Hersey-Blanchard theory and leadership style analysis

By | May 20, 2013

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1.        Question one

Using Hersey-Blanchard theory, identify John Terrill’s leadership style. What were its strengths and weaknesses?

 

The Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership model is constructed on the premise that leadership styles need to change to fit the employee readiness in term of their competence which is based on the job experience and skills, and the job commitment which is measured by the willingness and the desire to finish the job (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson 2008, p.142). The situational leadership theory is holding a contrasting view about leadership with the trait theory which is generally considered as the first modem theory of leadership by proposing that certain innate personal traits could be found commonly in the leaders, such traits include intelligence, self-confidence, determination and integrity and so on (Shriberg & Shriberg 2011, p.66). Like other behavioral theories of leadership, Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership also tends to focus on the actions of the successful leaders and the way how the actions could be developed and trained.

 

Table 1 Hersey Blanchard situational leadership model

Source: (Baker 2010, p.166)

 

As said just now, the Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership model is constructed on the premise that leadership styles need to change to fit the follower readiness and maturity based on how ready and willing they are to performed the required tasks (Mackay 2007, p.65) in term of the employee competence and how motivated they are to do the job. There are four combinations of readiness and willingness and also the model proposes four leadership styles for the four combinations as the table displays.

 

1.1    Telling (a high task and low relationship style)

 

When the followers are incompetent in term of lacking the required skills and knowledge to finish the specific tasks, and also followers are unwilling to do the job, the model suggests that the leaders should use a “telling” leadership style to give specific directions and closely supervising the work process in case that the followers will need timely assistance (Schermerhorn 2010, p.239).

 

1.2    Selling (a high task and high relationship style)

 

With a high task and high relationship requirement situation where followers lack capability but are willing or secured about the task, the selling leadership style emphasizes on the task guidance to encourage the followers to perform in the desired and requested way through persuasion (Sargeant & Jay 2010, p.376).

 

1.3    Participating (a low task and high relationship style)

 

Marked by low task and high relationship, the participating leadership style emphasizes the sharing of the ideas and engagement in participative decision-making because the followers are able to do the job but with low job commitment and feeling insecure. In this style, leaders are expected to focus more on the aspects that can enhance the relationship among the followers and the relationship between the subordinates and the leader (Kapena 2000, p.30).

1.4    Delegating (a low task and low relationship style)

 

The delegating leadership style will be the most effective when the subordinates are very high in ability and motivation, they are able to work and have high motivation to finish the job without too much involvement of the leaders to guide their work. In this situation, the leaders could empower the employees to do the job with high responsibility because they are able and willing to do so.

 

1.5    John Terrill’s leadership style

 

With the help of Hersey-Blanchard theory, we can see how John Terrill led the team after he became the manager in charge of the technical services division of DGL international. In term of the leadership style selection, from the case we can see John Terrill adopted a participating leadership style to manage the followers in this particular situation. The reasons why his leadership style was participating leadership include: (1) firstly John Terrill had a low task orientation because did not spent too much time and energy in telling the followers how to get their job done and what’s more as said in the case the 20 engineers in the technical services division were the highest paid and best educated employees, so John Terrill did not need to work on tasks by telling the employees how to do their work. And in a word they were capable of doing their job without John Terrill careful direction; (2) secondly as discussed above, marked by low task and high relationship, the participating leadership style emphasizes the sharing of the ideas and engagement in participative decision-making because the followers are able to do the job but with low job commitment and feeling insecure. In this case, the relationship between the employees and the management was not good as they have a lot of disagreements with the management’s decisions and way of doing their jobs which caused low job commitment and feeling insecure to the tasks. And we can John Terrill’s high leadership orientation in his participating leadership style which was the most obvious when he at the beginning grouped up the employees and encouraged them to tell him the problems that their concerns which showed his intensions to enhance the relationship between the subordinates and the leader.

