In the investigation of the various characteristics and styles of leadership the emphasis of the style approach is the focus on the actions and behavioral characteristics of the leader. There are two behaviors of the style approach that researchers have observed: task behaviors and relationship behaviors (Northouse, 2007). People who are in roles of leadership should possess both behaviors to be successful in their position and maintain motivation and the quest for achievement in their subordinates. Task behaviors are those traits that keep others motivated to work to complete objectives.
Relationship behaviors are characteristics and actions that leaders possess that make others feel respected and want to work towards goals. Unlike other approaches to leadership, such as the trait approach, the style approach looks at a leader’s behaviors and actions. Balancing these two behaviors is the key to being an effective leader (Northouse, 2007). On page 86 of Northouse’s text, “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, I completed the style questionnaire and this report will detail the results of my questionnaire and how I will utilize this information when assuming a leadership position. Task behaviors
In my current position as an Instructional Designer, I create computer-based training (CBT) and instructor-led training for the U. S. Military and various international military groups, such as the Iraqi Navy. My position allows me to either work in a group with myself and other instructional designers, or as a lead in creating a training course with a group of multimedia designers. I have been in this position for almost 5 years now and have completed over seven CBTs and one instructor led course. My courses are typically of subject matter I do not have experience with, such as engineering or biological detection.
When it came to my score in the task behaviors of the style questionnaire, I scored in the moderately low range. I did expect this, as I do not have much experience in leading others to complete a task. With my media developers, I tend to let them know what I want and allow them to use their creative abilities to take control of the media they develop. I trust that they, unlike me, have the knowledge to design creative and effective media to enhance the course instruction. However, I do ensure that I lead them to focus on creating media that clarifies the objectives I need to complete for the course.
I do not have experience in being a leader in a situation where I am with a group of peers; therefore I knew my task behavior score would be below average. In one particular course, I tried to take a creative lead and purposely directed my media developers to develop media that I thought was correct, however, during the process of the course I quickly learned that I should have held a more passive role in the leadership process of the media content. Since the completion of that course, I have learned that sometimes to be a leader you must fail in order to learn what you should have done differently.
In this instance, I learned that in order to be a good leader to my media team, I need to communicate to them what I want and then allow them to take a creative lead to create meaningful media for the instruction. Monty Python, a writer and producer in the movie industry is quoted as saying, “It’s self-evident that if we can’t take the risk of saying or doing something wrong, our creativity goes right out the window…. The essence of creativity is not the possession of some special talent; it is much more the ability to play” (Bennis, 2003, p. 7). I understand now that I do not possess some of the talents that others do and that to be a leader you may have to step aside and allow others to lead, because they do, in fact, possess the needed abilities. What I can take from my task behavior score In future leadership positions, I understand now that being the leader does not mean always being the one in charge. However, I can be a more effective leader by recognizing that I am not always going to be the one that has the ability to accomplish the goals and objectives.
Being a good leader means being able to recognize the traits in your team members that are needed to complete tasks. An effective leader must be able to delegate tasks to team members they know can accomplish those tasks. As I move forward and work towards obtaining a leadership position, I will work towards being more focused on project definition and identifying roles and responsibilities for others in the group. In doing so, I will become more comfortable being a leader for task behaviors. Relationship behaviors
I am very much of a “people person”; this trait that I possess was a major factor in my choice to pursue adult learning as a career path. My results for the relationship behaviors from the style questionnaire scored in the very high range. I believe my behaviors with people stem from the way I was raised. Traits like “treats others fairly” and “shows concern for the well-being of others” are behaviors that were instilled in me at a very young age. At the age of 10 or 11, my father was bringing me to the local homeless shelter to help feed and care for the people.
He allowed me to sit closely with them and talk. I learned so much from the nights I spent with these people. They taught me that even though people make mistakes in their lives, that they are not bad people. That I did not need to fear what I did not know and that if I was non-judgmental and treated all people in a kind, caring manner that I would be rewarded for my good nature. Warren Bennis (2003) states that “what we do is a direct result of not only what and how we think, but what and how we feel as well” (p. 107).
I feel very strongly that the people are the heart of any organization and their satisfaction is an integral part of the strength and profitability of the organization. I also feel that others respect the fact that I am a genuine and empathetic person. As a leader, you must be relatable. Subordinates should feel comfortable and reassured that as long as they are working 100% toward completion of a goal that their work is appreciated and desired. This is the feelings that make people want to strive for higher standards. What I can take from my relationship behavior score
As a potential leader of an organization I can focus on ensuring employees are experiencing job satisfaction. Job satisfaction means so much to the level of production your employees produce for you. Leaders should be active in maintaining positive relationships with their employees to ensure they are aware of any situations where an employee feels overlooked or may cause an employee to underperform. Jack Rooney, President and CEO of U. S. Cellular, believes the goal of his organization is “to have satisfied associates because they deliver satisfied customers” (Bingham and Galagan, 2007, p. 4). Satisfaction means much more than just monetary pay and benefits, job satisfaction involves how the employee feels they fit in with the organization, department, and their coworkers. Job satisfaction also involves feeling like the employees work is meaningful and important to the success of the organization. U. S. Cellular has one of the highest retention rates in the customer service industry” (Bingham and Galagan, p. 47), Jack Rooney equates this to the fact that, “We treat them with respect. We train them well. We listen to them.
We give them coaches who have been taught to lead in terms of a dynamic organization. We try to make them feel that they’re the most important people in the company. We treat them professionally. If they have a problem—let’s say their paycheck is messed up—I’ll get a ‘Listen, Jack. ’ We get it straightened out in no time flat (Bingham and Galagan, 2007, p. 47). Conclusion Leadership is an important role to undertake and one must be fully aware of the adversity and situations that may arise that will test their leadership strengths and weaknesses.
Questionnaires like the style questionnaire on page 86 of the Northouse text, allows leaders to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in their leadership abilities, and reflect on where they need to grow. Some people, like me are not as focused on task behaviors that work consistently on effective outcomes, but more focused on the relationship side of the inner workings of a team or group. In each situation, a leader may have to choose the lesser of their focus. These are the times that the leader must be confident in their abilities to be an effective leader using traits and behaviors that may not come as easily to them.
Being flexible and adaptable, however, is what makes a good leader. Ultimately, being an effective and highly desired leader would mean a person possess’ both the task and relationship behaviors in the style approach to leadership. References Bennis, W. (2003). On becoming a leader. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. Bingham, T. and Galagan, P. (2007, May). At C level: there are no happy losers. T+D, 61(5), 42-48. Northouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.