A manager who is also a leader may be defined as someone who oversees tasks, is accountable for meeting goals, pays attention to profit objectives, and has a “vision” of where the company is going and why. Decisions reflect an understanding of larger long-term goals. Early research in the field includes the Michigan Leadership Studies (Likert, 1961), which involved interviews with managers and subordinates to determine effective leadership behaviors.
The studies isolated and identified at least two major supervisor orientations. They were job-centered or task-oriented behavior and employee-centered or relations-based managerial behavior. Researchers assumed the two types of managerial orientations were exclusive and represented two ends of a continuum with managers being one or the other but not both.
About the same time, researchers at Ohio State University were conducting similar leadership studies. The research, which included data from military and industrial institutions, focused on relations-based decision making.
The studies identified at least two typologies that were called consideration behavior and initiating-structure behavior. In the former, the manager considers the needs and ideas of subordinates before making decisions. In the latter, the manager clearly defines the duties of subordinates and communicates their functions to them.
These were similar to the Michigan typologies, however the Ohio State researchers suggested that managers were not necessarily one kind of leader. Rather, they concluded that a manager could possess more than one orientation and successful managers could and did alternate styles as circumstances changed.
The research described previously was helpful in identifying and confirming certain leadership behaviors. However, it was not complex enough to account for different organizational settings or individual deviations, nor did it explain how employees interpreted apparent inconsistencies when they witnessed managers adopting alternate styles of management as circumstances changed.
The human relations school trains the foreman to become a leader, implicitly following the traditional model of one-dimensional leadership, widely accepted in political science and the study of history. It is assumed that there is one leader, and that he fulfills the various elite roles, including those that would be defined as instrumental and as expressive by Parsons and Bales (1953).
The foreman is trained to direct the production activity of his team, control the pace and quality of its work, advise on technical matters, and represent management in general to the workers. At the same time he is trained to be close to his workers, their friend, a person to whom they can turn for advice and support in personal matters, and so on.
If the propositions presented above concerning the dual-elite structure of collectivities are valid, it follows that in order for the human relations line of training to be effective, a foreman would have to be recruited from the limited group of human beings who can effectively fulfill both roles.
The rarity of this ability is reflected in the term chosen by Borgatta, Bales, and Couch (1954) to refer to such people: “great men.” But there is no reason to believe that foremen are really recruited to any significant degree from this rare and highly sought-after group, nor does the human relations tradition recognize the need for such highly selective recruitment.
Halpin (1954) showed that the same problem exists when bomber commanders attempt to follow a human relations policy with regard to their men.
The subordinates value “consideration,” whereas those higher in rank than the commanders emphasize “initiating structure.” The terms consideration and initiating structure, central to the various Ohio leadership studies, come close to the concepts expressive and instrumental as they are used here. The studies stress individualism rather than collectivism.
This impacts how workers and managers regard their own relationships as well as those between the company and the individual. If organizational culture is seen as opposed to individualization or as something that impedes or diverts the individual, then supervisor-subordinate conflict is sure to occur in companies where Western values are prevalent. Such conflict affects morale and, in turn, employee production.
All media managers must fit their personalities to an existing culture when they join a company. The cultural context, therefore, bears important consideration in all discussions of leadership behavior. As media companies expand into international arenas, it makes sense to understand the various dimensions for cultural analysis.
That is, symbols, language, task definitions, and acceptable behaviors vary between workers, countries and even media. A good manager will balance personal style or preference with complex situational variables. Culture is a construct that underlies behavior and beliefs within a company and the society in which it operates. It guides, explains, and predicts processes and products of a media company.
Organizational culture can be “observed” through categorizing and noting patterns of behavior, styles of dress, backgrounds of those hired and promoted, and so forth. Culture also can be defined in terms of shared values or assumptions workers hold about the world and human nature. Such common belief systems result in predictable behaviors and confirming rituals.
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