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Understanding Leadership

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Describe the factors that will influence the choice of leadership styles or behaviours in workplace situations.

Wikipedia describes Leadership as “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others, while others define leadership as “motivating and organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.”

For me Leadership is seen in an individual when they influence, by setting standards through their own actions, drive performance and success, obtains ‘buy-in’ from team members, motivates and empowers individuals to driving discretionary effort. The person who convinces other people to follow, a great leader inspires confidence in other people and moves them into action. A leader will create a vision, communicate that vision, energises, inspires, motivates and creates a culture.

A leader has two types of ‘power’ available to them when considering the style they choose to adopt – these are ‘Positional Power’ & ‘Personal Power’. ‘Positional Power’ relates to Transactional Leadership which gives a leader the power to influence outcomes with the position / job role they hold and allows you to control or tell individuals what to do and when. ‘Personal Power’ relates to Transformational Leadership which gives a leader the power by their ability to influence others and sell a given task or influence an outcome. As leaders we should use ‘Personal Power’ ALL THE TIME by getting an individual’s ‘buy in’ by using the WIIFM tack [What’s in it for me?].

There are also four factors influencing the choice of leadership style we adopt and these are; people, time, work and power. Either individually or together they can have an impact on the style we choose, from the main four leadership styles of authoritative, consultative, supportive or delegative, when we look to use them in any given situation.

This very much depends on the knowledge and experience of the team as well as their willingness to be involved in the decisions. The Aftermarket Commercial Team we are currently undergoing a few organisational and process changes which will need to the support, cooperation and improvement ideas off all the team members. With this in mind I needed to ask a few team members to take ownership of certain projects to deliver satisfactory and timely outcomes. Therefore adopting a supportive and even a delegative style with some individuals.

This factor can be the result of whether the task is urgent or critical to achieve a deadline and the time allowed to complete the task. Aftermarket works to monthly deadlines in deliveries to our customers and this is certainly more prevalent towards month end. At this point, and where this deadline approaches, the time element of our deliveries becomes prominent so the behaviour becomes more transactional. We have to achieve certain sales targets each month, so my positional power takes over in order to drive the results. Therefore the leadership style becomes more authoritative.

This factor is focused on the task and how it must be performed. The rules which are in place and the regulations which must be followed. At HSSL these are the standard operating procedures defined to complete a certain product or task in the most effective and safe way. Another example used on a daily basis are the products which must be manufactured to specified standards, e.g. engineering drawings.

Power will be either positional or personal power. Positional is that control held in the job role defined by the organisation. This follows the “Transactional” theory of leadership, based on a system of reward and punishment. Personal power is dependent on the personality of the individual to influence others whom they have no direct control. This follows the “Transformational” theory based on the relationship between leaders and followers. Examples of positional power at HSSL are the time and attendance expectations, i.e. if you are repeatedly late or absent then you may receive punishment in the form of a formal disciplinary notice. An example of personal power is a project I am involved in at the moment to improve the front end processes in the Aftermarket department. I have enlisted the support of the engineering, sales and production teams to make improvement changes with whom I have no direct control.

AC 1.2
Explain why these leadership styles or behaviours are likely to have a positive or negative effect on individual and group behaviour.

The leadership style or behaviours we adopt as ‘Leaders’ can have a positive or negative effect on individual and group behaviours when we use them. So it’s vitally important we understand what these styles are, by their definition, and what effect, positively & negatively, they will have.

Authoritative Style Leadership is, I think, one of the most immediately recognised forms of Leadership. At first, the style seems to go against most of the modern work environments many companies are trying to encourage – team work, group buy in and shared decision making. However, certain conditions and industries, such as manufacturing [HSSL], construction and the military are driven and see results when a leader takes tight control and makes most of the decisions.

Dangerous work environments or situations requiring complicated tasks, within HSSL, with no room for error, such as safety inspections, test and certain production build areas perform under this style of leadership since each depends on control. In addition we may turn to this style of leadership if we need to see urgent short-term results.

