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E i g h t h E d i t i o n

Leadership in Organizations

Gary Yukl University of Albany

State University of New York

ISBN 10: 0-13-277186-1 ISBN 13: 978-0-13-277186-3

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Yukl, Gary A. Leadership in organizations / Gary Yukl. — 8th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-13-277186-3

1. Leadership.

2. Decision making.

3. Organization. I. Title. HD57.7.Y85 2013 303.3’4—dc23


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Section Essays

Preface xv

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 1

Chapter 2 Nature of Managerial Work 23

Chapter 3 Effective Leadership Behavior 48

Chapter 4 Leading Change and Innovation 76

Chapter 5 Participative Leadership and Empowerment 105

Chapter 6 Leadership Traits and Skills 135

Chapter 7 Contingency Theories and Adaptive Leadership 162

Chapter 8 Power and Influence Tactics 185

Chapter 9 Dyadic Relations and Followers 221

Chapter 10 Leadership in Teams and Decision Groups 247

Chapter 11 Strategic Leadership in Organizations 276

Chapter 12 Charismatic and Transformational Leadership 309

Chapter 13 Ethical, Servant, Spiritual, and Authentic Leadership 340

Chapter 14 Cross-cultural Leadership and Diversity 360

Chapter 15 Developing Leadership Skills 381

Chapter 16 Overview and Integration 404

References 424

Author Index 483

Subject Index 499

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Preface xv


Definitions of Leadership 2

Indicators of Leadership Effectiveness 8

Major Perspectives in Leadership Theory and Research 10

Level of Conceptualization for Leadership Theories 14

Other Bases for Comparing Leadership Theories 18

Organization of the Book 20

Summary 20 Review and Discussion Questions 21


Activity Patterns for Managers 24

Decision Making and Planning by Managers 26

Managerial Roles 29

Demands, Constraints, and Choices 31

Other Determinants of Managerial Work 34

Limitations of the Descriptive Research 39

Guidelines for Managers 40

Summary 44 Review and Discussion Questions 45

   CASE: Acme Manufacturing Company 45


Ways for Describing Leadership Behavior 48

Major Types of Leadership Behavior 50

Methods for Studying the Effects of Leader Behavior 53

Effects of Task and Relations Behaviors 56

Planning Work Activities 58

Clarifying Roles and Objectives 59

Monitoring Operations and Performance 61

Supportive Leadership 63

Developing Subordinate Skills 65

x Table of Contents

Providing Praise and Recognition 68

Summary 71 Review and Discussion Questions 72 CASE: Consolidated Products 73 CASE: Air Force Supply Squadron 74


Types of Change in Teams and Organizations 77

Change Processes 78

Reasons for Accepting or Rejecting Change 80

Implementing Change 81

Guidelines for Implementing Change 84

How Visions Influence Change 89

Collective Learning and Innovation 94

Guidelines for Enhancing Learning and Innovation 98

Summary 101 Review and Discussion Questions 102 CASE: Ultimate Office Products 102


Nature of Participative Leadership 106

Research on Effects of Participative Leadership 109

Normative Decision Model 111

Guidelines for Participative Leadership 115

Delegation 118

Guidelines for Delegating 122

Perceived Empowerment 126

Empowerment Programs 128

Summary 130 Review and Discussion Questions 131 CASE: Echo Electronics 132 CASE: Alvis Corporation 133


Section Essays

Introduction to the Trait Approach 135

Personality Traits and Effective Leadership 138

Table of Contents xi

Skills and Effective Leadership 148

Managerial Competencies 151

Situational Relevance of Skills 153

Evaluation of the Trait Approach 156

Guidelines for Managers 157

Summary 159 Review and Discussion Questions 159 CASE: National Products 160


General Description of Contingency Theories 163

Early Contingency Theories 164

Multiple-linkage Model 167

Conceptual Weaknesses in Contingency Theories 173

Research on Contingency Theories 174

Comparative Evaluation of Contingency Theories 175

Guidelines for Adaptive Leadership 177

Guidelines for Managing Immediate Crises 179

Summary 180 Review and Discussion Questions 181 CASE: Foreign Auto Shop 182


Power and Influence Concepts 185

Power Sources 188

How Power Is Gained or Lost 193

Consequences of Power 195

Guidelines for Using Power 197

Proactive Influence Tactics 201

Effectiveness of Proactive Tactics 206

Guidelines for Specific Tactics 210

Power and Influence Behavior 215

Summary 216 Review and Discussion Questions 217 CASE: Restview Hospital 218 CASE: Sporting Goods Store 219

xii Table of Contents


Leader-Member Exchange Theory 222

Leader Attributions About Subordinates 225

Leader Influence on Follower Emotions 227

Guidelines for Correcting Performance Deficiencies 227

Follower Attributions and Implicit Theories 231

Impression Management by Leaders and Followers 234

Follower Contributions to Effective Leadership 236

Self-Management 237

Guidelines for Followers 239

Summary 243 Review and Discussion Questions 243 CASE: Cromwell Electronics 244 CASE: American Financial Corporation 245


Determinants of Team Performance 248

Functional Work Teams 254

Cross-functional Teams 255

Self-managed Work Teams 258

Virtual Teams 261

Guidelines for Leading Teams 262

Leading Decision Groups 265

Guidelines for Leading Meetings 268

Summary 272 Review and Discussion Questions 273 CASE: Southwest Engineering Services 273


Determinants of Organizational Performance 277

How Leaders Influence Organizational Performance 281

Situations Affecting Strategic Leadership 284

Organizational Culture 286

Research on Effects of Strategic Leadership 289

Table of Contents xiii

Executive Teams 291

Emerging Conceptions of Organizational Leadership 294

Two Key Responsibilities for Top Executives 297

Guidelines for Strategic Leadership 299

Summary 302 Review and Discussion Questions 303 CASE: Costco 303 CASE: Turnaround at Nissan 306


Attribution Theory of Charismatic Leadership 310

Self-Concept Theory of Charismatic Leadership 312

Other Conceptions of Charisma 314

Consequences of Charismatic Leadership 317

Transformational Leadership 321

Research on Charismatic and Transformational Leadership 324

Comparison of Charismatic and Transformational Leadership 328

Evaluation of the Theories 330

Guidelines for Inspirational Leadership 332

Summary 335 Review and Discussion Questions 336 CASE: Astro Airlines 336


Conceptions of Ethical Leadership 341

Dilemmas in Assessing Ethical Leadership 342

Determinants and Consequences of Ethical Leadership 344

Theories of Ethical Leadership 347

Evaluation of Ethical Leadership Theories 352

Guidelines for Ethical Leadership 354

Summary 357 Review and Discussion Questions 358 CASE: Unethical Leadership at Enron 358

xiv Table of Contents


Introduction to Cross-cultural Leadership 361

Cultural Value Dimensions and Leadership 365

Evaluation of Cross-cultural Research 368

Gender and Leadership 370

Managing Diversity 376

Summary 378 Review and Discussion Questions 379 CASE: Madison, Jones, and Conklin 379


Leadership Training Programs 382

Learning from Experience 384

Developmental Activities 385

Facilitating Conditions for Leadership Development 396

Systems Perspective on Leadership Development 398

Summary 401 Review and Discussion Questions 402 CASE: Federated Industries 402


Major Findings About Effective Leadership 404

Multilevel Explanatory Processes 408

Toward an Integrating Conceptual Framework 415

Limitations in Leadership Research 417

Concluding Thoughts 421 Review and Discussion Questions 423

References 424

Author Index 483

Subject Index 499



This book is about leadership in organizations. Its primary focus is on managerial leadership as opposed to parliamentary leadership, leadership of social movements, or emergent leadership in informal groups. The book presents a broad survey of theory and research on leadership in for- mal organizations. Topics of special interest are the determinants of leadership effectiveness and how leadership can be improved.

In this 8th edition, the following improvements were made to make the book easier to un- derstand and more useful to most readers:

• Most chapters were revised for clarity and understanding (including Chapters 2 , 3 , 4 , 6 , 7 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 15 , and 16 ).

• The order of Chapters 4 to 12 was modified to improve explanation of related topics. • Several new examples of effective and ineffective leadership were added to Chapters 4 , 6 ,

11 , 13 , and 14 . • More practical guidelines for effective leadership were added to Chapters 3 , 6 , 7 , and 8 . • Several new examples were used in Chapters 3 , 11 , 12 , and 14 to explain how research is

conducted. • Over 100 citations to recent research were added throughout.

The basic structure of most chapters remains the same, but the order of some chapters was changed and a few topics were moved to a different chapter. Citations to relevant recent literature were updated, but given the increasing volume of studies on leadership, the citations are still selec- tive rather than comprehensive. Since the book is not intended to be a history of leadership, it seemed appropriate to reduce the amount of detail about early research programs and old theories that are no longer popular, and focus more closely on what we now know about effective leadership.

The content of the book still reflects a dual concern for theory and practice. I have attempted to satisfy two different audiences with somewhat different preferences. Most academics prefer a book that explains and evaluates major theories and relevant empirical research. They are more interested in how well the research was done, what was found, and what additional research is needed than in the practical applications. Academics tend to be skeptical about the value of pre- scriptions and guidelines for practitioners and consider them premature in the absence of further research. In contrast, most practitioners want some immediate answers about what to do and how to do it in order to be more effective as leaders. They need to deal with the current challenges of their job and cannot wait for decades until the academics resolve their theoretical disputes and ob- tain definitive answers. Practitioners are more interested in finding helpful remedies and prescrip- tions than in finding out how this knowledge was discovered. Readers who desire to improve their leadership effectiveness will find this edition of the book is even more useful than previous editions.

These different preferences are a one of the reasons for the much-lamented gulf between scientists and practitioners in management and industrial-organizational psychology. I believe it is important for managers and administrators to understand the complexity of effective leader- ship, the source of our knowledge about leadership in organizations, and the limitations of this knowledge. Likewise, I believe it is important for academics to think more about how their theories and research can be used to improve the practice of management. Too much of our leadership research is designed to examine narrow, esoteric questions that only interest a few other scholars who publish in the same journals.

xvi Preface

Academics will be pleased to find that major theories are explained and evaluated, findings in empirical research on leadership are summarized, and many references are provided to help readers find sources of additional information about topics of special interest. The field of lead- ership is still in a state of ferment, with many continuing controversies about conceptual and methodological issues. The book addresses these issues whenever feasible. However, the litera- ture review was intended to be incisive, not comprehensive. Rather than detailing an endless series of studies like most handbooks of leadership, the book describes major findings about ef- fective leadership. The current edition reflects significant progress in our understanding of lead- ership since the first edition was published in 1981.

