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Functional Leadership Theory

Functional Leadership Theory

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Published by: musamuwaga on Mar 04, 2010
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06/30/2013

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Leadership has been described as the “process of socialinfluence in which one person is able to enlist the aid andsupport of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.A definition more inclusive of followers comes from AlanKeith of Genentech who said "Leadership is ultimately aboutcreating a way for people to contribute to making somethingextraordinary happen.
FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP THEORY 
(Hackman & Walton,1986; McGrath, 1962) is a particularly useful theory foraddressing specific leader behaviors expected to contributeto organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory arguesthat the leader’s main job is to see that whatever isnecessary to group needs is taken care of; thus, a leader canbe said to have done their job well when they havecontributed to group effectiveness and cohesion (Fleishmanet al., 1991; Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Hackman &Walton, 1986).While functional leadership theory has most often beenapplied to team leadership it has also been effectivelyapplied to broader organizational leadership as well Insummarizing literature on functional leadership Hackmanand Walton (1986), Hackman & Wageman (2005Knight, andXiao (2006) observed five broad functions a leader performswhen promoting organization’s effectiveness. Thesefunctions include: (1) environmental monitoring, (2)organizing subordinate activities, (3) teaching and coaching
 
subordinates, (4) motivating others, and (5) interveningactively in the group’s work.A variety of leadership behaviors are expected to facilitatethese functions. In initial work identifying leader behavior,Fleishman (1953) observed that subordinates perceived theirsupervisors’ behavior in terms of two broad categoriesreferred to asconsideration and initiating structure.Consideration includes behavior involved in fosteringeffective relationships. Examples of such behavior wouldinclude showing concern for a subordinate or acting in asupportive manner towards others. Initiating structureinvolves the actions of the leader focused specifically on taskaccomplishment. This could include role clarification, settingperformance standards, and holding subordinatesaccountable to those standards.Leadershipis one of the most salient aspects of theorganizational context. However, defining leadership hasbeen challenging. In reviewing the leadership literaturestodgily argued that “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted todefine the concept. Even though leadership is a term that iscommonly used, defining leadership in specific terms canprove difficult likely leading to such a large number of definitions.Despite the multitude of leadership definitions, Zaccaro andKlimoski (2001) argued there are several common elements
 
that transcend the many available definitions. Specifically,leadership involves a) processes and proximal outcomes thatcontribute to the organizational objectives the application of non-routine influence, and is contextually defined andcaused.Proximal outcomes that a leader could facilitate in thepursuit of achieving organizational objectives could includedeveloping organizational commitment among subordinates.Non-routine influence implies that leaders must to havediscretion in their actions and that their behavior shoulddiffer from influence provided through organizationalroutines. Finally, leadership needs to be considered withrespect to the context in which it is occurring. One exampleis examining how leadership changes across levels of theorganization.Functional leadership theory is model that concentrates onhow leadership occurs, rather than focusing on who does theleading. It defines the types of behaviors that guide anorganization and then looks at how those behaviors occur.Under this model, leadership is a distributed function. Peopleat all levels can participate in guiding the organization. Oneof the cornerstones of this leadership model is its focus on
how
instead of 
who
. This approach has some tremendous advantages whenstudying leadership. The models that focus on who leadstends to look at the person with formal authority in an

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