All entries for March 2010
March 04, 2010
There is a large number of coaching methods and techniques which involve different ways of doing it, but none of them can assure success. At the same time, There is a lot of different theories which try to match the right behaviours to leaders, but we need to considerate different factors as stated in the framework L=f(l,gm,s), where all elements interact dynamically. whatever theories researchers try to do emphasizing certain characteristics in leaders, effective leadership will always be based on that equation. A complete holistic theory or approach to leadership takes more than identifying and analysing leader traits, these only endow people to deliver quality leadership. Researchers can spend infinite time trying to look for the right traits in leaders, but these traits do not work alone.
Opposite to what some authors say, Basadur suggest that theories that try to match the “right” traits or behaviours to the “right” situation are conventional theories which have less to do with quality leadership. He avers that leadership has more to do with how leaders influence others in thinking together in innovative ways. He says that effective leaders will help individuals and teams defining new problems in the company, solving them, and implementing innovative solutions. These solutions (new ideas) are often initially rejected, as people do not accept change easily (the traditional fear of opposing the status quo), and they are viewed as bizarre or even foolish propositions.
The process approach to applied creativity
Adaptability is driven by organizational creativity, which has been defined as a continuous process of thinking innovatively, or finding and solving problems, and implementing new solutions.Kabanoff & Rossiter, 1994 B. Kabanoff and J.R. Rossiter, Recent developments in applied creativity, International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 9 (1994), pp. 283–324.Kabanoff and Rossiter (1994) defined applied creativity as a process “occurring in a real-world, industrial, organizational, or social context; pertaining to the finding or solving of complex problems; and having an actual behavioral creative product (or plan) as the final result.” Leaders can use creativity as the deliberate tool to lead their organizations to achieve adaptability. Studying and discussing creativity is difficult and complex, and no single, agreed-upon definition of this quality exists—and researchers have taken many different approaches to studying it. However, one approach that models creativity as a process, with phases or stages, has been proven effective in permitting people in organizations to increase creative performance and communicate more efficiently with others in creative teamwork. Basadur et al (1982) showed that appropriate training in thinking skills, attitudes, and behaviors associated with executing such a multistage process was effective in improving creative performance. Basadur and Head (2001) showed that teams with more heterogeneous preferences for various phases or stages of the creative process were more innovative than teams whose members were more homogeneous in preference for stages of the creative process. This offers leaders a blueprint to learn how to lead others to achieve adaptability. By developing a high level of skills, leaders can lead others in executing this process and in learning the skills, attitudes, and behaviors required to execute the process well. Above all, leaders can learn to synchronize individuals' very different preferences for various stages of the creative process, called his or her process style.
Basadur, M., (2004). Leadership others to think innovatively together: Creative leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 103-121.
Kabanoff and J.R. Rossiter, Recent developments in applied creativity, International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 9 (1994), pp. 283–324.
Basadur, G.B. Graen and S.G. Green, Training in creative problem solving: Effects on ideation and problem finding in an applied research organization, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 30 (1982), pp. 41–70.
M.S. Basadur and M. Head, Team performance and satisfaction: A link to cognitive style within a process framework, Journal of Creative Behavior 35 (2001), pp. 1–22.
Many researchers have identified different traits in a person. People have different personalities and behaviours, but we have to remember that a leader is still different from a non-leader, and the following table shows some of the characteristics that an effective leader posses
Lord, Devader, and Alliger (1986)
Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991)
Source: “Leadership, theory and practice”, by Northouse, 2007.
As we can see, some of them are repeated, that is because it is common to find these types of traits in a leader.
To coach the CEO in my PMA, I selected the Trait Theory. I know the website calls it "Personal Theory" which is divided in trait theory, leader motivation, cognitive factors, values and attitudes, cognitive differences and personality. But I found different journals which have different names for the theories, and I picked the one which describes "trait theory" as the main approach, and it is subdivided in other theories which can be linked to diverse approaches. This theory is focus on the attributes of a person, emphasizing its qualities which are critical in effective leadership. Literature shows that researchers have identified a number of characteristics which can be particularly related to good leaders, but these do not assure an effective role when leading a team solely because this person possesses the traits, there are many factors involved for this effectiveness. Northouse says that an individual with leadership traits who was leading in a specific situation might not be the same in a different scenario, circumstances are variable (a leader in the military service is different from a leader in business management). It is indispensable for a leader to first have a desire to lead (Nicholson, 2007). Therefore, this theory is only a part of leadership, as we have to consider situational factors where the leader interacts with different groups of people in different situations, and at this point we need to lie on the equation L=f(l,gm,s) (Dubrin, 1998), where each element is always dynamic.
DuBrin, A. J. (1998). Leadership: Research findings, practice and skills. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Northouse, P., (2007). Leadership theory and practice. (4th ed.). Sage Publications: Western Michigan University. 15-36.
Regardless of whether leaders are born or made or some combination of both, it is uniequivocally clear aht leaders are not like other people. Leaders do not have to be great men or women by being intellectual geniuses or omniscient prophets to succeed, but they do need to have the “right stuff” and this stuff is not equally present in all people. Leadership is a demanding, unrelenting job with enormous pressures and grave responsibilities. It would be profound disservice to leaders to suggest that they are ordinary people who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe the place matters, but it takes a special kind of person to master the challenges of opportunity. Let us not only give credit, but also use the knowledge we have to select and train out future leaders effectively. We believe that in the realm of leadership (and in every other realm), the individual does matter.