For practitioners and students who desire to become effective managers, I attempted to convey a better appreciation of the complexity of managerial leadership, the importance of hav- ing theoretical knowledge about leadership, and the need to be flexible and pragmatic in applying this knowledge. The current edition provides many guidelines and recommendations for im- proving managerial effectiveness, but it is not a “practitioner’s manual” of simple techniques and secret recipes that guarantee instant success. The purpose of the guidelines is to help the reader understand the practical implications of the leadership theory and research, not to prescribe ex- actly how things must be done by a leader. Most of the guidelines are based on a limited amount of research and they are not infallible or relevant for all situations. Being a flexible, adaptive leader includes determining which guidelines are relevent for each unique situation.

Most chapters have one or two short cases designed to help the reader gain a better under- standing of the theories, concepts, and guidelines presented in the chapter. The cases describe events that occurred in real organizations, but some of the cases were modified to make them more useful for learning basic concepts and effective practices. For most of the cases, the names of organizations and individuals were changed to keep the analysis focused on the events that oc- curred in a defined time period, not on recent events that may involve different leaders and a new context. The cases ask a reader to analyze behavioral processes, identify examples of effective and ineffective behavior, and suggest effective ways to handle the situation that is depicted.

An instructor’s manual is available with detailed analyses of the cases and suggestions on how to use them. The instructor’s manual also includes additional cases, exercises for use in class (e.g., role plays), and some out-of-class activities that help students to understand how they can apply the theory and guidelines. Finally, a test bank is available with multiple-choice items on the major points in each chapter.

The book is widely used in many different countries, and some editions have been translated into other languages, including Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Spanish, Greek, Croatian, and Swedish. With its focus on effective leadership in organizations, the book is especially relevant for people who expect to become a manager or administrator in the near future, for people who will be responsible for training or coaching leaders, and for people who will be teaching courses or work- shops that include leadership as one of the key topics. The book is appropriate for use as the primary text in an undergraduate or graduate course in leadership. Such courses are found in many different schools or departments, including business, psychology, sociology, educational administration, public administration, and health care administration. The book is on the list of required or recommended readings for students in many doctoral programs in leadership, management, and industrial- organizational psychology. Finally, the book is also useful for practicing managers and consultants who are looking for something more than superficial answers to difficult questions about leadership.

Gary Yukl Albany, New York

June, 2011


Chapter 1

Learning Objectives After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

■ Understand the different ways leadership has been defined. ■ Understand the controversy about differences between leadership and management. ■ Understand why it is so difficult to assess leadership effectiveness. ■ Understand the different indicators used to assess leadership effectiveness. ■ Understand what aspects of leadership have been studied the most during the past 50 years. ■ Understand the organization of this book.

Leadership is a subject that has long excited interest among people. The term connotes images of powerful, dynamic individuals who command victorious armies, direct corporate empires from atop gleaming skyscrapers, or shape the course of nations. The exploits of brave and clever leaders are the essence of many legends and myths. Much of our description of history is the story of military, political, religious, and social leaders who are credited or blamed for important historical events, even though we do not understand very well how the events were caused or how much influence the leader really had. The widespread fascination with leadership may be because it is such a mysterious process, as well as one that touches everyone’s life. Why did certain leaders (e.g., Gandhi, Mohammed, Mao Tse-tung) inspire such intense fervor and dedi- cation? How did certain leaders (e.g., Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great) build great empires? Why did some rather undistinguished people (e.g., Adolf Hitler, Claudius Caesar) rise to posi- tions of great power? Why were certain leaders (e.g., Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi) sud- denly deposed, despite their apparent power and record of successful accomplishments? Why do some leaders have loyal followers who are willing to sacrifice their lives, whereas other lead- ers are so despised that subordinates conspire to murder them?

Introduction: Th e Nature of Leadership

2 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

Questions about leadership have long been a subject of speculation, but sci- entific research on leadership did not begin until the twentieth century. The focus of much of the research has been on the determinants of leadership effectiveness. Social scientists have attempted to discover what traits, abilities, behaviors, sources of power, or aspects of the situation determine how well a leader is able to influence followers and accomplish task objectives. There is also a growing interest in understanding leadership as a shared pro- cess in a team or organization and the reasons why this process is effective or ineffective. Other important questions include the reasons why some people emerge as leaders, and the determi- nants of a leader’s actions, but the predominant concern has been leadership effectiveness.

Some progress has been made in probing the mysteries surrounding leadership, but many questions remain unanswered. In this book, major theories and research findings on leader- ship effectiveness will be reviewed, with particular emphasis on managerial leadership in formal organizations such as business corporations, government agencies, hospitals, and universi- ties. This chapter introduces the subject by considering different conceptions of leadership, dif- ferent ways of evaluating its effectiveness, and different approaches for studying leadership. The chapter also provides an overview of the book and explains how subjects are organized.

Definitions of Leadership

The term leadership is a word taken from the common vocabulary and incorporated into the technical vocabulary of a scientific discipline without being precisely redefined. As a consequence, it carries extraneous connotations that create ambiguity of meaning (Janda, 1960). Additional confusion is caused by the use of other imprecise terms such as power , author- ity , management , administration , control , and supervision to describe similar phenomena. An observation by Bennis (1959, p. 259) is as true today as when he made it many years ago:

Always, it seems, the concept of leadership eludes us or turns up in another form to taunt us again with its slipperiness and complexity. So we have invented an endless proliferation of terms to deal with it . . . and still the concept is not sufficiently defined.

Researchers usually define leadership according to their individual perspectives and the as- pects of the phenomenon of most interest to them. After a comprehensive review of the leadership literature, Stogdill (1974, p. 259) concluded that “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept.” The stream of new definitions has continued unabated since Stogdill made his observation. Leadership has been defined in terms of traits, behaviors, influence, interaction patterns, role relationships, and occupation of an adminis- trative position. Table 1-1 shows some representative definitions presented over the past 50 years.

Most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a process whereby in- tentional influence is exerted over other people to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and rela- tionships in a group or organization. The numerous definitions of leadership appear to have little else in common. They differ in many respects, including who exerts influence, the intended pur- pose of the influence, the manner in which influence is exerted, and the outcome of the influence attempt. The differences are not just a case of scholarly nit-picking; they reflect deep disagreement about identification of leaders and leadership processes. Researchers who differ in their concep- tion of leadership select different phenomena to investigate and interpret the results in different ways. Researchers who have a very narrow definition of leadership are less likely to discover things that are unrelated to or inconsistent with their initial assumptions about effective leadership.

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 3

Because leadership has so many different meanings to people, some theorists question whether it is even useful as a scientific construct (e.g., Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2003; Miner, 1975). Nevertheless, most behavioral scientists and practitioners seem to believe leadership is a real phenomenon that is important for the effectiveness of organizations. Interest in the subject con- tinues to increase, and the deluge of articles and books about leadership shows no sign of abating.

Specialized Role or Shared Influence Process?

A major controversy involves the issue of whether leadership should be viewed as a special- ized role or as a shared influence process. One view is that all groups have role specialization, and the leadership role has responsibilities and functions that cannot be shared too widely without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the group. The person with primary responsibility to perform the specialized leadership role is designated as the “leader.” Other members are called “followers” even though some of them may assist the primary leader in carrying out leadership functions. The distinction between leader and follower roles does not mean that a person cannot perform both roles at the same time. For example, a department manager who is the leader of department employees is also a follower of higher-level managers in the organization. Researchers who view leadership as a specialized role are likely to pay more attention to the attributes that determine selection of designated leaders, the typical behavior of designated leaders, and the effects of this behavior on other members of the group or organization.

Another way to view leadership is in terms of an influence process that occurs naturally within a social system and is diffused among the members. Writers with this perspective believe it is more useful to study “leadership” as a social process or pattern of relationships rather than as a specialized role. According to this view, various leadership functions may be carried out by dif- ferent people who influence what the group does, how it is done, and the way people in the group relate to each other. Leadership may be exhibited both by formally selected leaders and by infor- mal leaders. Important decisions about what to do and how to do it are made through the use of an interactive process involving many different people who influence each other. Researchers who view leadership as a shared, diffuse process, are likely to pay more attention to the complex

TABLE 1-1 Definitions of Leadership • Leadership is “the behavior of an individual . . . directing the activities of a group toward a

shared goal” (Hemphill & Coons, 1957, p. 7). • Leadership is “the influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with the

routine directives of the organization” (Katz & Kahn, 1978, p. 528). • Leadership is “the process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal

achievement” (Rauch & Behling, 1984, p. 46). • “Leadership is about articulating visions, embodying values, and creating the environment

within which things can be accomplished” (Richards & Engle, 1986, p. 206). • “Leadership is a process of giving purpose (meaningful direction) to collective effort, and

causing willing effort to be expended to achieve purpose” (Jacobs & Jaques, 1990, p. 281). • Leadership “is the ability to step outside the culture . . . to start evolutionary change processes

that are more adaptive” (Schein, 1992, p. 2). • “Leadership is the process of making sense of what people are doing together so that people

will understand and be committed” (Drath & Palus, 1994, p. 4). • Leadership is “the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute

toward the effectiveness and success of the organization . . .” (House et al., 1999, p. 184).

4 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

influence processes that occur among members, the context and conditions that determine when and how they occur, the processes involved in the emergence of informal leaders, and the conse- quences for the group or organization.

Type of Influence Process

Controversy about the definition of leadership involves not only who exercises influence, but also what type of influence is exercised and the outcome. Some theorists would limit the definition of leadership to the exercise of influence resulting in enthusiastic commitment by fol- lowers, as opposed to indifferent compliance or reluctant obedience. These theorists argue that the use of control over rewards and punishments to manipulate or coerce followers is not really “leading” and may involve the unethical use of power.

An opposing view is that this definition is too restrictive because it excludes some influ- ence processes that are important for understanding why a leader is effective or ineffective in a given situation. How leadership is defined should not predetermine the answer to the research question of what makes a leader effective. The same outcome can be accomplished with differ- ent influence methods, and the same type of influence attempt can result in different outcomes, depending on the nature of the situation. Even people who are forced or manipulated into doing something may become committed to it if they subsequently discover that it really is the best op- tion for them and the organization. The ethical use of power is a legitimate concern for leader- ship scholars, but it should not limit the definition of leadership or the type of influence processes that are studied.

Purpose of Influence Attempts

Another controversy about which influence attempts are part of leadership involves their purpose and outcome. One viewpoint is that leadership occurs only when people are influenced to do what is ethical and beneficial for the organization and themselves. This definition of lead- ership does not include influence attempts that are irrelevant or detrimental to followers, such as a leader’s attempts to gain personal benefits at the follower’s expense.

