Team Leader versus Top Level Managers
Leadership is a phenomenon that can be described manifold due to its vastness in meaning and application. However, a succinct definition of leadership is as follows. Leadership refers to the process by which leaders try to influence their followers in establishing and accomplishing certain goals or objectives. For that accomplishment, leaders exercise their power so as to influence his followers or subordinates. This power is implemented in initial stages by the motivation of subordinates to perform their tasks and in subsequent stages presenting rewards or punishments for proper or improper task performance respectively. Leadership refers to a continuous course where accomplishing one task leads to the start of another one (Eeden et al. 2008, p. 88). Leadership and management are related as the former incorporate management of processes, people’s skills, traits, behaviors, situations, and amongst other factors. This paper aims at determining and explaining if a team leader faces more challenges than top-level management when trying to understand different leadership styles. It also determines if House’s path-goal theory can be the best way to develop team leaders.
The main components of leadership and management include; the transactional occurrence between leaders and followers, managing groups/teams, influencing people individually or in a group, and goal accomplishment. The role of top-level managers like CEOs is to effectively convert intention into reality in their organizations at the same time maintains consistency in work. Effective top-level managers are able to build clear visions, influence subordinates/followers by communication of vision to earn support, focus and maintain the organization’s direction by ensuring persistence and consistency (Cote 2017, p. 41). They are also able to empower subordinates to accumulate energy requisite for the achievement of desired goals, objectives, or results.
Leadership and management are universal phenomena in modern organizations regardless of location as there has been a rise in the need for planning, organization, leading, and controlling operations (Cote 2017, p. 28). Managers are required to create work environments where others can best achieve their goals and facilitate the achievement of organizational goals. They work to identify critical issues within the economic climate and craft apt responses. They get things done in an organization by creation and coordination of plans, processes, and conditions. They create an ample relationship with workers. This relationship is vital for the growth of employee productivity.
To answer the prompt of this paper as to whether a team leader faces more challenges than top-level management when trying to understand different leadership styles, a comprehension of the distinction between the two leadership positions is necessary. Top level managers are individuals whose work is to make decisions, establish goals and make plans which run the whole organization. Team leaders, sometimes referred to as supervisors, are individuals who involve themselves directly with the technical operations of an organization for the production of products, services, and accordance of assistance to customers. The role of a team leader is to coordinate and oversee the working of others for the realization of organizational goals. They help others in their tasks such as coordination of groups or supervision of a person or groups. Team leadership may also entail the coordination of a group encompassing various people from various departments, temporary workers, and also getting involved in other technical processes (Luthra & Dahiya 2015, p. 44).
Therefore, from the above, it is apparent that a team leader faces more challenges than top-level management in trying to understand different leadership styles. This is because they are directly involved with other workers, such that a team leader must know the traits, behaviors, and capabilities of each and every individual. The composition of the group that a team leader is supervising involves different individuals. This requires that a team leader must know and understand the weaknesses and strengths of each and every individual so that they determine the leadership style that will work best when dealing with each of the members (Luthra & Dahiya 2015, pp. 44–45).
Further, since various the composition of the group may involve employees from different departments, there is a need for the team leader to determine how the employee performed in their department and which leadership style their previous supervisor used. This will bring the need to determine which style can be applied to make the worker output the best results while working with others for the achievement of the goals of the group (Eeden et al. 2008, p. 89). The top-level managers, on the other hand, have limited knowledge on the technical operations as well as information on employees on project teams, therefore does not have many challenges since the team leaders are answerable to them.
House’s Path-Goal Theory
Path-Goal leadership model is a theory proposed by House and is founded on a specification of leaders’ style or behaviors which best fit their employees or subordinates and workplace environment for the achievement of goals. The goals revolve around improving employees’ motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction in order for them to be productive members of teams and the organization as a whole. The path-theory model can be regarded as a process which a leader chooses a specific behavior which is best fitting to the needs of subordinates and the entire work environment in order to best guide the subordinates in their paths of achievement of daily tasks or goals. The steps followed for the execution of the path-goal theory are as follows (Northouse 2018, p.115). A leader determines the traits of an employee and the environment, the leader selects an apt leadership style, and then the leader focuses on aspects that will facilitate the success of the employee.
The path-goal theory could be the best way to develop team leaders since it provides a clear direction on what can be done in different situations to accomplish the best results. A team leader can develop their leadership capacity when they follow this theory. Depending on the subordinates’ traits, the team leader will know which the best leadership approach to apply is. For followers with dogmatic and authoritarian traits and where activities are complex, ambiguous, and faced with ambiguous rules, the team leaders undertake directive kind of leadership behaviors which aims at provision of guidance and psychological structures. Supportive leadership behaviors are accorded in situations where followers are less satisfied and require affiliation and human care and where tasks are repeated, non-challenging, and mundane (Northouse 2018, p.115).
Participative leadership behaviors are accorded to subordinates where tasks are ambiguous, not clear, and non-structured and followers are independent and require control and clarity. In instances where tasks are confusing, challenging, and complicated and followers have high expectations and wish to excel, an achievement-oriented leadership behavior is embraced. This is as opposed to traditional view/approaches of leadership where a single style is applied for all situations which hinder the achievement of goals of an organization (Eeden et al. 2008, p. 90). Further, team leaders cannot be developed in traditional approaches since the relationship between them and other employees is unhealthy, and breeds frustration, and non-satisfaction. Path-goal theory, on the other hand, creates a healthy work environment which helps in developing team leaders.
The major strengths of path-goal theory over traditional leadership approaches include; provision of a framework for comprehension of situations whereby leaders’ behaviors will motivate the performance of employees and work satisfaction and provision of a model for facilitation of setting, clarity, and direction of goals by the team leaders. Further, it tries to incorporate motivational values set by expectancy theory, and also provides a leadership model that is practical for the modern day organizations and is geared towards motivation of workers, a creation of a healthy relation between team leaders and co-workers, and leads to increased performance (Cote 2017, p. 31). This, therefore, makes path-goal theory the best way to develop team leaders over traditional leadership approaches.