 

By adopting a participating leadership style in this scenario as stated in the case, there are strengths and weaknesses that could help us better understand the leadership behaviors under this participating leadership style. The strengths include: (1) It is suitable when the followers are capable but with low commitment and feeling insecure in doing the tasks. (2) It helps find out the reasons behind the bad relationships and conflicts between the management and the followers by gathering information through encouraging the participation of the followers in the relative decision making process and share their opinions. (3) It helps increase the employee motivation and commitment to do their job. But there are also disadvantages by adopting a participating leadership style which includes: (1) Lower efficiency of decision making will be caused if the participation of employees in the decision making is introduced which means that managers need to consult with a number of relative employees and managers before they can make a decision then this will increase the time that is spent in the decision making process; (2) Secondly, because the introduction of the employees in the decision making and strategy forming process, sometimes the companies need to (3) Thirdly, while employees become accustomed to the participating leadership, they will tend to want to know more about the management things in term of what should be done and why this need to be done, and this will absolutely distract the employees from the work that they should have been focusing. And in this case, when the employees are too much concentrating on the conflicts between their department and the higher management team, then it is sure that they will not keep very high work efficiency.

 

 

 

2.        Question two

 

What do you think was John Terrill’s primary source of power? Do you think it is effective?

 

Power could be simply understood as the ability to influence others to achieve desired goals (French & Raven 1960). And another concept that is relative to the concept of power is empowerment which was defined by Manojlovich (2007) as the process by which we facilitate the participation of others in decision making and taking action within an environment where there is equitable distribution of power. Manojlovich (2007) also concluded two major traits of power: (1) The first trait of power is that it the usage of power could be learned through life and working experience, this is to say that people would not know how to use power to influence others until they learn the method by following others or figure it out by themselves (2) The second trait of power is power is situational in term of that people use different types of power in different scenarios.

 

French and Raven (1960) proposed that there are five common bases or source of power which are coercive, reward, expert, legitimate and referent. And every type or base of power will enhance a person’s capacity to influence the attitudes or behaviors of others (Sullivan-Marx & Gray-Miceli 2008, p.73).

 

2.1    Coercive power

 

The source of coercive power is actually based on the fear and ability to punish. The coercive power is usually considered as using power inn a negative way to achieve the desired results. The coercive power is very common in our daily life since one is a child because parents and teachers tend to use coercive power to push the children to do what they say and not to do what is banned. And even the working environment, managers will also use coercive power by issuing various forms of punishments when jobs can’t be done timely and well. While this type of base of power is commonly used and it is a direct and effective way to influence others to achieve the desired results but it also has its constraints. One of the most evident constrains of coercive power in the work is that this kind of power could not motivate the employees from their heart to make them excel.

 

2.2    Reward power

 

Reward power is obtained by the ability to grant favors or reward others with whatever they value and it is the opposite of coercive power (Marquis & Huston 2009, p.296). Though it is generally believed that the giving out of reward tends to develop a great deal of loyalty and devotion toward the leaders, the most significant disadvantage of using reward power compared with using coercive power is that it will incur cost to provide sufficient incentives to motivate the followers to do the jobs and what’s more sometimes if the jobs are too difficult the followers would rather giving up the potential rewards and this will in return result in the ineffectiveness of the rewards promised.

 

2.3    Expert power

 

The power derived from expert knowledge, expertise and experience is fundamental for any profession (Hegyvary 2003). But this type of power is limited to a specialized area because of the professionalism and specialty of the knowledge. The expert power is extremely important for the high task orientation leadership as the leaders need to direct the followers about how to do the jobs. And in the field with specialized knowledge, an outside manager without the relative professional background could not make further progress in the manager position.

 

2.4    Legitimate power

 

Legitimate power is position power which is acquired by a title or official position within an organization. For instance, a manager’s position power is based on his position in the hierarchical structure which authorizes him the power over the subordinates in his specific area of responsibility. Because of the authorization from the company to the managers, the employees will tend to positively react to the managers’ directions and expectations (Kumar & Mittal 2001, p.394).

 

2.5    Referent power

 

The referent power or charismatic power is based upon the attraction exerted by one individual over the others. Different from other types of power, referent power could not be obtain from a specific position but it is from the personal charisma to attract the followers to associate with the leaders. With the referent power, the employees are more than willing to follow the leaders in a way that the leaders want them to act in. The referent power is also common as like how the fans follows the movies starts simply because they love the stars.