An opposing view would include all attempts to influence the attitudes and behavior of fol- lowers in an organizational context, regardless of the intended purpose or actual beneficiary. Acts of leadership often have multiple motives, and it is seldom possible to determine the extent to which they are selfless rather than selfish. The outcomes of leader actions usually include a mix of costs and benefits, some of which are unintended, making it difficult to infer purpose. Despite good intentions, the actions of a leader are sometimes more detrimental than beneficial for fol- lowers. Conversely, actions motivated solely by a leader’s personal needs sometimes result in un- intended benefits for followers and the organization. Thus, the domain of leadership processes to study should not be limited by the leader’s intended purpose.

Influence Based on Reason or Emotions

Most of the leadership definitions listed earlier emphasize rational, cognitive processes. For many years, it was common to view leadership as a process wherein leaders influence followers to believe it is in their best interest to cooperate in achieving a shared task objective. Until the 1980s, few conceptions of leadership recognized the importance of emotions as a basis for influence.

In contrast, some recent conceptions of leadership emphasize the emotional aspects of in- fluence much more than reason. According to this view, only the emotional, value-based aspects of leadership influence can account for the exceptional achievements of groups and organizations.

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 5

Leaders inspire followers to willingly sacrifice their selfish interests for a higher cause. For exam- ple, leaders can motivate soldiers to risk their lives for an important mission or to protect their comrades. The relative importance of rational and emotional processes and how they interact are issues to be resolved by empirical research, and the conceptualization of leadership should not exclude either type of process.

Direct and Indirect Leadership

Most theories about effective leadership focus on behaviors used to directly influence immediate subordinates, but a leader can also influence other people inside the organization, including peers, bosses, and people at lower levels who do not report to the leader. Some theo- rists make a distinction between direct and indirect forms of leadership to help explain how a leader can influence people when there is no direct interaction with them (Hunt, 1991; Lord & Maher, 1991; Yammarino, 1994).

A chief executive officer (CEO) has many ways to influence people at lower levels in the or- ganization. Direct forms of leadership involve attempts to influence followers when interacting with them or using communication media to send messages to them. Examples include send- ing memos or reports to employees, sending e-mail messages, presenting speeches on television, holding meetings with small groups of employees, and participating in activities involving em- ployees (e.g., attending orientation or training sessions, company picnics). Most of these forms of influence can be classified as direct leadership.

Indirect leadership has been used to describe how a chief executive can influence people at lower levels in the organization who do not interact directly with the leader (Bass, Waldman, Avolio, & Bebb, 1987; Waldman & Yammarino, 1999; Yammarino, 1994). One form of indirect leadership by a CEO is called “cascading.” It occurs when the direct influence of the CEO is trans- mitted down the authority hierarchy of an organization from the CEO to middle managers, to lower- level managers, to regular employees. The influence can involve changes in employee attitudes, beliefs, values, or behaviors. For example, a CEO who sets a good example of ethical and sup- portive behavior may influence similar behavior by employees at lower levels in the organization.

Another form of indirect leadership involves influence over formal programs, management systems, and structural forms (Hunt, 1991; Lord & Maher, 1991; Yukl & Lepsinger, 2004). Many large organizations have programs or management systems intended to influence the attitudes, skills, behavior, and performance of employees. Examples include programs for recruitment, selection, and promotion of employees. Structural forms and various types of programs can be used to increase control, coordination, efficiency, and innovation. Examples include formal rules and procedures, specialized subunits, decentralized product divisions, standardized facilities, and self-managed teams. In most organizations only top executives have sufficient authority to im- plement new programs or change the structural forms (see Chapter 11 ).

A third form of indirect leadership involves leader influence over the organization cul- ture, which is defined as the shared beliefs and values of members (Schein, 1992; Trice & Beyer, 1991). Leaders may attempt either to strengthen existing cultural beliefs and values or to change them. There are many ways for leaders to influence an organization’s culture. Some ways involve direct influence (e.g., communicating a compelling vision or leading by example), and some in- volve forms of indirect influence, such as changing the organizational structure, reward systems, and management programs (see Chapter 11 ). For example, a CEO can implement programs to re- cruit, select, and promote people who share the same values (Giberson, Resick, & Dickson, 2005).

The interest in indirect leadership is useful to remind scholars that leadership influence is not limited to the types of observable behavior emphasized in many leadership theories. However,

6 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

it is important to remember that a simple dichotomy does not capture the complexity involved in these influence processes. Some forms of influence are not easily classified as either direct or indirect leadership. Moreover, direct and indirect forms of influence are not mutually exclusive, and when used together in a consistent way, it is possible to magnify their effects (see Chapter 11 ).

Leadership or Management

There is a continuing controversy about the difference between leadership and manage- ment. It is obvious that a person can be a leader without being a manager (e.g., an informal leader), and a person can be a manager without leading. Indeed, some people with the job title “manager” do not have any subordinates (e.g., a manager of financial accounts). Nobody has proposed that managing and leading are equivalent, but the degree of overlap is a point of sharp disagreement.

Some writers contend that leadership and management are qualitatively different and mutu- ally exclusive (e.g., Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Zaleznik, 1977). The most extreme distinction assumes that management and leadership cannot occur in the same person. For these writers, leaders and managers differ with regard to their values and personalities. Managers value stability, order, and ef- ficiency, and they are impersonal, risk-averse, and focused on short-term results. Leaders value flex- ibility, innovation, and adaptation; they care about people as well as economic outcomes, and they have a longer-term perspective with regard to objectives and strategies. Managers are concerned about how things get done, and they try to get people to perform better. Leaders are concerned with what things mean to people, and they try to get people to agree about the most important things to be done. Bennis and Nanus (1985, p. 21) proposed that “managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing.” However, the empirical research does not support the assumption that people can be sorted neatly into these two extreme stereotypes. Moreover, the stereotypes imply that managers are generally ineffective. The term manager is an occupational title for a large number of people, and it is insensitive to denigrate them with a negative stereotype.

Other scholars view leading and managing as distinct processes or roles, but they do not as- sume that leaders and managers are different types of people (Bass, 1990; Hickman, 1990; Kotter, 1988; Mintzberg, 1973; Rost, 1991). How the two processes are defined varies somewhat, de- pending on the scholar. For example, Mintzberg (1973) described leadership as one of the 10 managerial roles (see Chapter 2 ). Leadership includes motivating subordinates and creating fa- vorable conditions for doing the work. The other nine roles (e.g., resource allocator, negotiator) involve distinct managing responsibilities, but leadership is viewed as an essential managerial role that pervades the other roles.

Kotter (1990) proposed that managing seeks to produce predictability and order, where- as leading seeks to produce organizational change. Both roles are necessary, but problems can occur if an appropriate balance is not maintained. Too much emphasis on the managing role can discourage risk taking and create a bureaucracy without a clear purpose. Too much emphasis on the leadership role can disrupt order and create change that is impractical. According to Kotter, the importance of leading and managing depends in part on the situation. As an organization becomes larger and more complex, managing becomes more important. As the external envi- ronment becomes more dynamic and uncertain, leadership becomes more important. Both roles are important for executives in large organizations with a dynamic environment. When Kotter surveyed major large companies in a dynamic environment, he found very few had executives who were able to carry out both roles effectively.

Rost (1991) defined management as an authority relationship that exists between a man- ager and subordinates to produce and sell goods and services. He defined leadership as a

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 7

multidirectional influence relationship between a leader and followers with the mutual purpose of accomplishing real change. Leaders and followers influence each other as they interact in non- coercive ways to decide what changes they want to make. Managers may be leaders, but only if they have this type of influence relationship. Rost proposed that leading was not necessary for a manager to be effective in producing and selling goods and services. However, leading is essen- tial when major changes must be implemented in an organization, because authority is seldom a sufficient basis for gaining commitment from subordinates or for influencing other people whose cooperation is necessary, such as peers and outsiders.

Defining managing and leading as distinct roles, processes, or relationships may obscure more than it reveals if it encourages simplistic theories about effective leadership. Most scholars seem to agree that success as a manager or administrator in modern organizations also involves leading. How to integrate the two processes has emerged as a complex and important issue in organizational literature (Yukl & Lepsinger, 2005). The answer will not come from debates about ideal definitions. Questions about what to include in the domain of essential leadership pro- cesses should be explored with empirical research, not predetermined by subjective judgments.

A Working Definition of Key Terms

It is neither feasible nor desirable at this point in the development of the discipline to attempt to resolve the controversies over the appropriate definition of leadership. Like all con- structs in social science, the definition of leadership is arbitrary and subjective. Some definitions are more useful than others, but there is no single “correct” definition that captures the essence of leadership. For the time being, it is better to use the various conceptions of leadership as a source of different perspectives on a complex, multifaceted phenomenon.

In research, the operational definition of leadership depends to a great extent on the pur- pose of the researcher (Campbell, 1977). The purpose may be to identify leaders, to determine how they are selected, to discover what they do, to discover why they are effective, or to deter- mine whether they are necessary. As Karmel (1978, p. 476) notes, “It is consequently very dif- ficult to settle on a single definition of leadership that is general enough to accommodate these many meanings and specific enough to serve as an operationalization of the variable.” Whenever feasible, leadership research should be designed to provide information relevant to a wide range of definitions, so that over time it will be possible to compare the utility of different conceptions and arrive at some consensus on the matter.

In this book, leadership is defined broadly in a way that takes into account several things that determine the success of a collective effort by members of a group or organization to accom- plish meaningful tasks. The following definition is used:

Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives.

The definition includes efforts not only to influence and facilitate the current work of the group or organization, but also to ensure that it is prepared to meet future challenges. Both di- rect and indirect forms of influence are included. The influence process may involve only a sin- gle leader or it may involve many leaders. Table 1-2 shows the wide variety of ways leaders can influence the effectiveness of a group or organization.

In this book, leadership is treated as both a specialized role and a social influence process. More than one individual can perform the role (i.e., leadership can be shared or distributed), but

8 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

some role differentiation is assumed to occur in any group or organization. Both rational and emo- tional processes are viewed as essential aspects of leadership. No assumptions are made about the actual outcome of the influence processes, because the evaluation of outcomes is difficult and sub- jective. Thus, the definition of leadership is not limited to processes that necessarily result in “suc- cessful” outcomes. How leadership processes affect outcomes is a central research question that should not be biased by the definition of leadership. The focus is clearly on the process, not the per- son, and they are not assumed to be equivalent. Thus, the terms leader , manager , and boss are used interchangeably in this book to indicate people who occupy positions in which they are expected to perform the leadership role, but without any assumptions about their actual behavior or success.

