Essay Preview: Functional Leadership
Report this essay
Though functional leadership processes have received frequent dis¬cussion in team dynamics, little is known about the processes associated with leadership. There are two reasons for this; first, conceptually distinct processes associated with exchange, functional behavior, influence, and person perception have been used synonymously in defining leadership. This carelessness has made the term leadership indistinctive and has obscured the need to differentiate among such pro¬cesses. Second, adequate process-oriented measures of leadership have not been developed. Though early researchers focused on the relation between actual behavior and leadership ratings (Carter, 54), more recent investigations have been concerned almost exclusively with per¬ceptions of leadership behavior. According to Knickerbockers (25), they involve dynamic and active interpersonal pro¬cesses, which are functions of the needs existing in Ðo given situation in context of Ðo certain group. In team dynamics leadership is to some extent defined by the joint perceptions of followers – thus, leadership in¬volves the process of person perception.
Under Adairs functional model, leadership is seen as Ðo behavior designed to balance the needs of people – as groups and as individuals, and the needs of the task in pursuit of the goals of the group. Functional model therefore goes to some extent, towards an appropriate style by suggesting that Ðo lenders aim is to achieve the task set for him, by paying sufficient attention to task needs, group needs and the needs of individuals within the group, not regarding his own particular character and personality. Depending on the circumstances, the leader may need to pay more or less attention to each of the three variables, but he must direct some attention to all of them.
From the above definition of functional leadership it would seem that while intelligence, dominance, self-confidence energy and tÐosk-relÐoted knowledge may be essential qualities of Ðo manager, they do not necessarily make the manager an effective leader, and therefore do not make him Ðo successful manager. The implication, therefore, of the above is that for Ðo manager to be successful under the functional theory of leadership, he would have three main responsibilities to deal with, namely “task leadership”, “the leadership of the group” and “the leadership of the individuals:”
Ðo) Task leadership – (meeting the needs of the task): This entails defining the task, making Ðo plan and obtaining the resources required; allocating work and resources to group members, monitoring quality and pace of work, checking performance against the plan; adjusting the plan where necessary and co-coordinating the teams activity with other teams.
b) Group leadership – (meeting the needs of the group): This entails building teamwork into jobs, demonstrating loyalty towards the group and having Ðo good relationship with the groups chosen representative(s) if any; taking action on any matter that is likely to disrupt the group, such as unjustifiable pay differentials, uneven or unfair workloads and balancing unfair selection for training, development, overtime, etc.); informal contact in order to reduce the “them and us” attitude.
c) The leadership of Individuals – (meeting the needs of the individuals): This involves demonstrating concern for the individual; fairness and consistency in disciplinary matters; help with furthering the individuals career by way of training and development; commendation for good performance and offering helpful criticism for inadequate work; giving status to individuals; job enrichment, and recognizing that each person is unique and has different expectations and values. (Lord, 34-36)
In order therefore to meet the above needs, and as Ðo result be successful, Ðo functional leader/ manager must have the ability to:
Ðo) Communicate effectively: Whether in its verbal, non-verbal or written form, the manager should ensure that communication is always complete, concise, concrete, clear and correct. It should also always show consideration and courtesy.
b) Persuade: There are many situations where Ðo manager has to persuade the people he works with either to do something or to co-operate in some way.
c) Exercise Power: His influence should be non-coercive.
d) Motivate: The leader should always provide team members with guidance and encouragement, and understand that peoples individual needs effect team dynamics. (Cartwright 34-35)
Ideally, Ðo leader should have the ability to communicate effectively – which includes talking, listening, briefing and writing. He should have the ability to motivate and persuade team members, and always use power and authority with wisdom and sensitivity. He should always provide team members with guidance and encouragement, and should also acknowledge their good work. They should be helped to understand their job, the reason for them and the value of their job. Assistance should always be provided to enable the individuals to work effectively as team members. Work targets should always be clear and achievable. These should be agreed upon with team members and not dictated. Each individuals strengths and weaknesses should be clearly identified. Above all, their value and worth within the team and in the organization as Ðo whole should be frequently acknowledged.
To be an effective functional leader and therefore successful, Ðo manager must find Ðo balance between these elements in the light of the total situation. He should have the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. This will also include asking questions and listening actively. He should actively seek the opinions of team members and encourage different viewpoints. He should have the ability to persuade and motivate team members – providing counseling, practical assistance, guidance and encouragement.
Tasks should be properly allocated, resources adequately arranged and events always scheduled appropriately. He should have the ability to resource the group adequately, treat the group fairly and help develop team-spirit. The good work of each individual should always be recognized, and peoples value and worth within the team regularly acknowledged.
Functional leadership should positively affect its close surroundings and environment as well as the subordinates.