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“Leadership” is probably the single most discussed topic in business literature today. An effective leader can inspire an organization to produce better quality products, ensure first-rate service to its customers, and make amazing profits for its stockholders. An ineffective leader, on the other hand, can not only negatively impact products, services, and profits, but ineffective leaders can also bring down an organization to the point of ruin. There should be no surprise that organizational leaders are very important and leave a lasting legacy not just on the companies they run but also on society as a whole. Table 7.1 "Management vs. Leadership" contains a list of some important business leaders (you may or may not have heard of) from the 20th and 21st Centuries along with a brief description of what they accomplished. This amazing list of business leaders run the gamut from the small-town entrepreneur to people taking the helm at large international organizations. All of them are leaders, but their organizations vary greatly in what they deliver and their general purpose (both for-profit and non-profits).
Table 7.1 Management vs. Leadership
|Jeff Bezos||Amazon.com||Revolutionized how people buy products using the internet and then spurred a secondary revolution in the use of electronic books with the Amazon Kindle.|
|Steve Case||America Online||Founded Quantum Computer Services (eventually America Online), which became the largest online service in the world. His leadership and championing of a flat-rate fee for internet subscribers ultimately made the internet accessible for the masses.|
|Cynthia Carroll||Anglo American||After becoming CEO of Anglo American in 2007, a large international energy company based out of London, Carroll became very concerned over the number of fatalities in its South African mining facility. After another fatality, she shut the mining operation down for indefinitely shut down the operation and invited all relevant stakeholders to the table to discuss mining safety. Her leadership ultimately led to a complete retraining of mine workers and a revolution in mining safety in South Africa. Her leadership on the topic led to a 62% reduction in fatalities within her own company in just five years.|
|Joan Ganz Cooney||Sesame Workshop||Founded the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) and invited the collaboration of Jim Henson. Today, there are 145 Sesame Workshop locations around the world creating unique and culturally specific programs for young children. Sesame Street has won 118 Emmys, more than any other show in history, and 8 Grammys over the years.|
|Ruth Fertel||Ruth’s Hospitality Group||After taking out a second mortgage on her home to purchase a local New Orleans’ steak house in 1965 she named Ruth’s Chris Steak House, she grew the chain to more than 75 locations around the world. Now the company has multiple restaurant chains and is publicly traded on the stock market.|
|Ruth Handler||Mattel & Nearly Me||Cofounder of the giant children’s toy empire Mattel. Her most lasting legacy is probably the creation of the Barbie and Ken dolls. After retiring from Mattel, she heads the Nearly Me company, which sold prosthetic devices for victims of breast cancer.|
|Hu Maoyuan||SAIC Motor Corporation||Maoyuan is the CEO of the SAIC Motor Corporation, the largest state-run automotive manufacturer in China. Historically, the organization has used partnerships with other automotive giants (e.g., GM, Volkswagon, etc.) to fuel its automotive needs. Under Maoyuan’s leadership he is now trying to be an exporter of Chinese engineered and built cars around the world.|
|Howard Schultz||Starbucks||After buying out the founders of Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice, he created the niche industry of corner coffee shops. In an era when coffee consumption and sales were in a decline, Schultz created the largest coffee company and revolutionized how people socialized in society.|
While the above list of diverse leaders is interesting, examining what others have done (and are doing) is not necessarily the best way to help us understand what “leadership” actually is. However, before we can explain what “leadership” is, we need to differentiate between two terms that are often confused for each other: management and leadership.
When one hears the word “management,” there is an immediate corporatization of the concept that tends to accompany the term. However, management (the noun) or managing (the verb) are very important parts of any organization. With the rise of the modern corporation during the industrial revolution, there was a decent amount of research examining how one should manage. For our purposes, we define the term manageThe communicative process where an individual or group of individuals helps those below them in an organizational hierarchical structure accomplish the organization’s goals. as the communicative process where an individual or group of individuals helps those below them in an organizational hierarchical structure accomplish the organization’s goals. Notice that the term is communication focused and active. Meaning that managing is something that is active and ongoing. Therefore, managementThose individuals who use communication to help an organization achieve its goals through the proper utilization of the organization’s resources (e.g., employees, facilities, etc…). would refer to those individuals who use communication to help an organization achieve its goals through the proper utilization organizational resources (e.g., employees, facilities, etc…). Theodore Levitt describes management thusly:
Management consists of the rational assessment of a situation and the systematic selection of goals and purposes (what is to be done?); the systematic development of strategies to achieve these goals; the marshaling of the required resources; the rational design, organization, direction, and control of the activities required to attain the selected purposes; and, finally, the motivating and rewarding of people to do the work.Levitt, T. (1976). Management and the post industrial society. The Public Interest, summer, 69-103, pg. 72.
Notice that management is focused on the day-to-day accomplishing of an organization’s goals. Furthermore, management must rally their employees to accomplish these goals through motivation, rewards, and/or punishments. Lastly, management must ensure that they have the necessary resources to enable their employees to accomplish the organization’s goals.
Where management is focused on accomplishing the organization’s goals, leadership is ultimately envisioning and articulating those goals to everyone. Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson define leadership from a communication perspective in this fashion, “LeadershipThe modification of attitudes, beleifs, and values of a group in order to further an organization’s goals, mission, and vision. is human (symbolic) communication, which modifies the attitudes and behaviors of others in order to meet shared group goals and needs.”Hackman, M. S., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective (5th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland, pg. 11. From this perspective, leadership is less about simply getting goals accomplished, but rather about influencing the attitudes and behaviors necessary to meet the organization’s goals and needs.
So, how do we distinguish between management and leadership. One of the first researchers to really distinguish between management and leadership was Abraham Zaleznik who wrote that organizations often are caught between two conflicting needs: “one, for managers to maintain the balance of operations, and one for leaders to create new approaches and imagine new areas to explore.”Zaleznik, A. (1977). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55(3), 67-78, pg. 67. Notice that Zaleznik argues that management is about maintaining the path of the organization and about handling the day-to-day operations of the organization. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creativity, innovation, and vision for the organization. Look back at the list of leaders profiled in Table 7.1 "Management vs. Leadership", all of these leaders had a clearly vision for their organization that was articulated to their followers. If these followers hadn’t been persuaded by their leader, none of these leaders’ accomplishments would be known today. While leaders often get the bulk of notoriety, we would be remiss to remind you that every effective leader has a team of managers and employees that help the leader accomplish the organization’s goals. As such, leadership and management are symbiotic and both are highly necessary for an organization to accomplish its basic goals.
In a study by Shamus-Ur-Rehman ToorToor, S. U. R. (2011). Differentiating leadership from management: An empirical investigation of leaders and managers. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 11, 310-320., the researcher set out to empirically investigate the difference between leadership and management by asking 49 leaders and senior executives in the construction industry in Singapore to differentiate between the concepts of leadership and management. Overall, four clear difference themes emerged in his research: definition, conceptual, functional, and behavioral.
The first differences noted in this research are what Toor called “definitional differences.” In essence, while there is no clearly agreed upon definition for the term “leadership,” Toor noted that management was “described by fundamental functions that include planning, organizing, leading, and controlling organizational resources.”Toor, S. U. R. (2011). Differentiating leadership from management: An empirical investigation of leaders and managers. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 11, 310-320, pg. 313. In essence, leadership tends to be characterized by terms like vision, inspiration, and motivation, while management was defined by terms like action, day-to-day running of the organization, and the mundane aspects of making an organization function. In essence, leadership is defined by the ability to create a vision for the organization that managers can then carry out on a day-to-day basis.
Toor admits that often people have a hard time clearly distinguishing between the terms “leadership” and “management” because there is a thin line between the two concepts. As one member of Toors study noted, “Leadership is something that subordinates or followers look up to. A leader would be able to manage well, too. But managers are not necessarily good leaders, and subordinates look up to them for instructions, not guidance.”Toor, S. U. R. (2011). Differentiating leadership from management: An empirical investigation of leaders and managers. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 11, 310-320, pg. 314. In essence, leadership encompasses management but is seen as “more than” just management. Many of Toor’s research participants suggest that all good leaders would have to be good managers, but not all good managers make good leaders.
When interviewing the various Singapore leaders, functional divergences also emerged in Toor’s research. Leadership was characterized by two primary functions: challenging and empowering. In essence, leaders should challenge their followers to do more and then empower them to take chances, make decisions, and innovate. Whereas, management was characterized by two different functions: imposing and stability/order. From this perspective, management should impose guidelines and ideas that are generated by organizational leadership on their followers in an attempt to create some semblance of stability and order within the organization. In essence, management is not making the “big” decisions, but rather relaying those decisions to their subordinates and then ensuring that those decisions get implemented within the organization itself.
Lastly, Toor found what he termed “behavioral differences,” or there are clearly two different behavioral sets that govern management and leadership. Managers manage their subordinates work and leaders lead by example. While these explanations are not overtly concrete, one of the participants in Toor’s study put it this way, “Maybe the difference is basically that you just manage in management, and you lead in leadership. In management, you enforce the regulations, whereas in leadership, you lead by example. In management, people don’t follow you; they obey you. In leadership, people follow you by their own choice.”Toor, S. U. R. (2011). Differentiating leadership from management: An empirical investigation of leaders and managers. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 11, 310-320, pg. 315.
Overall, there are clear distinctions (although admittedly convoluted) between the two terms “leadership” and “management.” We hope this brief discussion of this research has at least grasped that there are fundamental differences between the two concepts. The rest of this chapter is really devoted to leadership.
