The concept of leadership has become an integral part of modern organizations because firms search for a competitive advantage. Unlike before, corporations are not just looking for managers, but leaders who can orient organizations toward success in a highly competitive world. Consequently, the question of the best leadership style has arisen and led to the development of many styles. Communication is another aspect that influenced leadership because it mediates between the leader and the followers who work together to achieve common organizational goals. This term paper will evaluate the relationship between leadership and communication, leadership styles and performance, leadership as an identity construction, and leadership styles preferred by subordinates.
Leadership and Communication Styles
Communication is vital to every leader because it helps to acquaint the entire organization with strategies that should be implemented. Additionally, communication assists in conflict management and team cohesion. It is imperative to identify some leadership styles and analyze how they relate to communication to understand the relation between the two. De Vries, Bakker-Pieper, and Oostenveld (2010) classify leadership styles into three categories, which include charismatic, task-oriented and human-oriented leadership styles. Both charismatic and human-oriented leadership styles are closely related to communication styles. On the other hand, task-oriented leadership is less communicative than the other two and is considered more managerial than leadership. As such, charismatic and human-oriented leadership styles depend on communication to a larger extent than the task-based leadership.
Charismatic leaders use communication styles such as supportiveness, assurance, precision, and argumentativeness. Communication styles assist a charismatic leader to engage and inspire the followers to gain enough self-drive to achieve the desired goals. The precision with which a charismatic leader communicates the vision and mission of a corporation determines the subordinates’ level of understanding and commitment to it.
Human-oriented leadership uses a supportiveness aspect of communication. The leader provides the followers with support they need to accomplish their tasks. Those who use the style work with very qualified people who understand their field of work and require minimal support. Additionally, the style works best in environments that value human interactions. Highly motivated employees achieve more than less motivated workers. Since employees are motivated by different factors, understanding specific motivating factors is essential to satisfy them. As such, human-oriented leaders acknowledge the importance of addressing the needs of employees to attain organizational goals.
On the contrary, task-oriented leaders have little regard for workers’ welfare and value tasks more than employees. They utilize assuredness and precision features of communication to accomplish their goals. The leaders using this approach are aggressive in an attempt to stamp their authority so that employees complete the tasks. The content of activities reflects traditional functions of management such as planning, goal setting and adherence to rules.
Despite the different aspects of communication used in the three leadership styles, the relationship between communication and leadership styles is evident. All of them mediate between leadership outcomes and communication styles.
Leadership Styles, Performance Outcomes and Subordinates’ Commitment
Although the use of leadership styles depends on contingent factors, there is a general agreement among scholars that some leadership styles increase performance outcomes because they gain employee commitment (Limsila & Ogunlana, 2008). Understanding the relationship between leadership styles and performance outcomes is essential because it can help managers adapt their leadership behaviors and elicit workers’ commitment to the organization. Consequently, committed workers improve their working relationships and performance.
Culture is an element that can determine the most appropriate style because every culture has unique characteristics. There are cultures that accept a large power difference between leaders and their followers while others prefer a small power difference. Therefore, these types of cultures would require different leadership styles. The performance outcomes of workers in cultures that accept power disparity between leaders and subordinates would increase in non-participative work settings. The employees’ productivity may increase in environments where leaders give instructions and followers execute them. However, they are not committed to the organization because they lack motivation. In most cases, they are unaware of the organizational strategy because the organizational mission and vision may not be clear. For instance, task-oriented leadership, such as transactional leadership, uses autocracy, contingent reward and management by exception. There is limited communication because it has to pass through a stiff vertical organizational structure. Leaders control the behavior of employees by rewarding them for good performance and punishing them for poor performance.
On the other hand, relations oriented leadership, such as transformational leadership, achieves the highest level of employee commitment because it influences the behaviors of workers rather than controls them. Transformational leaders offer individualized consideration to each employee and stimulate their intellectual capacity by giving them freedom of creativity. Consequently, workers become committed to their employers and link their success with the success of their organizations. As a result, transformational leadership achieves the best performance outcomes because the outcomes are based on employees’ commitment to their corporations. In this analysis, it is clear that although each style can attain a satisfactory performance outcome level, only those leaders who motivate employee commitment can get the highest results.
Leadership as an Identity Construct
Scholars have defined leadership from aspects such as leadership styles and characteristics. In a traditional sense, leaders are understood by the functions they carry out such as leading and providing a sense of direction to organizations. Others focus on the attributes that make a person an effective leader. Since all these views on leadership are common, it is essential to look at leadership from a different point of view. Leadership as an identity construct is a perfect way to evaluate leadership from a social setting approach. According to Karp and Helg? (2009), leadership emerges after interactions at the workplace where people gain credibility and recognition from others. In the identity construct approach, people construct leadership and decide who is worth being a leader. People who yearn to be leaders create a self-image, personality and esteem that other people approve as vital for a leader. As such, leadership is socially constructed and requires recognition by other employees within a workplace.
The approach is essential to understanding leadership because it introduces the concept of leadership legitimacy. While formal leaders gain their positions through their academic credentials and experience, they may not be seen as legitimate by those whom they lead. Consequently, they may not have the power to motivate others because their legitimacy is questionable. The identity construct approach, therefore, focuses on accepting people with certain personalities, image and esteem as legitimate leaders. The implication of the identity construct is that people may become leaders in an organization without being formerly appointed, on the basis of social recognition.
Leadership Styles Preferred by Subordinates
The preference of leadership styles by subordinates varies and determines employees’ perception of satisfaction, management effectiveness and employees’ initiative to put extra effort. According to Bennett (2009), a research among IT professionals revealed varied results on three leadership styles. The majority of employees in the research indicated transformational leadership as their favorite leadership style. The employees were likely to put extra efforts, feel satisfied and perceive management as effective in organizations using transformational leadership. The reason for such preference is that employees are motivated and inspired by a transformational leader and identifies themselves with his vision. Additionally, they are challenged to set personal goals and achieve them. The combination of challenge and inspiration gives them a purpose to work.
On the contrary, transactional leadership motivates workers to put extra efforts and leads to the perception of management effectiveness. However, employees under transactional leadership do not feel satisfied with their work because they just follow procedures and instructions. The lack of inspiration and challenge hinders workers’ satisfaction.
In passive leadership styles, employees do not perceive management as effective and lack satisfaction. They may work hard and take initiative in situations where informal leadership rises to take charge. Passive leadership styles allow employees to work without supervision, which creates a leadership vacuum. Informal leaders may facilitate the completion of tasks at normal and extra levels. Satisfaction in this leadership style is less significant than in others because it is used when workers are highly competent (Xirasagar, 2008). Their competencies reduce the need for leadership involvement.
Charismatic and human-oriented leaderships rely on communication heavily compared to task-oriented leadership. There is heavy reliance in the two styles because the achievement of objectives depends on motivation and inspiration, which are transferred to employees through communication. A little dependence of task-oriented leadership on communication results from the nature of tasks. Their completion follows set out procedures and performance levels that do not require constant communication. Leadership styles that encourage employee commitment to the organization achieve the highest results. Although those that do not foster commitment may lead to high performance, they cannot reach the level of those that create commitment. While different people use unique values, culture can determine the style to be used in a country. Leadership as an identity construct gives employees the power to decide the leader. The most preferred style is transformational leadership, which leads to satisfaction, employees’ extra effort and perception of leadership effectiveness. Transactional leadership encourages initiative and influences employees to perceive leaders as effective. Passive style leads to a negative perception of leaders’ effectiveness.