Effects of Leadership Styles on Staff Productivity

Published: 2021-07-06 15:40:05
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The need to develop better leadership styles is becoming increasingly important in all organizations. The purpose of this paper is to ascertain if there is a correlation between the supervisor’s leadership style and the employees’ performance, particularly in the law enforcement field. This paper reviews three recent and widely utilized leadership styles: contingency theory, transactional theory, and transformational theory. There is a lack of total agreement in the reviewed literature as to the best leadership style to be used in law enforcement, but transactional theory appears to be more effective than contingency theory.
Transformational theory is considered by many to be an improvement to the transactional theory of leadership. There appears to be an ever increasing number of studies supporting the benefits of the transformational theory. In today’s ever changing climate, there are some researchers whose findings suggest the optimal leadership style may be a blend of transactional and transformational theories. 1. Introduction This paper attempts to find a correlation between the supervisor’s leadership style and the employee’s performance, particularly in the law enforcement field.
The use of the correct and appropriate leadership style in all fields has long been a topic of discussion and debate by both scholars as well as practitioners. “The desire to develop better leadership styles is becoming a matter of increasing importance in the public sector and especially in law enforcement agencies. ” (Bruns & Shuman, 1988, p 145). Police leadership is often not well developed because of the police culture, the law enforcement’s bureaucratic rank and file structure and the civil nature of the job (Densten, 1999).
As a result, a variety of theories on different leaderships styles have evolved but many have multiple similarities (Engel, 2001). Engel (2000) initially reported that many earlier works have suggested that supervisory styles have a significant impact on patrol officer behavior although the author noted no research has been attempted to evaluate the varying influence that different supervisory styles have over police officer behavior. Engel (2003) later reported a more recent and important finding that the style or quality of supervision can significantly influence patrol officers’ behavior.
Supervision by the sergeant can influence some patrol officer behaviors, but this influence varies according to the style of supervision. As Engel (2001 & 2003) notes, first-line supervision is extremely important to police organizations’ success and the implementation of organizational goals. But the author also reports that studies on police supervision are limited in scope and fail to answer many questions on differences in leadership styles. For the purposes of this work, performance is defined as the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.
Satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite (dictionary. com). Job satisfaction is defined as the extent to which people like (satisfaction) or dislike (dissatisfaction) their jobs. “Traditional job satisfaction facets include: co-workers, pay, job conditions, supervision, nature of the work and benefits. ” (Williams, 2004). For the purposes of this paper, it is assumed that leaders aspire to increase subordinates’ job satisfaction and performance.
In addition, it is further assumed job satisfaction and performance have some degree of positive correlation and they are linked in some fashion. For example, if employee job satisfaction increases, then employee job performance improves. It should be noted this relationship between job performance and job satisfaction has been the topic of numerous studies whose results have been mixed. Arguments such as “does satisfaction lead to performance? ” or “does performance lead to satisfaction?
” or if there any correlation whatsoever between performance and satisfaction still exist. It is still an issue of continuing debate (Buchanan, 2006). Three recent theories to be discussed in this paper are the contingency theory, the transactional theory, and the transformational theory. The contingency theory speculates that leadership styles are task or relationship oriented. This theory suggests effective leadership is determined by the situation and an effective leader is able to adapt to a variety of situations.
Several models have prevailed under the contingency theory of leadership. The Situational Leadership Model (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977) seems to have been the most accepted and most prevalent model under the contingency theory (Graeff, 1983). This was deemed the most effective leadership model from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and as such, was the most prevalent (Bryan, 2002). The second and third leadership theories to be discussed in this paper were introduced by Burns (1978) who identified two types of leaders – transactional leaders and transformational leaders.
He made a sharp distinction between transactional and transformational leadership and considered them as opposite ends of the spectrum. While they were somewhat similar, the transactional leadership theory and the transformational leadership theory were distinct and had different applications. Bass (1985) theorized that transformational leadership can be considered an extension of transactional leadership. He hypothesized that transformational leadership complemented transactional leadership and they were not mutually exclusive (as cited by Johnson, 2006; Chan 2005; Ozmen, 2009).