As with most major academic undertakings, there is little agreement in what makes a leader. Since the earliest days of the study of business, there have been discussions of leadership. However, leadership is hardly a discussion that was originated with the advent of the academic study of businesses. In fact, the oldest known text in the world, The Precepts of Ptah-hotep, was a treatise written for the Pharaoh Isesi’s son (of the fifth dynasty in Egypt) about being an effective Pharaoh (or leader).Wrench, J. S. (2013). How strategic workplace communication can save your organization. In J. S. Wrench (Ed.), Workplace communication for the 21st century: Tools and strategies that impact the bottom line: Vol. 2. External workplace communication (pp. 1-37). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. Although it’s relatively easy in hindsight to look at how effective an organizational leader was based on her or his accomplishments, determining whether or not someone will be an effective leader prior to their ascension is a difficult task. To help organizations select the “right” person for the leadership role, numerous scholars have come up with a variety of ways to describe and explain leadership. According to Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson, “Over the past 100 years, five primary approaches for understanding and explaining leadership have evolved: the traits approach, the situational approach, the functional approach, the relational approach, and the transformational approach [emphasis in original].”Hackman, M. S., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective (5th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland, pg. 72. The rest of this section is going to explore these different approaches to leadership.
The first major approach to leadership is commonly referred to as the trait approachApproach to leadership studies that searches for a series of physical, mental, or personality traits that effective leaders possess that neither non-leaders nor ineffective leaders possess. to leadership because the approach looks for a series of physical, mental, or personality traits that effective leaders possess that neither non-leaders nor ineffective leaders possess. We start with this approach to leadership predominantly because it’s the oldest of the major approaches to leadership and is an approach to leadership that is still very much in existence today. The first major study to synthesize the trait literature was conducted by Ralph Stogdill in 1948.Stogdill, R. M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: A survey of the literature. Journal of Psychology, 25, 35-71. In 1970, Stogdill reanalyzed the literature and found six basic categories of characteristics that were associated with leadership: physical, social background, intelligence and ability, personality, task-related, and social.Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Free Press. Table 7.2 "Traits Associated with Leadership" contains a list of the personality traits from the 1970 study in addition to other researchers who have discovered a variety of other traits associated with leadership.
Table 7.2 Traits Associated with Leadership
|Sociability, Interpersonal Skills|
|Strength of Conviction|
|Tolerance of Stress|
|Mann (1959)Mann, R. D. (1959). A review of the relationship between personality and performance in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 241-270.||Adjustment|
|Kirpatrick and Locke (1991)Kirkpatrick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: Do traits matter? The Executive, 5, 48-60.||Cognitive Ability|
|Lussier and Achua (2007)Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2007). Leadership: Theory, application, skill development (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.||Dominance|
|Sensitivity to Others|
From Table 7.2 "Traits Associated with Leadership" you can start to see that research has found a variety of different traits associated with leadership over the years. Notice, that there is some overlap, but each list is clearly unique. In fact, one of the fundamental problems with the trait approach to leadership is that research has provided a never-ending list of personality traits that are associated with leadership, so no clear or replicable list of traits exists.
Even communication researchers have examined the possible relationship between leadership and various communication traits. In an experimental study conducted by Sean Limon and Betty La FranceLimon, M. S., & La France, B. H. (2005). Communication traits and leadership emergence: Examining the impact of argumentativeness, communication apprehension, and verbal aggressiveness in work groups. Communication Quarterly, 70, 123-133., the researchers set out to see if an individual’s level of three communication traits could predict leadership emergence within a group. The three communication traits of interest within this study were communication apprehension (“fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons”McCroskey, J. C. (1984). The communication apprehensive perspective. In J. A. Daly & J. C. McCroskey (Eds.), Avoiding communication: Shyness, reticence, and communication apprehension (pp. 13-38). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage; pg. 13.), argumentativeness (“generally stable trait which predisposes the individual in communication situations to advocate positions on controversial issues and to attack verbally the positions which other people take on these issues”Infante, D. A., & Rancer, A. S. (1982). A conceptualization and measure of argumentativeness. Journal of Personality Assessment, 46, 72-80; pg. 72), and verbal aggressiveness (“attack one’s self-concept instead of, or in addition to, one’s positions on a topic of communication”Infante, D. A., & Wigley, C.J. (1986). Verbal aggressiveness: An interpersonal model and measure. Communication Monographs, 53, 61-69.). Ultimately, the researchers found that an individual’s level of argumentativeness positively predicted an individual’s likelihood of emerging as a leader while an individual’s communication apprehension negatively predicted an individual’s likelihood of emerging as a leader. Verbal aggression, in this study, was found to have no impact on an individual’s emergence as a leader. In other research, leader verbal aggression was found to negatively impact employee level of satisfaction and organizational commitment while argumentativeness positively related to employee level of satisfaction and organizational commitment.de Vries, R. E., Bakker-Pieper, A., & Oostenveld, W. (2010). Leadership = communication? The relations of leaders’ communication styles with leadership styles, knowledge sharing and leadership outcomes. Journal of Business Psychology, 25, 367-380. doi: 10.1007/s10869-009-9140-2 These three communication traits demonstrate that an individual leader’s communication traits can have an impact on both an individual’s emergence as a leader and how followers will perceive that leader.
The original notion that leaders were created through a magic checklist of personality traits has fallen out of favor in the leadership community.Dinh, J. E., & Lord, R. G. (2012). Implications of dispositional and process views of traits for individual difference research in leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 23(4), 651-669. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2012.03.003 However, more recent developments in leadership theory have been reintegrating the importance of personality traits as important aspects of the process of leadership. In Scott Shane’s book Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Genes Affect Your Work LifeShane, S. (2010). Born entrepreneurs, born leaders: How your genes affect your work life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press., he argues that while genetics may not cause humans to become leaders or entrepreneurs, one’s genetic makeup probably influences the likelihood that someone would become a leader or entrepreneur in the first place. In the same vein, Jessica Dinh and Robert LordZaccaro, S. J. (2007). Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist, 62(1), 6-16. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.1.6 have argued that personality traits should be examined within specific leadership events instead of as fundamental aspects of some concrete phenomenon called “leadership.” In essence, Dinh and Lord argue that an individual’s personality traits may impact how they behave within specific leadership situations but that specific personality traits may not be seen across all leaders in all leadership contexts.
As trait approaches became more passé, new approaches to leadership began emerging that theorized that leadership was contingent on a variety of situational factors (e.g., task to be completed, leader-follower relationships/interactions, follower motivation/commitment, etc.). These new theories of leadership are commonly referred to as the situational approachesApproach to leadership that studies leadership as a phenoemnon of differing organizational contexts and situations that lead or enable different types of leadership behavior.. While there are numerous leadership theorists who fall into the situational approach, we’re going to briefly examine two of them here: Fred Fiedler’s Contingency Theory and Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory.
Fred Fiedler began developing his theory of leadership in the 1950s and 60s and eventually coined it the “Contingency Theory of Leader Effectiveness.”Fiedler, F. E. (1967) A theory of leadership effectiveness. New York: McGraw-Hill. In his theory, Fiedler believed that leadership was a reflection of both a leader’s personality and behavior, which were constant. Fiedler believed that that leaders do not change their leadership styles, but rather when situations change, leaders must adapt their leadership strategies. Fiedler’s basic theory started with the notion that leaders typically were either task-oriented or relationship-oriented. Task-oriented leadersLeaders who are focused on the task and accomplishing organizational goals. focused more on the task and accomplishing organizational goals. Relationship-oriented leadersLeaders who are focused on creating positive interactions with followers and establishing positive relationships based on mutual trust, respect, and confidence. focused on creating positive interactions with followers and establishing positive relationships based on mutual trust, respect, and confidence.
To determine a leader’s preference for tasks or relationships, leaders are asked to think about all of the followers with whom they’ve worked and select the one follower with whom they’ve had the most problems. By thinking about the follower with whom the leader has had the most problems, it’s generally very easy to determine if the leader is more task or relationship-oriented because that follower is generally the opposite. Fiedler, termed this follower the leader’s least preferred coworker (LPC).
Once a leader’s LPC is determined, Fielder’s model asks leaders to examine their situation favorablenessThe degree to which a leader can influence her or his followers within a given situation., or the degree to which a leader can influence her or his followers within a given situation. To determine situational favorableness, leaders must examine three distinct aspects of their leadership style: leader-member relations, task structure, and position power.
The first factor of situation favorableness leaders must attend to involves the nature of their relationship with their followers. Leaders who have positive relationships with their followers will have high levels of mutual trust, respect, and confidence; whereas leaders with negative relationships with their followers will have lower degrees of mutual trust, respect, and confidence. The more positive a leader’s relationships with her or his followers, the more favorable the situation will be for the leader.
Next, leaders must determine if the task at hand is one that is highly structured or one that that is unstructured. Highly structured tasks are ones that tend to be repetitive and unambiguous, so they are more easily understood by followers, which leads to a more favorable situation for the leader. If tasks are unstructured, then the leader will have followers who are less likely to understand the task, which will make for a less favorable leadership situation.
Lastly, leaders need to know whether they are in a position of strong or weak power. Leaders who have the ability to exert power over followers (reward and punish followers), will have greater ability to exert the leader’s will on followers, which is more favorable for the leader. Leaders who do not have the ability to exert power over followers are in a much less favorable leadership situation.
When one combines the three factors (leader-follower relations, task structure, and position power), the basic contingency model proposed by Fiedler emerges. Figure 7.1 "Fiedler’s Contingency Model" illustrates the basic model proposed.
Figure 7.1 Fiedler’s Contingency Model
In this model, you can see that the combination of the three factors create a continuum of most favorable to least favorableness for the leader. Notice that there are eight basic levels ranging from the left side of the model, which is more favorable, to the right side of the model, which is least favorable. One area of concern that can impact the usability of this model is ultimately a leader’s LPC. If the situation matches a leader’s LPC, the leader is lucky and he or she doesn’t need to alter anything. However, often the situation leads to an imbalance between the leader’s LPC and the appropriate leader behavior necessitated by a situation. In this case, the leader can either attempt to alter her or his leadership style, which is not likely to lead to a positive outcome, or the leader can attempt to change the situation to match her or his LPC style, which will be more likely to lead to a positive outcome.
