Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leadership Summary (Part 1)

For good or ill, I find myself once again creating a summary of some English resources that are not available in Spanish so that my summary can be translated.  I've decided to create a hybrid summary of Peter Northouse's more basic Introduction to Leadership and his more advanced book, Leadership.  If you know a bit about the field of leadership, please feel free to correct anything you see here that you think is incorrect.
Northouse, Peter G. (2012). Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Chapter 1: Being a Leader
In this chapter, Northouse catalogs a number of different perspectives on what a leader is, many of which appear in the chapters that follow.  However, more helpful than his introduction in this book is his introduction in his more advanced book, Leadership (2010).  "Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals toward a common goal" (3).

Northouse distinguishes leadership from management, which involves functions like planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling (9).  By contrast, leadership is more about direction, team building, motivating, and inspiring (10).  "To manage means to accomplish activities and master routines, whereas to lead means to influence others and create visions for change" (11).

Northouse, Peter G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and Practice. 5th ed.  Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Chapter 2: Recognizing Your Traits
The second chapter of Northouse (2012) addresses the oldest theory of leadership that basically held that "leaders are born not made."  The "great man" theories of the past focused on "traits" or characteristics with which great social, political, and military leaders seemed to be born.  We now recognize that this approach is only a very small piece of the leadership puzzle, but studies nevertheless show a number of characteristics most great leaders seem to have.  These include things like 1) intelligence, 2) confidence, 3) charisma, 4) determination, 5) sociability, and 6) integrity.

Northouse (2010) adds some depth and background to the question of the kinds of qualities leaders often have.  The 1990s saw discussion of a persons "EQ" (emotional intelligence) in addition to "IQ" (intelligence quotient). This is the "ability to perceive and express emotions, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and reason with emotions, and to effectively manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others" (23).

We might mention here the way some have connected leadership potential with the so called "Big Five" factors of personality:
  • low neuroticism (how easily does a person get depressed, anxious, insecure, vulnerable, or hostile)
  • extraversion (how sociable and assertive is someone)
  • openness (intelligence, creativity, curiosity, insight)
  • agreeableness (accepting, trusting, nurturing)
  • conscientiousness (organized, dependable, decisive)
Chapter 3: Recognizing Your Philosophy and Style of Leadership
Northouse (2012) discusses how different people have different tendencies in relation to their style of leadership.  These can relate to a person's general sense of human nature.  The so called "Theory X" tends to have a negative view of human nature.  It assumes that people dislike work, need to be directed and controlled, and that people prefer security to responsibility.  By contrast, so called "Theory Y" assumes that people like to work, are self-motivated, and seek responsibility.

Various leadership styles tend to play to one or the other pole.  The "authoritarian leadership style," whether consciously on the part of the leader or not, operates as if people are like Theory X.  The "democratic leadership style" functions as if the assumptions of Theory Y are correct.  Meanwhile, a "laissez-faire leadership style" gives no real leadership at all and generally has negative results (57).

Northouse (2010) gives a more sophisticated delineation of leadership styles in relation to supportive and directive behavior ("situational leadership," chapter 5).  The person whose style is low on support and low on direction tends to be a delegating leader.  The person who is highly supportive but low on direction is a supportive leader (democratic).  The person who is high on direction but low on support is the directing leader (authoritarian).  The person who is both high on direction and high on support is a coaching leader.

Chapter 4: Attending to Tasks and Relationships
This chapter in Northouse (2012) actually continues the kinds of things that a style approach to leadership addresses.  Is a leader more or less oriented around accomplishing tasks (task-oriented leadership) or on the well-being of his or her subordinates (relationship-oriented leadership).  Northouse (2010) presents what has come to be known as the Leadership Grid (74).  On one side of the grid is a concern for people.  On the other is a concern for results.

The combination of both high concern for people and results is "Team Management."  High concern for results without concern for people is "Authority-Compliance Management."  High concern for people without concern for results is "Country-Club Management."

Chapter 5: Developing Leadership Skills
Northouse (2012) organizes the key skills that a leader should have into three general categories: administrative, interpersonal, and conceptual skills.  Administrative skills involve things like the ability to manage people, to manage resources, as well as technical competence. Interpersonal skills involve things like social perceptiveness, emotional intelligence, and the ability to handle conflict.  Finally, conceptual skills include things like problem-solving skills, the ability to do strategic planning and to create vision.

Northouse gives four basic steps in solving problems: 1) identify the problem, 2) generate alternative solutions, 3) select the best solution and 4) implement the solution.  Meanwhile, the skills that make a person best suited for strategic planning include the ability to learn, the capacity to adapt, and managerial wisdom.

Northouse (2010)  goes further to suggest that the proper proportion of technical and conceptual skills needed depends on whether a person is in top or lower management.  In top management, the need for conceptual skills is high but the need for technical skills is lower.  In lower or supervisory management, the need for technical skill is higher, but the need for conceptual skills is lower.

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Personally, I think there has been way too much emphasis on leadership. How about just doing one's work to the best of one's ability and let "leadershp" happen to you, instead of buying every book on the shelf and pining away for power?!!! And execuitive is made from working one's way up the corporate ladder, and sometimes doing so isn't about 1,2,3's but problem solving ability in the here and now!! In fact, those that pine away for power over others, aren't good leaders in my book!