Both transactional and transformational leadership styles are expected to influence their subordinates’ behavior. But they may not be equally as effective in developing all types of subordinates’ performance (Johnson, 2006). II. Contingency Theory of Leadership The contingency theory of leadership suggests the leader’s ability to lead is dependent upon various situational factors, including the leader’s preferred style, the capabilities and behaviors of followers and various other situational factors.
There is no one best way of leading and effective leadership styles vary from situation to situation. The theory assumes leadership behaviors affect outcomes, such as group performance and achieving goals, by the influencing the subordinates’ behavior (Butler & Reese, 1991). There have been several models utilizing the contingency theory concepts – the Contingency Leadership Theory (Fiedler, 1967), Normative Decision Theory (Vroom & Yetton, 1988), and Path-Goal Theory (House, 1971) (as cited by Butler and Reese, 1991).
The Situational Leadership Model (SLM) by Hersey and Blanchard (1977) stands out in terms of its popularity with practitioners (Blank, Weitzel & Green, 1990). The SLM depicts four leadership styles grouped by “task behavior” and “relationship behavior”. The four styles are labeled (1) telling – a high risk/low relationship, (2) selling – a high risk/high relationship, (3) delegating – a low task/low relationship, and (4) participating – a low task/high relationship. The SLM recommends the appropriate leadership style based on the “maturity” of the subordinates.
Maturity is the subordinates’ willingness and ability based on education and/or experience to focus their behavior on a task or objective. A manager’s adaptability is measured by a tool called the “Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD) (Butler & Reese, 1991). SLM was used extensively in the training of police managers in the United States although it was widely acknowledged that most of the police supervisors did not receive any formal management training. In a study of 211 police supervisors, the supervisors who were rated the most effective utilized the SLM. (Standing Bear, 1986).
It should be noted most of these contingency theory models and associated papers were written over 20 years, well before the development of the transactional and transformations theories. Does the Contingency Theory Lend Itself to Increased Employee Performance? Despite some studies offering limited and provisional support of the SLM, most studies have been critical for various reasons. The researchers indicated this is particularly surprising due to the extensive use of the SLM and its widely accepted managerial philosophy throughout the world. The researchers note the SLM has little verifiable support.
Only a few studies have been conducted to test its validity and most were not comprehensive in nature. For example, several studies in the 1980s were conducted in which the managers who utilized the SLM rated their subordinates’ job performance significantly higher than managers who did not utilize the SLM. Unfortunately no objective measures of performance were employed. In addition, the SLM has been criticized for multiple reasons on theoretical grounds for the reason that there is little academic justification for the SLM’s style classifications as well as multiple arguments against the validity of the LEAD (Butler & Reese, 1991).
Basic assumptions the SLM makes also added to the critical views of the model. According to Graeff (1983), multiple features of the SLM such as assumptions of the job maturity aspects of the model appear to question its theoretical soundness and restrict its practical use. The author concedes that the SLM makes minor contributions to the leadership arena as the model does correctly focus on the truly situational nature of leadership and the need for flexibility on the leader’s behalf.
Blank, Weitzel & Green (1990) supported Graeff’s findings and reported the SLM focuses on only one situational variable (subordinate maturity) as a moderator of two leader behaviors (task and relationship) and leader effectiveness. The authors’ research raises more questions than answers about SLM and indicates the need for more empirical studies. Butler & Reese (1991) conducted a study in which they examined the relationship between 675 insurance salespersons’ performance and their 41 branch managers who employed SLM leadership styles.
The researchers reported that the data did not support the hypothesis the SLM leadership styles were associated with superior sales performance. In fact, the SLM leadership styles were associated with inferior performance. Another facet of the study tested the four styles of the SLM. Insurance agents who preferred the telling (high task/low relationship) had a higher job performance than the agent who preferred other styles. The researchers suggest these findings defy the logic on which the SLM is founded. The findings also suggest the SLM is incomplete in its description of leadership styles and the situations facing the leader.