This can also work when, as leaders, we are dealing with inexperienced or unmotivated workers. New employees may need specific instructions and close follow-up until they learn the job. By contrast a leader may need, on occasions, with unmotivated or disruptive employees use the “do it or else” type of leadership [Authoritative] to complete their daily duties and or assigned work. With this everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them with clear, defined, roles and responsibilities.

Unfortunately few people like being told what to do and when used incorrectly this style of leadership can have an adverse effect. If we use this on motivated employees, who understand the task / job at hand, it will most certainly dampen morale, reduce productivity and effect the team’s performance. This style can even effect things such as staff turnover, absenteeism, reduce commitment to the company and mean individuals are less likely to take ownership and make necessary decisions. It can create a lack of trust making the employee feel undervalued. It is particularly important that HSSL Aftermarket is seen as a ‘One Team’ department therefore there is no room for the above.

Consultative Style leadership is basically task oriented and has more of an open mind when compared with the authoritative style. However it’s still focused on the end result by using the skills of others in formulating plans and decision making. But then the final decision making is always retained by the leader – however ‘buy in’ will have been obtained. This style will focus on involving people and collectively seeking out solutions to any given task and or problems as ‘One Team’. This will allow both the individuals, team and leader to develop in their own decision making ability and will facilitate team building. This leadership style encourages teams to grow and develop and will almost certainly mean the leader will be acting or can act as a mentor. It establishes a two way communication line allowing all to seek win-win solutions by opening the doors of opinion to talented employees.

This style is similar to authoritative in that it provides clear guidance and instructions on what is required. It also allows employees to be heard and offers feedback by boosting confidence. It also allows the individual / team to feel valued and boost morale. It closely monitors performance and takes notice of team member ideas.

The advantages, when used correctly, to consultative leadership are many, whereas the disadvantages in proportion are few, such as, it may be time consuming to reach the conclusions and individuals may dominate or it may be that they may cause disruptions. The individuals and team may feel their contribution is unlikely to be taken seriously and they may become undervalued. Nonetheless, talented employees seek their own ways to strengthen their professionalism owing to the consultative direction. HSS Aftermarket is a going department and as such I use this technique to conduct our daily contract review meetings where we, as a team, identify issues and discuss the solutions to combat reoccurrences – however the final decision is always taken by me in terms of our actions.

Supportive Style leadership is where a leader is not so interested in giving order and managing every detail as in giving employees the tools they need to work themselves. While delegation is a vital part of supportive leadership, tasks will not simply be assigned and then results expected but will work through it with the individual. If often centres on an individual’s emotions, training and time and will listen carefully and help deal with stress and conflict. It will require some degree of sensitivity which, I think, some leaders find difficult. This style will can be effective when the work tasks are dangerous, tedious and stressful, but is not really effective if the tasks are intrinsically motivating because you don’t need to be motivated to do the work. It will also encourage subordinates to take part in decision making however the final one will always remain with the leader.

Supportive leadership is an excellent choice in certain circumstances. In a mature or established team where each member is experienced, knows what needs to be done, are highly motivated and just needs support for resources it can be the best option. Few teams operate with that kind of efficiency though and very often need a great level of leadership. The other circumstances where this style may work well is when the leader is in charge of the outcome, but clearly without the skill sets needed for the tasks. It can be used effectively to instill confidence where a leader has a maturing team and it tells them you know what you’re doing – “I’m here to help if you need me to” type situation. It can facilitate development, provide support and practical information, listen and motivate.

One significant caution that needs to be considered when using supportive leadership as a preferred style, is that the leader may lose his / her recognition as the team’s leader. Always falling into a support role could create a perception that someone else in the team is better suited to lead and may be given or take the mantle of leadership either formally or informally. The effectiveness of the group may be reduced by allowing more forceful individuals to dominate. This is the case within my own team in that a long serving member will, if allowed, try to dominate therefore this style is avoid where possible.