The terms subordinate and direct report are used interchangeably to denote someone whose primary work activities are directed and evaluated by the focal leader. Some writers use the term staff as a substitute for subordinate, but this practice creates unnecessary confusion. The term con- notes a special type of advisory position, and most subordinates are not staff advisors. Moreover, the term staff is used both as a singular and plural noun, which creates a lot of unnecessary con- fusion. The term associate has become popular in business organizations as another substitute for subordinate, because it conveys a relationship in which employees are valued and supposedly empowered. However, this vague term fails to differentiate between a direct authority relationship and other types of formal relationships (e.g., peers, partners). To clarify communication, this text continues to use the term subordinate to denote the existence of a formal authority relationship.

The term follower is used to describe a person who acknowledges the focal leader as the primary source of guidance about the work, regardless of how much formal authority the leader actually has over the person. Unlike the term subordinate , the term follower does not pre- clude leadership processes that can occur even in the absence of a formal authority relation- ship. Followers may include people who are not direct reports (e.g., coworkers, team members, partners, outsiders). However, the term follower is not used to describe members of an organi- zation who completely reject the formal leader and seek to remove the person from office; such people are more appropriately called “rebels” or “insurgents.”

Indicators of Leadership Effectiveness Like definitions of leadership, conceptions of leader effectiveness differ from one writer to

another. The criteria selected to evaluate leadership effectiveness reflect a researcher’s explicit or implicit conception of leadership. Most researchers evaluate leadership effectiveness in terms of the consequences of influence on a single individual, a team or group, or an organization.

TABLE 1-2 What Leaders Can Influence

• The choice of objectives and strategies to pursue. • The motivation of members to achieve the objectives. • The mutual trust and cooperation of members. • The organization and coordination of work activities. • The allocation of resources to activities and objectives. • The development of member skills and confidence. • The learning and sharing of new knowledge by members. • The enlistment of support and cooperation from outsiders. • The design of formal structure, programs, and systems. • The shared beliefs and values of members.

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 9

One very relevant indicator of leadership effectiveness is the extent to which the perfor- mance of the team or organization is enhanced and the attainment of goals is facilitated (Bass, 2008; Kaiser, Hogan & Craig, 2008). Examples of objective measures of performance include sales, net profits, profit margin, market share, return on investment, return on assets, productiv- ity, cost per unit of output, costs in relation to budgeted expenditures, and change in the value of corporate stock. Subjective measures of effectiveness include ratings obtained from the leader’s superiors, peers, or subordinates.

Follower attitudes and perceptions of the leader are another common indicator of leader effectiveness, and they are usually measured with questionnaires or interviews. How well does the leader satisfy the needs and expectations of followers? Do they like, respect, and admire the leader? Do they trust the leader and perceive him or her to have high integrity? Are they strongly committed to carrying out the leader’s requests, or will they resist, ignore, or subvert them? Does the leader improve the quality of work life, build the self-confidence of followers, increase their skills, and contribute to their psychological growth and development? Follower attitudes, percep- tions, and beliefs also provide an indirect indicator of dissatisfaction and hostility toward the leader. Examples of such indicators include absenteeism, voluntary turnover, grievances, com- plaints to higher management, requests for transfer, work slowdowns, and deliberate sabotage of equipment and facilities.

Leader effectiveness is occasionally measured in terms of the leader’s contribution to the quality of group processes, as perceived by followers or by outside observers. Does the leader en- hance group cohesiveness, member cooperation, member commitment, and member confidence that the group can achieve its objectives? Does the leader enhance problem solving and decision making by the group, and help to resolve disagreements and conflicts in a constructive way? Does the leader contribute to the efficiency of role specialization, the organization of activities, the ac- cumulation of resources, and the readiness of the group to deal with change and crises?

A final type of criterion for leadership effectiveness is the extent to which a person has a successful career as a leader. Is the person promoted rapidly to positions of higher authority? Does the person serve a full term in a leadership position, or is he or she removed or forced to resign? For elected positions in organizations, is a leader who seeks reelection successful?

It is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of a leader when there are so many alternative measures of effectiveness, and it is not clear which measure is most relevant. Some research- ers attempt to combine several measures into a single, composite criterion, but this approach requires subjective judgments about how to assign a weight to each measure. Multiple criteria are especially troublesome when they are negatively correlated. A negative correlation means that trade-offs occur among criteria, such that as one increases, others decrease. For example, increasing sales and market share (e.g., by reducing price and increasing advertising) may result in lower profits. Likewise, an increase in production output (e.g., by inducing people to work faster) may reduce product quality or employee satisfaction.

Immediate and Delayed Outcomes

Some outcomes are more immediate than others. For example, the immediate result of an influence attempt is whether followers are willing to do what the leader asks, but a delayed effect is how well followers actually perform the assignment. The effects of a leader can be viewed as a causal chain of variables, with each “mediating variable” explaining the effects of the preceding one on the next one. An example is provided in Figure 1-1 . The farther along in the causal chain, the longer it takes for the effect to occur. For criteria at the end of the causal chain, there is a con- siderable delay (months or years) before the effects of the leader’s actions are evident. Moreover,

10 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

these end-result criteria are more likely to be influenced by extraneous events (e.g., the economy, market conditions). When the delay is long and there is considerable “contamination” of end- result criteria by extraneous events, then these criteria may be less useful for assessing leadership effectiveness than more immediate outcomes.

In many cases, a leader has both immediate and delayed effects on the same criterion. The two types of effects may be consistent or inconsistent. When they are inconsistent, the imme- diate outcome may be very different from the delayed outcomes. For example, profits may be increased in the short run by eliminating costly activities that have a delayed effect on profits, such as equipment maintenance, research and development, investments in new technology, and employee skill training. In the long run, the net effect of cutting these essential activities is likely to be lower profits because the negative consequences slowly increase and eventually outweigh any benefits. The converse is also true: increased investment in these activities is likely to reduce immediate profits but increase long-term profits.

What Criteria to Use?

There is no simple answer to the question of how to evaluate leadership effectiveness. The selection of appropriate criteria depends on the objectives and values of the person making the evaluation, and people have different values. For example, top management may prefer different criteria than other employees, customers, or shareholders. To cope with the problems of incompat- ible criteria, delayed effects, and the preferences of different stakeholders, it is usually best to include a variety of criteria in research on leadership effectiveness and to examine the impact of the leader on each criterion over an extended period of time. Multiple conceptions of effectiveness, like mul- tiple conceptions of leadership, serve to broaden our perspective and enlarge the scope of inquiry.

Major Perspectives in Leadership Theory and Research The attraction of leadership as a subject of research and the many different conceptions

of leadership have created a vast and bewildering literature. Attempts to organize the literature according to major approaches or perspectives show only partial success. One of the more use- ful ways to classify leadership theory and research is according to the type of variable that is emphasized the most. Three types of variables that are relevant for understanding leadership effectiveness include (1) characteristics of leaders, (2) characteristics of followers, and (3) charac- teristics of the situation. Examples of key variables within each category are shown in Table 1-3 . Figure  1-2 depicts likely causal relationships among the variables.

Inspiring vision

Training + Coaching

Follower effort

Follower skills

Quality + Productivity

Unit profits

FIGURE 1-1 Causal Chain of Effects from Two Types of Leader Behavior

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 11

TABLE 1-3 Key Variables in Leadership Theories

Characteristics of the Leader

• Traits (motives, personality) • Values, integrity, and moral development • Confidence and optimism • Skills and expertise • Leadership behavior • Influence tactics • Attributions about followers • Mental models (beliefs and assumptions)

Characteristics of the Followers

• Traits (needs, values, self-concepts) • Confidence and optimism • Skills and expertise • Attributions about the leader • Identification with the leader • Task commitment and effort • Satisfaction with job and leader • Cooperation and mutual trust

Characteristics of the Situation

• Type of organizational unit • Size of organizational unit • Position power and authority of leader • Task structure and complexity • Organizational culture • Environmental uncertainty and change • External dependencies and constraints • National cultural values

Leader traits and skills

Leader behavior

Influence processes

Follower attitudes and


Performance outcomes

Situational variables

FIGURE 1-2 Causal Relationships Among the Primary Types of Leadership Variables

Most leadership theories emphasize one category more than the others as the primary basis for explaining effective leadership, and leader characteristics have been emphasized most often over the past half-century. Another common practice is to limit the focus to one type of leader characteristic, namely traits, behavior, or power. To be consistent with most of the leader- ship literature, the theories and empirical research reviewed in this book are classified into the

12 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

following five approaches: (1) the trait approach, (2) the behavior approach, (3) the power-influ- ence approach, (4) the situational approach, and (5) the integrative approach. Each approach is described briefly in the following sections.

Trait Approach

One of the earliest approaches for studying leadership was the trait approach. This approach emphasizes attributes of leaders such as personality, motives, values, and skills. Underlying this approach was the assumption that some people are natural leaders, endowed with certain traits not possessed by other people. Early leadership theories attrib- uted managerial success to extraordinary abilities such as tireless energy, penetrating intuition, uncanny foresight, and irresistible persuasive powers. Hundreds of trait studies conducted during the 1930s and 1940s sought to discover these elusive qualities, but this massive research effort failed to find any traits that would guarantee leadership success. One reason for the failure was a lack of attention to mediating variables in the causal chain that could explain how traits could affect a delayed outcome such as group performance or leader advancement. The predominant research method was to look for a significant correlation between individual leader attributes and a criterion of leader success, without examining any explanatory pro- cesses. However, as evidence from better designed research slowly accumulated over the years, researchers made progress in discovering how leader attributes are related to leadership behav- ior and effectiveness. A more recent trait approach examines leader values that are relevant for explaining ethical leadership.

Behavior Approach

The behavior approach began in the early 1950s after many researchers became discour- aged with the trait approach and began to pay closer attention to what managers actually do on the job. One line of research examines how managers spend their time and the typical pat- tern of activities, responsibilities, and functions for managerial jobs. Some of the research also investigates how managers cope with demands, constraints, and role conflicts in their jobs. Most research on managerial work uses descriptive methods of data collection such as direct observation, diaries, job description questionnaires, and anecdotes obtained from inter- views. Although this research was not designed to directly assess effective leadership, it provides useful insights into this subject. Leadership effectiveness depends in part on how well a manager resolves role conflicts, copes with demands, recognizes opportunities, and overcomes constraints.

Another subcategory of the behavior approach focuses on identifying leader ac- tions or decisions with observable aspects and relating them to indicators of effective leader- ship. The  preferred research method involves a survey field study with a behavior description questionnaire. In the past 50 years, hundreds of survey studies examined the correlation between leadership behavior and various indicators of leadership effectiveness. A much smaller number of studies used laboratory experiments, field experiments, or critical incidents to determine how effective leaders differ in behavior from ineffective leaders.

