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The Leadership Experience

Leadership is a shared responsibility. But as the adage goes “leaders are born, not made,” there are only a few people who could make a good captain of the ship (Anderson and Wasserman, 2001). To be a leader is more art than science. The personal styles of superb leaders vary. And just as important as the nature of the sea the captain is cruising over, different situations call for different types of leadership. Plenty of people are motivated by external factors such as a big salary or the status that comes from having an impressive title or being part of a prestigious company.

By contrast, those with leadership potential are motivated by a deeply embedded desire to achieve for the sake of achievement. These are the concepts and arguments raised by Richard Daft in his book The Leadership Experience, particularly in the two related chapters that embark upon followership and Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy (Daft, 2002). Daft introduced the book with a brief flashback to the period when the Ohio and Michigan studies paved the way for more leadership studies.

With the most difficult need in mind, the attitudes of managers, as organizational leaders, toward their people are of primary importance (Goleman, 2001).

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The studies carried out by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, the Michigan academics, and Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander point out that leadership is not just to have a powerful set of management skills but to be able to work well with the subordinates too at the outset (Blauner, 1999). Robert Blake and Jane Mouton of Scientific Methods, Inc. developed a two-dimensional grid analysis of leadership practices that managers can use.

The theory for this model, generally called the managerial grid, is based on the research at Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and the Group Dynamics Center (Goleman, 2001). At about the same time the Ohio State team was studying leadership, the Michigan team concluded that two factors account for most of the variance when leadership is measured and identified: employee orientation and production orientation. Employee orientation is directly related to what the Ohio State studies called consideration, and production orientation is similar to initiating structure (Blauner, 1999).

Interestingly, Daft says in Chapter 7 of the book that what makes a good follower makes a good leader. This is because leadership is not a tag solely worn by the leader; instead, the term leadership is used to emphasize that it is more important that the tasks of leadership be performed than to designate who must do (Daft, 2002). The leader is responsible for these necessary leadership tasks, but he or she may share these duties with qualified members and such members may have their own initiatives to assist or handle in keeping the undertaking on the track (Wofford, et al. , 2001).

Even if he is simply a member in a team, he could be as driven and immensely important as the leader as his achieve his full potential fulfilling leadership functions. He is confident that he can be all that he can be only the leader has to facilitate the satisfaction of this desire for self-actualization through the provision of opportunities that would allow him to exercise responsibility and creativity in their common endeavor (Daft, 2002). In the aspect of mutually gaining from the productive experience, employees should be able to trust the motives and integrity of their leaders.

The leaders are forced and driven to be cautiously appreciative of their people’s contribution that flows from high performance. They are expected to recognize that rewards must be psychological as well as financial, and strive for an atmosphere where each of their people can share the adventure and excitement of working at the company. It is the responsibility of management to create a productive environment where the organization’s values flourish (Wofford, et al. , 2001).

With followership, the member could develop his leadership potential through the affirmative climate fostered by democratic leadership (Kelley, 1992). Out of climate of continuous defensiveness evolve hostile attitudes and ways of reacting between the subordinates and the leader. When threats are posed to such an extent that hostility and destructive drives are excited, workers become rather motivated to uphold industrial action than production (Levine, 2003). It is undeniable that this leadership principle works both ways: productivity is highest when the group is cohesive.

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