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11 Characteristics of the Situation
“When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t!” ~Robert H. Schuller
copyright © 2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, inc. All Rights Reserved 1-2
Background • The appropriateness of a leader’s behavior with a group of followers often makes sense only in the situational context in which the behavior occurs. • The situation, not someone’s traits or abilities, plays the most important role in determining who emerges as a leader. • Great leaders typically emerged during economic crisis, social upheavals, or revolutions. – It was believed that leaders were made, not born, and that prior leadership experience helped forge effective leaders. 11-3
Situational Factors That Affect Leaders’ Behaviors • Role theory: A leader’s behavior depends on a leader’s perceptions of several critical aspects of the situation: – Rules and regulations governing the job. – Role expectations of subordinates, peers, and superiors. – Nature of the task. – Feedback about subordinates’ performance.
• Multiple-influence model – Microvariables – Macrovariables
• Situational levels: Task, organizational, and environmental levels. 11-4
An Expanded Leader-FollowerSituation Model
From the Industrial Age to the Information Age • In the new information age, many fundamental assumptions of the industrial age are becoming obsolete. • Changes in the ways companies operate: – – – – – –
Cross functions Links to customers and suppliers Customer segmentation Global scale Innovation Knowledge workers
A Congruence Model
The Work – Job Characteristics • Skill variety: Degree to which a job involves performing a variety of different activities or skills. • Task identity: Degree to which a situation or task requires completion of a whole unit of work from beginning to end with a visible outcome. • Task significance: Degree to which a job substantially impacts others’ lives. • Autonomy: Degree to which a job provides an individual with some control over what and how he does it. • Feedback: Degree to which a person accomplishing a task receives information about performance from performing the task itself. 11-8
The Work – Task Structure • People vary in their preferences for, or ability to handle, structured versus unstructured tasks. • Subordinates need help when: – A task is unstructured. – They do not know what the desired outcome looks like. – They do not know how to achieve the outcome.
• Reducing the degree of ambiguity inherent in an unstructured situation is a leadership behavior usually appreciated by followers.
The Work – Task Interdependence • Task interdependence: Degree to which tasks require coordination and synchronization for work groups or teams to accomplish desired goals. • Tasks with high levels of interdependence place a premium on leaders’ organizing and planning, directing, and communication skills. • Task interdependence can also dictate which leader behaviors will be effective in a particular situation.
The People • Leaders should look at the followers in terms of: – – – – – –
Skills Knowledge Experience Expectations Needs Preferences
• In a rapidly changing environment, diversity allows the species to sense and adapt more quickly. • Diversity is essential to quality and survival in a rapidly changing world. 11-11
The Formal Organization – Level of Authority • Level of authority: One’s hierarchical level in an organization. • The types of behaviors most critical to leadership effectiveness can change substantially as one moves up an organizational ladder. • Leaders at high organizational levels often perform a greater variety of activities and are more apt to use participation and delegation.
The Formal Organization – Organizational Structure • Organizational structure: The way an organization’s activities are coordinated and controlled, and represents another level of the situation in which leaders and followers must operate. • Organization structure can be thought of in three terms: – Complexity: • Horizontal complexity • Vertical complexity • Spatial complexity
– Formalization: Degree of standardization. – Centralization: Diffusion of decision making. 11-13
Organizational Design - Functional Design
Organizational Design – Product Design
Organizational Design – Matrix Design
Organizational Design – Lateral Interdependence • Lateral interdependence: Degree of coordination or synchronization required between organizational units in order to accomplish work-group or organizational goals. • Leaders are more likely to use rational persuasion as an influence tactic when the level of lateral interdependence is high.
The Informal Organization • Organizational culture: System of shared backgrounds, norms, values, or beliefs among members of a group. • Organizational climate: Members’ subjective reactions about the organization. • Leaders can change culture by attending to or ignoring particular issues, problems, or projects. • Leaders can modify culture – Through their reactions to crisis – By rewarding new or different kinds of behavior – By eliminating previous punishments or negative consequences for certain behaviors. 11-18
Some Questions That Define Organizational Culture
Environmental Characteristics • Environmental characteristics: Situational factors outside the task or organization that still affect the leadership process. • These factors include: – – – – –
Technological forces Economic forces Political forces Social forces Legal forces
• These factors often create anxiety, and therefore cause an increase in employees’ security needs. 11-20
Technology and Uncertainty • Environments of low technological complexity: Workers play a large role and are able to modify their behavior depending on the situation. – A range of technological complexity can exist.
• Different kinds of organizational structures or designs are best suited for different technological environments. • The degree of environmental uncertainty affects optimal organizational design.
Crisis • Behaviors associated with effective leadership during crises differ from those associated with noncrisis situations. • During crises, followers are more likely to look to leaders to identify the problem as well as develop and implement a solution. • Leaders are less apt to use participation or consultation during crises.
Situational Engineering • A leader or follower can become more effective by identifying problem areas and restructuring the situation so that problems become easier to overcome. • A variety of ways in which leaders and followers can change the task, organizational, and environmental factors affecting their behaviors and attitudes exist. • Leaders and followers must think about how they can change the situation for everyone to be more satisfied and productive. 11-23
Summary • The situation may well be the most complex factor in the leader-follower-situation framework. • Situations vary not only in complexity but also in strength. • The Congruence Model can be used as a way to consider many of the situational factors leaders should consider. • Research has shown that organizational factors play a major role in the leader-situation framework. • The informal organization or the organizational culture can have a profound impact on the way both leaders and followers behave. • Factors in the environment, such as legal, political, or economic forces, can also affect leaders’ and followers’ behaviors. 11-24