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LEAD 7000 Mid-Term Exam

Amber A. Bush
The University of Memphis

Question One Part A:


Being given the opportunity to development my own leadership theory is an excellent
form of reflection and assessment. As result of this exam I have developed the Fluid Theory. The
Fluid Theory is about how leaders flow and adjust to: situations, subordinate needs and
characteristics, supervisor needs and characters, and personal goals within an organization. It
focuses on the leader flowing through each area while conforming to the role needed at the time.
The roles are but not limited to: mediator, motivator, disciplinary, administrator.
A leader that uses the Fluid Theory often finds that they must maintain a balance between
all areas and serve as the equalizer when imbalance occurs. An imbalance can occur when a
subordinate or supervisor does not follow protocol or acts out of character. Should an imbalance
occur the leader using this theory would need to flow into the mediator role. If a subordinate or
supervisor finds themselves facing burn-out a fluid theory user then flows into the motivator role
and provides required support.
One of the strengths of the Fluid Theory is that it gives the ability to transition from role
to role according to the immediate need of the person they are leading. This encourages the
leader to trust their own judgment and quickly assess what role needs to be assumed.
A second strength of this theory is the benefits of being able to be used in any setting. It is
not limited to corporate offices or educational atmospheres due to the fluidity of the leader
themselves. This makes it easier for leadership to change to other positions without having to
completely redesign their leadership style.

Adversely, a criticism of the Fluid Theory is that it provides the leader with too much
autonomy. The leader is not necessarily held to a particular standard as one who uses a more
concrete theory. An additional criticism is that leaders who use Fluid Theory often neglect their
personal needs since their personal goals are geared toward helping other achieve success. This
creates an imbalance within the leader that is not easily restored but can be avoided with proper
technique.
Overall, Fluid Theory offers leaders, subordinates, and supervisors what is needed to
have a successful relationship. Although there are some drawbacks especially for the leader
themselves, that is to be expected by any leader. If used properly and a self-reflective attitude is
present the Fluid Theory can be executed well.

Part B:
Throughout the semester so far I have felt like several of the studied theories match my
own leadership approach. It was not until I read about Northouses Chapter 7s Path-Goal Theory
that I realized it was my actions put into theory. With my resident advisor staff I believe their
performance and motivation to do the job comes from whether they feel supported and equipped
to do the position. Therefore I use positive reinforcement methods, additional training, and
individual feedback to help my staff. In simple terms, it is the leaders responsibility to help
subordinates reach their goals by directing, guiding, and coaching them along the way
(Northouse, p. 157).
The examined leadership behaviors, directive, supportive, participative, and achievement
oriented are all behaviors that I must exhibit and utilize on a daily basis. My Fluid Theory

mentioned prior incorporates some of the leadership behaviors mentioned in Path-Goal theory
however, Fluid theory does not compartmentalize the behaviors.
As I continuing to develop my own leadership approach by understanding Path-Goal
theory I am able to more easily identify areas that need to be improved. But it also reassures me
that I am providing quality leadership to my staff. In its simplest form, the theory reminds
leaders that the overarching purpose of leadership is to guide and coach subordinates as they
move along the path to achieve a goal (p. 145). Path-Goal theory can be exceptionally
beneficial to student affairs professionals especially someone in Housing like myself. Therefore I
will continue to develop my own leadership approach while integrating portions of Path-Goal
Theory.
Question Two
For the second portion of the exam I have chosen to compare and contrast Northouse
Chapter 5s Situational and Chapter 7s Path-Goal theories. These two theories have overlapping
similarities but differ in their strengths and approaches. The situational approach emphasizes the
leader matching the appropriate leadership style with the situation and the subordinate (p. 99).
The Path-Goal approach stresses motivating subordinates to achieve a particular goal (p.137).
Both theories place emphasis on understanding and assessing your subordinate. I believe these
theories go hand in hand in that aspect since understanding your subordinates needs is crucial
step in being an effective leader. However, Path-Goal differs from Situational slightly in that area
as well. Path-Goal focuses on understanding the characteristics of your subordinates in order to
motivate them to achieve a goal (p.141-2). The situational approach is dependent on the
development level of the subordinate which when then help the leader decide which task should
be assigned (p. 102). Both approaches give the leader the opportunity to development a working

relationship with the subordinate which I think is where some other approaches lack. In contrast
to the situational approach, which suggest that a leader must adapt to the development level of
subordinates (see Chapter 5), and unlike contingency theory, which emphasizes the match
between the leaders style and specific situational variables (see Chapter 6), path-goal theory
emphasizes the relationship between the leaders style and the characteristics of the subordinates
and the work setting (p. 137).
Path-Goal theory is more abstract that situational which has clear boundaries and
practical uses which makes it more concrete (p. 105). Leadership to me is not a cut and dry area
and there are so many different variables that leaders need to be exposed to more abstract
approaches. In the last decades, leadership research and theory has moved away from studying
stable leader traits and general leadership styles towards recognizing for the usefulness of
situational variability and flexible leadership behavior (e.g., the path-goal theory of leadership;
House, 1971) and leadership that is specifically tuned to individual followers (leadermember
exchange theory; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995) (Rosing et. Al). Since we are ever evolving as
leaders, the theories that we use must do the same leaving behind the some of the structure of old
theories.
Question Three
A dysfunctional organization can occur for varying reasons however there is always a
way to rectify it. Given the opportunity I would use the Skills approach to restructure a
dysfunctional organization. The Skills Approach helps leaders to understand and recognize their
strengths and weakness which could be the source of the dysfunction (Northouse, p.60). Having
leaders in the wrong areas or positions can easily cause frustration and confusion within the

organization. Therefore I would begin by administering a skills based assessment such as


Strength Quest to help leaders discover their strongest areas and which areas that can improve.
After completing the assessment those involved would begin position reassignment
training. This would be an opportunity for those within the organization to shadow those in other
positions within their leadership tier. The goal is to decipher to who needs to be in which
positions based on the skills they already have and can develop during the reassignment training.
This also gives those on the same leadership tier a greater understanding of what the function of
others is within the organization. Having that understanding can then develop an appreciation for
what someone does which will enhance working relationships within the organization.
Once position reassignment training is complete participants will have the opportunity to
remain in the position they are in or shift into another position. Those who chose to remain in
their current position would be evaluated for that position ever quarter. That evaluation will
determine whether they should remain in that position or transition on to something else. The
evaluation will be comprised of a two week observation, subordinate input survey, and a selfassessment. This will cause everyone to be consistently conscious about their influence within
the organization but decrease the opportunity for inefficiency. The evaluation would also be
conducted by a third-party entity so there cannot be any bias.
I believe using this approach will strengthen the leadership but also empower the
subordinates. The position reassignment training also gives participants a chance to try
something new within their field but also experience and utilize positive traits learned from
others. Continuing this approach and system through the organization would rectify the
dysfunction from the highest tier of leadership all the way down to the bottom.

Citations
Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th Ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Rosing, K., Frese, M., & Bausch, A. (n.d.). Explaining The Heterogeneity of the Leadershipinnovation Relationship: Ambidextrous Leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(5), 956-974.
Retrieved October 15, 2014.