Power-Influence Approach

Power-influence research examines influence processes between leaders and other people. Like most research on traits and behavior, some of the power-influence research takes a leader-centered perspective with an implicit assumption that causality is unidirectional (leaders

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 13

act and followers react). This research seeks to explain leadership effectiveness in terms of the amount and type of power possessed by a leader and how power is exercised. Power is viewed as important not only for influencing subordinates, but also for influencing peers, superiors, and people outside the organization, such as clients and suppliers. The favorite methodology has been the use of survey questionnaires to relate leader power to various measures of leadership effectiveness.

Other power-influence research used questionnaires and descriptive incidents to determine how leaders influence the attitudes and behavior of followers. The study of influence tactics can be viewed as a bridge linking the power-influence approach and the behavior approach. The use of different influence tactics is compared in terms of their relative effectiveness for getting people to do what the leader wants.

Participative leadership is concerned with power sharing and empowerment of followers, but it is firmly rooted in the tradition of behavior research as well. Many studies used question- naires to correlate subordinate perceptions of participative leadership with the criteria of leader- ship effectiveness such as subordinate satisfaction, effort, and performance. Laboratory and field experiments compared autocratic and participative leadership styles. Finally, descriptive case studies of effective managers examined how they use consultation and delegation to give people a sense of ownership for decisions.

Situational Approach

The situational approach emphasizes the importance of contextual factors that influence leadership processes. Major situational variables include the characteristics of followers, the nature of the work performed by the leader’s unit, the type of organization, and the nature of the external environment. This approach has two major subcategories. One line of research is an attempt to discover the extent to which leadership processes are the same or unique across different types of organizations, levels of management, and cultures. The primary research method is a comparative study of two or more situations. The dependent variables may be managerial perceptions and attitudes, managerial activities and behavior patterns, or influence processes.

The other subcategory of situational research attempts to identify aspects of the situation that “moderate” the relationship of leader attributes (e.g., traits, skills, behavior) to leadership ef- fectiveness. The assumption is that different attributes will be effective in different situations, and that the same attribute is not optimal in all situations. Theories describing this relationship are sometimes called “contingency theories” of leadership. A more extreme form of situational theory (“leadership substitutes”) identifies the conditions that can make hierarchical leadership redundant and unnecessary.

Integrative Approach

An integrative approach involves more than one type of leadership variable. In recent years, it has become more common for researchers to include two or more types of leadership variables in the same study, but it is still rare to find a theory that includes all of them (i.e., traits, behavior, influence processes, situational variables, and outcomes). An example of the integra- tive approach is the self-concept theory of charismatic leadership, which attempts to explain why the followers of some leaders are willing to exert exceptional effort and make personal sacrifices to accomplish the group objective or mission.

14 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

Level of Conceptualization for Leadership Theories Another way to classify leadership theories is in terms of the “level of conceptualiza-

tion” or type of constructs used to describe leaders and their influence on others. Leadership can be described as (1) an  intra-individual process, (2) a dyadic process, (3) a group process, or (4) an organizational process. The levels can be viewed as a hierarchy, as depicted in Figure 1-3 . What level is emphasized will depend on the primary research question, the type of criterion vari- ables used to evaluate leadership effectiveness, and the type of mediating processes used to explain leadership influence. Typical research questions for each level are listed in Table 1-4 . The four levels of conceptualization, and their relative advantages and disadvantages, are described next.

Intra-Individual Processes

Because most definitions of leadership involve influence processes between individu- als, leadership theories that describe only leader attributes are rare. Nevertheless, a number of researchers used psychological theories of personality traits, values, skills, motivation, and cogni- tion to explain the decisions and behavior of an individual leader. Roles, behaviors, or decision styles are also used for describing and comparing leaders. Examples can be found in theories about the nature of managerial work and the requirements for different types of leadership posi- tions (see Chapter 2 ). Individual traits and skills are also used to explain a person’s motivation to seek power and positions of authority (see Chapter 6 ), and individual values are used to explain ethical leadership and the altruistic use of power (see Chapter 13 ).

Knowledge of intra-individual processes and taxonomies of leadership roles, behaviors, and traits provide insights that are helpful for developing better theories of effective leader- ship. However, the potential contribution of the intra-individual approach to leadership is lim- ited, because it does not explicitly include what most theorists consider to be the essential process of leadership, namely influencing others such as subordinates, peers, bosses, and outsiders.

Dyadic Processes

The dyadic approach focuses on the relationship between a leader and another individual who is usually a subordinate or another type of follower. The need to influence direct reports is shared by leaders at all levels of authority from chief executives to department managers





FIGURE 1-3 Levels of Conceptualization for Leadership Processes

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 15

and work crew supervisors. The explanation of leader influence is usually in terms of how the leader causes the subordinate to be more motivated and more capable of accomplishing task assignments. These theories usually focus on leadership behavior as the source of influence, and on changes in the attitudes, motivation, and behavior of an individual subordinate as the influence process. Reciprocal influence between the leader and follower may be included in the theory, but it is usually less important than the explanation of leader influence over the follower.

TABLE 1-4 Research Questions at Different Levels of Conceptualization

Intra-Individual Theories

• How leader traits and values influence leadership behavior • How leader skills are related to leader behavior • How leaders make decisions • How leaders manage their time • How leaders are influenced by role expectations and constraints • How leaders react to feedback and learn from experience • How leaders can use self-development techniques

Dyadic Theories

• How a leader influences subordinate motivation and task commitment • How a leader facilitates the work of a subordinate • How a leader interprets information about a subordinate • How a leader develops a subordinate’s skills and confidence • How a leader influences subordinate loyalty and trust • How a leader uses influence tactics with a subordinate, peer, or boss • How a leader and a subordinate influence each other • How a leader develops a cooperative exchange relationship with a subordinate

Group-Level Theories

• How different leader-member relations affect each other and team performance • How leadership is shared in the group or team • How leaders organize and coordinate the activities of team members • How leaders influence cooperation and resolve disagreements in the team or unit • How leaders influence collective efficacy and optimism for the team or unit • How leaders influence collective learning and innovation in the team or unit • How leaders influence collective identification of members with the team or unit • How unit leaders obtain resources and support from the organization and other units

Organizational-Level Theories

• How top executives influence members at other levels • How leaders are selected at each level (and implications of the process for the firm) • How leaders influence organizational culture • How leaders influence the efficiency and the cost of internal operations • How leaders influence human relations and human capital in the organization • How leaders make decisions about competitive strategy and external initiatives • How conflicts among leaders are resolved in an organization • How leaders influence innovation and major change in an organization

16 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

An example of a dyadic leadership theory is the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory described in Chapter 9 , which describes how dyadic relationships evolve over time and take dif- ferent forms, ranging from a casual exchange to a cooperative alliance with shared objectives and mutual trust. Although the LMX theory recognizes that the leader has multiple dyadic relation- ships, the focus is clearly on what happens within a single relationship. Much of the research on power and influence tactics (see Chapter 8 ) is also conceptualized in terms of dyadic processes. Most theories of transformational and charismatic leadership were initially conceptualized primarily at the dyadic level (see Chapter 12 ).

Since real leaders seldom have only a single subordinate, some assumptions are necessary to make dyadic explanations relevant for explaining a leader’s influence on the performance of a group or work unit. One assumption is that subordinates have work roles that are similar and independent. Subordinates may not be homogeneous with regard to skills and motives, but they have similar jobs. There is little potential for subordinates to affect each other’s job performance, and group performance is the sum of the performances by individuals. An example of mini- mum interdependence is a district sales unit in which sales representatives work separately and independently of each other and sell the same product in different locations or to different cus- tomers. However, when there is high interdependence among group members, a high need for collective learning, and strong external dependencies, a group-level theory is needed to explain how leadership can influence group performance.

The dyadic theories do not include some leadership behaviors that are necessary to facili- tate collective performance by a team or organization. Moreover, some of the dyadic behaviors that are effective in terms of dyadic influence will be ineffective with regard to team perfor- mance or organizational performance. For example, attempts to develop a closer relationship with one subordinate (e.g., by providing more benefits) may be dysfunctional if they create per- ceptions of inequity by other subordinates. Efforts to empower individual subordinates may create problems when it is necessary to have a high degree of coordination among all of the subordinates. The extra time needed by a leader to maximize performance by an individual subordinate (e.g., providing intensive coaching) may be more effectively used to deal with prob- lems that involve the team or work group (e.g., obtaining necessary resources, facilitating coop- eration and coordination).

Another limitation of most dyadic theories is inadequate attention to the context. In most dyadic theories of effective leadership, aspects of the situation are likely to be treated as modera- tor variables that constrain or enhance leader influence on individual subordinates. The dyadic theories underestimate the importance of the context for determining what type of leadership is necessary to enhance collective performance by multiple subordinates.

Group Processes

When effective leadership is viewed from a group-level perspective, the focus is on the influence of leaders on collective processes that determine team performance. The explanatory influence processes include determinants of group effectiveness that can be influenced by leaders, and they usually involve all members of a group or team, not only a single subordinate. Examples of these collective explanatory processes include how well the work is organized to utilize per- sonnel and resources, how committed members are to perform their work roles effectively, how confident members are that the task can be accomplished successfully (“potency”), and the extent to which members trust each other and cooperate in accomplishing task objectives. The leader- ship behaviors identified in dyadic theories are still relevant for leadership in teams, but other behaviors are also important.

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 17

Behavioral theories describing leadership processes in various types of groups and teams are discussed in Chapter 10 , and leadership in executive teams is discussed in Chapter 11 . Much of a manager’s time is spent in formal and informal meetings, and the leadership processes that make group meetings more effective are also described in Chapter 10 . Another key research question in the group approach is to explain why some members are more influential than others, and how leaders are selected. An example of a theory dealing with these questions is the “social exchange theory” discussed in Chapter 8 .

As compared to the dyadic theories, most group-level theories provide a much better ex- planation of effective leadership in teams with interactive members, but these theories also have limitations. The need to describe leader influence on member motivation is usually recognized, but the theory may not include psychological processes that are useful for explaining this influ- ence. The need to influence people and processes outside of the team is usually recognized, but external relationships are usually viewed from the perspective of the team. The focus is on the efforts of leaders to improve team performance (e.g., by getting more resources), but the impli- cations of leader actions for other subunits or the larger organization are seldom explicitly con- sidered. Shared leadership is more likely to be included in a group-level theory than in a dyadic theory, but distributed leadership by multiple formal leaders is seldom explicitly included, even though it is common in some types of teams (e.g., military combat units with a commander and an executive officer).

Organizational Processes

The group approach provides a better understanding of leadership effectiveness than dyadic or intra-individual approaches, but it has some important limitations. A group usually exists in a larger social system, and its effectiveness cannot be understood if the focus of the research is limited to the group’s internal processes. The organizational level of analysis describes leadership as a process that occurs in a larger “open system” in which groups are subsystems (Fleishman et al., 1991; Katz & Kahn, 1978; Mumford, 1986).