Like Fielder’s Contingency Model, the basic model proposed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard is also divided into task (leader directive behavior) and relational (leader supportive behavior) dimensions.Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. H. (1969). Life cycle theory of leadership. Training and Development Journal, 23(5), 26–34. However, Hersey and Blanchard’s theory of leadership starts with the basic notion that not all followers need the same task or relationship-based leadership, so the type of leadership a leader should utilize with a follower depends on the follower’s readiness. Figure 7.2 "Situational Leadership Model" shows the basic model.
Figure 7.2 Situational Leadership Model
In the basic model seen in Figure 7.2 "Situational Leadership Model", you have both dimensions of leadership behavior (supportive and directive). Based on these two dimensions, Hersey and Blanchard propose four basic types of leadership leaders can employ with various followers depending on the situational needs of the followers: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, D. E. (2000). Management of organizational behavior: Leading human resources (8th ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.
The first type of leader discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory is the directing leaderForm of leadership discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory where a leader use low supporting behavior and high directive behavior. (originally termed telling). A directing leader is needed by followers who do lack both the skill and the motivation to perform a task. Hersey and Blanchard recommend against supportive behavior at this point because the supporting behavior may be perceived as a reward by the follower. Instead, these followers need a lot of task-directed communication and oversight.
The second type of leader discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory is the coaching leaderForm of leadership discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory where a leader use high supporting behavior and high directive behavior. (originally termed selling). The coaching leader is necessary when followers have a high need for direction and a high need of support. Followers who are unable to perform or lack the confidence to perform the task but are committed to the task and/or organization need a coaching leader. In this case, the leader needs to have more direct control over the follower’s attempt to accomplish the task, but the leader should also provide a lot of encouragement along the way.
Next, you have followers who still require low levels of direction from leaders but who need more support from their leaders. Hersey and Blanchard see these followers as individuals who more often than not have requisite skills but still need their leader for motivation. As such, supporting leadersForm of leadership discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory where a leader use high supporting behavior and low directive behavior. should set about creating organizational environments that foster these followers’ motivations.
Lastly, when a follower is both motivated and skilled, he or she needs a delegating leaderForm of leadership discussed in Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory where a leader use low supporting behavior and low directive behavior.. In this case, a leader can easily delegate tasks to this individual with the expectations that the follower will accomplish the tasks. However, leaders should not completely avoid supportive behavior because if a follower feels that he or she is being completely ignored, the relationship between the leader and follower could sour.
In both the trait and situational approaches to leadership, the primary outcome called “leadership” is a series of characteristics that help create the concept. The functional approachApproach to leadership that posits that it’s not a series of leadership characteristics that make a leader, but rather a leader is someone who looks like, acts like, and communicates like a leader., on the other hand, posits that it’s not a series of leadership characteristics that make a leader, but rather a leader is someone who looks like, acts like, and communicates like a leader. To help us understand the functional approach to leadership, we’ll examine two different sets of researchers commonly associated with this approach: Chester Barnard’s Functions of the Executive and Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats’ Classification of Functional Roles in Groups.
The first major functional theorist was an organizational researcher by the name of Chester Barnard who published a ground-breaking book in 1938 titled The Functions of the Executive.Barnard, C. I. (1938). The functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. It is from this book’s title that the functional approach to leadership gets its name. In this book, Barnard argues that executives have three basic functions.
The first function a leader should have is the creation (or formulation) of the organization’s basic purpose and its objectives. In essence, leaders should be able to form a clear vision for the organization and then set about creating the tasks necessary to help the organization accomplish that vision.
The second function of a leader according to Barnard’s framework was securing essential services from other members. Barnard realized that one of the inherent aspects of leadership was the leader’s ability to get the services he or she needs from followers. For example, it’s not just about hiring people and setting them about their tasks. Instead, it’s about hiring people and then inspiring those followers in an effort to get the best out of them. In an organization where someone has a position of leadership but is not at the top of the hierarchy, leadership also becomes important in an individual’s ability to reach out to other teams or divisions and secure resources and services to help the leader’s team accomplish its goals. Basically, leaders must actively work to help others accomplish the organization’s goals.
According to Barnard, the first function of an executive should be to establish and maintain a system of communication. As such, Barnard came up with seven specific rules to help executives create a system of communication within their organizations:
From this perspective, leaders have a fundamental task in creating and controlling both the formal and informal communication systems within the organization. In fact, Chester Barnard was one of the first researchers to really extol the importance of understanding both the formal and informal communication within an organization.
Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats did not exactly set out to create a tool for analyzing and understanding the functional aspects of leadership. Instead, their 1948 article titled “Functional Roles of Group Members” was designed to analyze how people interact and behave within small group or team settings.Benne, K. D., & Sheats, P. (2007). Functional roles of group members. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, 8, 30-35. (Reprinted from the Journal of Social Issues, 4, 41-49) The basic premise of Benne and Sheat’s 1948 article was that different people in different group situations will take on a variety of roles within a group. Some of these roles will be prosocial and help the group accomplish its basic goals, while other roles are clearly antisocial and can negatively impact a group’s ability to accomplish its basic goals. Benne and Sheats categorized the more prosocial roles as belonging to one of two groups: task and group building and maintenance roles. Task rolesRoles taken on by a group or team member to ensure that the group or team’s task is accomplished. are those taken on by various group members to ensure that the group’s task is accomplished. Group building and maintenance rolesRoles taken on by a group or team member to help foster a sense of community and purpose within the group itself., on the other hand, are those roles people take on that are “designed to alter or maintain the group way of working, to strengthen, regulate and perpetuate the group as a group.”Benne, K. D., & Sheats, P. (2007). Functional roles of group members. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, 8, 30-35. (Reprinted from the Journal of Social Issues, 4, 41-49); pg. 31. The more anti-social (individual) roles are roles group members take on that are not relevant to neither the group nor the task at hand. Individuals embodying these roles will actually prevent the group from accomplishing its task in a timely and efficient manner. We will go into more detail about the specific nature of these various roles in Chapter 9 "Teams in the Workplace", for now let’s just look at Table 7.3 "Prosocial and Antisocial Group Roles"
Table 7.3 Prosocial and Antisocial Group Roles
|Prosocial Group Roles||Antisocial Group Roles|
|Task Roles||Individual Roles|
|Group Building & Maintenance Roles|
So, you may be wondering how these actually relates back to the notion of leadership. To help us understand why these roles are functions of leadership, let’s turn to the explanation provided by Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson:
Roles associated with the successful completion of the task and the development and maintenance of group interaction help facilitate goal achievement and the satisfaction of group needs. These roles serve a leadership function. Roles associated with the satisfaction of individual needs do not contribute to the goals of the group as a whole and are usually not associated with leadership. By engaging in task-related and group-building/maintenance role behaviors (and avoiding individual role behavior), a group member can perform leadership functions and increase the likelihood that he or she will achieve leadership status with the group.Hackman, M. S., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective (5th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland, pg. 89.
In essence, leaders are people who perform task and relational roles while people who are non-leaders tend to focus on their own desires and needs and not the needs of the group itself. As such, each of the task and building/maintenance roles can be considered functions of effective leadership.
The next approach to leadership is called the relational approachApproach to leadership that emphasizes the types of relationships that develop between leaders and followers. because it focuses not on traits, characteristics, or functions of leaders and followers, but instead the relational approach focuses on the types of relationships that develop between leaders and followers. To help us understand the relational approach to leadership, let’s examine two different perspectives on this approach: Robert Blake and Jane Mouton’s Managerial Grid and George Graen’s Leader-Member Exchange Theory.
The first major relational approach we are going to discuss is Blake and Mounton’s Managerial Grid.Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (1964). The managerial grid: The key to leadership excellence. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing. While the grid is called a “management” grid, the subtitle clearly specifies that it is a tool for effective leadership. In the original grid created in 1965, the two researchers were concerned with whether or not a leader was concerned with her or his followers or with production. In the version we’ve recreated for you in Figure 7.3 "Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid", we’ve relabeled the two as concern for relationships and concern for tasks to keep consistent with other leadership theories we’ve discussed in this chapter. The basic idea is that on each line of the axis (x-axis refers to task-focused leadership; y-axis refers to relationship-focused leadership) there are nine steps. Where an individual leader’s focus both for relationships and tasks will dictate where he or she falls as a leader on the Managerial Grid. As such, we end up with five basic management styles: impoverished, authority compliance, country club, team, and middle-of-the-road. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Figure 7.3 Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid
The basic approach a leader takes under the impoverished management styleManagerial style discussed by Blake and Mounton’s managerial grid where a leader has a low concern for task and a low concern for relationships. is completely hands off. This leader places someone in a job or assigns that person a task and then just expects it to be accomplished without any kind of oversight. In Blake and Mouton’s words, “the person managing 1,1 has learned to ‘be out of it,’ while remaining in the organization… [this manager’s] imprint is like a shadow on the sand. It passes over the ground, but leaves no permanent mark.”Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (2011). The managerial grid. In W. E. Natemeyer & P. Hersey (Eds.), Classics of Organizational Behavior (4th ed., pp. 308-322). (Reprinted from The managerial grid: The key to leadership excellence. Houston, TX: Gulf Coast); pgs. 315-316.
The second leader is at the 9,1 coordinates in the leadership grid. The authority-compliance management styleManagerial style discussed by Blake and Mounton’s managerial grid where a leader has a high concern for task and a low concern for relationships. has a high concern for tasks but a low concern for establishing or fostering relationships with her or his followers. Consider this leader the closest to resemble Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management style of leadership. All of the decision-making is made by the leader and then dictated to her or his followers. Furthermore, this type of leader is very likely to micromanage or closely oversee and criticize followers as they set about accomplishing the tasks given to them.