Delegative Style is where a leader will assigns task and or duties, providing the necessary resources and tools to complete them, and the individuals are responsible for completing the tasks with minimal supervision. The leader, when using this style, will still retain the final decision making power however it will encourage and has the advantage of active participation of the individual or team in the decision making and the task itself, which then benefits from their knowledge, experience, additional motivation and commitment. With the right individual or team it may drive them to deliver higher levels of results and achievement through the amount of discretionary effort they apply and behaviour they show. Delegative leadership involves minimal supervision and gives employees great freedom.

This style uses minimal control, sometimes referred to as “Laissez-faire”, and leaves the group to make their own decisions and direction with minimal leadership – this can be useful when you want to reduce the dependency of an individual or group on your own skills and time. It can boost morale and increase productivity by allowing individuals to feel of worth and empowered. It is effective when team members are highly skilled, motivated and capable of working under their own steam with little or no supervision and have the knowledge and skills to deliver results. Some team members will no doubt feel more satisfied with this leadership style.

Delegative leadership is not ideal in situations where group members lack the knowledge or experience they need to complete tasks and make decisions. Some people are not good at setting their own deadlines, managing their own projects, and solving problems on their own. In such situations, projects can go off-track and deadlines can be missed when team members do not get enough guidance or feedback from leaders. Actions may have protracted timescales to get the job done as well as some uncertainty as to the outcome in terms of the way the task is handled. Unfortunately this type of leaders is often seen as uninvolved and withdrawn, which can lead to a lack of cohesiveness within the group. Since the leader seems unconcerned with what is happening, employees sometimes pick up on this and express less care and concern for any given task or project.

AC 2.1
Assess own leadership behaviours and potential in the context of a particular leadership model and Own organisation’s working practices and culture, using feedback from others.

To assess my personal leadership style I collected information from a number of sources. Firstly a recent performance appraisal, carried out in March with my Manager, including an assessment of the values and behaviours as defined by the company’s vision. Secondly from a questionnaire provided in the course notes, amended slightly to include an additional column as well as revising the headings, see appendix A, [This was given six individuals, three from each group of manager, peer and subordinate requesting feedback] The Thomas International Leadership skills profile and finally the BRUSH 360 Feedback Report.

Performance Appraisal
The main strengths identified from my performance appraisal with my manager were that I am accountable and have the potential to be a good role model given the range of commercial & site coordination background I possess. I come across as confident but must be objective in recognising the contribution of others. There is also an understanding the broader Business & the Aftermarket requirements [the Biz Plan], and, encourages customer focus or connection. Driving a ‘One Team’ philosophy and environment. I am organised and plans development work against business or operational expectations and I’m seen as trusted working in an efficient and effective way delivering against targets effectively and to agreed timescales.

Areas identified for improvements were that I must lead from the front, whilst developing my team, focusing on the ‘team ethic’ [discretionary effort] and raising the profile of the aftermarket divison. Develop working relationship with managers in ‘other’ areas of the business and try not to over complicate things.

I believe my overall leadership style has been between authoratitive and consultative. This has been due to the rapid process improvements within all the Aftermarket areas due to the level of change we have undertaken at HSSL over the last two years. The culture of the organisation was to achieve the results so my authoratitive style was needed due to the team make up. However we are now focusing on the leadership styles we use so it is important I follow these changes to influence and drive our business forward in being an efficient and effective leader.

Questionnaire Feedback [Example – See Appendix A]
To assess the feedback on my leadership style I distributed a questionnaire to six individuals, three from each group of manager, peer and subordinate, requesting feedback on their perception of my leadership skills and which style they see me use daily. This would provide an indication of what others perceived as my style as and which one I reverted to as my ‘norm’. The idea for this was it would indicate what current styles I use and what leadership style changes I need to address, going forward, depending upon whom I am dealing with.

As I expected a strong authoraritve style was seen particularly from the feedback from my Subordinates however my peers and management seem to see I use ‘other’ styles where and when appropriate. It is therefore evident that I tend to change my leadership style to suit a given situation, although I personally believe I need to consciously evaluate the individual and communication technique and leadership style to get the best out of an employee.

