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Best leadership style and managers

A new era began in 1987 when former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev initiated the policies of Glasnost, which provided openness and opportunities for critics, and perestroika, which promoted a restructuring of the economy. He probably initiated more changes in the latter part of the 1980s than any other person (Galuszka, 1990). In order to understand the person, it is necessary to look at his background and discover how he came to power and what kinds of leadership traits he possessed.

Gorbachev came from the southern farming region. Those who know him describe him as incorruptible, with a dislike for Stalinism. In a sense, he was an “outsider” who was very effective in networking,...

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... which began at Moscow University and continued throughout his political life. His eager-to-please style helped him to make contacts with powerful people. It has been reported that he read Dale Carnegie’s American best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People to improve his style (Hayes, 1990).

His dealings with people may have helped him to overcome failures such as his farm policies, which worked in one area but were very unsuccessful in other regions. Whether the changes in the former Soviet Union were the sole result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership style or due to the changing world order is hard to say. It may be simply that he was the right person for that particular time. Women as managers use a different style than men.

One study found that women see leadership as changing the self-interest of followers into concern for the total enterprise by using interpersonal skills and personal traits to motivate subordinates (Rosener, 1990). This interactive leadership style involves sharing information and power, inspiring participation, and letting people know that they are important. Men, in contrast, are more likely to see leadership as a sequence of transactions with their subordinates. Moreover, they more often use control of resources and the authority of their position to motivate their people.

This does not mean that all successful women and men use the respective leadership styles. Certainly, some men use “interactive leadership” in guiding their subordinates, and some women use the traditional command structure in directing their followers. In 1981, when Marisa Bellisario became Director and CEO of ITALTEL, a state-owned telecommunication equipment manufacturer in Italy, the company was in trouble: high loses, large debts, insufficient research and development, and an over staffed, unionized organization (Hodges, 1985).

Ms. Bellisario took some major steps to turn the company around and to improve productivity. Some of the examples of the new direction are, 1. Restructuring the organization in to business units. 2. Reducing the number of employees by more than one-third between 1980 and 1985, which was accomplished through open communication and co operation with the union. 3. Leading the company in to electronics which required re-training of the employees. 4. Developing a program to upgrade low-skilled women in the work force.

5. Pushing for intra-European co operation with companies in France, England and the then West Germany. 6. Improving efficiency through innovation in products and manufacturing processes. To conclude, leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they contribute willingly and enthusiastically toward group goals. Leadership requires followership. The approach to leadership, built on the assumption that leaders are the product of given situations, focuses on the study of situations.

Fiedler’s contingency approach takes into account the position power of the leader, the structure of the task, and the relations between the leader and group members. This learning provides the ultimate understanding that within a group, there has to be proper interpersonal relations developed between the leader and the followers. This would make the followers to like, trust and follow the leader. The conclu¬sion is that there is no one best leadership style and that managers can be successful if placed in appropriate situations.

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