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Session 1. Leadership

Session guide: Leadership
Reading note: Leadership



FORMAT Plenary participatory lecture



At the end of this session, participants should be able to understand and appreciate:

1. The concept of leadership.
2. Different theories of leadership and leadership styles.
3. Task and maintenance functions of a leader.
4. Important characteristics of a leader.


Exhibit 1


Exhibit 2

Leadership theories

Exhibit 3

Theory X

Exhibit 4

Theory Y

Exhibit 5

Functions of a leader

Exhibit 6

Characteristics of a leader


Reading note: Leadership


Arnon, I., 1968. Organization and Administration of Agricultural Research. Amsterdam: Elsevier. See pp. 161-205.


Overhead projector and chalkboard

Session guide: Leadership

Begin this session by asking participants how they feel about their superiors and how they think their superiors feel about them. The purpose of this discussion should be to emphasize the differences in perspectives. Emphasize that leadership and cooperation go hand in hand to motivate researchers. A person does not need to be a leader or a manager to feel this way. As a leader or manager, however, one should realize that although he or she may feel that they are pulling everyone else's weight in the organization, it is likely that the person's co-workers see things very differently. Regardless of the reality of this situation, it is important that co-workers at least perceive that management and staff are members of the same team. Being a good leader is important to research management but, to determine how to be a good leader, one must first understand the concept of leadership and its importance.

Ask participants what they understand by 'leadership,' and why is it important? Show EXHIBIT 1 and define leadership. Leadership is the effort to influence the behaviour of individuals or group members to achieve set goals. It establishes a feeling of mutuality.

Discuss the various leadership theories listed in EXHIBIT 2. The traditional concept has been that effective leaders have a distinct set of personality traits. These may be capacity, achievements, responsibility, participation or socio-economic status. Based on how a leader behaves, the behaviourial approach classifies leaders as autocratic, democratic, participative or laissez-faire. Discuss each of these types of leaders, provoking participants to provide examples from their experiences. The Ohio State University studies identified four leadership styles based on initiating structure and consideration as important determinants of successful leadership behaviour. Show EXHIBIT 3 and discuss the assumptions underlying Theory X. Show EXHIBIT 4 and discuss the conceptual basis of Theory Y. Discuss leadership roles for each of these types and how they influence performance. Theory X and Theory Y represent two different types of leadership styles. In this context, participants might wish to assess their own leadership style and that of their supervisors. The managerial grid approach considers people and production, and evolves five types of leadership styles. Likert's four systems identify leadership styles which can either be job centred or employee centred. The job-centred leadership style may be exploitative or benevolent. The employee-centred style is consultative and participative. The situational approach has identified leadership styles as relationship motivated and task motivated. Tannenbaum and Schmidt's situation theory considers leadership style on the basis of the leader, the follower and the situation.

Initiate discussion on the functions of a leader. The basic function of a leader is to ensure that the group achieves its goal. This is done through various steps. Broadly speaking, managerial functions can be defined in terms of task and of maintenance. The task functions are activities performed to achieve organizational goals. The maintenance functions are activities that help in satisfying the needs of group members. Show EXHIBIT 5 and discuss the important task and maintenance functions of a leader.

Ask participants to write down the ten most important qualities a leader of agricultural research should have. Ask each participant to give what they consider to be the two most important qualities identified. As they list them, write them on the board. By the time you have listed the opinions of each participant, you may very well have covered all participants' ten qualities, as many of the participants will probably have listed the same qualities as others. If not, then go around the room again asking for additional qualities not already written on the board. As particularly interesting qualities are mentioned by participants, you might discuss them with the group as a whole.

Finally, show EXHIBIT 6 and compare the qualities listed there with those listed on the board. Consider each quality and discuss why it is important, inviting individuals to consider which qualities are most important to them personally. As the discussion progresses, it will possess all these characteristics.

Conclude the session with a discussion on leadership in research organizations. Observe that a research manager is required to assimilate various leadership styles and functions in order to effectively, efficiently and successfully manage research activities. Scientists are highly skilled, with various specializations. Creativity is the core of their performance. Therefore, the research manager has to use a participative approach in conjunction with other approaches.


Leadership is the effort to influence the behaviour of individuals or members of a group in order to accomplish organizational, individual or personal goals


Trait approach


Behavioural approach


Theory X and Theory Y

Managerial grid

Lickert's four systems:
Job centred
- Exploitive authoritarian
- Benevolent authoritarianEmployee centred
- Consultative
- Participative

Situational approach

Fiedler's Situational theory
Relationship-motivated style
Task-motivated style

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Situation theory



1. Man is inherently lazy, dislikes work and avoids it whenever possible.

2. As a result, leaders must use strong measures to control the behaviour of subordinates, so that they work toward organizational goals.

