Sample Essay

Folkman (2010:2/3) identified a number of behaviours which can have a significant impact on employee commitment. These include: inspiring and motivating others; a strategic understanding of the overall picture so that employees have a clear sense of direction; integrity and honesty; trust; a focus on continuous professional development for employees; and a genuine concern for others. Thus, there are a number of typical behaviours which an effective leader demonstrates. However, according to Lussier and Achua (2010:16) this ‘trait theory’ paradigm is based on the assumption that leaders are born with a set of traits. On the other hand, ‘contingency’ theories emphasise the importance of situational factors including the characteristics of the followers and the nature of the work performed which shape followers perceptions of appropriate leadership styles.

Ehrhart and Klein (2001:153) investigated personality traits and values and used them to predict participants’ preferences for ‘charismatic’ leadership versus ‘relationship-orientated’ and ‘task-orientated’ leadership. Erhart and Klein’s (2001:173) research indicated that followers do differ in their preferences for different types of leaders. Approximately 50% said they would most like to work with a relationship-oriented leader; 30% selected the charismatic leader; and 20% chose the task-oriented leader. The results also suggested that employees may differ in the way they interpret identical sets of management behaviour. For example, the relationship-orientated leader who is described as friendly, accountable, flexible and reliable by one individual may be viewed as underachieving and gossipy by those who have a low preference for this leadership style.

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