The survival and prosperity of an organization depends on adaptation to the environment and the acquisition of necessary resources. A business organization must be able to market its products and services successfully. Adaptation is improved by anticipating consumer needs and desires, assessing the actions and plans of competitors, evaluating likely constraints and threats (e.g., government regulation, input scarcity, hostile actions by enemies), and identifying market- able products and services that the organization has unique capabilities to provide. Some exam- ples of activities relevant for adaptation include gathering and interpreting information about the environment, identifying threats and opportunities, developing an effective strategy for adapting to the environment, negotiating agreements that are favorable to the organization, influencing outsiders to have a favorable impression of the organization and its products, and gaining coop- eration and support from outsiders upon whom the organization is dependent. These activities are aspects of “strategic leadership.”

Survival and prosperity also depend on the efficiency of the transformation process used by the organization to produce its products and services. Efficiency is increased by finding more rational ways to organize and perform the work, and by deciding how to make the best use of available technology, resources, and personnel. Some examples of leadership responsibilities include designing an appropriate organizational structure, determining authority relationships, and coordinating operations across specialized subunits of the organization. Strategic leader- ship in organizations is described in Chapter 11 .

18 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

As compared to dyadic or group-level theories of leadership, organization-level theories usually provide a better explanation of financial performance. Distributed leadership is less likely to be ignored in an organization-level theory, because it is obvious that an organization has many designated leaders whose actions must be coordinated. Management practices and systems (e.g., human resource management, operations management, strategic management) are also ignored or downplayed in dyadic and team leadership theories, but in theories of or- ganizational leadership the need to integrate leading and managing is more obvious (Yukl & Lepsinger, 2004). More attention is likely for subjects such as organizational structure and cul- ture, organizational change, executive succession, and influence processes between the CEO and the top management team or board of directors. A limitation of most theories of organizational leadership is that they do not explain influence processes for individual leaders (except some- times for the chief executive), or influence processes within teams (except in some cases the top-management team).

Multi-level Theories

Multi-level theories include constructs from more than one level of explanation (Klein, Dansereau, & Hall, 1994; Rousseau, 1985). For example, the independent and dependent varia- bles are at the same level of conceptualization, but moderator variables are at a different level. An even more complex type of multi-level theory may include leader influence on explanatory pro- cesses at more than one level and reciprocal causality among some of the variables. Multi-level theories of effective leadership provide a way to overcome the limitations of single-level theories, but it is very difficult to develop a multi-level theory that is parsimonious and easy to apply. The level of conceptualization has implications for the measures and methods of analysis used to test a theory, and multi-level theories are usually more difficult to test than single-level theories (Yammarino, Dionne, Chun, & Dansereau, 2005). Despite the difficulties, there is growing inter- est in developing and testing multi-level theories of leadership. Efforts to develop multi-level theories, similarities in explanatory processes at different levels, and approaches for multi-level analysis are described in Chapter 16 .

Other Bases for Comparing Leadership Theories Key variables and level of conceptualization are not the only ways to compare leader-

ship theories. This section briefly describes three other types of distinctions commonly used in the leadership literature: (1) leader-centered versus follower-centered theory, (2) universal ver- sus contingency theory, and (3) descriptive versus prescriptive theory. Each type of distinction is better viewed as a continuum along which a theory can be located, rather than as a sharp dichotomy. For example, it is possible for a theory to have some descriptive elements as well as some prescriptive elements, some universal elements as well as some contingency elements, and an equal focus on leaders and followers.

Leader-Centered or Follower-Centered Theory

The extent to which a theory is focused on either the leader or followers is another use- ful way to classify leadership theories. Most leadership theories emphasize the characteristics and actions of the leader without much concern for follower characteristics. The leader-focus is strongest in theory and research that identifies traits, skills, or behaviors that contribute to leader

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 19

effectiveness. Most of the contingency theories (in Chapter 7 ) also emphasize leader characteris- tics more than follower characteristics.

Only a small amount of research and theory emphasizes characteristics of the follow- ers. Empowerment theory describes how followers view their ability to influence important events (see Chapter 5 ). Attribution theory describes how followers view a leader’s influence on events and outcomes (see Chapter 9 ), and other theories in the same chapter explain how followers can active- ly influence their work role and relationship with the leader, rather than being passive recipients of leader influence. The leader substitutes theory (see Chapter 7 ) describes aspects of the situation and follower attributes that make a hierarchical leader less important. The emotional contagion theory of charisma (see Chapter 12 ) describes how followers influence each other. Finally, theories of self-managed groups emphasize sharing of leadership functions among the members of a group; in this approach, the followers are also the leaders (see Chapter 10 ).

Theories that focus almost exclusively on either the leader or the follower are less useful than theories that offer a more balanced explanation, such as some of the theories in Chapters 7 9 , 10 , 11 , and 12 . Most theories of leader power ( Chapter 8 ) emphasize that influence over fol- lowers depends on follower perceptions of the leader as well as on objective conditions and the leader’s influence behavior.

Descriptive or Prescriptive Theory

Another important distinction among leadership theories is the extent to which they are descriptive or prescriptive. Descriptive theories explain leadership processes, describe the typical activities of leaders, and explain why certain behaviors occur in particular situations. Prescriptive theories specify what leaders must do to become effective, and they identify any necessary condi- tions for using a particular type of behavior effectively.

The two perspectives are not mutually exclusive, and a theory can have both types of ele- ments. For example, a theory that explains why a particular pattern of behavior is typical for leaders (descriptive) may also explain which aspects of behavior are most effective (prescriptive). However, the two perspectives are not always consistent. For example, the typical pattern of behavior for leaders is not always the optimal one. A prescriptive theory is especially useful when a wide dis- crepancy exists between what leaders typically do and what they should do to be most effective.

Universal or Contingency Theory

A universal theory describes some aspect of leadership that applies to all types of situations, and the theory can be either descriptive or prescriptive. A descriptive universal theory may describe typical functions performed to some extent by all types of leaders, whereas a prescriptive universal theory may specify functions all leaders must perform to be effective.

A contingency theory describes some aspect of leadership that applies to some situations but not to others, and these theories can also be either descriptive or prescriptive. A descrip- tive contingency theory may explain how leader behavior varies from one situation to another, whereas a prescriptive contingency theory describes effective behavior in a specific situation.

The distinction between universal and contingency theories is a matter of degree, not a sharp dichotomy. Some theories include both universal and situational aspects. For example, a prescrip- tive theory may specify that a particular type of leadership is always effective but is more effective in some situations than in others. Even when a leadership theory is initially proposed as a universal theory, limiting and facilitating conditions are usually found in later research on the theory.

20 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

Organization of the Book The diversity and complexity of the relevant literature make it difficult to organize a survey

book on leadership. No single way of classifying the literature captures all of the important dis- tinctions. The primary basis for organizing chapters is according to type of leadership variable studied. The behavior approach is reviewed first ( Chapters 2 , 3 , and 4 ), then the trait approach ( Chapter  6 ), and the situational approach ( Chapter 7 ), then the power-influence approach ( Chapter 8 ). Important lines of research that cut across the primary variables are treated in sepa- rate chapters whenever possible. Participative leadership, which involves both the behavior and power-influence approaches, is covered in Chapter 5 . The major theories of charismatic and transformational leadership are usually classified as “integrative” because they involve more than one approach, and these theories are covered in Chapter 12 . Other ways of integrating the litera- ture are briefly described in Chapters 7 , 11 , and 16 .

Level of conceptualization is used as a secondary basis for organizing the material. Chapter  6 describes leader skills and personality traits that are conceptualized primarily at the in- dividual level. Chapter 9 includes both dyadic and some individual level theories. Group-based approaches are described in Chapters 10 and 11 .

The concepts in other chapters usually span multiple levels. The leader roles and behav- iors described in Chapters 2 and 3 can be used in theories at any level but are most often used in dyadic theories. Participative leadership and empowerment described in Chapter 5 are primarily dyadic and group-level theories, but leaders can also influence empowerment for a large organi- zation. The early contingency theories described in Chapter 7 are conceptualized primarily at the dyadic or group level. The transformational and charismatic theories in Chapter 12 are also primarily dyadic, but they are sometimes extended to include some group-level and organiza- tion-level elements. Chapter 13 describes ethical leadership theories (including transforming leadership, servant leadership, spiritual leadership, and authentic leadership); leader values are conceptualized at the individual level, but ethical leadership has implications for dyads, groups, and the overall organization. Chapter 14 deals with some special issues that have implications for different levels, including gender and leadership, cross-cultural differences in leadership, and management of diversity. Leadership development is a topic that cuts across levels of analysis, and it is discussed in Chapter 15 . Chapter 16 provides an overview that includes a summary of major findings about effective leadership and some concluding ideas about the essence of leader- ship at any level of analysis.

Summary Leadership has been defined in many different ways, but most definitions share the

assumption that it involves an influence process for facilitating the performance of a collective task. Otherwise, the definitions differ in many respects, such as who exerts the influence, the intended beneficiary of the influence, the manner in which the influence is exerted, and the out- come of the influence attempt. Some theorists advocate treating leading and managing as sepa- rate roles or processes, but the proposed definitions do not resolve important questions about the scope of each process and how they are interrelated. No single, “correct” definition of leadership covers all situations. What matters most is how useful the definition is for increasing our under- standing of effective leadership.

Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership 21

Most researchers evaluate leadership effectiveness in terms of the consequences for fol- lowers and other organization stakeholders, but the choice of outcome variables has differed considerably from researcher to researcher. Criteria differ in many important respects, including how immediate they are, and whether they have subjective or objective measures. When evaluat- ing leadership effectiveness, multiple criteria should be considered to deal with these complexi- ties and the different preferences of various stakeholders.

Leadership has been studied in different ways, depending on the researcher’s methodologi- cal preferences and definition of leadership. Most researchers deal only with a narrow aspect of leadership, and most empirical studies fall into distinct lines of research such as the trait, behav- ior, power, and situational approaches. In recent years, there has been an increased effort to cut across and integrate these approaches.

Level of analysis is another basis for classifying leadership theory and research. The levels include intra-individual, dyadic, group, and organizational. Each level provides some unique insights, but more research is needed on group and organizational processes, and more integra- tion across levels is needed.

Another basis for differentiating theories is the relative focus on leader or follower. For many years, the research focused on leader characteristics and followers were studied only as the object of leader influence. A more balanced approach is needed, and some progress is being made in that direction.

Leadership theories can be classified as prescriptive versus descriptive, according to the emphasis on “what should be” rather than on “what occurs now.” A final basis for differentia- tion (universal versus contingency) is the extent to which a theory describes leadership pro- cesses and relationships that are similar in all situations or that vary in specified ways across situations.

