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LEADERSHIP

Most of the business gurus have written on the theory of leadership and attempted to define the actual components and achievements that constitute this vital attribute. The concept of leadership has almost universal approval as an essential constituent of management. It would indeed be a brave person who argued against the concept of leadership as an essential constituent of management.

Everyone seems to understand what leadership is until individuals compare notes and seek to define its meaning. The Oxford dictionary defines leadership as having capacity or ability to lead, which is not really a very meaningful definition. Most managers would suggest the ability to make decisions as one of the principal constituents, but equally possessing powers of motivation (even inspiring) will be cited. The skills of foresight and command are usually seen as requirements.

However, two of the earliest commentators on the managerial scene, Ordway Tead and Mary Parker Follett, saw the leader as being essentially a teacher and thought the leaders prime role was in training subordinates. Bass (1959) in one of the most substantial works on leadership referred to 130 different definitions that defined leadership being in use prior to 1949. He then proffers as his definition of leadership : When the goal of A is that of changing another member B or when B's change in behaviour will reward A or reinforces A's behaviour, A's efforts to obtain that goal is leadership.

Urwick (1957) defines leadership as being the quality of behaviour in individuals by which others are drawn to accept their guidance.

In the 1950's many managers perceived the concept of leadership as being as defined by Field Marshal Montgomery that is the will to dominate together with the character that inspires confidence. It is perhaps due to this style of leadership that we had so much industrial unrest in the 1960's - clearly a dominant leadership style may well result in resistance from the workforce and the resulting involvement of trade unions to act as a foil to the dominant leadership style.

Sociologists such as Fox (1966) stressed the pluralistic approach to leadership in that leadership must inevitably be associated with the notion of teamwork.

The Quakers coined a phase to express their view on the place of management in relation to other groups in the workplace : There was to be equality of status although a difference of function between managers and men. This concept, if extended, points to the manager no longer seeing himself as a decision maker, motivator and aggressive achiever but more as a facilitator. Hence we have an early concept of leadership which works in partnership with all employees to achieve the defined goals of the organisation.

It is now generally accepted that the role of leader and manager are very different. Leadership is particularly reserved for those proactive actions, which are concerned with changing the course of the organisation. This is strategy as opposed to management, which is reactive.

Fiddler B. (1996) defines the relationship between leadership and management as being proactive and reactive modes of operation at opposite ends of the continium. Fiddler perceives management as being essentially the performance of already predetermined administrative procedures or maintenance functions, which are required to ensure that the organisation runs smoothly and efficiently. He defines leadership as being concerned with being an inspirational role, resulting in personal initiative and new activities. Essentially management and leadership have a close relationship in as much as good management is essential for implementing the changes and innovations that the use of effective leadership has proposed.

Bibliography:

BASS, B.M. (1959) Leadership, Psychology and Organisational Behaviour; Harper &Row, New York.

FIDDLER, B. (1996) Strategic Planning for School Improvement; Pitman, London FOX, A. (1966)

Industrial Sociology and Industrial Relations; Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers Associations, Research Paper 3 HMSO.

URWICK, L. and BRECH, E.F.L. (1957) The Making of Scientific Management; Pitman, London.

David Blanchflower

 

 

 

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