The Supervisor as Leader
The management function of influencing people to act or not act in a certain way. Leadership traits that are often suggested as useful include:
a sense of responsibility, self-confidence, high energy level, empathy, internal locus of control, and a sense of humor.
Internal Locus of Control:
The belief that one is the primary cause of what happens to oneself.
Leadership styles are define by
The amount authority retained by the supervisor A task-oriented or people-oriented approach, or both Leader attitudes based on assumptions they have about employees.
Supervisors can be
authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire.
They often use more than one style of leading depending on employee and situational factors.
Situational factors include leader-member relations, task structure, and the position power of the leader.
An important part of the leadership role is giving orders or directions to employees. A supervisor should make sure that employees understand directions and the reason for them.
Leadership behavior is affected by how the supervisor thinks of himself/herself.
People who believe they are capable tend to act capably.
Successful supervisors need to work effectively and maintain good relations with their employees, boss, and peers.
With employees, supervisors should set a good example, be ethical, and develop trust. Supervisors should give their boss loyalty, cooperation, information, and results and be aware of and respond to the boss’s style. With peers, supervisors should keep competition fair and as friendly as possible and offer support or criticism in a constructive way.
Paul B. Malone III,
“a manager focuses just on getting a task done, a leader focuses on getting it done in a way that gives employees a feeling of accomplishment and willingness to follow the leader again.”
1. To direct or control the use of. 2. a. To exert control over. b. To make submissive to one’s authority, discipline, or persuasion.”)
In some cases a distinction is emphasized with leadership described as a more dynamic activity toward meeting the needs and goals of the organization..
Organizations seek to hire or promote employees who will be successful and an asset to the organization. Is it possible to predict success or leadership ability from personality type, or are there traits that are associated with a supervisor’s success?
Significant Traits Associated with Leadership
a. Sense of responsibility.
Supervisors must be willing to take seriously the responsibility that goes with the job.
b. Self confidence.
Supervisors who believe in their ability to get the job done will convey confidence to employees.
c. High energy level.
Many organizations expect supervisors to willingly put in long hours in order to handle the variety of duties that come with the job. Supervisors need to be sensitive and higher management. Supervisors who have difficulty understanding what makes people tick are at a disadvantage.
e. Internal locus of control.
People with an internal locus of control are thought to be leaders because they try harder to take charge of events. People with a good sense of humor are more fun to work with or for.
f. Sense of humor.
Characteristics of a Successful Supervisor (Ch. 1)
The characteristics of a successful supervisor include:
positive attitude loyal fair good communicator able to delegate wants the job
Additional Characteristics of a Successful Supervisor
Additional criteria for a successful supervisor include:
technical skills human relations skills conceptual skills decision making skills
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Habit 1 Covey
Be proactive. This refers to the taking of responsibility to make things happen.
Begin with the end in mind. Start with a clear picture of where you are going and what the destination will look like.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Habit 3 Covey
Put first things first. The principle is based upon two factors--importance and urgency. Think win/win. The principle means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Habit 5 Covey
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. One key to effective interpersonal communications is to listen with the intent to understand. Synergize. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Habit 7 Covey
Sharpen the saw. Enhance personal abilities.
Authoritarian Democratic Laissez-faire Theory X Theory Y
A leadership style in which the leader retains a great deal of authority.
This style of leadership is characterized by the supervisor giving orders and employees following the orders.
An example would be a military commander who expects unquestioned obedience. Decisions are made quickly. Works best in an emergency or crisis or where employees lack maturity. Employees may become dependent on decisions from supervisors and will not do anything of their own.
A leadership style in which the leader allows subordinates to participate in decision making and problem solving.
This style of leadership is characterized by the supervisor actively seeking input from the employees.
An example would be work groups or teams for problem solving Employees feel they have a say in the ways things are done and may feel more satisfied with their jobs. Decisions take longer. A supervisor who leaves most decisions to the group may be viewed by some employees as weak.
A leadership style in which the leader is uninvolved and lets subordinates direct themselves.
This style of leadership is characterized by the noninvolvment of the supervisor.
An example would be research and development settings. Works best in an atmosphere where creativity and innovation is required. Many employees see this method as no leadership at all.
A set of attitudes based on the view that people dislike work and must be coerced to perform.
Theory X assumes that people dislike work and try to avoid it and must be coerced to perform. Employees would prefer to be directed. Employees have to be watched and occasionally disciplined to keep them performing.
A Theory X supervisor would most likely be autocratic.
A set of attitudes based on the view that work is a natural activity and that people will work hard and creatively to achieve objectives they are committed to.
Employees can be trusted and discipline is not necessary to get them to perform adequately. Theory Y supervisors are more likely to adopt the democratic style.
A set of attitudes that emphasize employee participation in all aspects of decision making.
Assumes employees work as hard as they can. An extension of Theory Y with the addition of organizational structure and the response of management to the employees. Employees are trusted, and their input or ideas are actively sought.
This approach to supervision would be more consistently democratic.
Authoritarian style of leadership
Organizations or departments that require
a regimented method of performance, quick response, or employees need a lot of direction.
The military, and military-type organizations such as correction facilities, would be an example. Fire fighting would be another. This style would also be appropriate in organizations where employees require a lot of direction, such as a fast-food restaurant where there is high turnover of personnel.
Democratic style of leadership
Organizations and departments that require
input from employees for problem solving or product and process improvement.
This style works in organizations where there is a highly skilled work force, especially if work requires teamwork to complete work effectively.