The third type of manager is called the country club management styleManagerial style discussed by Blake and Mounton’s managerial grid where a leader has a low concern for task and a high concern for relationships. and is the polar opposite of the authority-compliance manager. In this case, the manager is almost completely concerned about establishing or fostering relationships with her or his followers, but the task(s) needing to be accomplished disappears into the background. When assigning tasks to be accomplished, this leader empowers her or his followers and believes that the followers will accomplish the task and do it well without any kind of oversight. This type of leader also adheres to the advice of Thumper from the classic Disney movie Bambi, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
The next leadership style is at the high ends of concern for both task and relationships, which is referred to as the team management styleManagerial style discussed by Blake and Mounton’s managerial grid where a leader has a high concern for task and a high concern for relationships.. This type of leader realizes that “effective integration of people with production is possible by involving them and their ideas in determining the conditions and strategies of work. Needs of people to think, to apply mental effort in productive work and to establish sound and mature relationships with one another are utilized to accomplish organizational requirements.”Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (2011). The managerial grid. In W. E. Natemeyer & P. Hersey (Eds.), Classics of Organizational Behavior (4th ed., pp. 308-322). (Reprinted from The managerial grid: The key to leadership excellence. Houston, TX: Gulf Coast); pg. 317. Under this type of management, leaders believe that it is their purpose as leaders to foster environments that will encourage creativity, task accomplishment, and employee morale/motivation. This form of management is probably most closely aligned with Douglas McGregor’s Theory Y, which was discussed previously in Chapter 3 "Classical Theories of Organizational Communication".
The final form of management discussed by Blake and Mouton was what has been deemed the middle-of-the-road management styleManagerial style discussed by Blake and Mounton’s managerial grid where a leader has a middling concern for task and a middling concern for relationships.. The reasoning behind this style of management is the assumption that “people are practical, they realize some effort will have to be exerted on the job. Also, by yielding some push for production and considering attitudes and feelings, people accept the situation and more or less ‘satisfied’ [emphasis in original].”Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (2011). The managerial grid. In W. E. Natemeyer & P. Hersey (Eds.), Classics of Organizational Behavior (4th ed., pp. 308-322). (Reprinted from The managerial grid: The key to leadership excellence. Houston, TX: Gulf Coast); pg. 316. In the day-to-day practicality of this approach, these leaders believe that any kind of extreme is not realistic, so finding some middle balance is ideal. If, and when, an imbalance occurs, these leaders seek out ways to eliminate the imbalance and get back to some state of moderation.
Starting in the mid-1970s, George Graen proposed a different type of theory for understanding leadership. Graen’s theory of leadership proposed that leadership must be understood as existing in three distinct domains: follower, leader, and relationship (Figure 7.4 "Domains of Leadership").Graen, G. B., & Uhl-Bien, M. (1995). Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective. The Leadership Quarterly, 6, 219-247. The basic idea is that leaders and followers exist within a dyadic relationship, so understanding leadership must examine the nature of that relationship.
Figure 7.4 Domains of Leadership
When examining the leader-member exchange (LMX) relationship, one must realize that leaders have only limited amounts of social, personal, and organizational resources, so leaders must be selective in how they distribute these resources to their followers. Ideally, every follower would have the same type of exchange relationship with their leader, but for a variety of reasons some followers receive more resources from a leader while others receive less resources from a leader. Ultimately, high-quality LMX relationshipsLeader-member-exchange relationships marked by follower acces to decision making, support, influence, and occupational success. are those “characterized by greater input in decisions, mutual support, informal influence, trust, and greater negotiating latitude;” whereas, low-quality LMX relationshipsLeader-member-exchange relationships marked by follower suppervision, lack of leadership support, little to no access to decision making, which leads to lower levels of organizaitonal success. “are characterized by less support, more formal supervision, little or no involvement in decisions, and less trust and attention from the leader.”Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2007). Leadership: Theory, application, skill development (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western; pg. 254.
Whether an individual follower is in a high-quality or low-quality LMX relationship really has a strong impact on their view towards the organization itself. Followers in high-quality LMX relationships (also referred to as in-groups) have higher perceptions of leader credibility and a greater regard for their leaders compared to those followers in low-quality LMX relationships (also referred to as out-groups). Not only does the nature of the relationship impact a follower’s perceptions of her or his leader, but research has shown that high-LMX relationships lead to greater productivity, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment.Gagnon, M. A., & Michael, J. H. (2004). Outcomes of perceived supervisor support for wood production employees. Forest Products Journal, 54, 172-178. Overall, research has shown many positive benefits for followers who have high-LMX relationships including:
One of the big questions that has arisen in the leadership literature is “how do leaders select followers to enter into a high-LMX relationship.” One possible explanation for why leaders choose some followers and not other followers for high-LMX relationships stems from the follower’s communication style. In a 2007 study, researchers examined the relationship between follower communication and whether or not they perceived themselves to be in a high-LMX relationship with their immediate supervisor.Madlock, P. E., Martin, M. M., Bogdan, L., & Ervin, M. (2007). The impact of communication traits on leader-member exchange. Human Communication, 10, 451-464. Not surprisingly, individuals who reported higher levels of assertiveness, responsiveness, friendliness, cognitive flexibility, attentiveness, and a generally relaxed nature were more likely to report having a high-LMX relationship. One variable that was negatively related to the likelihood of having a high-LMX relationship was a follower’s level of communication apprehension.
The final approach to leadership is one that clearly is popular among organizational theorists. Although the term “transformational leadership” was first coined by James Downtown in 1973, the term was truly popularized by political sociologist James MacGregor Burns in 1978. Downton, J. V. (1973). Rebel leadership: Commitment and charisma in the revolutionary process. New York, NY: Free Press.,Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper Collins. In a 2001 study conducted by Kevin Lowe and William Gardner, the researchers examined the types of articles that had been published in the premier academic journal on the subject of leadership, Leadership Quarterly.Lowe, K. B., & Gardner, W. L. (2001). Ten years of the Leadership Quarterly: Contributions and challenges for the future. Leadership Quarterly, 11, 459-514. The researchers examined the types of research published in the journal over the previous ten years, which found that one-third of the articles published within the journal examined transformational leadership.
To help understand leadership from this approach, it’s important to understand the two sides of leadership: transactional and transformational leadership. On the one hand you have transactional leadershipLeadership that focuses on an array of exchanges that can occur between a leader and her or his followers in an effort to gain follower support., which focuses on an array of exchanges that can occur between a leader and her or his followers. The most obvious way transactional leadership is seen in corporate America is the use of promotions and pay raises. Transactional leaders offer promotions or pay raises to those followers who meet or exceed the leader’s goals. Rewards are seen as a tool that a leader utilizes to get the best performance out of her or his followers. If the rewards no longer exist, followers will no longer have the external motivation to meet or exceed goals.
Transformational leadershipLeadership approach that utilizes communication in an effort to increase follower morale, motivation, and performance to accomplish organizational goals., on the other hand, can be defined as the “process whereby a person engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower.”Northhouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; pg. 176. In essence, transformational leadership is more than just getting followers to meet or exceed goals because the leader provides the followers rewards. Bernie Bass proposed a more complete understanding of transformational leadership and noted three factors of transformational leadership: charismatic and inspirational leadership, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership: Good, better, best. Organizational Dynamics, 13(3), 26-40.,Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York, NY: Free Press.
The first factor Bass described for transformational leaders was charismatic and inspirational leadership. CharismaUnique leadership trait where an individual has the ability to influence and inspire large numbers of people to accomplish specific organizational goals or tasks. is a unique quality that not everyone possesses. Those who are charismatic have the ability to influence and inspire large numbers of people to accomplish specific organizational goals or tasks. Where the transactional leader rewards followers for accomplishing tasks, transformational leaders inspire their followers to accomplish goals and tasks with no promise of rewards. Instead, followers are inspired by a transformational leader to accomplish goals and tasks because they share the leader’s vision for the future. Bass later made inspirational motivation a unique factor unto itself to clearly separate its impact from charismatic leadership.Bass, B.M. (1998). Transformational leadership: Industrial, military, and educational impact. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
The second characteristic of transformational leaders is intellectual stimulation. In essence, transformational leaders “stimulates followers to be creative and innovative and to challenge their own beliefs and values as well as those of the leader and the organization.”Northhouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; pg. 183. While both transactional and transformational leaders engage in intellectual stimulation themselves, the purpose of this intellectual stimulation differs. Transactional leaders tend to focus on how best to keep their organizations and the systems within their organizations functioning. Very little thought to innovation or improving the organization occurs because transactional leaders focus on maintaining everything as-is. Transformational leaders, on the other hand, are always looking for new and innovative ways to manage problems. As such, they also encourage those around them to “think outside the box” in an effort to make things better.
The last factor of transformational leadership is individualized consideration, or seeing followers as individuals in need of individual development. Transformational leaders evaluate “followers’ potential both to perform their present job and to hold future positions of greater responsibility. The leader sets examples and assigns tasks on an individual basis to followers to help significantly alter their abilities and motivations as well as to satisfy immediate organizational needs.”Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership: Good, better, best. Organizational Dynamics, 13(3), 26-40; pg. 35. The goal of this individualized consideration is to help individual followers maximize their potential, which maximizes the leader’s use of her or his resources at the same time.
In 1988, Robert Kelley wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review where he explained that so much of the research on what happens between organizational members is written from the perspective that leadership is king and everything else is periphery.Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142-148. Instead, Kelley believed that followership should be center stage right along research and writing on leadership. Surprisingly, this article was met with a lot of controversy, “Some people just flat out didn’t like it, comparing followers to sled dogs whose destiny is always to look at the rear end of the dog in front of them, but never to see the wider horizon or make the decisions of the lead dog Other readers could not thank me enough for articulating what they secretly held in their hearts.”Kelley, R. E. (2008). Rethinking followership. In R. E. Riggio, I. Chaleff, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp. 5-15). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; pg 6. Since 1988, writings in the popular press and in academic circles have routinely discussed the nature of followership. While there is still some controversy over the nature of followership, leadership researchers uniformly now examine and discuss the importance of followership in the corporate environment.