But the simplicity of SLM is one reason for its popularity. III. Transactional Theory of Leadership Transactional theory, as its name implies, involves a “transaction” or quid pro quo between a supervisor and a subordinate. The type of the transaction, whether a reward or discipline, depends on the employee’s performance. Bass (1985) theorized the transactional leaders appeal to the subordinates’ self interests (as cited by Chan, 2005). Transactional leaders attempt to meet the current needs of their subordinates through bargaining and exchanging.
Transactional leaders expect their followers to attain agreed-upon goals without encouraging them to take on greater responsibilities for self-development or leading others. There is no attempt to change followers’ attitudes, values, growth, and development on a long-term basis. Both leaders and followers focus on achieving the negotiated performance level (Chan, 2005). A transactional leader motivates subordinates by giving rewards for services provided. This leader clarifies the subordinates’ goals and arranges contingent rewards as inducements toward the achievement of the goals (Singer and Singer, 1990).
One might theorize transactional leaders would have the greatest effect on patrol officers’ productivity such as the number of arrests, reports or citations for the reason that supervisors can set clear quantitative expectations that are easily monitored (Engel & Worden, 2003). Leadership behaviors that emphasize telling or controlling would be classified as transactional leadership because rewards and discipline are administered according to adherence or deviation from instructions. Transactional leadership is a reinforcement technique requiring constant application.
There are two main components of transactional leadership – contingent reward and management-by-exception. Contingent reward is when the leader provides rewards if the subordinate performs in accordance with the performance expectations or expends the necessary effort (Densten, 1999). The contingent reward aspect of transactional leadership should also relate positively to performance in that these leaders clarify expectations and recognize achievements that positively contribute to higher levels of effort and performance (Bass, Avolio, Jung, and Berson, 2003).
Management-by-exception represents the taking of action by the leader when the follower does not meet the performance expectations (Densten, 1999). In the management-by-exception approach, transactional leaders clarify expectations, specify standards for compliance, define what constitutes ineffective performance, and monitor closely to ensure that deviances and errors are corrected promptly (Bass, Avolio, Jung, and Berson, 2003 cited by Chan, 2005). Van Maanen’s “Station House Sergeant” vs. “Street Sergeant”
Through extensive work with patrol officers and patrol sergeants in a large urban police department, Van Maanen (1983, 1985) identified two distinct types of patrol sergeants – the “station house sergeant” and the “street sergeant. ” The first type, identified as the “station house sergeant,” personified the characteristics common to the transactional leadership style. Station house sergeants spent the majority of their time in the station, dealing with administrative issues such as processing paperwork. Rarely did they directly supervise their subordinates in the field.
They preferred to control officer behavior through their authority to grant favors such as days off, choice assignments, and the ability to earn overtime pay. Van Maanen (1985) found that if given a choice, patrol officers preferred to work for the station house type of sergeant. This was because they had less direct supervision, more opportunities to conduct personal business on duty, and less pressure to be proactive. The second type of sergeant, the “street sergeant,” personified the characteristics common to the transformational leadership style and is discussed later in this paper (Van Maanen, 1983 & 1985 as cited by Johnson, 2006).
Engel’s Four Supervisory Styles Studying 322 patrol officers as well as 81 sergeants and lieutenants in two agencies, Engel (2001) identified four distinct supervisory styles among patrol supervisors. They were labeled as traditional, innovative, supportive and active. Three of these supervisory styles, specifically traditional, innovative and supportive, were variations of the transactional style of leadership. The traditional style of supervision is characterized by supervisors who expect their officers to produce measurable outcomes such as arrests, reports, citations, etc.
The traditional supervisors expect aggressive enforcement from their officers, but expect little relative to quality of life issues or community policing-related issues. The supervisors are likely to make the decisions as they took over calls or tell the officers how to handle their calls. Their main concern is to control subordinate behavior. The innovative supervisor expects their subordinates to engage in community oriented policing. They are less concerned with enforcing rules, report writing or other tasks deemed important by the traditional supervisors.
