Leadership: Key to Group Cohesiveness

One of the most complicated tasks to do is to understand how the human mind works.  Put several of these minds together and it is like a topsy-turvy guessing game that can often lead to miscommunication.
Handling a group can truly be complicated. As more minds work together, more conflicts inevitably arise.  If this cannot be handled properly, this will result to animosity within the rank.  Jealousy from among group members may crop up.  It is therefore imperative for the group to have a decisive and yet magnanimous leader to carry it through good and bad times.
Amid this fact, the main problem that shall be answered is basic: How does an effective leadership lessen conflicts and motivate others, specifically subordinates, to be more productive and efficient?If we review the literature on leadership, we will find out that it is very extensive. Issues raise range from different styles of leadership, how to become effective decision-makers, and even how to better motivate people.

One study found out that people subsist in a hierarchy of needs, going from physiological needs through safety, social, esteem to self actualization (Whitman, 1987). It is, therefore, vital that a leader knows how to motivate group members. People can be motivated not just by basic needs, but also by noble causes. Some leaders would consider that it is necessary to use pain or threat of pain to motivate, but others consider that this only motivates no one but the dullest and idlest of people. Promises of food, excitement, companionship, involvement and the appreciation of other benefits are better motivators (Whitman).
Other literatures also deal with how leaders can make the group reach a consensus when it comes to decision-making. The study found out that many leaders like to think that they are skilled group decision-making methods such as action planning, goal setting and problem-solving, but their capability to execute such practices successfully is often hindered by their lack of understanding of the dynamics of these processes (Schwartz, 1994). In effect, these leaders often end up propagating problems that they themselves create through their carelessness and negligence to the needs of other group members. For this reason, instead of achieving a consensus, some leaders only serve their own interests. The better way to achieve harmony would be for them to pursue how resolutions are made and guarantee that they are attained by actual discussion (Schwartz).
It is therefore important to remember that consensus decision represents a reasonable decision that all members of the group can accept although it may not necessarily be the optimal decision for each member (Colwell, 2001). When this is attained, it would be safe and reasonable to say that the leader of the group or the manager of the organization has exhibited effective leadership style.
Theoretical Framework
The study basically explores the relationship between leadership and its motivational effects on employees or subordinates. Ordinarily, subordinates are motivated to work harder because their leaders encourage them to participate in the process of decision-making.   This kind of participative leadership inspires subordinates.    This is the reason why this study will partly explore the model called the Continuum of Leadership Behaviour which was developed by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H. Schmidt (Colwell).  This theory discusses the choices managers make concerning their subordinates’ involvement in decision making.
Basically, the theory has carries two sides of a coin.  On one side, leadership is relatively authoritarian.  On the other side, everything is relatively participative. As to the choice of leadership to be chosen, three factors are considered.
In studying this case, one must consider the leader’s value system, his trust in his subordinates, and his feelings of security in an uncertain situation.  In other words, if the manager is insecure of his position and abilities, he may resort to authoritarian leadership; limiting the chances of his subordinates to show their capabilities.
Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is the employees’ willingness to assume responsibilities, their expectations, and their need for independence. Also important here are their ability to understand situations and their knowledge in dealing with certain problems.
The choice of leadership also depends on the kind of organization one is dealing with.  When an organization needs to have an iron-fisted leader, then it is no doubt important for leaders to be authoritative.  However, if the organization needs continuous input from many heads, then participation of employees is vital to its growth.
Another leadership theory that this study will delve into is the Goal-Path theory.  This focuses on the need for leaders to make rewards conditional on the accomplishment of objectives (Schwartz).   Specifically, this theory discusses how leaders should aid subordinates in attaining rewards by clarifying the paths to goals.
Example of this is the model that was proposed by John Adair in 1973. It is called the Action Centred Leadership model.  It argues that it is not who one is but what he does that determines him as a leader (Vroom, 1973).
These two theories of leadership clearly state that for a leader to become effective, he needs to adjust to the needs of his subordinates and organization. Although authoritative leadership could be effective in certain circumstances, a viable organization basically springs forth from a leadership that encourages participation from subordinates.
Once subordinates discover that their services and inputs are valued by the leaders and managers, they shall be motivated to contribute more efforts to the organization.  This is very important as for many employees feel that some leaders do not value their efforts.
Data Presentation and Analysis
From the various literatures studied, it became apparent that the most effective leadership style is motivational one. Take for example the case of advertising agencies.  Most of them encourage the support and input of those involved in the project.  It is not only the boss or the leader who decides.  After some brainstorming, there will always be a group consensus that shall help them arrive at an agreed decision.