So what then is followership? As a basic concept, followershipThe act or condition under which an individual helps or supports a leader in the accomplishment of organizational goals. is the act or condition under which an individual helps or supports a leader in the accomplishment of organizational goals. However, Jon Howell and Maria Mendez defined followership as less in terms of a straight-forward definition but more as different roles followership can take. First, followership can take an interactive role, which means that a follower’s role is to complement and support her or his leader in accomplishing organizational goals. Second, followership can be an independent role, where followers act independently of their leaders with little necessity for oversight or management. Lastly, followership can take on a shifting role perspective, where followership is seen as less a concrete title or position but rather a state one embodies depending on the tasks at hands. In some situations, an individual may be a leader and in others a follower depending on the context of the organizational goals. The rest of this section is going to examine a series of different perspectives in the literature involving organizational followership: Ira Chaleff’s styles of followership, Roger Adair’s 4-D Followership Model, and McCroskey and Richmond’s Organizational Orientations.
One of the first models for understanding the nature of leader-follower interactions from the follower’s perspective is Ira Chaleff’s Styles of Followership she discussed in her ground breaking book The Courageous Follower.Chaleff, I. (2003). The courageous follower (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Barrett-Koehler. Based on the name of the book, Chaleff’s perspective is that followership is an act of courage that someone decides to take. As such, she sees followership as having the courage to engage in two different behaviors: the courage to support the leader and the courage to challenge the leader’s behavior and/or policies. Figure 7.5 "Styles of Followership" demonstrates what happens when you combine the courage to challenge and support.
Figure 7.5 Styles of Followership
The first follower style discussed by Chaleff is the resourceFollower type described by Ira Chaleff who will not challenge nor support the leader doing only the minimal amount of work to keep her or his job.. The resource is someone who will not challenge nor support the leader. This follower basically does the minimal amount to keep her or his job, but nothing more.
The second followership style is the individualistFollower type described by Ira Chaleff who will provide little to no support for her or his leader but has no problem challenging the leader’s behavior and policies.. This individual will provide little to no support for her or his leader, but has no problem challenging the leader’s behavior and policies. This individual is generally very argumentative and/or aggressive in her or his behavior. While this individual will often speak out when no one else will, people see this person as inherently contrarian so her or his ideas are generally marginalized.
The third followership style is the implementerFollower type described by Ira Chaleff who will be more than happy to support her or his leader in any way possible, but the implementer will not challenge the leader’s behavior or policies even when the leader is making costly mistakes.. The implementer is more than happy to support her or his leader in any way possible, but the implementer will not challenge the leader’s behavior and/or policies even when the leader is making costly mistakes. The implementer simply sees it as her or his job to follow order, not question those orders. While this kind of pure-followership may be great in the military, it can be very harmful in the corporate world.
The final type of followership is the partnerFollower type described by Ira Chaleff who will support and challenge a leader because this follower sees her or himself as having a stake in the leader’s decisions.. Partner followership occurs when a follower is both supportive and challenging. This type of follower believes that he or she has a stake in a leader’s decisions, so he or she will act accordingly. If the partner thinks a leader’s decision is unwise, he or she will have no problem clearly dissenting within the organizational environment. At the same time, these followers will ultimately provide the most (and most informed) support possible to one’s leader.
In 2008 Roger Adair proposed the 4-D Followership model to help explain the types of people who exist within an organization.Adair, R. (2008). Developing great leaders, one follower at a time. In R. E. Riggio, I. Chaleff, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp. 137-153). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. The basic model Adair proposed for understanding followers examines a follower’s level of job satisfaction and her or his productivity. Based on the combination of job satisfaction and productivity, Adair demonstrates the likelihood that someone will decide to leave the organization. The basic model can be seen in Figure 7.6 "4-D Followership Model".
Figure 7.6 4-D Followership Model
The first type of follower is called the disgruntledType of follower described by Roger Adair who has encountered some event within the organization that has left them feeling detached, angry, or displeased, which leads to low levels of job satisfaction and productivity. follower. He or she has low levels of job satisfaction and is not overly productive at work either. These followers have typically encountered some event within the organization that has left them feeling detached, angry, or displeased. Maybe this person was passed up for a job promotion or he or she is being bullied in the workplace. Whatever the initial trigger, these individuals are toxic to the work environment. If the disgruntled follower is caught early on in her or his downward slip into this state, there is a chance to pull her or him away from the disgruntled cliff. Unfortunately, too many leaders do not notice the signs early on and these followers either end up reacting negatively in the workplace or they job ship as soon as they get an offer.
The second type of follower is someone who is disengagedType of follower described by Roger Adair doesn’t see the value in her or his work so he or she opts to do the minimum necessary to ensure her or his employment., or someone who doesn’t see the value in her or his work, so he or she opts to do the minimum necessary to ensure her or his employment. Often these individuals perceive their work as meaningless or not really helping the organization achieve its basic goals, so they basically tune out. Often people who are disengaged become so because the original expectations they had for the job are simply not met, so they may feel lied to by the organization, which can lead to low levels of organizational commitment.
The third type of follower is called the doerType of follower described by Roger Adair is highly motivated and constantly looking for bigger and better work opportunities either within their current organization or in a new one.. Doers “are motivated, excited to be part of the team. They are enterprising people, and overall are considered high producers. The only real issue with these employees is that no matter where they go in an organization, the grass always looks greener elsewhere.”Adair, R. (2008). Developing great leaders, one follower at a time. In R. E. Riggio, I. Chaleff, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp. 137-153). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; pg. 145. A doer often starts as someone who is upwardly mobile in the organization and become doers when one of two things occurs. First, doers want more out of life and if they don’t feel that there is continued possibilities for upward mobility within an organization, they are very likely to jump ship. Second, if a doer does not feel he or she is receiving adequate recognition for her or his contributions to the organization, then the doer will find someone who will give her or him that affirmation.
The last type of follower is the discipleType of follower described by Roger Adair believs both in her or his work and in the overarching goal(s) of the organization, so this follower is highly satisfied and productive. and this individual is highly satisfied and highly productive. In an ideal world, only disciples would fall under leaders because they have no problem sacrificing their own personal lives for the betterment of the organization. These workers are true believers both in their work and in the overarching goal(s) of the organization. While some people may remain disciples for a lifetime, many more workers start as disciples and quickly become disengageds, disgruntleds, or doers. This generally happens because an organization’s own employees, processes, or systems do not encourage disciple behavior and eventually wear the disciple down to the point where their sunny organizational outlook becomes one filled with clouds.
In 1962, Robert Presthus created a theory of organizational life that defined three unique types of workers: upwardly mobiles, ambivalents, and indifferents. He defined these three terms thusly:
The upward-mobiles are those who react positively to the bureaucratic situation and succeed in it. The indifferents are the uncommitted majority who see their jobs as mere instruments to obtain off-work satisfactions. The ambivalents are a small, perpetually disturbed minority who can neither renounce their claims for status and power nor play the disciplined role that would enable them to cash in such claims [emphasis in original].Presthus, R. (1962). The organizational society: An analysis and a theory. New York, NY: Random House; pg. 15.
In 2004, James McCroskey and Virginia Richmond along with their students Aaron Johnson and Heather Smith created a measure to examine and test Presthus typology of workers to see whether the three organizational orientations held up to empirical scrutiny.McCroskey, J. C., Richmond, V. P., Johnson, A. D., & Smith, H. T. (2004). Organizational orientations theory and measurement: Development of measures and preliminary investigations. Communication Quarterly, 52, 1-14. Note 7.40 "Organizational Orientations—Short Form" contains a short version of the Organizational Orientations scale. Before continuing, please take a second to complete the measure.
Read the following questions and select the answer that corresponds with how you perceive your workplace. Do not be concerned if some of the items appear similar. Please use the scale below to rate the degree to which each statement applies to you:
|Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neutral||Agree||Strongly Agree|
SCORING: To compute your scores follow the instructions below:
Scoring: Add scores for items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6
For Upwardly Mobiles, scores should be between 6 and 30. If your score is above 15, you are considered an upwardly mobile worker. If your score is below 15, you’re not considered an upwardly mobile worker.
Scoring: Add scores for items 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18
For Indifferents, scores should be between 6 and 30. If your score is above 15, you are considered a highly indifferent worker. If your score is below 15, you’re not considered an indifferent worker.
Scoring: Add scores for items 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12
For Ambivalents, scores should be between 6 and 30. If your score is above 15, you are considered an a highly ambivalent worker. If your score is below 15, you’re not considered an ambivalent worker.
Source: Wrench, J. S., Brogan, S. M., Fiore, A. M., & McKean, J. R. (2011, November). Consumerist education in America: When ideology impacts the basic purpose of higher education. Paper presented at the National Communication Association’s Convention, New Orleans, LA.
According to Virginia Richmond and James McCroskey, organizational orientations explain how followers orient themselves towards both their work and their workplace.Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (2009). Organizational orientations. In Organizational Communication for Survival: Making work, work (4th ed., pp. 82-93). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. To help us understand the organizational orientations and their relationship to followership, let’s examine each one separately.
The upwardly mobileOrganizational orientation described by James C. McCroskey and Virginia Richmond associated with individuals who are devoted to their work, their organization, and the organization’s goals. organizational orientation is one associated with individuals who are devoted to their work, their organization, and the organization’s goals. To these individuals, working and their jobs are an inherent part of their lives. In fact, these people often identify their jobs as being careers and not just jobs. To upwardly mobiles, a jobPost of employment for an individual who is just looking to earn money. is a way to earn money, but a careerPost of employment for an individual who is pursuing lifelong ambitions and goals related to one’s chosen occupation. involves the pursuit of lifelong ambition and goals related to one’s chosen occupation. Upwardly mobile individuals see themselves as having careers and not just jobs. In fact, an inherent part of the identity of an upwardly mobile relates to her or his career (e.g., I’m a lawyer, I’m a teacher, I’m an accountant, etc…). These individuals generally are great followers because they really see their lives and their careers as highly intertwined constructs. However, upwardly mobile individuals want to continue up the hierarchy and will consider jumping ship if they do not see a place for them within an organization in the future.