The Thomas International Leadership Skills Report
I undertook this assessment and the results were an interesting read. It concluded that my Leadership skills were more likely to be used in a technical, specialist or professional areas which have a clear structure [Commercial Management]. I am best likely to work in a participative organisational structure. Being set goals which need to be achieved in a logical, accurate and planned manner will maximise my leadership skills.

My strengths were that I can objectively evaluate situations and the performance of others, consider the consequences before taking actions or making decisions, sets both myself and others high standards, adheres to rules, procedures, policies and guidelines and evaluates all possible alternatives before acting.

In contrast the areas I need to work on would be to consider supporting and developing my skills leadership skills in areas that may not be within my area of expertise, in a supportive manner to ‘other’ leaders. Try to minimise the amount of details any given individual is given and try not to confuse people with too much. Try to be a little more open with information sharing and be seen as acting quickly and intuitively in decision making and problem solving – leading from the front and by example.

BRUSH 360 Degree Feedback Report
This feedback gave a clear picture in relation to the infancy of the leadership role I am currently in and the make-up of the Commercial Team I have inherited. Some of the comments based on my strengths as colleagues perceived were as follows.

‘Shows a great determination to succeed and a passion to improve the Business processes for optimum effectiveness’.

‘Is developing well into her new role. Although there has been improvements made within the Department since her appointment a greater level of communication as a team will improve and meet the challenges of the future’.

‘Is very ambitious and will strive to ensure she is successful in her role/career. She is completely focussed on her team and is mindful of where the boundary of her responsibilities lies’.

‘Is quick to understand any given situation and can quickly assess the best way forward. She has a good understanding of the needs of the Department and the Business as a whole’.

Again in contrast some of the comments in relation to areas for development gave a clear indication of where I need to focus in relation to areas off improvement. I’ve again detailed some of these comments.

‘Needs to be mindful of the demands faced by others, and the needs of herself or her team are not the only priority within the Company. Individually and as a team development needs to take place to be more self-sufficient without the support from other areas for routine activities’.

‘Communicate more with staff’.

‘Needs to develop methods of communicating more efficiently and effectively with her team to get the best out of them and understand that ‘one size’ doesn’t fit all – adjustment if management style depending on who she is dealing with needs to be a focus area’.

‘One to one communication can be developed over the coming months and will come as fairly new to a managerial / leadership role with Aftermarket, which demands a different approach’.

AC 2.2
Describe appropriate actons to enhance own leadership behaviour in the context of the particular leadership model.

After reviewing each of the sources and taking what I believe are the common elements from each, I have prepared a number of improvement actions below which I plan to implement to help improve on my leadership skills.

I believe I need to assess and consider that the Leadership style I choose will vary according to organizational structure, people, environment, and task and will almost certainly contribute to the outcome achieved – either positively or negatively. I need to focus on my team as a whole and as individuals and adopt a style that suits – ensuring I look at the team and individuals attitudes, their competencies and how to get the work done maximising productivity / performance levels.

Awareness will be important in working effectively with diverse groups and individuals, regardless of any personal bias I may have. I think even more important for my learning and development will be to a show genuine interest with demonstrated respect of my teams ideas and allow constructive feedback to form part of our discussions.

So to enhance my leadership behaviour I will target reducing the level of authoritative style used and look to strengthen my consultative, supportive and delegative styles as a result being able to adapt to all given situations. I have documented a few areas over the coming months I will target – see below.

Team members development
Review regulary appraisal set objectives and identify strengths and improvement needs.

On-going thru 2015
Effective project management to clearly allocate responsibilities Create project plans
Improve communication skills with ‘other’ dept managers
Look to set up regular review meetings for feedback
Constructive feedback on leadership skills
Identify mentor
Review and support with any issues/problems/concerns and discuss objectives and targets Weekly commercial review meeting with team
On-going thru 2015
Enhance Aftermarket awareness and influence the perception that it is as a dynamic, pro-active business area, customer focused and driven by results. Influence and lead, by example, in leadership, communication & accountability. Driving discretionary behaviour which will change the ‘have to do’ to the ‘want to do’ seen in AFM growth.

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