Is Participating Style Of Leadership The Same As Transformational Leadership A Symbiotic Relationship Between Leaders and Followers

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A Symbiotic Relationship Between Leaders and Followers

Organizations are constantly faced with the need for transformation in order to survive in today’s environment, in which change is perceived as relentless. Organizations that survive and remain viable are likely to be those led by effective leaders. Winston and Patterson define a leader as anyone who selects, trains, equips, and influences one or more followers to work toward organizational mission and goals. (2003). How do leaders create successful organizations? Kelly (2003) argued that the effectiveness of leaders depends on the input of followers, in other words, a leader is only as effective as followers allow. Although much work and research has been done to highlight the importance of leadership in an organization, there seems to be a lack of research on the meaningful contribution of followers to an organization. Kelly, in his book The Power of Followersship, states that few people have studied imitation; instead, the focus has always been on leadership. If leaders want to create a successful organization, they must recognize that followers are the most important resource an organization has, and that only by understanding the needs of their followers can they achieve organizational success. How can leaders focus their attention on followers to maximize organizational success?

Leadership theories continue to evolve even as leaders continue to strive to achieve and sustain organizational success. Leaders have been at the center of organizational success for decades. Kelly notes that for many years, the term “follower” was considered inferior to the success of the organization. This stigma created a false hierarchical image that allowed the positions of leaders to be more noteworthy. Therefore, leaders were seen as a means of achieving organizational success. Contemporary research by scholars such as Chaleff and Kelly has challenged this view, emphasizing that organizational success is impossible unless leaders are supported by strong followers. Kotter substantiated these conclusions by repeating that the complexity of the modern organization does not allow it to be transformed by a single giant. He went on to point out that to be successful, leadership efforts must have the support of followers. Without the participation of followers, the implementation of organizational decisions will not be promising. Followers, according to Kelly, make up 80-90% of the organization. He further identified different types of followers: conformists, pragmatists, passivists, or exemplars. While psychoanalysts such as Fromm see these styles as partly the result of personality; Kelly went on to explain that leaders who take the time to analyze each of their followers will realize that each follower style is a result of unrealistic expectations and mistrust or the leader’s leadership style. Conformist followers can be defined as those followers who will not challenge organizational norms due to fear of retaliation, but instead prefer to be “yes”; Conformists cannot function optimally in a climate where change is the norm. According to Kelly, for organizations to succeed, leaders need followers who are willing to challenge the status quo, not just be “yes.” Another type of followers are pragmatists, these followers are created by unstable organizations. Kelly went on to say that leaders who promote transactional relationships with followers promote pragmatism because those followers will choose to be docile and compliant in order to keep their jobs. Leaders can also create passive followers. Passive followers are not given any sense of autonomy, so they feel comfortable being led. Then there are exemplary followers, these followers are proactive and creative; they bring innovation to the organization and are ready to spend their talents for the benefit of the organization. Recognizing the diversity of followers working in the organization; leaders are now empowered to create and maximize the potential of followers to create successful organizations. as?

Because an organization goes through different stages, at each stage of the organization, leaders should expect to find followers with different styles. When leaders can identify the style that followers exhibit, they can adapt their leadership style to effectively and efficiently help followers build and maintain successful organizations. Early-stage organizations, according to Daft, belong to the entrepreneur stage, which requires followers who are creative and innovative. Now the leader’s job is to get employees who are anything but role models to become followers who are willing to explore their creativity. This stage of the organization requires leaders who have a multifaceted leadership style. As an organization moves into the collectivity stage, it needs leadership that is flexible enough to allow employees to explore the field while providing motivation and direction. Strong charismatic leadership comes in handy during this period (Daft, 2007). The final stage is the period of formalization and development, this period consists of continuous change and requires leaders who are good at following rules and norms, but at the same time recognize that followers should not be seen as an expendable resource. Leaders who ignore followers’ less-than-ideal styles will continue to fuel their own dysfunction and encourage followers to be less innovative. The end result is a failed or less successful organization. One of the greatest applications of multi-style leadership can be found in one of Paul’s epistles. The Apostle Paul is revered as one of the greatest leaders in the Christian community today, looking at 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, he gave us a clear example of how leaders must adapt their style to the style of their followers in order to create a successful organization. In each verse, Paul adapted his style as needed so that his followers could maximize their potential, which ultimately helped him achieve organizational success. Thus, leaders are now tasked with using a multiple leader style model that must successfully combat each follower style for the benefit of the organization. Multi-style leadership requires more than one leadership style when making a decision, the leader is able to assess the situation and then strategically apply the style needed to influence the situation.

Today’s organizations require effective leadership to be successful. Successful leadership does not depend solely on leaders, but instead represents the quality of the symbiotic relationship between leaders and followers. After all, great leaders are products of great followers. One of the key ingredients that should determine a leader’s style is the style of his followers. One size does not fit all; therefore, it is important that leaders adapt their style to maximize the opportunities of their followers. This can be done effectively when leaders are fully aware of the style of their followers and can then adjust their approach accordingly. The multifaceted model is useful because it recognizes different problems at different stages of the organization; he recognizes that leadership styles must be adjusted to suit each organizational stage; and finally, he recognizes that followers are the channels through which organizational success is realized, as such leaders must, in their quest to create a successful organization, adjust their style accordingly.

Literature:

Chaleff, I. (2003). Brave Follower, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, California.

Daft, RL, (2006). Organizational theory and design. (9th ed.). Southwest Thompson, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kelly, R. (1992). The Power of Followers, Doubleday, New York, NY.

Cotter, J. (2006), Strategic Rebalancing, A Key Factor in Modern Management, 2006 Vol. 11, No. 1.

Morgan, G. (2006). Images of the organization (updated edition). Sage Publications,

Thousand Oaks, California.

Berner, S., Eisenbeis, A., & Grisser, D. (2006). Follower behavior and organizational effectiveness: The impact of transformational leaders. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 2006, Vol. 13, No. 3.

Sullivan, G. Leadership Creates the Future for Your Organization, original November 10, 2007.

http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/change_leading.html

Winston, B., Patterson, C. (2005), An Integrated Definition of Leadership, Retrieved November 11, 2007, http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/ijls/new/vol1iss2/winston_patterson.doc/ winston_patterson.htm.

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