3. Most human beings are incapable of self-direction and control. They prefer to respond to orders rather than to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Managerial styles

Management assumes complete responsibility for organizing, planning, important decision making, directing and motivating people. Employees are not trusted with important decisions.

Source: McGregor, 1960



1. Work can be enjoyable.

2. People will work hard and assume responsibility if they have the opportunity to satisfy their personal needs while simultaneously achieving organizational goals.

3. People have a great deal more ability and potential for imagination and creativity than credit is given to them.

4. Given proper conditions, individuals want to do a good job and will work hard to do so.

5. Performance of an individual is actually based on internal rather than external controls.

Managerial styles

Management trusts employees, and delegates important decisions to lower levels. It fosters an environment conducive to the growth of both organization and subordinate. This makes work inherently satisfying and invokes participation.

Source: McGregor, 1960.


Task functions

A policy-maker
A planner
An executive
An expert
A group representative
A controller
A purveyor of rewards and punishments

Maintenance functions

An arbitrator and mediator
An ideal
A symbol of the group
A surrogate for individual responsibility
An ideologist
A father
A scapegoat

Source: Kretch and Cretchfield, 1948.


Respects the work of others
Induces a feeling of satisfaction
Promotes the interests of subordinates
Respects individuals
Honest and transparent
Provides opportunities
Willing to listen
Has authority
Personality traits

Sources: Fiedler, Chemers and Mahar, 1977; Stodgill, 1948; Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986.

Reading note: Leadership

Leadership theories
Trait approach
Behaviourial approach
Theory X and theory Y
Managerial grid approach
Likert's four systems
Situational approach
Functions of leaders
Characteristics of leaders

Leadership is an effective instrument by which a manager can establish a feeling of mutual objectives and unity in a group, thereby ensuring maximum efficiency of the group. To achieve this, a manager has to have special skills in understanding impersonal and group behaviour, establishing interactions and communication, and promoting cooperation. The quality of leadership determines the success or failure of an organization. Leadership can be defined here as the effort to influence the behaviour of individuals or group members in order to accomplish organizational, individual or personal goals. It is an essential component of organizational effectiveness. A leader has to possess one or more forms of powers to orient others to the desired direction (French and Raven, 1959): charisma, a position of authority, expert knowledge, and power of reward and punishment.

The powers of authority, reward and punishment are primary powers, which add strength to leadership quality and influence. These are powers which are delegated to a manager by the organization.

Expert knowledge and charisma power are personal, intrinsic to the leader, and add to his or her strength.

To be effective, a manager should have a good understanding of leadership, of motivating factors, of how people think and act, and should adopt a personal and active attitude towards designated goals.

Leadership should be both effective and successful. While successful leadership draws a response from individuals or group members on the basis of rewards and punishments, effective leadership is based on mutual understanding and social exchange. An effective leader makes the individual or group members understand the problem and reasons for any actions or for changes needed in their own perceptual terms, and then makes a well reasoned decision.

More recently, the concept of the super leader has been developed. A super leader is one who leads others to lead themselves. Super leadership inspires, stimulates and supports self-leadership in subordinates. It recognizes self-influence as a "powerful opportunity for achieving excellence, rather than as a threat to external control and authority" (Manz and Sims, 1987). Strategies for self-leadership include: (i) effective behaviour and action, (ii) strategies focused on behaviour, and (iii) cognitive focused effective thinking and feeling.

Leadership theories

Leadership is influenced by numerous factors relating to traits, behaviour and situation. It is the outcome of a complex relationship between leaders, subordinates, the organization, social values and economic and political conditions. The concept of leadership is understood mainly through three theories, based on trait, behaviour and situation.

Trait approach

The traditional concept is that effective leaders have personality traits which distinguish them from the common herd. Leadership effectiveness has been found to be associated with age, height, intelligence, academic achievements, judgmental ability and insight. However, none of these have been correlated with leadership in all situations. The willingness to lead transcends all these traits. The trait approach has been popular, but controversial.

Stogdill (1974) identified several general factors which differentiate leaders from non-leaders:

· Capacity refers to problem solving capabilities, making judgments and working hard.

· Achievements relate to accomplishments such as academic record, knowledge and sports.

· Responsibility refers to dependability, reliability, self-drive, perseverance, aggressiveness and self-confidence.

