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Management functions and leadership basis

Category: HRM

It is essential that management understand not only how people behave, but also why. Such knowledge is valueless, however, unless provision is also made for an environment that enables and encourages employees to achieve personal and corporate goals. The way in which a leader deals with subordinates will to a considerable degree; be determined by the assumptions he makes about the people he leads.

Leadership may be defined therefore as:

— that part of management concerned with getting results through people,

— the efficient and effective use of resources to achieve an objective,

— the influencing of individual and group behaviour towards the optimal attainment of the organisation’s goals.

Management and leadership are not therefore the same. One is spontaneous, the other voluntary. In fact, however, it is not always possible to distinguish between the two.

Leaders’ tasks

The leader’s task must be to satisfy all three areas of need by achieving the task, building the team and satisfying individual needs. If the leader concentrates only on the task (e.g. going all out for production schedules) while neglecting the training, encouragement and motivation of his team and individuals, he may do very well in the short term. Eventually, however, the performance and quality of work will get poorer and poorer. Similarly a leader who concentrates only on creating team spirit while neglecting the task and the individuals will not get a maximum contribution from his people. They may enjoy working in a happy fashion in his team but will lack the real sense of achievement which comes from accomplishing a task to the utmost of individual ability.

Basis of authority

How does a leader obtain authority?

To achieve effective leadership you need to have two forms of authority. See diagram:

Leader’s authority

Leaders authority

1) Formal authority

As a leader you have a certain amount of authority given to you as part of your job. This is formal authority, without which you will have no status within your team.

If you rely solely on your formal authority you will gain little or no respect. This will lead to an unco-operative and uncommitted team.

2) Earned authority

Earned authority is based on a foundation of trust. By trusting your team, and by encouraging them to trust you, you will gain their respect.

Qualities of leaders

What are the qualities of a successful leader?

Early writers on leadership took the view that the personality of the leader was all-important; they said that leaders were born, not made. They compiled lists of the personal qualities (intelligence, integrity, steadfastness, etc.) that were needed in a successful leader. These lists were not based on careful observation and research and it was not an approach that could lead to ways of improving leadership behaviour.

Later work on leadership has been conducted from a behavioural point of view; leaders and their subordinates were studied in actual work situations in order to discover whether certain kinds of leadership behaviour are more effective than others. From many hundreds of studies quite consistent results have been obtained.

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