They excel as mentoring and coaching their subordinates. The supportive supervisors encourage and praise their officers more and maintain good relations with them. They may provide a buffer between their officers and management to protect them from criticism and discipline. They are more likely to praise their subordinates and are not task oriented (Engel, 2000 & 2001). Johnson (2006) also classifies these three styles as variations of the transactional style of leadership. Does the Transactional Theory Lend Itself to Increased Employee Performance?
Transactional leaders achieve compliance from subordinates through an exchange of rewards for services. For example, transactional leaders will offer raises or promotions for higher work productivity. The weakness of this leadership style is that employees are not invested in their work and once rewards become unavailable, it is difficult to continue to motivate them (Johnson, 2006). According to Bass (1985) and House (1996), a transactional approach is deficient for long-term development, which normally entails significant individual and organizational change.
While many leaders utilize transactional leadership, they fail to constantly apply this behavior because of lack of time, inadequate opportunities to observe, ineffective appraisal systems, doubts about positive reinforcement effectiveness, and lack of skills. The negative aspects of leadership behaviors are associated with transactional leadership. One of the most interesting findings of a study of 480 senior Australian law enforcement officers was the prevalence of the transactional theory’s management-by-exception over other leadership behaviors.
The significantly higher level of management-by-exception indicates that leaders of senior officers are mainly passive and focus on correcting deviations from the status quo. Several previous perceptions of police leadership support this finding, such as police leaders being “after the fact supervisors. ” It is suggested that high levels of transactional leadership indicate only basic leadership competency among leaders. Therefore, in the Australian law enforcement study, it appears that leaders only demonstrate basic leadership capabilities, which may reflect the lack of formal leadership training.
Despite the shortcomings of transactional leadership which prevailed in this law enforcement environment, the findings amazingly indicated a relatively high level of follower satisfaction with this leadership behavior. As the author noted, the relatively high follower satisfaction level with such a negative form of leadership behavior was surprising and requires further investigation (Densten, 1999). Under Van Maanen’s “Station House Sergeant vs. Street Sergeant” theory, the patrol officers of the “Station House Sergeant” (i. e.
, the transactional leader) were significantly less productive and less compliant with rules and directives than employees of the “Street Sergeant” (i. e. , the transformational leader) (Van Maanen, 1983 & 1985 as cited by Johnson, 2005). Under Engel’s (2001) four supervisory styles theory, all of Engel’s (2001) leadership styles influenced subordinates to some degree. The three leadership styles that were classified as variations of transactional leadership, specifically traditional, innovative, and supportive leadership styles, were found to have limited influence (Johnson, 2006).
In fact, Engel (2000 & 2001) suggests the active supervisor (the transformational style of leadership) has the most influence over their subordinates’ behavior. IV. Transformational Theory of Leadership Transformational leadership is the leader’s ability to motivate followers to rise above their own personal goals for the greater good of the organization (Bass, 1985, 1996 as cited by Murphy & Drodge, 2004). Bass (1985) theorized the transformational style of leadership comes from deeply held personal values which cannot be negotiated and appeals to the subordinates’ sense of moral obligation and values (as cited by Chan, 2005).
“Transformational leaders go beyond transactional leadership and are characterized as visionary, articulate, assured, and able to engender confidence in others so as to motivate them to surpass their usual performance goals” (Schwarzwald, Koslowsky and Agassi, 2001, p 277). The transformational leaders attempt to stimulate the undeveloped or dormant needs of their subordinates (Chan, 2005). Bass declared there were four types of transformational leadership behavior, namely idealized influence (charisma), inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation (Densten, 1999).
Idealized influence represents role-modeling behavior where the leader instills pride, faith, and respect, and has a gift for seeing what is really important, and transmits a sense of mission. Inspirational motivation represents the use of images and symbols that enable the leader to raise the expectations and beliefs of their follower concerning the mission and vision. Individualized consideration represents providing experiential learning and occurs when the leader delegates a project, provides coaching and teaching, and treats each follower as an individual.
Intellectual stimulation represents cognitive development of the follower and occurs when the leader arouses followers to think in new ways and emphasizes problem solving and the use of reasoning before taking action (Johnson, 2006). Transformational leaders encourage their subordinates to bring creative viewpoints to work and stimulate a team vision through positive motivation. With regards to the law enforcement arena, the transformational leader expects their subordinates to be more occupied with problem solving and community-oriented policing which more often than not equate to lower statistics. (Engel, 2003).
