Kirsty and several colleagues set up a new company when they left Mr Bakes, a medium sized bakery company. Kirsty had members of her Senior Management Team which are all females, mid-twenties and with no experience in the company management. However, Kirsty made a decision to set up a new innovational company and set standard requirements for the company. After that, she perceived three main problems in the initial phase after the foundation of the factory. First of all, there is a serious financial burden forced on the Senior Management Team. Second, some fractures have appeared in the SMT’s riendship at the initial stage of establishing a market. Third, there are some negative treatments from their competitors. To sum up these three main issues, Kirsty commented on her way of seeing the company through the start-up phase. She said that she had a vision and tried to make it clear to staffs to make them going the same way towards one goal. Otherwise, she not only devoted herself to dealing with all problems that the staff had but also trusted her staffs to be fully committed to what they wanted and was open to any idea on how to make that vision come true in reality.
In view of the ways of Kirsty’s leadership, it is not hard to find out the three modern leadership theories and approaches in her comments. This report will make a critical analysis of the strength and the weakness of Kirsty’s leadership for The Sandwich Factory by using the knowledge in leadership. Main Section: Leadership Theory Development On the basis of the leadership conception we can defined that “leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse 2007:3).
This definition emphasize on three key points — ‘process’, ‘influences’, and ‘common goal’. Moreover, leadership is giving direction aligning people to the vision and helping them cope with changes. For instance, the CEO of Apple Incorporated, Steve Jobs was a leader who provided the strategic vision as the managing director to his whole company. With the development of leadership theory, some academics put forward a few methods of leadership step by step, from the original Trait Approach to the current Ethical Leadership Approach which has experienced several periods of evolution.
People seek more information to answer what makes a good leader and how to be a good leader. Most of them believe that owning the ability of leadership could improve their social positions, personal cultivations of ideological morality and the quality of life. Many successful leaders are well equipped with good personal traits and comprehensive professional knowledge. In addition, they hold their opinions with persistence and bravely face new challenges and changes. In this case study, the principal theory is modern approaches of leadership.
It contains path-goal theory, leader-member exchange theory and transformational versus transactional theory. Then, it will make a particular analysis on these theories in the following sections. Path –Goal Theory Path-goal theory first appeared in the leadership literature in early 1970s. It builds on behavioral and contingency approaches which are concerned with how leadership behavior can motivate the satisfaction and performance of a follower in an organizational surrounding. It emphasizes the relationship and leadership behaviors between subordinate’s characteristics and task characteristics.
The main challenge of a leader in organizations is to use a leadership style that best satisfies followers’ motivational needs and to steer followers along a path to achieving the common goal, which seems attractive and increase followers confidence. House and Mitchell (1974) described four styles of leading subordinates which consist of “Directive Leadership, Supportive Leadership, Participative Leadership and Achievement-oriented Leadership”. It is used to analyze complicated relationships in an organization. The path-goal theory has several effective features.
First, it explains how various leadership behaviors interact with followers and task characteristics and how to choose an appropriate leadership style to affect subordinates’ satisfactions and work performances. Second, path-goal theory is that “it attempts to integrate the motivation principles of expectancy theory into a theory of leadership” (Peter G. Northouse, 2010, p. 133). A third positive feature of path-goal theory is that it affords a very practical model. Although path-goal theory has these positive features, it also has some opposite sides.
First of all, this theory is so complex and broad which includes so many different correlative conditions. Therefore, with a specific organizational context, it is so difficult to use it to ameliorate the leadership process. A second criticism of this theory is that “it does not give equal attention on all relevant aspects and the research results do not provide a full and coincident conclusion of the essential suppositions and consequences” (Evans, 1996). This may be due to the imperfection of measuring method in leadership behavior and measurement scale in work structure.
What’s more, this approach attaches importance to ‘people’ factors, whether leaders or subordinates are all complex man and there are many factors to influence them. This will definitely affect the full play of the transformational leadership. The transactional leadership is different from transformational leadership which does not focus on followers’ personal development. It was put forward by Hollander in 1978. Hollander deemed that “leadership happened in a given situation, leaders and followers maintain a transaction process.
Leaders by a clear task and persona’ needs to guide and motivate subordinates to complete the organization’s goals”. “Transactional leaders are influential because it is in the best interest of subordinates for them to do what the leader wants” (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987). Transactional leadership could become a tool for private gains. It could be excessive emphasis on ‘bottom line’, thus become a ‘short-term behavior’, only consider the pursuit of efficiencies and the maximization of profits and ignore some long-term things.
It could also make followers to fall into an immoral and irrational zone with the powerful pressures, excessive rewards and punishments. The most deadly is transactional leadership only knows to use of tangible and intangible conditions to exchange values with subordinates for getting the leadership. It is not able to give employees the significance of work. Thereby, the transactional leadership could not arouse the enthusiasm of employees or develop their creativities. On the basis of these two theories, it caused a new thinking but it is difficult to have an absolute answer about which leadership approach is better.
Transformational leadership has its applicable conditions and transactional leadership also has its stage. So, with a contingent method, it should apply to a special situation. The most important thing is the balance of transformational leadership versus transactional leadership. It is about being transactional in a transformational way. The case study five points out that Kristy had protection, motivation and vision at the same time and totally trusted her subordinates. The followers accepted and enjoyed the devolution and the responsibility. Kristy is not a control freak.
She made the challenge in a constructive way. Now the company has new customers every week and broke into new markets. The change never stops in The Sandwich Factory. Kristy used the transformational and transactional theory to finish the process of satisfaction between she and subordinates. She made subordinates recognize the responsibility and the signification of their tasks, and also gave high expectation to inspire them to achieve the common goal. She cared about the demand, ability and desire of followers. Otherwise, she listened, developed and guided her subordinates to grow up in challenges.
Conclusion To sum up the whole report, it would appear that every leadership approach has its benefits and drawbacks. Leaders have to choose and combine some useful aspects form these leadership styles and use it to fit for the company. All of the leadership approaches enhance the prospective of company and the relationship between leaders and followers. Therefore, knowing the subordinates’ traits is the primary responsibility. Then, balancing subordinates’ demands with organizational targets is to make sure the organizational development in a straight way.
Furthermore, the relationship between leaders and followers is complex and contextual. No leader could predict with any certainty how changing circumstances and events might affect the relationship with followers. The emotional connection with staffs is one of the effective ways to complete the leadership role in an organization. Not only pay attention to the business profit margins, but also concern with the subordinates’ work-life balance and well-being. The leader with high emotional intelligence could be easier to influence their staffs.
Making staffs in one group and concentrate their efforts in organizational aims. In conclusion, the creator of The Sandwich Factory has her special personalities and managerial methods. She used three modern leadership theories and put them together to lead subordinates. At the end of Kitsty’s comments, she indicated that ‘change never stops’. Facing the change in interior and exterior circumstances, leaders should change their styles in a positive direction especially being true to followers which could help leaders easily get the dependence from followers.