· Participation and involvement mean highly developed social interaction, popularity, swift adaptation to changing situations, and easier cooperation compared to non-leaders.

· Socio-economic status, i.e., effective leaders usually belong to higher socio-economic classes.

Behaviourial approach

The behaviourial approach to leadership is based on the concept of how a leader behaves and what actually is done to achieve leadership effectiveness. Depending on participation and sharing in decision making, leaders have been classified (Lewin, Lipit and White, 1939, quoted in Tosi, Rizzo and Carroll, 1986) as:

· Autocratic leaders, who exclude subordinates from the process of decision making. They assign work without consulting subordinates or knowing their inclinations and desires.

· Democratic or participative leaders are effective and more productive because they consult subordinates on various matters and include them in the process of decision making. Tasks are assigned on the basis of interests and preferences of subordinates.

· Laissez-faire leaders have little or no self-confidence in their leadership ability, do not set goals for the group, and do not enhance group interaction and communication. In fact, the laissez-faire type of leader do little supervision. Consequently, the group has to make many on-the-job decisions.

Studies at Ohio State University focused on task and social behaviour of leaders, and identified initiating structure and consideration as two important determinants of successful leadership behaviour. The studies observed the effect of various leadership styles on group performance and job satisfaction (Stogdill, 1974). Initiating structure is the extent to which a leader conceptualizes the roles of both the leader and the subordinates towards goal achievements. It relates to organizational structure, communication channels and evaluation of group output. Consideration is the degree to which job relationships are associated with mutual trust, faith, respect, friendship, support from subordinates and informal communication. On the basis of these dimensions, four leadership styles have been identified, namely low structure - low consideration; low structure - high consideration; high structure - high consideration; and high structure - low consideration. The high structure - high consideration style of leadership has been found to be most effective (Stogdill, 1974).

Theory X and theory Y

There are two basic classes of people: those who want to lead and take responsibility, i.e., the leaders and managers; and those who want to be directed and do not want to take responsibilities. On this basis, McGregor (1960) classified leadership as either an authoritarian style (Theory X), or a more egalitarian style (Theory Y).

Theory X

Theory X assumes that:

· man is inherently lazy, dislikes work and avoids it whenever possible;

· as a result, leaders must use strong measures to control the behaviour of subordinates and properly control them so that they work towards organizational goals; and

· most human beings are incapable of self-direction and control, preferring to respond to direct orders rather than assume responsibility for their own actions.

According to Theory X, management does not trust employees with important decisions. They are altogether excluded from the decision making process. Management assumes complete responsibility for organizing, planning, making important decisions, directing and motivating people. If management does not act, employees will do little or nothing.

Theory Y

The Theory Y style of leadership is based on Maslow's concept of self-actualization. It considers that:

· work can be enjoyable,

· people will work hard and assume responsibility if they have the opportunity to satisfy their personal needs while at the same time achieving organizational goals,

· people have a great deal more capability and potential for imagination and creativity than they are given credit for,

· given proper conditions, individuals will work hard to do a good job, and

· an individual's performance is actually based on innate rather than external controls.

Implementing a Theory Y approach, a manager nurtures an environment which is favourable to the growth of both organization and subordinates. The theory recognizes that employees

have the capability to be high performers, to develop and assume responsibility, and to be self-motivated. Therefore management only has to ensure the appropriate working conditions to bring out all these abilities. With the right kind of leadership, employees will not be inactive and resistive. On the contrary, management can trust employees and assign responsibility for taking important decisions to lower levels. The overall effect is to make work inherently satisfying to the employee.

Managerial grid approach

The managerial grid approach utilizes - with modifications - the consideration and initiating structure dimensions of leadership. As discussed earlier, these dimensions are directed towards people and production respectively (Blake and Mouton, 1969). Using this approach, five types of leadership styles have been identified:

· The improvised or extempore style, which considers neither people nor production. It is an ineffective style of leadership.

· The country club style of leadership is oriented towards people, but has the least concern for production.

· The autocratic type of leadership is oriented towards production. It has most concern for production and least concern for people.

· The middle-of-the-road type of leader maintains a balanced between production and people.

· The team type of leadership style influences group members into a vibrant, effective, problem solving and decision making team, which is essential for organizational effectiveness. This is the most effective style of leadership, since it has concern for both production and people.