Transformational leaders are expected to enhance the performance capacity of their followers by setting higher expectations and generating a greater willingness to address more difficult challenges (Bass and Avolio, 1997). Transformational leaders continuously show concern for their subordinates’ needs, treat them with respect and utilize a flexible approach towards them. This does not necessarily mean that the transformational leader never resorts to punishment or negative feedback. When these behaviors are used, they are perceived or may be interpreted as exceptional and required for completing the present task (Schwarzwald,
Koslowsky, Agassi, 2001). Transformational leadership behaviors alter the higher order needs of followers by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and values. Such behaviors are important to the leaders of senior police officers because they can directly influence rank-and-file officers and any process of change. Transformational leadership involves raising the consciousness of followers by appealing to higher ideals and values, and moving the focus of followers away from their self-interests encouraged by transactional leadership.
In other words, the leader encourages their followers to consider their actions beyond simply “what is in it for them. ” The transformational leader motivates subordinates by focusing them on a greater cause, such as justice. Burns (1978) argued that transformational leaders have a more significant motivating effect on employees and are preferable to transactional leaders because they motivate employees to perform well even in situations that lack any chance of receiving formal recognition.
Chan (2005) reports that over the last few decades, organizations have had relatively significant success with various kinds of transformational leadership models. A leading example is the Kouzes and Posner’s (2003) model which offered a leadership model with five distinct practices that outstanding leaders use to influence employees’ performance. This model consists of some of the key elements of the transformational leadership styles.
The five practices of exemplary leadership are: (a) challenging the process: searching and seizing challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve, with the willingness to take risks and learn from mistakes; (b) inspiring a shared vision: enlisting followers’ support in a shared vision by appealing to the followers’ values, interests, and aspirations; (c) enabling others to act: achieving common goals by building mutual trust, empowering followers, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and providing continuous support; (d) modeling the way: being a role model and being consistent with shared values; and (e) encouraging the heart: providing recognition for success and celebrating accomplishments. Van Maanen’s “Station House Sergeant” vs. “Street Sergeant” As mentioned previously, Van Maanen (1983, 1985) identified two distinct types of patrol sergeants. The first was the “station house sergeant” who personified the transactional leadership style. Van Maanen’s second type of patrol sergeants, which he called the “street sergeants”, personified the transformational leadership style. They spent the majority of their time in the field directly supervising officers or engaging in patrol work of their own.
Street sergeants held characteristics similar to the transformational leadership style through their direct support of officers in the field and their leading by example. Officers who worked under the street sergeant types of supervisors experienced more direct supervision, fewer opportunities to conduct personal business or engage in loafing, and were under constant pressure to produce outputs through proactive stops and patrols (Van Maanen 1983 & 1985 as cited by Johnson, 2006). Engel’s Four Supervisory Styles Engel (2001) identified four distinct supervisory styles among patrol supervisors and they were labeled as traditional, innovative, supportive and active. As pointed out previously, the first three of these supervisory styles, were classified as variations of the transactional style of leadership.
The fourth leadership style labeled as active was found to have the qualities of a transformational leader. These active style supervisors, much like Van Maanen’s (1983, 1985) street sergeants, spent most of their time in the field backing up officers on calls and engaging in their own proactive patrol work. They directly supervised officers in the field, engaged in high levels of proactive enforcement and problem-solving activities, and expected their subordinates to do the same. Murphy & Drodge’s Study of RCMP Detachment Murphy and Drodge (2003) studied the leadership style of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment consisting of 28 police officers.
The overall leadership style was described as transformational leadership in which the four I’s of transformation leadership, namely individualized consideration, idealized influence, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation, were clearly present. The study found an essential component of the individualized consideration was to make certain the correct personnel are placed in positions in which they have a strong interest. It was also discovered that rewarding achievements were important as well as providing the tools necessary to perform their jobs. The authors found that a high degree of idealized influence existed in the detachment as the leaders had proved themselves through knowledge and deed in order to gain the respect of the officers.
