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Coordination of the resources of an organization requires more than just management. Leadership is critical to the efficient coordination of the resources of the organization to achieve the goals and objectives of the company. There are several contemporary leadership theories that may be used to explain the leadership styles within an organization. An efficient leader ensures that there is communication with employees and stakeholders within the organization. An efficient leader should also possess skills that would help in solving some problems that may arise due to employees’ resistance to change. Conflict resolution skills enable leaders improve the efficiency and effectiveness of employees. To improve my leadership styles, communication skills, and conflict resolution skills are my personal managerial goals.
Successful organizations have efficient leaders at the helm of the organizations. These leaders influence the activities of the organization towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization (Neck, 2006). There are several contemporary leadership theories that explain the leadership styles of various leaders, whether in an organization or in other settings. Contingency, trait, and behavioral are some of the contemporary leadership theories.
Contingency theory is one the theories that explain leadership. According to the contingency theory, the style of leadership is dependent on the environment, in which the leader operates. This theory implies that no leadership style can fit in all situations. Success of the leadership style depends on the certain variables that include the leader style, attributes of followers, and the situation. The leadership styles employed in contingency theory are relationship motivated or task motivated. Leaders who are task motivated are mainly concerned with achieving certain goals, whereas relationship motivated leaders strive to develop excellent interpersonal relationships with the followers (Northouse, 2009).
According to the trait theory, all leaders have certain common personality characteristics. These leaders are born with the characteristics that make them be better suited as leaders (Lussier & Achua, 2009). This theory identifies several personality traits that make individuals be better leaders. These traits include persuasiveness, aggressiveness, high energy level, and dominance.
Behavioral theory also explains leadership in different individuals. According to the behavioral theory, leaders are made, not born. Thus, leaders gradually learn how to become leaders through teaching and observation. Behavioral theory attempts to explain styles that effective leaders use by looking at their actions (Lussier & Achua, 2009).
Contingency theory best approximates the leader I would like to become. According to the contingency theory, leaders are goal oriented. This makes them use leadership styles that enable them to lead efficiently, depending on the environment of the leader. Flexibility makes leaders highly efficient. I am a goal-oriented person. Goals motivate me to improve my effectiveness as the need arises. Leadership theories show that there is no “right” style of leadership as each of the leadership theories has its flaws. True leaders must be flexible and use various leadership styles that fit to the situation at hand. Flexibility would tremendously help me to become a better leader.
Effective leadership requires the presence of efficient communication channels with various stakeholders of the business organization. Leaders, who communicate to the employees, ensure that they understand the goals and objectives of the organization. Therefore, leaders align their activities towards the attainment of those goals and objectives. Interpersonal communication is vital for the success of the business organization. Interpersonal communication refers to the verbal or nonverbal interactions that involve one-on-one or small groups’ interactions. For an organization to have excellent interpersonal communication, it must stress the key points, use proper medium of communication, and be open to feedback from the respondents.
An organization should ensure that it stresses the key points so that stakeholders may decipher from the message what the management wants them to understand. Thus, it is vital to stress the key points of the message to ensure other parties clearly understand it. Therefore, organizations should compose the message carefully and ensure there is no interruption of the message. Managers of business organizations may use facial expressions to send nonverbal cues. Expressions and behaviors should fit to the situation of the conversation and be appropriate to individuals with whom they are communicating (Krizan et al., 2007). The behavior of an individual during conversations should reflect his main objectives of the conversations. Therefore, a smile or a laugh should be appropriate to the situation.
To ensure information reaches the target audience and in a form that easily comprehensible, an organization should use proper medium of communication. Various mediums of communication are at the disposal of individuals or business organizations. The choice of the medium used is dependent on the efficiency of the medium in relaying the information (Berko, Aitken & Volvin, 2010). Every medium of communication has its advantages and disadvantages. The medium of communication that an organization or individual prefers should have advantages that suit the party. The disadvantages of the medium should have little effect on the effectiveness of the message communicated. For example, face-to-face apologies are more effective than other forms of communication as an individual can display honesty.
An individual or organization must also ensure that they are open to feedback from respondents of the communication. Feedback is communicating to an individual or a team, regarding the effect of their behavior on other stakeholders within the organization. There are two kinds of feedback – positive or constructive feedback. Positive feedback involves informing an individual or group on positive performance. An organization or individual should ensure that it gives positive feedback, as close to the relevant event as possible, as it would have a greater impact. Constructive feedback involves informing individuals or groups that their performance needs improvement. Upon receipt of constructive feedback, various parties may respond with either “flight or fight” behavior. Flight involves avoiding dealing with the reasons for the constructive feedback. On the other hand, fight involves defensive, counter attack or argumentative remarks. Both responses do not solve the problems. The relevant parties should accept the comments and seek more information to alleviate problems, highlighted by the constructive feedback.
I have communication and listening skills. I effectively use verbal and non-verbal means to stress certain points. However, I sometimes do not use mediums of communications that are effective. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that I select the most efficient medium of communication, depending on the information that I am communicating. There are some cases, where I react negatively to constructive feedback. This area in my personal communication and listening skills needs improvement the most. This necessitates me to accept constructive feedback and seek more information to solve problems that may be reducing my efficiency and reduce the recurrence of the problem in future.