In this case, the kind of leadership that develops and prevails in the organization is the motivational one because it encourages ordinary employees to contribute intellectually to all their projects.  In effect, the leader’s main work here only resides in facilitating meetings and brainstorming.  All the others depend on the employees.
It would be impossible to find an effective advertising agency whose leaders are authoritative. This kind of atmosphere does not really thrive in a creative world such as this.
Besides, if one has to really review history, it would be easy to note that companies that have survives the test of time are those that resorted to motivational leadership.  After all, everybody knows that employees are the core of every organization. To think otherwise is suicide.
Although there are still leaders who resort to the “old” style of leadership where they confine decision-making within the realm of big bosses, they are fast fading away.  It is probably because they have realized how important varied inputs are to make an organization dynamic and progressive.
At the end of the day, it is still the call of leaders or managers to choose the kind of management that they wish to impose in the office. They are the Pied Pipers of the industry and whatever they may decide on will affect not only their lives, but the lives of their subordinates as well.To put it succinctly, the following characteristics should be possessed by a leader so that he can effectively lead a group.
First, a leader must know how to keep communication lines open within the group. As it has often been said, communication is the essence of organized activity and organizations function as a container within which communication takes place. By making sure that the communication process is seamless, he has already taken the step to make his organization more vibrant and dynamic.
Second, there should be transparency between the leader and the members. To do this, the leader must make sure that a meeting is regularly scheduled to get both sides of the fence. This way, miscommunication is minimized and members will feel that they are vital to the group.
Third, he should have the ability to combine caution with optimism.  He has to create a general outlook of optimism regarding what the changes he may want to implement. Any change in any group is often met with resistance and an effective leader must know how to deal with this.
Fourth, he has to learn how to modify socialization tactics.  He must always remember that the primary way that people learn culture is through the socialization process.
Lastly, he must find and cultivate innovative leadership. Group members are unlikely to give up whatever secure stability they derive from existing cultures and follow a leader in new directions unless that leader exudes self-confidence, has strong convictions, a dominant personality and can preach the vision with drama and eloquence.
All these characteristics must be possessed by a leader in order for him to be effective. Of course, some effective leaders also falter in their role but generally, they are able to fill up their shortcomings by being able to get up when they fall down. In most cases, for a group leaders are more effective than managers. Technically, they are more or less the same but the latter are most likely inclined to only direct, instead of lead.
From the gathered data, it would be natural to conclude that an effective leader must know how to rally members behind the group’s goals and objectives.  He must not only possess sound judgment and magnanimity, but most importantly, he has to have a charismatic character that will make him stand-out in the group.
It is not easy to become an effective leader.  One has to go through several missteps before he can effectively handle a group, but there is nothing really that practice cannot help improve.
The most important thing that a leader has to bear in mind is that he has to lead several employees and whatever decision he makes will affect other lives.  It is for this reason that he must be very carefully about his management style.  Motivational factors of employees are imbedded in the leadership style of a manager, and this can only work if the manager will be able to recognize this fact early on.
In the end, an effective leader is somebody who knows how to motivate group members into achieving their goals by encouraging teamwork to reach some kind of consensus amid varied ideas and beliefs.
In the advertising agency mentioned earlier, the behaviour of the managers or leaders need not change because right from the start they have been advocates of liberal leadership where motivating employees are first and foremost in the over-all agenda. They recognize that once the right motivation is given to the subordinates, it will boost the morale of the employees.  From here, it goes without saying that this advertising agency will continuously evolved to become one viable organization internally.
In a nutshell, it would be important to recap that motivation of employees is very important in ensuring a dynamic organization.  However, the right motivation can only be given by leaders or managers who encourage employee-participation in every endeavour. Ultimately, these leaders are those that discourage authoritarianism.
Avery, Christopher M. (2000). How Teamwork Can be Developed as an Individual Skill. The Journal for Quality and Participation.
Colwell, Joy L. (2001).Beyond Brainstorming: How Managers Can Cultivate Creativity and Creative Problem-Solving Skills In Employee. Supervision.
Schwartz, Andrew E. (1994). Group Decision Making. The CPA Journal.
Taylor, Thomas. (1994). Public Dispute Resolution. Lecture presented for the Mediation Theory and Practice course at Florida State University Law School on April 16, 1994. Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium, Tallahassee, Florida.
Vroom, V. H. & Jago, A. G. (1988). The new leadership: Managing participation in organizations. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall.
Vroom, V. H. & Yetton, P. W. (1973). Leadership and decision-making. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Waitley, Denis and Maryann Rosenthal. Becoming a Proactive Leader. www.betttermanagement.com
Whitman, Gilbert L. (1987) Leadership and Motivation (Management Skills Workshop) Bureau of Law and Business Reports, Madison, CT.

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