The second way people orient themselves at work is the indifferentOrganizational orientation described by James C. McCroskey and Virginia Richmond describing followers who go to work and do their jobs in order to get a paycheck, these followers really sees life as something thatbegins once they leave the workplace organizational orientation. Where upwardly mobile see themselves as having careers, indifferents clearly believe they have a job. In essence, the indifferent follower is one who sees work as a means to an end. The indifferent goes to work, does her or his job in order to get a paycheck, but the indifferent really sees life as something that begins once he or she has left the workplace. Indifferent followers need more guidance because they will do the minimum amount of work necessary to keep their job and earn a paycheck. Indifferents will look for a new job if they believe their current job is starting to encroach on their life outside of work. As for their communicative behavior at work, their “communication on the job is about their family or personal life. When encouraged to communicate about organizational matters with colleagues, they generally say nothing, change the topic, or suggest that others should discuss these matters.”Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (2009). Organizational orientations. In Organizational Communication for Survival: Making work, work (4th ed., pp. 82-93). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon; pg. 84.
The last group of followers commonly seen in the workplace are ambivalents. AmbivalentsOrganizational orientation described by James C. McCroskey and Virginia Richmond that depicts a follower who is disgruntled by the existing hierarchical structure, the tasks they are assigned, and/or the organizational goals. are somewhat hard to describe because they can be unpredictable. Where upwardly mobiles like to work within the hierarchy to accomplish goals, indifferents go along with the hierarchy and do what they are told to do, ambivalents tend to like neither the existing hierarchical structure, the tasks they are assigned, nor the organizational goals. These individuals are just generally discontent. In fact, these individuals often think the grass would be greener in a different pasture. However, when they jump ship to a new organization, they tend to find themselves making the same complaints about their new organization as well. Furthermore, their moods and their behaviors within the organization can change on a daily basis. “These people can be supportive one day and destructive the next. They are moody, which makes it difficult for people to work with or for them.”Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (2009). Organizational orientations. In Organizational Communication for Survival: Making work, work (4th ed., pp. 82-93). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon; pg. 85. Sadly, most organizational members and leaders learn to keep their distance of ambivalents and keep their interactions with ambivalents to “small talk” to avoid setting them off. Most organizations (and its members) will be happier and more productive when these individuals leave.
In the original study by McCroskey, Richmond, Johnson, and Smith examining organizational orientations, the researchers set out to examine how the three orientations related to a series of different communication and organizational variables.McCroskey, J. C., Richmond, V. P., Johnson, A. D., & Smith, H. T. (2004). Organizational orientations theory and measurement: Development of measures and preliminary investigations. Communication Quarterly, 52, 1-14. First, they found that upwardly mobile individuals were more motivated and higher levels of job satisfaction, while indifferents and ambivalents were neither motivated nor satisfied. As for their communication with others, upwardly mobile individuals were shown to be considerably more communicatively competent than either indifferents and ambivalents. The third major finding from the first study examined how an individual’s organizational orientation impact her or his views of their supervisor’s credibility. Not surprisingly, upwardly mobile followers saw their leaders as credible (competent, caring, and trustworthy), while indifferent and ambivalent followers did not. These results were later confirmed in a second study that compared both nonprofit and for-profit organizational members.McCroskey, L., McCroskey, J.C., & Richmond, V. P. (2005). Applying organizational Orientations theory to employees of profit and non-profit organizations. Communication Quarterly, 53, 21-40.
In a 2008 study conducted by Alan Goodboy and James McCroskey, the researchers furthered our understanding of organizational orientations by examining the relationship between the three organizational orientations and nonverbal immediacy and Machiavellianism.Goodboy, A. K., & McCroskey, J. C. (2008). Toward a theoretical model of the role of organizational orientations and Machiavellianism on nonverbal immediacy behavior and job satisfaction. Human Communication, 3, 293-308. Nonverbal immediacy is the perceived psychological or physical closeness between two people. The nonverbal literature has consistently shown that nonverbal immediacy (which can be influenced by effective eye contact, appropriate use of gestures, smiling, etc.) is a positive communication trait that improves a variety of different communicative interactions including both leader-follower relationships and coworker relationships. In this study, upwardly mobile individuals were more likely to be nonverbally immediate in the workplace when compared to either indifferents or ambivalents. Machiavellianism, on the other hand, is a personality trait associated with an individual’s tendency towards manipulating those around them. Both indifferents and ambivalents were more likely to be highly Machiavellian in the workplace when compared to their upwardly mobile counterparts.
Overall, these three studies clearly show that understanding one’s follower’s organizational orientations can be very important for follower-leader interactions in the workplace. While leaders should cultivate upwardly mobile they shouldn’t ignore either indifferents or ambivalents in order to have a more productive and harmonious working environment.
This chapter has thus far focused on the nature of leadership and followership. We are now going to turn our attention to two very specific types of leader-follower behaviors: mentoring and coaching. Unfortunately, there tends to be some confusion within the organizational world as to the nature of these two terms, so let’s quickly define them here before exploring each one in more depth. Mentoring is “the transfer of your [mentor’s] knowledge or professional experience to another person [mentee or protégé] to advance their understanding or achievement.”Hicks, R., & McCracken, J. (2009). Mentoring vs. caching: Do you know the difference? Physician Executive, 35(4), 71-73; pg. 71. Coaching, on the other hand, is the process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual increase efficiency or productivity in the workplace. The basic difference between mentoring and coaching is the desired result. The goal of mentoring is to help someone advance through the various hurdles associated with one’s career; whereas, coaching is about helping an individual engage in self-improvement in an effort to do her or his job better. Now that we’ve explored the basic differences between mentoring and coaching, let’s explore each in turn.
MentoringThe transfer of experience or knowledge from a senior individual (the mentor) to a junior individual (the mentee or protégé) in an effort to help the junior individual learn the ins and outs of organizational life. is a term used throughout business and a variety of other endeavors in life, and the concept goes back thousands of years to Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. The Odyssey tells the story of an elderly and wise sea captain named Mentor who gives Odysseus’s sun, Telemachus, guidance while his father is off fighting the Trojan War. From the gentle guidance of Mentor to the more formalized and established mentoring programs commonly seen in corporate America, the word “mentoring” commonly refers to a relationship where one individual with more knowledge and experience (the mentor) aids another individual who has less knowledge and experience (the mentee or protégé).
So, why would any individual desire to belong to a mentoring relationship. According to Kathy Kram in her ground breaking book Mentoring at WorkKram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman., mentoring provides two basic functions for mentees: career and psychosocial. Career functions are the ones people most commonly think of when they think about mentoring because career functions are associated with helping the mentee “learn the ropes” in the organization (or a field) in an effort to help that person climb the corporate-ladder. Mentors can engage in a number different behaviors to help a mentee do this. For example, a mentor can coach the mentee (more on this later in this section); a mentor can sponsor the mentee’s advancement by placing the mentee on interesting and challenging projects; a mentor can help mentee receive recognition and/or ensuring the mentee is widely visible; and a mentor can provide the mentee certain protections from organizational or field-based politics.Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. The psychosocial functions, on the other hand, include mentoring behaviors that “build on trust, intimacy, and interpersonal bonds in the relationship and include behaviors that enhance the protégé’s professional and personal growth, identity, self-worth, and self-efficacy.”Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 5. The goal of psychosocial functions is to help foster a relationship that is built on “acceptance and confirmation and providing counseling, friendship, and role-modeling” for the mentee.Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 5. In the rest of this section we are going to examine the basic stages that a mentoring relationship goes through, mentoring enactment theory, and the outcomes mentoring has for mentees, mentors, and organizations.
Mentors and mentoring is not a stagnant concept by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, mentoring relationships evolve over time and change as the mentee and mentor’s relationship changes. Gregory Dawson and Richard Watson explain mentoring as a three stage process: hierarchical years, junior/senior colleague years, and trusted sage years.Dawson, G. S., & Watson, R. T. (2007). Involved or committed? Similarities and differences in advising and mentoring in the academic and business world. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 2007(20), 3-10.
After either acquiring a mentor on one’s own or having one formally assigned to you, the first period in a mentoring relationship is one marked by formality. During these years, the mentor’s job is to direct and guide a mentee through corporate life. This period can last anything from three to five years and generally includes such behaviors as assisting “that person in understanding the corporate culture, getting appropriate work supplies, completing required forms, getting placed on an initial project and guiding the new professional through recurring yearly actions (e.g., performance appraisals).”Dawson, G. S., & Watson, R. T. (2007). Involved or committed? Similarities and differences in advising and mentoring in the academic and business world. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 2007(20), 3-10; pg. 5.
The junior/senior colleague years are marked by a period when the mentor and mentee redefine their relationship based on the needs and goals of those involved in the relationship. One of the marked differences during this time period is the change from a directive approach to mentoring (where the mentor is advising and supervising the mentee) to one that is marked by mutual respect and collaboration. Instead of the mentor inviting the mentee to participate on projects, the mentee is now dealing with her or his own projects and may or may not invite her or his mentor to participate as an equal partner on projects. During this period, the mentee should further expand her or his professional network and be seen as someone who can launch out on her or his own. You’ll notice that this period has both the notion of junior and senior colleague. This shift happens naturally over time. As someone starts out as a junior college, there is the expectation that the mentee will take on more and more projects of increasing complexity. Eventually, these projects become more central to the organization’s mission and the individual takes on senior status as a colleague to her or his mentor.
The final stage of the mentoring relationship occurs when the mentor and mentee are no longer bound by notions of organizational hierarchy and truly develop a working friendship with one another. During this stage it becomes even more important for an individual to have their own mentees as a way to pass on the legacy they received from their own mentor(s). Probably the number one hallmark of going from the colleague years to the trusted sage years is the establishing of one’s own mentoring relationships with mentees.