 

2.6    John Terrill’s primary source of power – Legitimate power

 

In my opinion John Terrill’s primary source of power is “Legitimate power”, it is the position power that is based on his position in the hierarchical structure which authorizes him the power over the subordinates in his specific area of responsibility. John Terrill was brought in by the company executives to manage the technical services division, and as a manager, he was empower with the position power as prescribed in the company’s structure and system. With the legitimate power, he was enabled to make the necessary decisions and ensured that these decisions were followed and carried out well by the subordinates. He was able to call for a meeting which was participated by the engineers and collect the information from the engineers about why they could not be productive and efficient and later he also required to stop sending the technical reports to the headquarter but to send to his office. And the most important expression about John Terrill’s legitimate power was that he was able to negotiate on the behalf of the technical engineers to fight for their rights to work effectively and focus on the engineering job.

 

And from what we can see in the case, and in my opinion the legitimate power of John Terrill was rather effective to enable him to get to know the real situation behind the low productivity and later prepare a shown down to the executives and as we can see that the show down not only largely represent the engineers’ hope but it also bewildered the present and other senior executives. And because of the company’s empowerment for him to turnaround the low productivity which was considered as abnormal, we can say that there would be high possibility that the president would find his finding and recommendations of great value as John Terrill was hired and given the power to do this job though some adaptations may be needed.

 

3.        Question three

 

Henry Mintzberg’s research indicates that diverse manager activities can be organized into ten roles. Identify two of these roles that John Terrill performed in carrying out his duty.

 

Professor Henry Mintzberg is an internationally famous academic and author on business and management with a number of theories developed under his names and one of which is the managerial roles or manager roles. With observations and subsequent research Henry Mintzberg managed to conclude that managers’ activities can be organized into ten roles (Kurke & Aldrich 1983). And each of the ten managerial roles represents the activities that a manager would undertake to ultimately accomplish the functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling (Daft & Marcic 2008, p.17).

 

Figure 1 Henry Mintzberg’s management roles

Source: Martin &Fellenz 2010, p.192

 

As illustrated in the figure, the ten management roles could be group under three headings called interpersonal, informational and decisional. The interpersonal roles reflect the interaction that that a manager would need to make with others which include the roles of figurehead, leader and liaison. For example, when a manager receives and sends out emails and making calls to maintain the information links both inside and outside the organization, he or she is actually performing a liaison role by doing this kind of job. And the second kinds of management roles are informational roles and this type of roles also have three different roles: monitor, disseminator and spokesperson. The informational roles reflect how the information is collected, passed within the company and transmitting to the outside users (Koontz & Weihrich 2008, p.16). And the decisional roles are the roles that the managers have to play in order to meet the decision making requirements within the particular managerial job. They are entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator. According to Henry Mintzberg (1973), entrepreneur is the job in which a manager identifies ideas and delegates the idea responsibility to others; the role of disturbance handler will help the managers to resolve the conflicts among the subordinates and get adapted to the changed environments; resource allocator will determinate who will get the resources which could be in forms of various priorities, schedule and budgets; and the last role negotiator depicts the role that manager plays in case of negotiation in representative of the his or her department with other departments, labor unions and so on.

 

There are two major manager roles that John Terrill performed in carrying out his duty in this case.

 

3.1    The role of Negotiator

 

The first role that John Terrill performed in achieving the turnaround of the technical service department is the role of negotiator. The reasons why John Terrill was playing the role of negotiator are three fold: firstly, John Terrill was in representative of the technical service department and the expected result that he tried to achieve was to reduce the burden of the engineers to write the long and think technical reports that were in rare used by other departments and the management team members of the company; secondly, in order to prepare for the final negotiation John Terrill had identified the problems by talking to the engineers and also he had collected enough of the evident to prove his view by accumulating a whole month’s technical report and calculate how often the reports were requested by the other departments and senior executives; thirdly, John Terrill had prepared the possible solutions that could be accepted by the both parties. The suggestion that he had was to replace the current report system to a brief monthly report from the manager office and this solution could be viable by meeting the both side needs to abandon the “pencil pusher” job and increase the productivity in the technical service department. So we can observe that John Terrill had used several negotiations skills while he was playing the negotiation role.

