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Small Groups Leadership Styles Essay

To be a leader is more art than science. The personal styles of superb leaders vary. And just as important as the nature of the sea the captain is cruising over, different situations call for different types of leadership. Plenty of people are motivated by external factors such as a big salary or the status that comes from having an impressive title or being part of a prestigious company.

By contrast, those with leadership potential are motivated by a deeply embedded desire to achieve for the sake of achievement (Anderson and Wasserman, 2001). Interestingly, they say that what makes a good follower makes a good leader. This is because leadership is not a tag solely worn by the leader; instead, the term leadership is used to emphasize that it is more important that the tasks of leadership be performed than to designate who must do.

The leader is responsible for these necessary leadership tasks, but he or she may share these duties with qualified members and such members may have their own initiatives to assist or handle in keeping the undertaking on the track (Wofford, et al. , 2001). Just as the leader shall do, the follower must wear a congenial stance, present his inputs clearly, succinctly and fairly, and maintain attitudes of sincerity, open-mindedness and objectivity (Wofford, et al. , 2001).

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A democratic, reward-giving leader employs the following assumptions: (1) work is a natural phenomenon and if the conditions are favorable, people will not only accept responsibility, but they will seek it; (2) if people are committed to organizational objectives, they will exercise self-direction and self-control; (3) commitment is a function of the rewards associated wit goal attainment; and (4) the capacity for creativity in problem solving is widely distributed in the team and the intellectual potentialities of the average team member are only partially utilized (Levine, 2003).

Conflict Apart from the behavioral aspect of problem solving, group size can also be contributory to group performance. Several studies indicate that groups with approximately 5 to 11 members generally make more accurate decisions than those not within this range. Research also found that groups of five people generally are characterized by greater member satisfaction than larger or smaller groups. This seems to be because in groups of two or three members people may feel anxiety over their high level of visibility and responsibility.

Groups with over five members, on the other hand, may increase inhibition about speaking before the group. In general, as group size increases, communication becomes more difficult, and there is less agreement on common objectives and activities. Increased size also increases the tendency toward informal division into subgroups, which may have inconsistent goals, and the formation of cliques (Gilley and Eggland, 1998). Buttressing other theorists’ perception for social differentiation as grounds for conflict, we also use the standards of our favored members, that is, for clustered members to appraise ourselves.

We establish for ourselves a comparison point against which we judge and evaluate our physical attractiveness, intelligence, health, ranking, and standard of living. This makes subgroup formation quite negative rendering people to take on social units with which we compare ourselves to emphasize the differences between ourselves and others. For the most part, the attitudes people evolve toward other members tend to reflect their perceptions of the relationships they have with the other members.

Where the relations between two groups are viewed as competitive, negative attitudes (like prejudice) will be generated toward the other group. Still, whereas competition had heightened awareness of group boundaries, the pursuit of common goals led to a lessening of out-group hostilities and the lowering of intergroup barriers to cooperation. To avoid direct conflict between members and groups, we are introduced to the concept of concentric loyalties.

When our membership group does not match our reference group, we may experience feelings of relative deprivation or discontent associated with the gap between what we have and what we believe we should have. Feelings of relative deprivation often contribute to social alienation and provide fertile conditions for collective behavior and revolutionary social movements. Norms, Roles and Rules According to the behavioral principle related to the functioning of problem-solving groups, conformity is greatest when a group is most cohesive.

As a person comes to feel that a group provides him or her satisfaction and benefits, then the group more readily exerts influence over the person. Individuals who deviate from what is expected by the group often find themselves denied some of the benefits they want to have through membership in the group (Gilley and Eggland, 1998). On the other hand, adherence to norms and expectations tends to increase as acceptance and cohesiveness increase. Thus, membership in highly cohesive groups tends to reduce an individual’s personal anxieties and results in an increased sense of personal value.

Thus attractiveness leads to cohesion, cohesion leads to productivity, and adherence to norms leads to conformity. Conformity often leads to satisfaction and increased personal value (Gilley and Eggland, 1998). In contrast, feelings of cohesiveness may be undermined by conflicts, divisive attitudes, emotional reactions, hostilities toward others, and defensiveness. When these feelings, attitudes, reactions, and hostilities are held privately by group members and influence how individuals work in a group, they are called hidden agenda.

