Dr Ugboaja JO
I most warmly welcome all of us to this week’s edition of leadership series which deals with the various types of leadership. The last edition looked at theories of leadership including the classical theories, the path to goal theory, the new leadership theories, the Hersey-Blanchard’s Model of Situational Leadership and Fiedler’s Contingency theory. We were able to establish that there is no one-fits-all theory and effective leadership requires the application of different theories and methods as the situation warrants.
This edition will focus on the types of leadership which, to some extent overlaps and aligns with the theories. The aim is to enable you practice these leadership types and styles in your various organizations in order to improve productivity. We will be discussing formal / informal leadership, supportive leadership, transformational leadership and transactional leadership. Others include charismatic, bureaucratic, situational, laissez faire and autocratic leadership styles.
Let’s start with formal Leadership: This is perhaps your idea of leadership and it’s simply a leadership position conferred on a person by virtue of his or her position in the organization. The position of the Head of Nursing of a Teaching hospital for example is a leadership position established by the organization. Formal leadership has some key concepts. Firstly, they are appointed and this appointment establishes the legitimacy of the leader’s authority. The Head of Nursing Services of a Teaching hospital is appointed by the Board of the hospital. On the other hand, if you are in a group working on a project and you are appointed by your team members to be the team lead, you don’t have formal leadership because your authority is not established by the organization.
Secondly, Rules, procedures, and customs of an organization define the power and limits of the formal leader. For example, the Head of nursing in a Teaching Hospital earlier referred to may be the most powerful employee of that department, but she is still bound and constrained by the hospital’s policies on how to discipline an employee which she must follow. A formal leader must be conversant with these rules and policies. Additionally, formal leadership is limited. This means that members of staff may follow the orders of a formal leader, but they may not be motivated to go the extra mile. It is the duty of the formal leader to enlist other leadership attributes in order to motivate and bring out the best in their employees. Formal authority will not achieve that.
In Summary, Formal leadership is authority conferred upon a member of an organization based on the position the member holds in the organization. It is a good idea for a leader with formal leadership to supplement his authority and influence with other forms of authority.
The next type of leadership is Informal Leadership which can be seen as the opposite of formal leadership. This leadership is not conferred by the organization and less known and less practiced. If you have ever been in a position where, even though you weren’t a manager or supervisor, your co-workers looked up to you to solve day-to-day problems as they come up, then you’re already familiar with informal leadership.
Simply put, Informal leadership is the ability of a person to influence the behavior of others by means other than formal authority as conferred by the organization. Informal leaders have several bases of power. They use referent power (leading by example), expert power (possessing knowledge and skills which no one else has in the organization making other people to look for them) to influence people. They can’t use legitimate or formal power because their authority was not formally established by the organization. Also, they cannot use coercive power much because effective use of coercive power tends to require legitimate authority as established by the organization.
In Summary, A formal leader should augment his/her authority with informal leadership tenets and powers to effectively influence his/her subordinates while we are all called to exhibit informal leadership skills in our places of work.
Next We will continue this lesson by looking at the Transactional leadership versus Transformational leadership styles- The transactional leader uses the concept of actions and reactions to motivate, manage and guide employees to success. Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is quite true when you think about it. For example, when you smile at a stranger on the street, they, typically, will smile back; when you sneeze someone responds by saying bless you; matching the throttle of your car causes you to accelerate; cheating on your spouse can end in a divorce; and coming late to work repeatedly might get you fired. This action/reaction rule of life is what guides most of our daily behaviors.
The transactional leader, a concept introduced by Max Weber in 1947 and then reiterated by Bernard Bass in 1981, views management as a sequence of transactions where the actions of subordinates result in either a reward or a punishment. The reward or punishment is contingent upon performance. The assumption is that employees are motivated by extrinsic rewards, which are things like money, paid time off and other bonus-type incentives. Using their authority as a manager, the transactional leader gives orders to subordinates and expects that the reaction will be adherence to the commands. Those individuals who do conform to the requests of the transactional leader are rewarded and anyone who fails to is punished. Since the leader is usually higher on the chain of command than the subordinate is, the employee is expected to follow the orders given by the leader. The transactional leader’s power to direct subordinates comes from their formal authority and responsibility in the organization.
While this leadership approach is not generally recommended now, it can actually be utilized to improve productivity in the sense that it clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both managers and their employees and so everybody knows they are here for business and because the employees are expected to be responsible for their own actions, there is increased accountability throughout the entire organization.. It also promotes a healthy motivation in employees to work diligently towards organizational goals, knowing that when they do succeed, they will be rewarded.
Conversely, Transformational leaders are known for their innovation and influence. These are not transactional or routine leaders. They are leaders who are visionary, challenge the status quo and inspire the employees to another level of success. The premise of Transformational leadership is that our initial impressions of people may not be completely accurate – that buried deep below the surface, lies more than what we initially can see and hence the phrase, ‘more than meets the eye.’ Therefore, the Transformational leader works continuously to expose the potential of his/her followers and by extension, the organization to bring them to the next level of success.