3.2    The role of Disturbance handler

 

Another role that John Terrill performed is “disturbance handler” which is the role of manager aiming to help the managers to resolve the conflicts among the subordinates and get adapted to the changed environments. The rationality for the role of disturbance handler is also three fold: firstly, before the arrival of John Terrill the disturbance was already there and the most important reason why he was appointed as the manager of the technical service division was that the company hoped that John Terrill could make a turnaround in term of productivity and efficiency in the engineering work; secondly, as mentioned previously John Terrill did found out the root reasons for the disturbance which was the overload paper work and also he tried to offer a solutions that can help resolve the disturbance and restore the normal production in the technical service department; thirdly, John Terrill did work hard in term of the negotiation work to on one hand get the support from the engineers and negotiate on behalf of them and also to on the other hand provide enough of evident to the management to make them understand the problem so that the disturbance could be understood and further handled by both sides.

 

4.        Question four

 

Do you think gender makes a difference when it comes to leadership style? Use examples and literature to support your stand.

 

There are various theories, experience and models that are supportive to the gender difference in the leadership styles. Marilyn Londen (1985) had proposed the models of feminine and masculine leadership which she grounded in both social cultural and biological explanation. There are five dimensions in teach of Londen’s model: operating style, organizational structure, basic objective, problem solving style and key characteristics.

 

Table 2 Male and female leadership models

Source: Londen (1985)

 

In term of the key characteristics, masculine leadership was described as competitive, high control, strategic, unemotional and analytical while the feminine leadership was described as cooperative, lower control, empathic, collaborative and high performance standards. This is in consistence with a number of leadership studies conducted in laboratory setting suggesting that men seem to be more task-oriented whereas women are more interpersonally-oriented (Dimock & Devine 1994, p.21). And accordingly as we can observe from the our working experiences that male leaders tend to use a directive leadership and women leaders tend to use a participative leadership style.

 

Upon creating the Male and female leadership models, Marilyn Londen (1985) like many other feminists held that women’s dispositions in term of the five dimensions are different from that of male leaders and the feminists tend to be identifying, emphasizing and valorizing these differences so as to better eliminate biases against women (Brown & Szeman 2000, p.126). Even the feminists have long claimed that the feminine leadership is as valuable as the masculine leadership though there are differences between the masculine leadership and the feminine leadership, but the women leadership is continually discriminated and women leaders have not received similar attention in the organizations. Another phenomena that is supportive to the leadership style is the “Glass Ceiling” which is not easy to been observed but it does stops the women leaders from reaching the top in the hierarchy (Yukl 2006). For example, according to a survey done on the top leadership positions such as women’s share of parliamentary or congressional seats, US women have only 14% of the seats, Russian women 10% and similar results are also found in other countries (The World’s Women, 2005). The “Glass Ceiling” phenomena shows that because of the different deposition of the leadership styles that the male leaders and female leaders tend to have, organizations tend to employ male leaders in the top positions because finishing tasks and goals seems to be the common goal of all the business entities that are set up the chase more profits. In conclusions, there are differences when it comes to leadership styles.

 

5.        Question five

 

If you were president of DGI International, would you recommend modifications in John Terrill’s leadership style that you would like him to adopt? Do you think it will be possible for John Terrill to make the necessary changes? Why

 

5.1    Recommendations from the president of DGI international

 

If I am the president of DGI International, I would have the following recommendations in term of modifications in John Terrill’s leadership style that I would like him to adopt in order for him to increase the leadership effectiveness and avoid some problems from happening again.

 

5.1.1            Keep the leadership style adaptive

 

The first advice in term of modifications in John Terrill’s leadership style is to remind him to keep the leadership style adaptive to the situation which could be changing with time. As mentioned above, John Terrill’s leadership style in this case was participating leadership according to the Hersey-Blanchard model because the task orientation is low and leadership orientations is high as the followers are capable but with low working commitment, but if the followers continue to become more mature John Terrill may need to change his leadership style from participating to delegating which will be the most effective when the subordinates are very high in ability and motivation, they are able to work and have high motivation to finish the job without too much involvement of the leaders to guide their work.

