What is Effective Leadership? - Managing People in Organisations

Seminar Paper 2003 16 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance




1.0 Introduction & Context

2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Leadership Theory
2.1.1 Fiedler’s Contingency Theory
2.1.2 The Four Frame Approach
2.1.3 Transactional vs. Transformational Leaders
2.2 Leaders vs. Managers
2.3 Leadership Mission, Habits & Traits
2.4 Style
2.5 Communication
2.6 Emotional Intelligence
2.7 Motivation
2.8 Coaching
2.9 Implementation

3.0 Case Study: Swissray America, Inc

4.0 Discussion

5.0 Conclusion

6.0 References


This paper discusses the various factors that together create an effective and supportive working environment, using inputs from a range of literature research together with my own experiences. It further describes the essential qualities and the knowledge needed for effective leadership although there is not space here to consider gender issues in leadership in detail.

The principal questions to be answered are: What is effective leadership? What does he/she do? Can a certain leadership style/frame be applied like a recipe to a certain organizational behavior to guarantee success?

1.0 Introduction & Context

Leadership as a topic has been extensive studied around the world, yet the terms of reference remain vague. It is easier to define effective, since the dictionary1 definition is clear: producing a strong impression or response. Different authors have offered a whole range of definitions and opinions on what constitutes leadership. Leadership can be defined as the key dynamic force that motivates and co-ordinates the organisation in the accomplishment of its objectives (Dubrin,1997i). It is not so much a science but more an art that influences by example or persuasion to induce action.

The executive has to be effective although “to effect” and “to execute” imply something different (Drucker,1993ii). In general, executives are highly intelligent individuals but it seems there is little correlation between a leader’s intelligence and his/her effectiveness, as Drucker points out.

Generally, overall success can be measured in terms of productivity plus the realization of organizational goals, while the profitability of corporations is typically weighted in money earned. Dedicated, skilled and knowledgeable employees combined with a management team that understands how to inspire competent and motivated performance is geared for success by generating synergy in a continually changing workplace. In addition, a socially responsible management is considered an investment directly impacting the motivation and productivity of the workforce. The leadership quality is responsible for maintaining and creating a supportive workplace environment through fair compensation, proactive management and ethically responsible policies.

However, on a lower level, leaders/executives are generally expected to be effective in their execution of their tasks although this should not be taken for granted.

2.0 Literature Review

Some people see the leader as a motivator, while others define a leader as having extraordinary vision and decision-making power. Several noted authors in the field offer sound definitions of leadership. Effective leadership entails developing clear beliefs, objectives, strategies and the identification of critical processes and encouragement of employee participation (DTI,1997iii).

2.1 Leadership Theory

These issues can be addressed in a variety of ways. Several models of leadership do exist despite some theory not being fully explainable by the behavioural models, only three of which are described here. Hooijberg, Denison 2002iv found that different leadership roles are important in effective management. In addition, I discuss the situational adopted mixture of the Four Frame approach, which is the one I personally believe contributes most to our understanding of leadership.

2.1.1 Fiedler’s Contingency Theory

According to Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, leadership effectiveness is a function of the match between leadership personality and its situational characteristics. It explains that group performance is a result of interaction between two factors, known as situational favourableness and leadership style. Fiedler's logic considers our satisfaction from interpersonal relationships by rating the least preferred co-worker in a relatively favourable light on these scales.

Some findings suggest that Fiedler's contingency theory falls short on flexibility (Psychologyv) but it is an important theory since it established new perspectives for leadership research. Other contingency approaches are Hersey-Blanchard Situational Theory, Path goal, and the VroomYetten theory, which are not discussed in this paper.

2.1.2 The Four Frame Approach

A holistic picture cannot be gained if each individual frame is taken separately.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1: The Four Frame Approach (Bolman & Deal, 1997vi)

2.1.3 Transactional vs. Transformational Leaders

Transactional leaders are more like managers who can guide and motivate people in the direction of a set goal by clarifying role and task requirements. On the other hand, the transformational leaders are more like real leaders who practice outstanding leadership by inspiring employees to rise above their self-interests for the good of the company (Bass, Avolio,1990vii).

2.2 Leaders vs. Managers

Leaders & Managers are two distinctive functions and have complementary processes of actions. In the traditional model, managers drive the planning processes. They are responsible for providing a rational analysis, the assessment of their company’s competitive position, customer needs, market and technology forces, and judging the budgetary impact of resources allocation.

However, personally I believe that leaders must drive the process and spearhead planning and take responsibility for:

- Identifying the overall core values and purpose of the organisation
- Creating an all-encompassing vision
- Building community throughout the organisation, and renewing and invigorating corporate culture
- Implementing the vision

Not everyone can be good in leading and managing. Some people who might not be strong leaders may have the capacity to become excellent managers, and vice versa.

2.3 Leadership Mission, Habits & Traits

Individuals with leadership traits are people who have the courage to take the initiative, to dominate a situation with their decisiveness, and yet are tactful in delivering their message, using the range of communicative skills at their disposal. Leaders also maintain levels of enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication among their subordinates and are fully aware of the duties imposed on them. Finally, leaders can listen - one of the most valuable traits but the least understood.

A leader’s mission is to demonstrate a workable vision for the future that incorporates a strategy to attain that vision, with a set of values and principles allowing employees to identify themselves within the strategy. It is the leader’s responsibility to help the departments and the managers to work towards a common objective and to form a team around the goal.

2.4 Style

Leadership style influences individual behavior, attitudes, and group or general organisational performance, and is therefore most often viewed as a dependent variable. The determinate factors influence a given leader's dominant style of the various cognitive, behavioural, and disposition approaches suggested in the literature. Leadership styles are various and complex because they depend on different behavioural traits but can be divided into authoritative, democratic, affiliate and coaching (Goleman,2000viii).

Many US companies especially admired and emulated Jack Welch’s (former CEO of GE) successful leadership style (Slater,2002ix). When, in 1981, Jack Welch took over the responsibility of GE he communicated a vision that in 10 years time GE should be looked at as a highly motivated, dynamic company - a company known for its unparalleled performance. He made clear that his mission was to lead GE to becoming the most profitable highly diversified company worldwide. Jack Welch was determined to accomplish his goals - and he succeeded in a remarkable fashion, pushing sales from $25 billion to $60.6 billion within a 12-year period.

2.5 Communication

Communication is the backbone of leadership and rooted in the culture and values of an organisation pertaining to vision, mission and transformation (Baldoni,2002x).


1 The American Heritag]e Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition


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Title: What is Effective Leadership? - Managing People in Organisations