Transformational leaders are relevant in contemporary business today due to their flexible, innovative, inspirational and change-savvy personalities. When it comes to creating and sustaining the competitive advantage, the transformational leadership style is most effective due to the ability to transcend the status quo and bring organizations into their desirable future. Much like a breath of fresh air, the transformational leader creates enthusiasm and revitalizes organizations. This enthusiasm is generated in several ways which includes Idealized influence in which he/she demonstrates to the subordinates that the leader can walk the talk. Essentially, the transformational leader serves as a role model to followers by living by the same principles that he or she expects of their followers. Charismatic leadership is another tool used by the TL. Ideally, the transformational leader is a charismatic leader, who has the ability to arouse a sense of excitement, motivation and assurance among the followers.
Transformational leaders show genuine concern for the needs and feelings of their followers through a concept termed called individualized consideration. Examples of individualized consideration include things like mentoring employees one-on-one, delegating tasks to deserving people and maintaining a high level of communication with followers. Each follower is treated as an individual. The transformational leader spends time recognizing the differences in the followers.
Lastly, the transformational leader is intellectually stimulating by encouraging creativity and innovation when formulating potential solutions to organizational problems. By allowing the followers to participate in the design, implementation and review of organizational plans, the transformational leader is able to stir the imagination, excitement and commitment of followers in a way that facilitates the attainment of organizational goals. Much of the transformational leader’s time is spent trying to convince followers to transcend their personal interests for the sake of organizational progress and development.
While idealized influence, charisma, individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation pave the way for the transformational leader to gain the support of followers, what sets the transformational leader apart from many other leaders is the ability to influence others to follow them through vision, framing and impression management. Vision is central to transformational leadership as he or she usually paints the picture of the desirable future for followers, detailing out their individual roles in the process and how they will be affected by the desired change. The Transformational leader (TL) must provide the followers with a plan in measureable terms on how they will accomplish their tasks, which will aid in the achievement of some organizational goal. He must break the task and goal into smaller, measurable tasks with time frame and methods of evaluation. This he or she does with Framing.
Also, a transformational leader must take steps to control how he /she is viewed by his or her followers so as to continue to influence, motivate and inspire them. He or she must be seen as competent, knowledgeable and deserving of leadership role in the organization and must also be seen as transparent and above board and by so doing forms a special bond with their followers built on trust, personal integrity and genuine concern for them. He achieves this with Impression management. Overall, once a leader is seen as charismatic, trustworthy, confident, admirable and committed to the organization, followers are more than willing to identify with his/her vision and purposes.
Finally, Transformational leaders practice management by exception by providing autonomy to the followers and intervening only when there is a problem. Followers are converted into leaders by the transformational leader, who empowers them to commit to actions that align with the vision. He is not a micromanager.
Let’s conclude this session with Participative or Democratic Leadership
Those leaders who take their time to share with their employees and encourage their participation in the decision making process are referred to as participative leaders otherwise known as democratic leaders. They include their subordinates in the decision making process and encourage them to be creative, innovative and hardworking. The subordinates are invited to make inputs into workplace affairs including the formulation and implementation of organizational policies.
This creates a lot of buy-ins among the subordinates who are more involved and willing to work towards achieving whatever decisions that have been taken because they were part of the decision making process. Employees tend to have a higher level of productivity and job satisfaction because they feel valued by their manager and that what they say or feel actually matter. This is in contrast to the autocratic leader who rarely will involve the subordinates in decision making.
Notwithstanding the immense value in participative or democratic leadership, decision making process can be extremely slow at times but inevitability leads to good results. Also the employees might resent the participative leader who only listens to their ideas but never implements them as they not only want to be able to express their ideas and opinions, but want to see them put into action. Doing otherwise can lead to low employee motivation, skepticism and feelings of betrayal.
In conclusion, we have looked at the different types of leadership. As we highlighted earlier, no one leadership style fits all situations. Leaders are encouraged to adapt their styles in different situations to get maximum cooperation and productivity from the subordinates. The leadership styles that involve, motivate and encourage subordinates are thought to be the best in the contemporary organizational management. The next edition will look at some of the less popular leadership styles like autocratic or authoritarian, servant, laissez faire and bureaucratic leadership styles. Enjoy your week and please stay safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Ugboaja Joseph is an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist by training and currently Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi and Director, Clinical services, Research & Training as well as chairman, Taskforce on Covid-19 of the hospital. He holds Postgraduate fellowships in Obstetrics & Gynaecology of National Postgraduate Medical College, Nigeria (FMCOG), West Africa College of Surgeons (FWACS) and International College of Surgeons (FICS). He joined the Hospital management in 2014 as the deputy CMAC, a position he held for 4 years. He was subsequently appointed the CMAC in 2017 for the initial tenure of 2 years which ended in 2019. He was reappointed in 2019 for the final tenure of 2 years as the CMAC of the hospital. His tenure as the CMAC of the hospital brought a lot of innovative changes and improvement in services under the leadership of the CMD, Prof AO Igwegbe. These include the introduction and formation of the NAUTH Research Society, the pain and palliative care unit, Total Quality Management System, Clinicopathologic Conference series and the NAUTH Cancer Society. Other initiatives he introduced include the formation of the Quality Improvement Committee, Minimal Access Surgery Committee, Laboratory Quality Management System as the Annual NAUTH Scientific Conference and the best Researchers award.
Dr Ugboaja has attended several workshops, trainings and conferences on Strategic leadership and healthcare management including those organized by the administrative college of Nigeria (ASCON). He is an Associate of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria.(IMCON). He believes in transformational leadership and also believes, strongly that leaders should be altruistic, inspiring, motivational, transparent and accountable.