 

5.1.2            Increased the expert power

 

As mentioned earlier, the major source of power of John Terrill as the manager of the technical service department is the legitimate power which is obtained from the position as prescribed in the company structure and hierarchy. And here another suggestion would be to encourage him to become more professional to increase his expert power in his manager position which is derived from expert knowledge, expertise and experience is fundamental for any profession (Hegyvary 2003). And the increase in the expert power is extremely important in a technical department. And in the field with specialized knowledge, an outside manager without the relative professional background could not make further progress in the manager position.

 

 

 

5.1.3            Change the operating style from competitive to cooperative

 

One more recommendation provide to John Terrill is to control his masculine leadership and change the operating style from pure competitive to a little cooperative. Though the operating style of male leaders is considered as competitive while the female counterparts are considered as cooperative, but such stereotype is not absolute and also in practice a manager need to change the way of acting as a leader by different situations. For example, while the show down was carried out by John Terrill in a very competitive way and his behaviors showed that he want to win and make the thing go like what he desired but actually he needed to take into consideration of the executives’ feeling who may probably request reports to be summated to the headquarter, and by adopting a little cooperative leadership, John Terrill could do a better in this case and persuade the both parties to settle the disturbance more willing and accept the solution without resistance.

 

5.1.4            Enhance the managerial role of entrepreneur

 

According to Henry Mintzberg (1973), the managerial role entrepreneur is the role by playing which a manager identifies ideas in strategy making and delegates the idea responsibility to others. And the departmental head of the technical services division, I will advise John Terrill to work harder to enhance his role of entrepreneur in term of take a more influential role in the strategy forming and decision making process which could further utilize the technical department in helping the company in the business development.

 

5.2    Possibility to make changes to leadership styles

 

And in the topic whether leadership style could be changed or not, as mentioned above that in the situational leadership theory which has been discussed, the situational view holds a contrasting view about leadership with the trait theory which is proposing that certain innate personal traits could be found commonly in the leaders, such traits include intelligence, self-confidence, determination and integrity and so on (Shriberg & Shriberg 2011, p.66). But situational leadership theories such as Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership tend to focus on the actions of the successful leaders and the way how the actions could be developed and trained, so according to the situational theories, managers could change their leadership styles by bringing in adaptations in the leadership behaviors and such adaptations could be learned through the pass leadership behaviors or by taking training programs to learn to necessary techniques and skills to change the leadership styles in the work place.

 

And in the case of John Terrill in DGL International, he could make the changes that have been recommended above in his leadership practice, and it is possible for him to make the changes because leadership styles are situational and there is no best leadership style in the world that could be suitable in all the scenarios in term of different maturity levels of the followers, company hierarchies and industries in which the companies are operating in. And actually in our working experiences, we can also witness that some managers have to adopt different manager roles when they are relocated to new positions that they are not familiar with.

Reference

 

Baker, D. 2010, Multi-Company Project Management: Maximizing Business Results Through Strategic Collaboration. Fort Lauderdale: J. Ross Publishing, Inc, p.166

 

Brown, N. & Szeman, I. 2000, Pierre Bourdieu: fieldwork in culture. Oxford: Rowman & littlefield Publishers, Inc, p.126

 

Daft, R. L. & Marcic, D. 2008, Understanding Management. Mason: South-Western, Cengage Learning. p.17

 

Dimock, H. & Devine, I. 1994, Making workgroups effective. Concord, ON: Captus Press Inc, p.21

 

French, J. P. R. & Raven, B. 1960. The bases of social power. Group Dynamics. Evanston, IL: Row and Peterson. Pp.607-623

 

Hegyvary, S. T. 2003. Foundations of professional power. Journal of nursing scholarship, 35(2), 104

 

Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H. & Johnson, D. 2008, Management of organizational behavior: Leading human resource. 9th edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p.142

 

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Londen, M. 1985. Feminine leadership, or how to succeed in business without being one of the boys. New York: Times, Books

 

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Mintzberg, H. 1973. The nature of managerial work. New York: Harper & Row, p.92, 93

 

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Shriberg, A. & Shriberg, D. 2011, Practicing Leadership Principles and Applications. 4th edition, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p.66

 

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Yukl, G. 2006. Leadership in organizations, 6th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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