Conflict Management and Change Management
All organizations experience changes. This necessitates the organization to find a balance between change and stability, while learning how to tackle the changes effectively. Organizations experience four types of changes. These are anticipatory changes, reactive changes, incremental changes and strategic changes (Kreitner, 2005). Anticipatory changes are planned changes, initiated by the management of the organization to enable it take advantage of certain situations. Reactive changes are changes that are necessitated by unforeseen events or pressures. Incremental changes entail small adjustments that an organization undertakes so that its activities remain in-line with goals and objectives of the organization. Strategic changes refer to changes that alter the overall activities or direction of the company. Strategic changes are the result of decisions from the top management of the organization.
There are two types of reactions of individuals to patterns of change within an organization. People may like the changes or reject the changes. People respond to changes they like by having unrealistic optimism, reality shock, and constructive direction. Managers can use several strategies to deal with the reactions to the changes. When people show unrealistic optimism, managers should encourage optimism by being realistic about things. If people have reality shock, managers should listen to them supportively, and set realistic short-terms goals to the people. If people have constructive direction, managers should encourage involvement of people in the changes and emphasize problem solving and learning in groups (Kreitner, 2005).
People respond to changes they do not like in stages. They first show fear, “laugh off” the change, develop self-doubt, begin to embrace the changes and finally take an active role in pursuing the change. If people fear the changes, managers should correct any misunderstanding that people may have, regarding the change. If people laugh of the changes, managers should encourage people to be optimistic by being realistic about things (Kreitner, 2005). If the employees grow self-doubt, managers should listen to the employees supportively and set short-term realistic goals. When people start buying into the changes and have constructive direction, managers should build personal commitments with the employees, recognize, and reward actions and words that are positive.
Managers can reduce the resistance to change by educating and communicating with employees. Although this is time consuming, it would help employees understand the need and logic behind the change, making employees help in implementing the change. Managers can also involve the employees in the design and implementation of the change to help reduce resistance to change. The managers should ensure that employees receive appropriate training, counseling, and compensatory times to enable them adjust to some of the problems that may result from the changes (Kreitner, 2005).
For the smooth running of the organization, managers must know how to manage conflicts within the organization. Conflicts involve employees interfering, disrupting, or using other means that reduce the efficiency and productivity of other employees (Kreitner, 2005). In an organizational setting, there are two types of conflicts – competitive and cooperative conflicts. Competitive conflicts refer to a situation, where two parties believe they are right, and other parties are wrong and do not agree in the middle. On the other hand, cooperative conflicts occur, when two parties compromise to end the conflict with each party ceding some ground to find the resolution. Various factors may trigger conflicts. To solve conflicts efficiently, managers must identify factors that triggered the conflict. This would enable the managers correct the source of the problem and avoid a recurrence of the problem in the future. Managers can also instruct the parties to disregard the problems they face and get the job done. This solves problems in the short term but may harm relationships of the employees in the long term. This is because it does not solve the problems that make the parties have conflicts. Manager can also ask the parties to have a compromise (Kreitner, 2005). In most instances, employees view compromise as a win-lose situation. Therefore, this makes both parties feel cheated. This only suppresses the conflicts temporarily. The management may also take control of the situation and determine the way employees should solve conflicts. This strategy is highly effective in situations that involve safety. This solves the conflicts temporarily but may compound the problems in the long-term. The manager may calm the employees and inform them that the situation will automatically solve itself. Although this strategy avoids the conflict, it may help in conflict resolution during a critical part of a project by facilitating the solution of the problem later. However, this may compound the problem and increase its magnitude.
To efficiently solve conflicts, it is critical to determine the root causes of the conflict to avoid a recurrence of the problem in the future. This would help me solve conflicts better. To determine the problems, I would listen to both parties to get a clear picture of the problem. I would try to avoid branding one party as being on the wrong. I would ensure the parties are realistic in solving the conflicts. This would involve explaining to the employees the disadvantages of having conflicts, and its effect on their efficiency and effectiveness. This would help improve my leadership skills.
Summary of Action Plan
To accomplish my personal managerial goals, I would ensure that I am a flexible leader. I would use leadership styles that best fit the current situation to lead efficiently and tackle any problems that may arise. I would ensure that my leadership style would enable the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization. I would use the time, taken to meet the goals of the company, as my performance measure.
I would also be open to feedback from various parties. I would ensure that I accept constructive feedback and seek more information to solve problems that may be reducing my efficiency. I would use measures that I have taken to improve my performance due to constructive feedback as my performance measure. I would evaluate the measures annually.
Improving my conflict resolution skills is one of my goals. To solve conflicts, I would listen to both parties to determine the root causes of problems to help in solving various conflicts. I would ensure that the parties are realistic and explain how conflicts affect their productivity. I would measure the percentage of conflicts that I have successfully solved within one year by avoiding their recurrence as my performance measure.