Now that we’ve explored the basic stages of mentoring, we are going to switch gears and try to understand a more general understanding of the initiating, maintaining, and repairing of mentoring relationships. To help us understand how mentor-mentee relationships functions from a communication perspective, Pamela Kalbfleisch developed the mentoring enactment theory.Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69. From Kalbfleisch’s theory on mentoring, we learn that the very center of the mentor-mentee relationship are two people who are joined together either formally or informally for the explicit purpose of achieving success. While mentees desire mentoring relationships because of the known value of mentoring on one’s career trajectory (see mentee outcomes below), mentors experience inherent costs.
For example, there are costs associated with “loss of time spent coaching a protégé, vulnerability through sharing hard-earned techniques and secrets, and potentially developing difficulties in one’s personal and professional life because of a relationship with a protégé.”Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69; pg. 64. So, why then do mentors opt to enter into mentoring relationships? Well, there is not a single answer to this question. Different people have a variety of different answers depending on their own organizational and personal perceptions of mentoring itself. According to Kalbfleisch there are four common reasons people decide to mentor a protégé: altruism, pay-it-forward, organizational expectations, or self-interest. First, a mentor could enter a mentoring relationship out of pure altruism. The mentor may feel some kind of deeply held obligation to help others, so he or she seeks out and enters into mentoring relationships out of a simple desire to see others grow. Second, a mentor could enter a mentoring relationship because he or she feels the need to pay-it-forward. The notion of paying-it-forward is based on the idea that the second generation mentor was at one point a protégé, so he or she feels a sense of obligation to her or his mentor, so the second generation mentor pays the debt to her or his mentor by opting to take on protégés. In this sense, you’re paying-the-mentoring forward to a new generation of protégés. The third reason a mentor may opt to take on a protégé is a result of organizational expectations. Many organizations have formal mentoring requirements for individuals who reach a certain seniority stage. Often in these formal mentoring situations, the mentor may not have a choice in the choosing of her or his protégés, so these mentoring relationships may not be the most effective because the mentor may feel strong-armed into the relationship. The final reason some mentors take on a protégé is out of pure self-interest. Some mentors want a protégé for no other reason than they want someone can help “accomplish outcomes or for an entourage to follow in one’s wake.”Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69; pg. 64. When it’s all said and done, there are a variety of reasons or even a combination of reasons why a mentor ultimately decides to enter into a mentoring relationship.
Kalbfleisch’s mentoring enactment theory was developed by applying the knowledge communication scholars have about a range of other interpersonal relationships. After examining what researchers know about interpersonal relationships, Kalbfleisch proposed nine basic propositions related to the enactment of mentoring relationships (Table 7.4 "Mentoring Enactment Theory Propositions").
Table 7.4 Mentoring Enactment Theory PropositionsKalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69; pgs. 66-68.
|Proposition 1||Generally, requests to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requestor are likely to be rejected in initial interactions between the advanced other and the requestor.|
|Proposition 2||Generally, requests to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requestor are more likely to be rejected than are requests for help on a specific task made by this same requestor.|
|Proposition 3||Requests made to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requester will be more likely to be accepted when the advanced other previously has agreed with a third party to serve as a mentor in a relationship.|
|Proposition 4||Offers made to a less advanced other to be a protégé are likely to be accepted.|
|Proposition 5||Offers of help made to a less advanced other are likely to be accepted.|
|Proposition 6||Protégés will be more likely than mentors to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward initiating, maintaining, and repairing their mentoring relationship.|
|Proposition 7||The closer a mentor is linked to a protégé’s career success, the greater the protégé’s communicative attempts to initiate, maintain, and repair a mentoring relationship.|
|Proposition 8||Female protégées will be more likely than male protégés to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward initiating, maintaining, and repairing their relationship with their mentor.|
|Proposition 9||Mentors will be more likely to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward maintaining and repairing their relationship when invested in the mentoring relationship.|
The first three propositions are all geared to examine the initiation of mentoring relationships. In essence, mentors are not likely to take on a protégé when the protégé approaches the mentor and asks for that mentoring relationship. However, mentors are more likely to help a potential protégé with a specific task. In essence, it’s better as someone looking for a mentor to ask for help on a specific task and then let the relationship develop naturally. The one case when this isn’t true occurs when a potential mentor as previously agreed to mentor someone. In these cases, the mentor has already been primed to taking on the role of mentor, so he or she tends to be more open in these cases to taking on a mentor.
The four and fifth propositions approach mentoring initiation from the mentor’s perspective instead of the protégés’. In proposition four, Kalbfleisch theorizes that when a mentor asks a protégé to initiate a mentoring relationship, the protégé is more likely than not to agree to the relationship. This is also true if a mentor reaches out to a potential protégé offering a helping hand (as seen in the 5th proposition). In both of these cases, individuals who are less-advanced in a hierarchical structure are willing and will accept both offers of help and offers of mentorship.
Propositions six, seven, and eight examine the role of communication within a mentor-protégé relationship. Specifically, Kalbfleisch theorizes that protégés will use conversations and strategic communication to initiate, maintain, and repair their mentoring relationships. Kalbfleisch predicts that this is more likely if someone is in a mentoring relationship that impacts the protégé’s success in the workplace or if the protégé is a female. Obviously, if someone’s success is in the hands of a mentor, making sure that relationship is effective is of paramount importance to the protégé. As such, the protégé is going to strategically use communication to ensure that the mentoring relationship is stable and healthy. Kalbfleisch also predicts that women will engage in this behavior to a greater degree than men, which has been supported by previous research on mentoring.Kalbfleisch, P. J. (1997). Appeasing the mentor. Aggressive Behavior, 23, 389-403.
The final proposition for the enactment of mentoring relationships theorizes that as mentors become more involved in the mentoring relationship, the mentors will become more likely to direct conversational goals and communication strategies towards maintaining and repairing that relationship with their protégés. In the initial stages of a mentoring relationship, the mentor really has nothing to gain from the mentoring relationship but incurs a number of costs. As the relationship progresses, the mentor invests a lot of time and resources into developing her or his protégé, so it should be no surprise then that the mentor will want to protect that relationship because of the investment.
By now you may be wondering why mentoring is so important, well we’re here to tell you that there a wide range of positive outcomes that happen as a result of mentoring. To help us understand the importance of mentoring in the modern organization, let’s examine outcomes related to mentees, mentors, and organizations.
In a 2007 analysis of 20 years of mentoring research, Thomas Dougherty and George Dreher found a wide range of positive benefits for everyone involved in the mentoring process.Dougherty, T. W., & Dreher, G. F. (2007). Mentoring and career outcomes. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 51-93). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Here is a partial list of the outcomes mentoring can have on a mentee over the course of her or his career. All of these outcomes are positively related to mentoring unless otherwise stated in the outcome:
While there has been a lot of research examining how mentoring is beneficial for the protégé, there has not been as much research examining possible benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship from the perspective of the mentor. As noted earlier, there are a range of reasons an individual may opt to become a mentor, so some of the outcomes are intrinsically tied to the original reason(s) someone opts to engage in a mentoring relationship with a potential protégé. However, the following tangible benefits have been seen for the mentor:Allen, T. D. (2007). Mentoring relationships: From the perspective of the mentor. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 123-147). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
One theoretical reason for why mentors actually have positive outcomes (especially those related to promotions and salaries) may have to do with the fact that “mentors may be rewarded by organizations because they are recognized as good organizational citizens.”Allen, T. D. (2007). Mentoring relationships: From the perspective of the mentor. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 123-147). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 135.
Many of the outcomes seen for both the mentor and the mentee are also outcomes for the organization itself. For example, organizations benefit from employees who are motivated, satisfied, less likely to leave, and show higher performance and productivity levels. Based on these factors alone, you would think organizations would spend more time formalizing the mentoring process to ensure that all employees receive these kinds of opportunities and advancements within the organization. Furthermore, numerous studies have found a very strong return on investment for organizations who engage in formal mentoring programs, so formalized mentoring programs really do make business sense.Kaye, B., & Scheef, D. (2000, April). Mentoring. In ASTD’s, Info-line Series. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development
As discussed at the beginning of this section, coachingThe process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual be more efficient or productive in the workplace. can be defined as the process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual be more efficient or productive in the workplace. From this perspective, the goal of coaching is to help individuals succeed in the workplace. Where the goal of mentoring is to help someone advance through a mentee’s career, coaching focuses on helping an individual engage in self-improvement in an effort to do her or his job better.
Now before we go into more detail about coaching, we should differentiate between two basic types of coaching commonly discussed in the management literature. First, we have executive coachingThe establishment of a professional relationship between a hired individual (professional coach or therapist) whose job it is to help an individual within a leadership position and that person within a leadership position become all that he or she can be within an organizational environment., or the “process of a one-on-one relationship between a professional coach and an executive (the person coached) for the purpose of enhancing behavioral change through self-awareness and learning, and thus ultimately for the success of the individual and the organization.”Baek-Kyoo, B. J., Sushko, J. S., & McLean, G. N. (2012). Multiple faces of coaching: Manager-as-coach, executive coaching, and formal mentoring. Organization Development Journal, 30, 19-38; pg. 26. In the world of executive coaching, a leader within an organization hires an executive coach for the pure purposes of improving that leader’s performance within the organization. An entire sub-field of executive coaches exist in today’s marketplace. Some executive coaches are very effective and have helped the top CEOs in the county become better leaders and achieve their organization’s goals. However, there are many charlatans that exist within this market, so we do not really recommend just hiring an executive coach on a whim.
Supervisory coachingThe communicative process of helping a subordinate improve her or his performance through direction, encouragement, and support., on the other hand, involves “an ongoing process for improving problematic work performance; helping employees recognize opportunities to improve their performance and capabilities; empowering employees to exceed prior levels of performance; and giving guidance, encouragement and support to the learner.”Baek-Kyoo, B. J., Sushko, J. S., & McLean, G. N. (2012). Multiple faces of coaching: Manager-as-coach, executive coaching, and formal mentoring. Organization Development Journal, 30, 19-38. This form of coaching involves what most people in the workplace will encounter with regards to coaching. We term this supervisory coaching because in this instance the coaching is actually being conducted by one’s supervisor in the workplace.