An example may be companies that supply the auto industry with parts and materials. These companies are being driven by competitive forces to improve quality and reduce prices through continuous improvement.
Laissez-faire style of leadership
Organizations or departments that require
innovative employees and where creativity is important.
research and development departments, software companies, and design departments. Beauty salons might be another type of company where this style of leadership works best.
Supervisors are not likely to use or represent a single type. Contingency models of leadership attempt to describe the situations under which a specific type of supervisor will be most successful. Contingency models of leadership maintain that the best style of leadership depends on the circumstances.
There are two models:
Fiedler’s model and The Hersey-Blanchard model.
Supervisors will be relationship oriented (people oriented) or task oriented depending on:
leader-member relations, or the extent to which the leader has group members’ support and loyalty. task structure, or whether there is specified procedures to follow in carrying out the task. position power, or the leader’s formal authority granted by the organization.
Fiedler recommends that a leader determine whether his or her preferred leadership style fits the situation, and, if not, the leader should try to change the characteristics of the situation.
The Hersey-Blanchard Life Cycle Theory
Similar to Fiedler’s theory except they believe that the leadership style should reflect the maturity of the followers as measured by such traits as ability to work independently .
Leaders should adjust the degree of task and relationship behavior in response to the growing maturity of their followers.
As followers mature, leaders should move through a combination of behaviors:
(1) High task and low relationship behavior (2) High task and high relationship behavior (3) Low task and high relationship behavior (4) Low task and low relationship behavior
Situational characteristics include:
The supervisor’s characteristics The level of competency of employees the working environment
The manager’s values.
What is most important to the supervisor?
Company profits Personal growth and development Development of employees The more confidence in the employees, the more the supervisor will involve the employees.
Level of confidence in employees
Personal leadership strengths
Effective leaders capitalize on their strengths. When employees are involved, the supervisor cannot always be sure of the outcomes. Will the supervisor be comfortable will this uncertainty?
Tolerance for ambiguity
Need for independence.
Employees who want a lot of direction will welcome autocratic leadership. Employees eager to assume responsibility appreciate democratic or laissez-faire styles of leadership.
Readiness to assume responsibility.
Tolerance for ambiguity.
Employees tolerant of ambiguity will accept the leadership style that gives them more input. Employees interested in a problem and think it is important will want to be involved.
Interest in the problem to be solved.
Understanding of and identification with goals.
Employees who understand and identify with the organization’s or department’s goals will want to be involved in meeting these goals. Employees with the knowledge necessary to solve a problem are more apt to want to help come up with a solution.
Knowledge and experience.
Some employees expect to participate in making decisions and solving problems.
Growing diversity in the work place means that supervisors may have a more difficult time determining where the employees are in regard to these characteristics. There is the additional danger that supervisors have preconceived ideas about how employees think and behave.
Type of organization.
The organization lends itself to a type of leadership.
For example, if supervisors are expected to manage large numbers of employees, a democratic leadership style may be time consuming and relatively challenging to use. When there is a large number of employees to manage or they are dispersed over a large area, laissez-faire style leadership may be the result whether it is intended or not.
Effectiveness of the group.
Regardless of the characteristics of individual employees, some groups are more successful in handling decisions than others.
When employees have little experience making decisions, authoritarian style leadership may be easier to use.
The problem or task.
Problems range from simple to complex. Tasks range from structured to relatively unstructured.
Although it appears that each of these variables suggests a specific type of leadership, such as a structured task is best handled with more control by the supervisor, in reality each problem or task is also related to the other characteristics of the situation.
An autocratic leader is in a position to make decisions quickly. Group decision making usually requires more time for discussion and sharing ideas.
Supervisors practice leadership by giving employees directions.
Supervisors should make sure employees understand the directions.
Directions should be stated in specific, clear terms.
Employees should understand the reason for the directions.
When employees do not seem to be following directions,
perhaps they didn’t understand the directions they may not realize that the supervisor is giving them an order.
The image a person has of himself/herself.
influences how the supervisor behaves.
Someone who believes he or she has the power will act powerful. Someone who thinks himself or herself as intelligent is apt to make careful decisions. When supervisors do something well, they should give themselves credit for their success.
Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
Developing and Maintaining Good Relations
A supervisor needs support from many people in the organization to be successful.
They need the support of their employees. They also need the support of their boss and coworkers.
Ways to get along with almost everyone include
projecting a positive attitude, taking an interest in other people, and helping out.
A supervisor who is liked and respected by employees will inspire them to work harder and better.
Supervisors should be role models for employees by following the rules of the company. They should also be fair in the treatment of employees and ethical.
Employees work most cooperatively with a supervisor they trust.
Building trust takes time and effort, yet it can be lost with a single act that is unreasonable. Trust is built by fair and predictable behavior.
No matter how good you are at planning, organizing, and leading, your ability to get along with your boss can determine the course of your career within the organization. That may not always seem fair, but the fact is that your boss is the one who most often decides whether you will be promoted, get a raise, or even have a job next week. A boss who likes to work with you is more likely to take a favorable view of your performance.
A supervisor can assume that his or her boss expects the following:
positive attitude about the company and his/her boss works with others in the organization to achieve organizational goals. kept informed about the department’s performance. ensures department meets or exceeds its objectives
If you get along with your peers, they will help you look good and get your job done. If your peers resent you, the poor relations can cause an endless stream of problems. Quite often your peers are competing with you for raises, bonuses, or promotions. Regardless, the more you cooperate, the better you all will look.