Likert's four systems

According to Likert (1961), optimal performance can only be achieved if attention is paid to the human aspects of subordinates' problems and behaviourial aspects, such as motivating forces, communication processes, interaction-influence processes, decision making processes, goal setting processes, control processes, and performance characteristics. Based on these considerations, leadership styles could be either job centred or employee centred, and then further classified as follows:

Job centred

· Exploitive-authoritative type of leadership, which is similar to the high structure-low consideration type discussed earlier. It is manipulative and results in low productivity.

· Benevolent-authoritative style of leadership, which is a slight improvement on the exploitive-authoritative type of leadership. It produces average results.

Employee centred

An employee-centred leadership style can either be consultative or participative.

· A consultative style of leadership is ideal. Although control is basically with top management, it is shared with managers at middle and lower levels. Overall productivity is good.

· A participative group style maximizes the quantity and quality of performance, and is thus an ideal approach.

Situational approach

A situational approach to leadership is based on the premise that environmental factors affect a leader's style and effectiveness. Consequently, effective and successful leadership depends on the relationship between organizational situations and leadership styles.

Fiedler's situational theory identifies effective leadership styles under changing situations (Fiedler, Chemers and Mahar, 1977). These can be either relationship motivated or task motivated.

· A relationship-motivated leadership style relies on good personal relations and group participation to accomplish tasks. Leaders with this style perform most effectively in modest control situations which present mixed problems related to task, group members and authority. The relationship-motivated leader gets cooperation from the group by being sensitive, diplomatic and tactful.

· Task-motivated leaders prefer clear guidelines and standardized or patterned work methods to complete successfully the task they have accepted. They have strong task orientation and perform best in high-control or low-control situations. The high-control situations are those where leaders get support from group members and the tasks are clearly specified. In addition, leaders have high authority, which enables them to use their powers of reward and punishment appropriately. Low-control situations - the opposite of high-control situations - are relatively difficult, challenging and straining.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's situation theory contends that the most effective leadership style depends on forces in the leader, the follower and the situation. A leader chooses his or her leadership style based on the interactions and prevalence of these forces for optimizing organizational productivity (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 1958).

Functions of leaders

The basic objective of leaders is to ensure that the group accomplishes its goals. Leaders' functions depend on the group being led, with actions adjusted to different situations. Therefore, they have to

· develop a feeling of mutual interest among the group members,

· promote cooperation and effective communication to ensure maximum efficiency of the group,

· foster a feeling of team spirit among the group members, and

· manage strife and dissension efficiently and constructively.

Broadly speaking, managers perform task and maintenance functions (Krech, 1948), depending upon different positions and situations.

Task functions

Task functions are the activities which are performed to realize organizational goals. They concern leaders as:

· Policy-makers. The primary function of leaders is to establish group goals and policies in accordance with broader policies and organizational goals.

· Planners. Leaders plan with a time perspective and develop a methodology for implementation, including use of human and physical resources. Participation of team members in the planning process facilitates smooth implementation.

· Executives. An important responsibility of leaders is to coordinate the activities of the various groups and individuals in their team.

· Experts. Leaders are expected to be experts in their areas of specialization and their job, so as to enhance the ability and effectiveness of group members.

· Group representatives. Leaders represent their groups and expound group demands, achievements and constraints to superiors. This is the 'gate-keeping' function.

· Controllers. Leaders control group activities and interpersonal relations within the group so that the goals of the organization can be achieved effectively.

· Purveyors of rewards and punishments. Leaders have powers of reward and of punishment, by virtue of the authority they enjoy. These powers can be used for disciplining, motivating and controlling.

Maintenance functions

Maintenance functions are those activities that help in gratifying the needs of group members. These relate to leaders as:

· Arbitrators and mediators. Leaders act as arbitrator-negotiators and as mediators in resolving intergroup conflicts and re-establishing good group relations.

· Ideal role models. Depending on the situation, leaders sometimes have to portray themselves as ideal role models for the group members to follow.

· Group symbols. Leaders have to augment, reinforce and maintain a sense of belonging and involvement within the group. They therefore have to have a strong sense of identity with their groups. Only then can they properly represent the group.

· Surrogates for individual responsibility. Leaders have to assume responsibility for decision making when group members do not want to be involved in the process and prefer to escape from responsibility.

· Ideologists. Influential and effective leaders are a source of beliefs and basic tenets for group members, who start accepting the leader's ideas and thinking.

· Father figures. Leaders serve as a perfect focus for the positive emotional feelings of individuals in the group. They are considered ideal for identification, transference and feelings of submissiveness.

· Scapegoats. Leaders are an obvious target for the hostility and onslaught of frustrated, disappointed or disenchanted group members. Since leaders are responsible for group activities and achievement, they have to accept the blame for failure.