In 1948 during the American Psychological Association Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Bloom led a discussion about creating a common language for test developers and educators. Through a series of conference presentations from 1949 to 1953 groups met to discuss the idea of a common language, which ultimately culminated in the publication of the ground-breaking book Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals; Handbook I: Cognitive Domain in 1965.Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York, NY: David McKay. In this book, Bloom and his colleagues noted that there are three primary dimensions of learning that teachers should be concerned with in the classroom: of cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skill), and affective (attitude). Before we explain what each of these three domains of learning are, please take a second and complete the Organizational Coaching Scale found in Note 7.53 "Organizational Coaching Scale".
This survey includes a number of statements about how you may feel about your current working condition. You will probably find that you agree with some of the statements and disagree with others, to varying extents. Please indicate your reaction to each of the statements by marking your opinion to the left of each statement according to the following scale:
|Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neutral||Agree||Strongly Agree|
SCORING: To compute your scores follow the instructions below:
Step One: Add scores for items 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, & 10
Step Two: Add scores for items 3, 4, 6, & 7
Step Three: Add 24 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Skills-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be teaching you the skills you need to perform your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor as teaching you the skills you need to perform your job.
Step One: Add scores for items 11, 13, 14, 15, & 17
Step Two: Add scores for items 12, 16, 18, 19, & 20
Step Three: Add 30 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Cognitive-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be providing you the knowledge you need to perform your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor as providing you the information you need to perform your job.
Step One: Add scores for items 21, 23, 24, 28, & 30
Step Two: Add scores for items 22, 25, 26, 27, & 29
Step Three: Add 30 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Affective-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be promoting in you a positive attitude about your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor is either unconcerned with your attitude about your job or is actually creating a negative organizational environment.
Source: Wrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279–292.
You may be wondering what three domains of learning has to do with organizational coaching. Quite a lot actually. In a 2008 study conducted by Wrench, McCroskey, Berletch, Powley, and WehrWrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279-292., the researchers argued that organizational coaching is fundamentally related to learning, so examining organizational coaching in-light of the three domains of learning made conceptual sense. We should also note that the three domains of learning have been applied in other non-educational settings. For example, the three domains of learning are commonly referred to as the KSAs (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) in both training and development and human performance improvement.Biech, E. (Ed.). (2008). ASTD handbook for workplace learning professionals. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.
The first domain of coaching is referred to as cognitive-based coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement of recognition and recall of information and the development of intellectual abilities and skills., which refers to the recognition and recall of information and the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Let’s look at both parts of this definition. First, individuals undergoing cognitive coaching will be taught how to recognize and recall information that will help them perform their jobs better. This could be anything from learning how to recognize and troubleshoot problems as they arise in the workplace to more simplistic tasks like knowing who to call when you have a question. The second part of coaching involves the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Overtime, a good coach will help her or his subordinates develop themselves intellectually.
When it comes to developing someone intellectually, you want to stretch the subordinate and give them new cognitive tasks that will be a reach for the person without too much undue stress. For example, one of our colleagues had a secretary who was not technically savvy. When he became the secretary’s immediate supervisor, he decided he wanted to use an electronic calendar instead of the more traditional paper and pen calendar for keeping his meetings. While this may not seem like a big deal, this secretary needed to be coached and taught how to use the computer scheduling program. This new cognitive task was just enough of a stretch for the secretary without causing her complete frustration and a huge amount of stress.
The second type of coaching, skills-based coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement a specific skill that can help someone be more productive or efficient., is one that is very important in the workplace even though it’s a domain of learning often overlooked in the educational system. Psychomotor learning emphasizes “some muscular or motor skill, some manipulation of material objects, or some act which requires neuromuscular co-ordination.”Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: The affective domain. New York, NY: David McKay, p. 7 The goal of psychomotor learning is the acquisition of a specific skill that can help someone be more productive or efficient. Think back across your own life. You’ve learned many skills that make you more productive and efficient in life. Maybe you’ve learned to use a computer keyboard and no longer need to look at your fingers while typing. Maybe you’ve learned how to use the bells and whistles of a specific software program like Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite. When we learn these skills, they clearly involve cognitive power, but we refer to them as psychomotor because it’s the manipulation of your body to complete a task, which is a fundamentally different type of learning. Think about when you learned to ride a bicycle. You could have all the knowledge in the world about gravity and the engineering of a bicycle, but just having the cognitive knowledge is not enough to get you upright and moving down a road successfully.
A great deal of coaching in the workplace involves psychomotor coaching because the professional world is filled with skills that workers need to learn. Everything from learning how to put together a burger at a fast food restaurant to computer programming involves learning specific skills sets in the workplace.
The final type of coaching that happens in the workplace relates to the affective nature of one’s work. The affective domain of coaching is one where “objectives which emphasize a feeling tone, an emotion, or a degree of acceptance or rejection. Affective objectives vary from simple acceptance to selected phenomena to complex but inherently consistent qualities of character and conscience [learning about] interests, attitudes, appreciations, values, emotional sets or biases.”Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: The affective domain. New York, NY: David McKay, p. 7 In other words, affective coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement positive emotional reactions to an individual’s work and working environment. examines an individual’s emotional reaction to her or his work and working environment.
First, affective coaching involves ensuring that one’s subordinate has a positive attitude towards the work he or she is accomplishing. When subordinates do not see the value of their work or how their work fits into the larger picture of the organization, it’s very common that they will become disillusioned and not be optimal workers. As such, supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that their subordinates maintain a positive attitude about the work. In fact, subordinates often take their cues from supervisors with regards to how they emotionally approach a task. If a supervisor assigns a task with a grimace on her or his face, then of course the subordinate is going to approach that same task with some trepidation and disappointment. Ultimately, supervisors, through their coaching capacity, need to check in with subordinates and see how they are emotionally reacting to their work.
Second, affective coaching involves ensuring that employees are working in and helping to create a positive working environment. In some organizations where supervisors are removed from their subordinates, they may have no idea when an organizational climate is becoming toxic. For our purposes, we want supervisors who are tied into the organization and actually go about fostering and encouraging a positive working climate for their subordinates.
Now that we’ve examined the basic types of coaching in the workplace, let’s talk about some of the research that’s been conducted examining organizational coaching. In the original study that created the Organizational Coaching Scale, the researchers found that individuals who had supervisors who utilized all three forms of coaching were more motivated, satisfied, and productive.Wrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279-292. Furthermore, subordinates who reported having coaching supervisors reported fewer disengagement strategies. Disengagement strategies are strategies that an individual uses to decrease closeness or termination relationships in the workplace.Sias, P. M., & Perry, T. (2004). Disengaging from workplace relationships. Human Communication Research, 30, 589-602. In essence, people who have a positive coaching relationship with their supervisor feel more connected to their organizations, so they are less likely to start to disengage from their relationships in the workplace. Furthermore, a subsequent study examining cognitive, skill, and affective coaching in an organization found that individuals who received all three types of coaching were less likely to engage in latent dissent in the workplace (see Chapter 5 "Communicating Between and Among Internal Stakeholders" for a refresher on organizational dissent).Berletch, N., Powley, C., Wrench, J. S., & Wehr, A. (2007, April). The interrelationships between positive feedback and coaching in the workplace. Paper presented at the Eastern Communication Association’s Convention, Providence, RI.
Overall, the research results clearly indicate that organizational coaching is an important part of the success of an organization. For this reason, supervisors should create clear strategies for how they go about cognitive, skill, and affective coaching to ensure that it is happening in a systematic manner. Too often, coaching is left to chance in the modern workplace to the organization’s detriment.
The following case is based on a consulting experience of one of our colleagues. Names and institutions have been altered for this case.
Janet, an organizational consultant, was approached to serve as an executive coach for a financial wizard at an auditing the firm named Jerry. Jerry had everything senior management was looking for in a star employee. His projects came in on time and always under budget using fewer company resources than his counterparts. However, there was one problem the company had with Jerry—no one wanted to work with Jerry. Jerry was known for belittling and yelling at subordinates who did not turn in assignments on time and up to Jerry’s high standards.
Janet was contacted to work one-on-one with Jerry and help him develop various interaction skills. The company wanted to keep Jerry, but it needed Jerry to start acting and playing like someone on a team. Janet’s first contact with Jerry went about as bad as one would expect. Jerry didn’t understand why Janet was there and really thought the whole coaching process was a waste of money. Furthermore, Jerry really believed that there was nothing wrong with how he communicated with others. In his own words, “I’m just honest. I may be blunt, but that’s because I don’t have time to play wet nurse to a bunch of junior colleagues who shouldn’t be in corporate America.” Over time, Jerry became more and more aggressive as their coaching sessions continued. In fact, Jerry showed a clear resistance to coaching and the reports of aggressive behavior from his subordinates to human resources escalated.
Jonathan is a leadership researcher. He is currently trying to determine if an individual’s communication apprehension (a commonly study communication trait) impacts the effectiveness of an individual’s leadership within a nonprofit. Which approach to leadership is Jonathan employing?
Tika’s new boss is so much fun to work for. Basically, the job is almost like a party on most days. Her boss is more concerned with building morale and relationships than micromanaging people to ensure that the group gets their work done. According to Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid, what type of leaders is Tika’s new boss?
Which of the following is NOT an outcome of a leader-member exchange relationship?
Joaquin is a definite go-getter. Whiel Joaquin is one of the most productive individuals at X-corp, he also realizes that X-corp may not necessary be the best organization for him to escalate up the corporate ladder. As such, he’s always checking want-ads on Moster.com and LinkedIn. What type of follower would Roger Adair classify Joaquin as?
Bob has a phone call every Monday morning with a paid consultant. The consultant’s job is to help Bob, the CEO of a small tech-firm in California, direct his company’s future and help Bob realize his own goals. What type of coaching is Bob involved in?