuss five basic types of power to be aware of and know how to use; reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power and expert power.

  • Reward Power – Managers need to be able to provide financial and non-financial rewards.
  • Coercive Power – Managers need to behave in such away so as to show their seriousness towards disciplinary actions. To maintain discipline, the manager must maintain their ability to punish.
  • Legitimate Power – Legitimate power is the power a person gets when they are accepted into a formal or official position of leadership within a company or other type of organization. However, people respond poorly to this power and are not satisfied with being given orders based on a figure that has control due to their level in the hierarchy.
  • Referent Power – This type of power deals with doing favours for people, being nice to people, and complimenting when the opportunity arises.
  • Expert Power – Expert power is a challenging and difficult power to obtain and maintain. Even if achieved, maintaining expert status can be challenging both because people can forget what they learn, and in addition, the world offers a fast paced and ever changing environment to contend with. Expert power requires a lot of study, preparation, and training.

4.h The Power Method: For leadership to work, one must be able to get others to follow, and this is can be done with some form of power.

Consider an example where a manager wishes to get his employees to attend a series of organizationally optional courses lasting one week long in another city. The manager will likely need to use his or her power to convince and push the employees towards attending these courses. There are several types of power, which can be used. First, as part of reward power, the employees are more likely go to the courses if some sort of reward is to be offered. Second, as part of informational power, the employees are more likely to go if they will get some important information or knowledge relevant to their work. Third, as part of legitimate power, the manager can simply pressure the employees with his or her position, which the employees will recognize and most likely listen to. Fourth, as part of coercive power, the employees are likely to go if they fear that they will be punished for not going. Fifth, as part of expert power, if the employees see the manager as an expert, than they will likely follow the advice. Sixth, as part of referent power, the employees are likely to go if they have respect for their manager.

 

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