That is, any desires, aspirations, feelings, and motives of group members that cannot be brought into the open and recognized directly operate in the group as hidden objectives. Like the formal or public agenda of a group, the hidden agenda is a schedule of desires to be achieved. In a highly cohesive group, members may feel free to express their feelings rather than to suppress them so that they emerge as hidden agenda. In any uncohesive group, much of the time and energy of group members may be devoted to items in a hidden agenda that distracts considerably from solving problems and doing the job.

Nevertheless, highly cohesive groups tend to experience fewer hidden agendas (Roberts, et al. , 1998). A high degree of cohesiveness can increase effectiveness, provided that the objectives of the group are consistent with those of the organization. This is because the cohesive group works well as a team. Highly cohesive groups generally have less communication problems, misunderstanding, tension, hostility, and mistrust than noncohesive groups. As a result, they are generally more productive than noncohesive groups (Robbins and DeCenzo, 2000). Decision-Making Process

A group will be more or less effective in attaining its objectives depending on the some factors affecting group performance like conformity, groupthink and group size, among others. One can think of what an individual does and says in a group as either a contribution or distraction to the functioning of the group. Although each person makes numerous decisions on a minute-by-minute basis, the focus of the decision-making process is on the collective choices made by people in small groups. The processes underlying group decision-making are remarkably similar to the processes involved in making individual choices.

Seven specific ways of choosing between alternatives in small groups have been identified: unanimity, consensus, majority, plurality, minority coalition, fiat, and inaction. It is important for a group to make certain that the decision procedure is actually correct and desirable. Problem solving is a process because it involves an unending series of interrelated steps. Like shown in the 9-step problem-solving model, problem solving involves not one decision but a series of choices, ending only when and if the problem is resolved.

The first two phases in problem solving are describing the situation or diagnosing a complex problem fully and correctly. This is to recognize and identify the symptoms of difficulty, threats, or opportunities. They sometimes view an opportunity as a problem, that is, actively seek ways in which the effectiveness of the current system can be improved. This view is solving a problem that restores normalcy and results must come form the exploitation of opportunities. Identifying symptoms helps identify. It also helps narrow down the number of factors to be considered to a manageable size.

The third phase is identifying the end-state goals against which alternative choices can be measured. Without these goals, decision makers in a group may not be able to see their collective vision from a vivid perspective. Difficulty can arise at this stage because it is impossible to compare things unless they are alike. Apples cannot be compared to directly to oranges. The next two steps would have the decision makers develop a set of alternative solutions that could remove the causal factors and thereby enable them to attain its end-state goals.

However, in practice, business managers rarely have enough time or knowledge to formulate and evaluate literally every alternative. Considering an extremely large number of alternatives, even if all are valid, tends to cause confusion, which often stem from information overload. Therefore, care must be taken to consider a reasonably wide range of solutions. If, in some instances, top management fails to evaluate what will happen if it does nothing, there is a danger of succumbing to pressure to take immediate action, which is an unhealthy way of approaching the problem based on intuition.

At the sixth stage, the decision maker incorporates probability into the evaluation by taking into account the degree of certainty of risk. The effective decision maker recognizes and accepts that the chosen alternative may have drawbacks, perhaps serious ones. Effective decision makers and the people who are most successful in everyday life are individuals who do not allow the possible drawbacks to paralyze their decision-making. Although it would be ideal for decision makers to strive for a decision that is optimal, they generally do not do so in practice.

The seventh step may be a phase that is usually violated as far as idealism is concerned. The optimal decision does not generally occur because of time limitations and the limited ability of people to consider all pertinent information and alternatives. Because of these constraints, the higher-ups have no choice but to select a course of action, that, while clearly acceptable, is not necessarily the best possible. Merely selecting a course of action is of little value to a group.

Some leaders regard having to sell decisions as being a waste of time, but taking the attitude that, “I’m the boss, right or wrong,” is generally not effective in today’s world of educated workers. A good way to win acceptance of a decision is to execute a participative decision making procedure. The last step in the problem-solving model is measurement and evaluation of the decision’s consequences: what actually happened. By obtaining feedback, which is historical data on what took place during and after implementation, decision makers can compare actual results with what they expected to accomplish with the decisions.