Furthermore, the leaders understood the need for a command and control style of management that was balanced with flexibility and empowerment. A key ingredient of inspirational motivation, communicating the vision to all officers and repeating it often, was evident among the detachment. This is essential to leading the subordinates to achieve more that they originally expected to accomplish. Intellectual stimulation was also found to be prevalent by the authors as the leaders of the detachment were focused on continuous employee development. Does the Transformational Theory Lend Itself to Increased Employee Performance? Lowe and Kroeck (1996) reported transformational leadership has been shown to have a positive relationship on follower performance.
Another finding that was particularly noteworthy was their conclusion transformational leadership is more highly associated with effectiveness than transactional leadership. Their tests also suggest that leader behavior may be more important at lower organizational levels than has been generally assumed by those who view transformational leadership as primarily a means to be utilized only by senior management. It should be noted the authors also reported that transactional leadership is a necessary component of effective management. Bass and his colleagues found that although both transactional and transformational leadership styles may both have positive effects, transformational leadership, particularly the charisma component, had the highest association with positive outcomes.
This has been demonstrated with various criteria including performance level, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and citizenship behavior (Schwarzwald, Koslowsky and Agassi, 2001). Trust is a critical element in the successful implementation of transformational leadership (Bass and Avolio, 1990; Kouzes & Posner, 2003 as cited by Chan, 2005). Research has provided confirmation that trust in superiors and influence of superiors are predictors of job performance and job satisfaction (Goris, Vaught, and Pettit, 2003 as cited by Chan, 2005). Research also found that found that trust affects job satisfaction and job performance (Cunningham and MacGregor, 2000 as cited by Chan, 2005).
Previous research has associated trust in leaders with job satisfaction, job performance, and innovative behavior (Simmons, Nelson, & Neal, 2001; Tan & Tan, 2000 as cited by Chan, 2005). Van Maanen found that officers preferred to work for a station house sergeant but the majority of patrol officers had more respect for the street sergeant because of this type of supervisor’s willingness to back them up on calls and engage in pro-active patrol work. He also found that patrol officer productivity and compliance with rules and directives was significantly higher when working for a street sergeant than with a station house sergeant, suggesting support for the effectiveness of transformational style leadership (Van Maanen, 1983 & 1985 as cited by Johnson, 2005). Van Maanen (1983, p.
298 as cited by Engel, 2000) described the street sergeant as being “both admired and feared by their men” and therefore more likely to influence their subordinates’ behavior. Under Engel’s (2001) four supervisory styles theory, all four styles influenced subordinates to some degree but the only leadership style that was classified as a type of transformational leadership, specifically the active leadership style, was the most powerful motivator for the leader’s police officers. Patrol officers who worked for active style supervisors were found to be significantly more likely to engage in proactive enforcement activity (including traffic stops) and community problem solving than patrol officers working for the other types of supervisors.
Again, this evidence speaks to the effectiveness of the transformational leadership style (Johnson, 2006). Engel asserts the active supervisory style has a significant influence on the increased likelihood of patrol officer’s use of force. This discovery that officers with active supervisors are more likely to use force is consistent with the hypothesis that supervisors with stronger supervisory styles would be more likely to sway their subordinates’ behavior. Given that active supervisors are in the field with their subordinates more and have expectations of aggressive law enforcement, it is only logical when it was determined active supervisors personally have a higher level of use of force than other leadership styles.
It may seem to the subordinates that aggressive tactics may be tolerated and perhaps, even expected, by their supervisor with active leadership styles. The author also indicates these officers have higher arrest rates which may partially explain the higher rate of use of force. Additionally, the officers with active supervisors spend much more time in self-initiated, problem-solving and community-oriented activities. Therefore Engels (2000 & 2001) concludes these findings suggest the active supervisors (i. e. , the transformational leader) have the most influence over their patrol officers’ behavior. Murphy and Drudge (2004) conclude that training for transformational leadership is possible and can have positive impact on organization

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