Leadership styles and project management

Burns (1978) stated that leadership is one of the “most observed and least understood phenomena on earth”. Considering that scientific research on the topic did not begin until the 20th century (Bass, 1960), it seems that much progress is still to be made to explain what effective leadership is about.

Blake & Mouton (1962) described managerial styles based on the manager’s behavior and the degree of a manager’s concern for people and for production.

  • Impoverished management is about managers without much concern either for task accomplishment or for people, who carry out only the required work necessary.
  • Country club management is about developing good interpersonal relationships, usually at the expense of job tasks.
  • Produce-or-perish management means that a manager places great emphasis on performance and strives to achieve results regardless of employee needs.
  • Team management represents a manager who places great focus on both company goals and the workers’ needs. Job results are accomplished by encouraging teamwork and commitment among employees.
  • In the middle-of-the-road style, leaders aim to deliver adequate performance, by trying to balance between company goals and workers’ needs. Performance is achieved by either relying on standards and directives or through negotiations and compromising (Gallo et all, 2016).

King (1990) describes noteworthy theories in his parer about the evolution of leadership thory; in the Vroom-Yetton contingency model of leadership behavior (Vroom & Yetton, 1973), the focus is placed on the situation, whereas, the path-goal theory (House & Mitchell, 1975) focuses less on the behavior of the leader or the situation and more on influencing the employee’s perceptions of their work goals, personal goals and paths to goal attainment.

Vroom & Yetton (1973) created a decision model, by which a manager can adopt a leadership style (Autocratic, Consultive, Group-based leader) depending on time constraints, decision quality and team commitment.

  • A1–2: Type 1 leaders make decisions based on the information available to them at the time, while type 2 leaders make decisions based on information collected from followers (Pershing & Austin, 2014).
  • C1–2: Type 1 leaders seek the opinion of followers individually but do not involve them in the decision-making process. The final decision is made by a leader. Type 2 leaders seek the opinion of followers as a group.
  • G2: Type 2 leaders discuss problem and situation with followers as a group and seek their ideas and suggestions through brainstorming. Leaders accept any decision and do not try to force their idea. Decision accepted by the group is the final one.
The Vroom-Yetton Decision Tree as it has been displayed on MindTools

Last, the leader’s performance as both a facilitator and coach is the subject of the path-goal theory which identifies four leadership styles: Directive, Achievement-oriented, Participative and supportive.

The leadership style is contingent upon the structure of the task.

The assumption is that employees are satisfied with directive behavior in an unstructured task and are satisfied with non-directive behavior in a structured task. Path-goal theorising has led to many other similar assumptions with respect to the task at hand, of which the most important are:

  • People who select ambiguous, non-repetive tasks may be more responsive to achievement-oriented leadership, than people who select repetive tasks.
  • When tasks are ambiguous or when employees are ego-involved, participative leadership leads to more effective solutions.
  • Supportive leadership is linked to tasks that are dissatisfying, frustrating or stressful.

References

Bass, B M (1960). Leadership, Psychology and Organizational Behaviour. New York: Harper.

Blake, R. R., Mouton, J. S., & Bidwell, A. C. (1962). Managerial grid. Advanced Management-Office Executive.

Burns, J M (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row.

Gallo, P., Tausova, M., & Gonos, J. (2016). Leadership style model based on managerial grid. Актуальні проблеми економіки, (4), 246–252.

House, R. J., & Mitchell, T. R. (1975). Path-goal theory of leadership. WASHINGTON UNIV SEATTLE DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY.

King, A. S. (1990). Evolution of leadership theory. Vikalpa, 15(2), 43–56.

Pershing, S. P., & Austin, E. K. (2014). Organization theory and governance for the 21st century. CQ Press.

Vroom, V. H., & Yetton, P. W. (1973). Leadership and decision-making (Vol. 110). University of Pittsburgh Pre.

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