This is a basic step in any problem-solving process because of its enabling insight to evaluate success of decisions and if necessary, change them before serious harm is done to the group. Stages Forming a group consists of several stages that help to get a group organized and functioning properly. These stages include forming, storming, norming, and performing. Forming includes planning for the group, acquainting the members, and orienting the group. It helps the group to get started by requiring the leader to define precisely the objectives of the group.

The stages work because it prepares and helps members to effectively handle their tasks as a team rather than as individuals. Storming and norming include an attempt to develop many new ideas by adhering to the principle of deferred judgment. These techniques have been proven to be successful not only as a way of producing new ideas but also as a training technique to develop attitudes and abilities relevant to creative problem-solving. Performing includes sounding off, promoting discussion and active cooperation, providing positive reinforcement, promoting competition, and reflecting.

Widespread participation in forming groups generates the best possible thinking of all present. There is a collective wisdom that is best drawn out when more than just a few persons participate. In fact, group formation prevents a group from being dominated by the ideas of just a few people or members. Decisions made after active formation and participation are more likely to be carried out successfully because people who took part in that decision will work for it more vigorously. Characteristics In current network terminology, three or more individuals whose majority of interactions are with each other are termed a group.

A group must have order. Order does not imply greatly formality, because too much formality is often undesirable. It does imply, however, that only one person talks at a time, that members be courteous, and that they keep their remarks relevant. A group must have cooperation. If one person monopolizes the discussion, it usually will get nowhere participants must be willing to share the speaking time and to listen to views at variance with their own. A group must be willing to compromise. There are times, of course, when compromise is not desirable but reasonable concessions hurt no one and sometimes are the only way of reaching an agreement.

A group must have a feeling of accomplishment. Unless the members believe they are getting somewhere, their interest and enthusiasm will soon diminish. For this reason, a commonly understood objective should be set and the field for discussion appropriately limited. Gender Differences The gender roles defined by a society have profound consequences for the lives of its men and women. They constitute master statuses that carry primary weight in people’s interactions and relationships with others. In doing so, they place men and women in the social structure, establishing where and what they are in social terms.

Thus gender roles establish the framework within which men and women gain their identities, formulate their goals, and carry out their training in a group. Modern organizations are inherently patriarchal. For example, the stereotypical male characteristics of logic, aggressiveness, and competitiveness are valued commodities in the modern corporation. Consequently, in groups, the leadership roles are typically given to male candidates. In contrast, stereotypical female characteristics such as emotion, empathy, and intuition tend to be devalued in organizational life.

Women have been excluded from many jobs because the men who control these jobs define women as stupid, delicate, and emotional. Therefore, the world relegates them to secretarial roles in a group. Problems A potential negative consequence of high cohesiveness is groupthink. Groupthink is the tendency for individuals to suppress their real views on an issue in order to avoid disrupting the group’s harmony. Members feel that dissent will disrupt the group’s sense of belongingness and therefore should be avoided.

The result is decreased performance in problem solving because all relevant information and alternative solutions are not discussed or evaluated. When groupthink occurs, there is an increased chance for a mediocre decision, one that offends nobody. Of primary importance to individuals in a groupthink atmosphere is going along with the discussion, even if one had different information or beliefs. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives are not carefully scrutinized (Roberts, et al. , 1998). A group meeting intended to gain the benefits of diversity of opinion cannot be successful unless groupthink is circumvented.

To decrease the potential for groupthink, the leader of the Board should (1) convey to group members that they should feel free to express any information, opinions, or doubts they have about anything being discussed, (2) appoint one member to play the role of devil’s advocate, (3) be able to accept differences of opinion and criticisms as constructive comments, (4) separate idea generation from idea evaluation, that is, first, obtain all suggestions, then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and (5) if the meeting is with a manager and subordinates, the manager should get all the ides and views of his subordinates before stating his (Roberts, et al. , 1998). Conclusion

The leaders may be able to increase positive cohesiveness by conducting periodic meetings that stress overall objectives of the group and enable each member to perceive his or her contribution to attainment of these objectives. Of course, if the group’s objectives differ from those of the organization, a high level of cohesiveness would adversely affect performance from the organization’s standpoint. The leaders can also increase cohesiveness letting their subordinates periodically meet to discuss potential or actual problems, the effect that upcoming changes may have on their work, and what new projects and priorities will be occurring in the future (Ireland and Hitt, 1999).

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