Review and Discussion Questions

1. What are some similarities and differences in the way leadership has been defined? 2. What are the arguments for and against making a distinction between leaders and managers? 3. Why is it so difficult to measure leadership effectiveness? 4. What criteria have been used to evaluate leadership effectiveness, and are some criteria more useful

than others? 5. What are the trait, behavior, and power-influence approaches, and what unique insights does each

approach provide about effective leadership? 6. Is leadership described as an intra-individual, dyadic, group, or organizational process in most leader-

ship theories and research? 7. Compare descriptive and prescriptive theories of leadership, and explain why both types of theory are

useful. 8. Compare universal and contingency theories. Is it possible to have a theory with both universal and

contingent aspects?

22 Chapter 1 • Introduction: The Nature of Leadership

Key Terms

behavior approach contingency theories criteria of leadership

effectiveness delayed effects descriptive theory

dyadic processes follower-centered theory integrative approach leader-centered theory level of conceptualization mediating variable

power-influence approach prescriptive theory shared influence process situational approach specialized leadership role trait approach

Learning Objectives After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

■ Understand the different roles and activities commonly required for managers. ■ Understand how managerial roles and activities are affected by aspects of the situation. ■ Understand how managers cope with demands, constraints, and choices confronting them. ■ Understand the importance of external activities and networking for managers. ■ Understand how managers solve problems and make decisions. ■ Understand how managers can make effective use of their time.

Leadership is an important role requirement for managers and a major reason why managerial jobs exist. This chapter examines findings from research on the nature of managerial work. The research involves analysis of data from a variety of sources, including observation of managers, diaries in which managers describe their own activities, interviews with managers who explain what they do and why they do it, and job description questionnaires in which managers rate the importance of different types of managerial activities. One major purpose of this research has been to identify patterns of activity that are common to all types of managers. Another major pur- pose has been to compare activity patterns for different types of managers, or managers in different situations. These “comparative” studies examine the extent to which the behavior of a manager is influenced by the unique role requirements of the situation.

Most descriptive research on managerial activities was not designed to determine how activities are related to effective leadership, but the research provides some insights about the subject. One important skill is time management. The final section of the chapter describes guidelines to help managers use their time wisely, cope with demands, and handle role conflicts.

Chapter 2 2

Nature of Managerial Work


24 Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work

Activity Patterns for Managers To discover what managers do and how they spend their time, researchers used descrip-

tive methods such as direct observation, diaries, and interviews. The researcher attempted to find answers to questions such as how much time managers spend alone or interacting with different people (e.g., subordinates, peers, superiors, outsiders), how often managers use different forms of interaction (e.g., telephone, scheduled meetings, unscheduled meetings, written mes- sages), where the interactions occur, how long they last, and who initiated them. Reviews of this research find some consistent activity patterns for most types of managerial positions (Hales, 1986; McCall, Morrison, & Hannan, 1978; Mintzberg, 1973). This section of the chapter reviews major findings about the nature of managerial work.

Pace of Work Is Hectic and Unrelenting

The typical manager works long hours, and many managers take work home. In part, this workload can be traced to the preferences of people in managerial positions. Having trained their minds to search for and analyze new information continually, most managers do this type of searching automatically and find it difficult to forget about their jobs when at home or on vacation. The typical manager’s day seldom includes a break in the workload. Managers receive almost continuous requests for information, assistance, direction, and authorization from a large number of people, such as subordinates, peers, superiors, and people outside the organiza- tion. The research on managerial activities contradicts the popular conception of managers as people who carefully plan and orchestrate events, and then sit in their office waiting for the occa- sional exception to normal operations that may require their attention.

Content of Work Is Varied and Fragmented

Managers typically engage in a variety of activities each day, and many of them are brief in duration. Mintzberg’s (1973, p. 33) observations of executives found that “half of the activi- ties were completed in less than 9 minutes, and only one-tenth took more than an hour.” The activities of managers tend to be fragmented as well as varied. Interruptions occur frequently, conversations are disjointed, and important activities are interspersed with trivial ones, requiring rapid shifts of mood. A manager may go from a budget meeting to decide millions of dollars in spending to a discussion about how to fix a broken water fountain (Sayles, 1979).

Many Activities Are Reactive

The fragmented nature of managerial activity reflects the fact that many interactions are ini- tiated by others, and much of a manager’s behavior is reactive rather than proactive in nature. A common stereotype of managers is that they spend a considerable part of their time in careful analysis of business problems and development of elaborate plans to deal with them. However, the descriptive studies find that most managers devote little time to reflective planning. The frag- mented activities and continual heavy demands characteristic of managerial work make it diffi- cult for managers to find the long periods of unallocated time necessary for this type of activity. Reflective planning and other activities that require large blocks of time, such as team building and training subordinates in complex skills, are usually preempted by “fire fighting” activities involving immediate operational problems. What little time managers spend alone in the office is typically used to read correspondence, check and send e-mail messages, handle administrative paperwork, write reports or memos, and scan journals or technical publications. Most managers

Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work 25

gravitate toward the active aspects of their jobs, and they tend to focus on specific, immediate problems rather than general issues or long-term strategies.

Problems occur in a mostly random order, and managers choose to react to some problems as they become aware of them, while others are ignored or postponed. There are more problems than a manager can handle at any given time, and only a few of them will get immediate atten- tion. The importance of a problem is a major determinant of whether it will be recognized and handled, but it is often unclear how important a problem really is.

A manager is more likely to respond to a problem when there is pressure for immediate action due to a crisis, deadline, or expectations of progress by someone important, such as the manager’s boss or an external client (McCall & Kaplan, 1985). In the absence of such pressure, a problem is more likely to get action when it is perceived to be similar to other problems that a manager has solved successfully in the past, when the problem is perceived to be clearly within the manager’s domain of responsibility, and when the manager perceives that the actions and resources necessary to solve the problem are available. Managers are likely to ignore a problem or postpone dealing with a problem when there is no external pressure for action, it is fuzzy and difficult to diagnose, it is the primary responsibility of other managers or subunits, or it cannot be solved without additional resources and support that would be difficult or impossible to obtain.

Interactions Often Involve Peers and Outsiders

Although much of the leadership literature focuses on the relationship between leader and subordinates, the descriptive research has found that managers typically spend consider- able time with persons other than direct subordinates or the manager’s boss. These contacts may involve subordinates of subordinates, superiors of the boss, lateral peers, subordinates of lateral peers, and superiors of lateral peers. In addition, many managers spend considerable time with people outside the organization, such as customers, clients, suppliers, subcontractors, people in government agencies, important people in the community, and managers from other organizations. Kotter (1982) found that the network of relationships for general managers often consisted of hundreds of people inside and outside of their organization (see Figure 2-1 ).

Lateral superiors

Lateral juniors


Higher executives



Direct subordinates

Indirect subordinates

Officials in government




Colleagues in the same profession

Important people in the community

FIGURE 2-1 A Manager’s Network of Contacts

26 Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work

The high incidence of lateral and external interactions can be explained in terms of a manager’s need for information about complex and uncertain events that influence the operations of his or her organizational subunit, and the manager’s dependence on the cooperation and assistance of numerous people outside the immediate chain of command (Kotter, 1982). A large network of contacts pro- vides information about current events within or outside of the organization that may affect the man- ager’s job performance and career. In addition, networks can be used to obtain assistance for solving problems or making changes. The ability to assemble a coalition of internal and external supporters is especially important to make innovative changes and ensure that they will be implemented success- fully (Kanter, 1983). Managers use different parts of their network for different purposes and extend the network as needed to accomplish a particular objective (Ibarra & Hunter, 2007; Kaplan, 1988).

Networks are developed in a variety of ways, such as (1) talking with people before, dur- ing, and after meetings, ceremonies, and social events in the organization; (2) serving on spe- cial committees, interest groups, and task forces; (3) joining civic groups, advisory boards, and social clubs; and (4) attending workshops, trade shows, and meetings of professional associa- tions. Cooperative relationships are established and maintained by showing respect and posi- tive regard, offering unconditional favors (e.g., passing on useful information, offering to help with a problem), keeping in touch, and showing appreciation for favors received, especially those requiring a significant effort on the part of the person doing it. The process of networking is a perpetual activity for managers. Old relationships need to be maintained and new ones estab- lished as people in key positions change, the organization changes, and the external environment changes. Good network relationships in the organization are associated with greater influence over subordinates (e.g., Bono & Anderson, 2005).

Decision Making and Planning by Managers An important responsibility of formal leaders is to make decisions about objectives, strate-

gies, operational procedures, and the allocation of resources. The literature on decision mak- ing is extensive, and much progress has been made studying how important decisions are made in organizations. Descriptive studies and analyses of cognitive processes have both been use- ful for understanding how decisions are made in groups and organizations (Narayanan, Zane & Kemmerer, 2011). Some of the findings are reviewed in this section.

Emotions and Intuition are Often Involved

Decision processes are often characterized more by confusion and emotionality than by rationality. Instead of careful analysis of likely outcomes in relation to predetermined objectives, information is often distorted or suppressed to serve preconceptions and biases about the best course of action. The emotional shock of discovering a serious problem and anxiety about choosing among unattractive alternatives may result in denial of negative evidence, wishful thinking, pro- crastination, vacillation between choices, and panic reactions by individual managers or by decision groups (Janis & Mann, 1977). The greater the job demands and stress for a manager, the less likely it is that a prolonged search or careful analysis of potential costs and benefits will be made (Hambrick, Finkelstein, & Mooney, 2005). Instead, a highly stressed executive is more likely to respond to seri- ous threats and problems by relying on solutions used in the past or by imitating the practices of sim- ilar companies. Individuals with strong negative affect (fear, anger, depression) are more likely to use dysfunctional methods for decision making than individuals with positive affect (Ganster, 2005).

Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work 27

Decisions often reflect the influence of intuition rather than conscious rational analy- sis of available alternatives and their likely outcomes (Dane & Pratt, 2007; Salas, Rosen & DiazGranados, 2010; Simon, 1987 ) . Experienced managers try to determine if a problem is familiar or novel, and for familiar ones they can apply past experience and learned procedures to determine the best course of action. However, failure to classify a problem accurately is likely to result in a poor decision on how to resolve it. When managers become attached to mental models that are no longer adequate, it is more difficult for them to recognize novel problems or innovative solutions (Narayanan et al., 2011). Involving other people can improve the quality of problem diagnosis and decision choice, but only if appropriate processes are used by the group (see Chapters 10 and 11 ).

Important Decisions are Disorderly and Political

Much of the management literature describes decisions as discrete events made by a single manager or group in an orderly, rational manner. This picture is sharply contradicted by the descriptive research on managerial work and related research on managerial decision making (Cohen & March, 1974; McCall & Kaplan, 1985; Schweiger, Anderson, & Locke, 1985; Simon, 1987). Managers are seldom observed to make major decisions at a single point in time, and they are seldom able to recall when a decision was finally reached. Some major decisions are the result of many small actions or incremental choices taken without regard to larger strategic issues.