Characteristics of leaders

From the viewpoint of a follower, the characteristics of leaders are:

· Organization. Subordinates like leaders who plan and are well organized. They should follow the chain of command in issuing instructions. They should also delegate authority as necessary.

· Fearlessness. Leaders should not be afraid for their positions, nor afraid of their superiors, the toughness of a job, colleagues or the honest mistakes of their staff.

· Respect for the work of others. Leaders should recognize that the work of their teammates is as important as their own work, and deserves equal recognition. While they should be excited about their own work, leaders should simultaneously cultivate the right climate so that their teammates can also be enthused about their work.

· Satisfaction. Leaders should have a feeling of satisfaction and gratification when a teammate achieves something which they themselves thought would be impossible.

· Promotion of the interests of subordinates. If leaders believe that their subordinates are right, they should fight for them no matter what the odds and the situation.

· Frankness. Leaders should talk to subordinates directly and inform and explain without losing tempers or creating stress. They should be candid and criticize constructively.

· Respect for the individual. Subordinates prefer leaders who respects an individual's identity and experience. Leaders should never show bias.

· Knowledge. Subordinates want leaders who are knowledgeable and know most of the answers. At the same time, leaders should admit ignorance when they do not know the answer to a problem, and be willing to seek help from other sources. They should also be willing to learn from others. In fact, they should never stop learning.

· Predictability. Leaders should be predictable, usually the same all the time and not enigmatic.

· Tolerance. Leaders should be tolerant of small mistakes which teammates may occasionally make.

· Understanding. Subordinates should perceive their leaders to be humane and understanding, and should not be afraid to go to them if they have committed a foolish mistake, are ashamed or are proud and satisfied. Leaders should create confidence and should be neither hasty nor rude.

· Honesty and transparency. Subordinates wants leaders who are transparent in their dealings and cannot be bribed by anyone. Leaders should be able to see through perfidious designs in any form, and should cultivate strong moral fibre and earn the respect of their teammates. Leaders should always be committed to good moral principles.

· Accessibility. Leaders should be easily approachable when needed, and subordinates should be able to get away from their leader when their business is settled.

· Providing opportunities. Leaders should be willing to provide new opportunities and chance for work even if it is something new and the subordinate may not have experience in that work.

· Guidance. Leaders should lead by training others. They should be able to show their subordinates how to do a job, but, in doing so, they must not show off. Subordinates like people who grow out of their own job to become leaders. Leaders should try to match people and jobs.

· Willingness to listen. Leaders should be willing to listen when a subordinate has something to say, but should be able to end the conversation gracefully if necessary.

· Genuineness. Subordinates should believe that their leaders sincerely wants them to succeed and will be proud of them when they do.

· Discretion. Leaders should respect the privacy of their teammates. They should not admonish them in the presence of others, nor gossip about them. At the same time, leaders should give credit to and acclaim their people publicly when appropriate.

· Informed. Leaders should be well informed about what is happening around them. They should not give credence to gossip.

· Grace. Leaders should neither denigrate nor undermine a teammate for any reason.

· Authority. Leaders should have authority to mete out rewards and punishment as necessary.

· People orientation. Leaders should like people, be cooperative and inspire their teammates.

· Positive personality. Subordinates like leaders who are active, humble, gracious, thoughtful and confident. Leaders should be firm but fair to everybody, and, if necessary, should be able to compromise, but should not placate.

· Good communication. Subordinates like to be informed of the actions of their leader and the reasons for them. Good leaders have to be good communicators and should not cover themselves in an unnecessary veil of secrecy.


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Fielder, F.E., Chemers, M.M., & Mahar, L. 1977. Improving Leadership Effectiveness. New York, NY: John Wiley.

Kretch, D., Crutchfield, R.A., & Ballachey, E.I. 1962. Individual in Society. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Kretch, D., & Cretchfield, R.A. 1948. Theory and Problems of Social Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Likert, R. 1961. New Patterns of Management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Manz, C.C., & Sims, H.P., Jr. 1987. Superleadership Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Maslow, A.H. 1943. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50: 370-396.

McGregor, D. 1960. The Human Side of Enterprise New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Stogdill, R. 1974. Personal factors associated with leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, January: 35-71.

Terry, G.R., & Franklin, S.G. 1987. Principles of Management. New Delhi: All India Traveller Bookseller.

Tosi, H.L., Rizzo, J.R., & Carroll, S.J. 1986. Managing Organizational Behaviour. New York, NY: Pitman. See pp. 454-456.

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