Important decisions in organizations typically require the support and authorization of many different people at different levels of management and in different subunits of the organi- zation. It is common practice for a manager to consult with subordinates, peers, or superiors about important decisions when an immediate response is not required. The person who initi- ates the decision process may not be the person who makes the final choice among action alterna- tives. For example, a section supervisor with a problem may point out the need for a decision to his or her boss, the department manager. The department manager may consult with the plant manager or with managers in other departments who would be affected by the decision. Even when not consulted in advance, the plant manager may review the department manager’s deci- sion and approve, reject, or modify it.

The different people involved in making a decision often disagree about the true nature of a problem and the likely outcomes of various solutions, due to the different perspectives, assumptions, and values typical of managers from different functional specialties and back- grounds. When managers have different mental models for explaining the cause of a problem, it is more difficult to reach agreement about a good solution (Mumford, Friedrich, Caughron, & Byrne, 2007).

A prolonged, highly political decision process is likely when decisions involve important and complex problems for which no ready-made, good solutions are available, when many affect- ed parties have conflicting interests, and when a diffusion of power exists among the parties. The decision process may drag on for months or years due to delays and interruptions as a proposal is sidetracked by opponents, preempted by immediate crises, or recycled back to its initiators for revisions necessary to make it suitable to managers whose support is needed (Mintzberg, Raisinghani, & Theoret, 1976). For decisions involving major changes in organizational strate- gies or policies, the outcome will depend to a great extent on the influence skills and persistence of the individual managers who desire to initiate change and on the relative power of the various coalitions involved in making or authorizing these decisions (Kanter, 1983; Kotter, 1982, 1985).

28 Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work

Routine Decisions are Different

Not all decisions involve major changes or prolonged political processes. Managers make many less momentous decisions in the process of solving operational problems, setting short- term goals, assigning work to subordinates, setting up work schedules, authorizing the expend- iture of funds for supplies or equipment, and approving pay increases. These decisions often involve problems for which ready-made and low-risk solutions are available, the manager has the authority to make a decision, few important people will be affected by the decision, little conflict exists about objectives or solutions, and pressure is felt for a quick decision due to a deadline or a crisis. Managers usually make this type of decision either alone or after briefly consulting with a few people, and only a short period of problem analysis and search for solutions is likely to occur (McCall & Kaplan, 1985). Although these decisions are less important, they require appropriate technical knowledge by the manager and the capacity to find a good balance between lengthy, systematic analysis and quick, decisive action. A hasty decision based in limited information may fail to solve the problem, but the problem may get worse and be more difficult to resolve if the manager delays a decision to get more information.

Most Planning Is Informal and Adaptive

An important type of decision for managers is planning how to achieve objectives, imple- ment changes, and conduct important activities. Planning is often described in the managerial literature as primarily a formal process of written objectives, strategies, policies, and budgets, cascading from top management down the hierarchy, with even more detailed versions at each lower level of management. The descriptive studies find that planning by managers is often informal and implicit. Kotter (1982) found that general managers develop agendas consisting of goals and plans related to their job responsibilities and involving a variety of short-term and long-term issues. The short-term (1–30 days) objectives and plans are usually quite specific and detailed, but the longer-term (5–20 years) agenda items are usually vague, incomplete, and only loosely connected. A new manager begins the process of developing this agenda immediately, but initially it is likely to be rough and incomplete. Over time, as managers gather more informa- tion about their organization or subunit (e.g., operations, people, politics, markets, competitors, problems, and concerns), the agendas are refined and expanded (Gabarro, 1985; Kotter, 1982).

Kotter also found that the implementation of agenda items is also a gradual, continuous process. Managers use a variety of influence techniques during their daily interactions with other people to mobilize support and shape events. The agenda guides the manager in making efficient use of random encounters and brief interactions with relevant people in the manager’s network of contacts.

In his study of top executives, Quinn (1980) found that most of the important strategic decisions were made outside the formal planning process, and strategies were formulated in an incremental, flexible, and intuitive manner. In response to major unforeseen events, the executives developed tentative, broad strategies that allowed them to keep their options open until they had more opportunity to learn from experience about the nature of the environment and the feasibility of their initial actions. Strategies were refined and implemented simultaneously in a cautious, incre- mental manner that reflected the need to develop a political coalition in support of a strategy as well as to avoid the risks of an initial, irreversible commitment to a particular course of action. Instead of a top-down, formal process, overall objectives and strategies for the firms were more likely to be the result of a “bottom-up” political process in which the objectives and strategies of powerful individu- als and organizational subunits are reconciled and integrated. The formal, annual plans were merely a confirmation of strategic decisions already reached through the informal political process.

Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work 29

Managerial Roles The early descriptive research on managerial work was concerned primarily with providing

a description of activity patterns. Then, the focus of descriptive research shifted to classifying the content of managerial activity in terms of its purpose. A major difficulty in this research has been to determine what behavior categories are meaningful, distinct, and relevant for classifying observed activities of managers. In attempting to resolve this question, different researchers have developed taxonomies of managerial roles or functions.

Mintzberg’s Taxonomy of Roles

Mintzberg (1973) developed a taxonomy of 10 managerial roles to use for coding the con- tent of activities observed in a study of executives (see Table 2-1 ). These roles account for all of a manager’s activities, and each activity can be explained in terms of at least one role, although many activities involve more than one role. The managerial roles apply to any manager, but their relative importance may vary from one kind of manager to another. The roles are largely predetermined by the nature of the managerial position, but each manager has some flexibility in how to inter- pret and enact each role. Three roles deal with the interpersonal behavior of managers (leader, liaison, figurehead), three roles deal with information-processing behavior (monitor, dissemina- tor, spokesperson), and four roles deal with decision-making behavior (entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, negotiator). Each type of role will be described in more detail.

Leader Role. Managers are responsible for making their organizational subunit function as an integrated whole in the pursuit of its basic purpose. Consequently, the manager must provide guidance to subordinates, ensure that they are motivated, and create favorable conditions for doing the work. A number of managerial activities are expressly concerned with the leader role, including hiring, training, directing, praising, criticizing, promoting, and dismissing. However, the leader role pervades all managerial activities, even those with some other basic purpose.

Liaison Role. The liaison role includes behavior intended to establish and maintain a web of relationships with individuals and groups outside of a manager’s organizational unit. These relationships are vital as a source of information and favors. The essence of the liaison role is

TABLE 2-1 Mintzberg’s Managerial Roles

Information Processing Roles

• Disseminator • Monitor • Spokesperson

Decision-Making Roles

• Entrepreneur • Disturbance handler • Resource allocator • Negotiator

Interpersonal Roles

• Liaison • Figurehead • Leader

30 Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work

making new contacts, keeping in touch, and doing favors that will allow the manager to ask for favors in return.

Figurehead Role. As a consequence of their formal authority as the head of an organization or one of its subunits, managers are obliged to perform certain symbolic duties of a legal and social nature. These duties include signing documents (e.g., contracts, expense authorizations), presid- ing at certain meetings and ceremonial events (e.g., retirement dinner for a subordinate), partici- pating in other rituals or ceremonies, and receiving official visitors. The manager must participate in these activities even though they are usually of marginal relevance to the job of managing.

Monitor Role. Managers continually seek information from a variety of sources, such as reading reports and memos, attending meetings and briefings, and conducting observational tours. Some of the information is passed on to subordinates (disseminator role) or to outsiders (spokesperson role). Most of the information is analyzed to discover problems and opportuni- ties, and to develop an understanding of outside events and internal processes within the man- ager’s organizational subunit.

Disseminator Role. Managers have special access to sources of information not available to subordinates. Some of this information is factual, and some of it concerns the stated prefer- ences of individuals desiring to influence the manager, including people at high levels of author- ity. Some of the information must be passed on to subordinates, either in its original form or after interpretation and editing by the manager.

Spokesperson Role. Managers are also obliged to transmit information and express value statements to people outside their organizational subunit. Middle managers and lower-level managers must report to their superiors; a chief executive must report to the board of directors or owners. Each of these managers is also expected to serve as a lobbyist and public relations repre- sentative for the organizational subunit when dealing with superiors and outsiders. As Mintzberg (1973, p. 76) points out, “To speak effectively for his organization and to gain the respect of out- siders, the manager must demonstrate an up-to-the-minute knowledge of his organization and its environment.”

Entrepreneur Role. The manager of an organization or one of its subunits acts as an initia- tor and designer of controlled change to exploit opportunities for improving the existing situa- tion. Planned change takes place in the form of improvement projects such as development of a new product, purchase of new equipment, or reorganization of formal structure. Some of the improvement projects are supervised directly by the manager, and some are delegated to subor- dinates. Mintzberg (1973, p. 81) offers the following description of the way a manager deals with improvement projects:

The manager as a supervisor of improvement projects may be likened to a juggler. At any one point in time he has a number of balls in the air. Periodically, one comes down, receives a short burst of energy, and goes up again. Meanwhile, new balls wait on the sidelines and, at random intervals, old balls are discarded and new ones added.

Disturbance Handler Role. In the disturbance handler role, a manager deals with sudden crises that cannot be ignored, as distinguished from problems that are voluntarily solved by the manager to exploit opportunities (entrepreneur role). The crises are caused by unforeseen

Chapter 2 • Nature of Managerial Work 31

events, such as conflict among subordinates, the loss of a key subordinate, a fire or accident, a strike, and so on. A manager typically gives this role priority over all of the others.

Resource Allocator Role. Managers exercise their authority to allocate resources such as money, personnel, material, equipment, facilities, and services. Resource allocation is involved in managerial decisions about what is to be done, in the manager’s authorization of subordinates’ decisions, in the preparation of budgets, and in the scheduling of the manager’s own time. By retaining the power to allocate resources, the manager maintains control over strategy formation and acts to coordinate and integrate subordinate actions in support of strategic objectives.

Negotiator Role. Any negotiations requiring a substantial commitment of resources will be facilitated by the presence of a manager having the authority to make this commit- ment. Managers may participate in several different types of negotiations, including negotia- tions with unions involving labor-management contracts or grievances; contract negotiations with important customers, suppliers, or consultants; employment negotiations with key per- sonnel; and other nonroutine negotiations (e.g., acquisition of another firm, application for a large loan).

Question A (Sepertate file)

Discussion Topic: Based on your study of leadership this semester, what are some of the biases and limitations in the way leadership is usually defined and studied? In addition, what improvements could be made in the way leadership is studied and researched? Please fully support your posts to this discussion forum.

At least 3 pages

Question B(Separate)

Will send information over



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