Leadership at the Workplace

Table of Contents

Leadership is a very important skill that is not possessed by all; hardly very few people are blessed with this skill. Being a leader is not easy; it poses many challenges, and the person who overcomes these challenges make a successful leader.

A leader instills confidence and provides motivation to the employees, motivation is an extremely important factor, and motivation can easily transform an employee within no time, ones the transformation of the employee takes place, the goals of the company would become much easier to achieve.

This is why motivation is considered to be one of the most important factors, and all most all the companies look for new methods to motivate the employees and to bring out the best out of them. This paper will focus on the different leadership behaviors and the best leadership behavior which should be adopted to meet the company’s goals.

“Jon Howell, in an interview with Sun-News (17 March 2001: 7), states, “A leaders’ behavior must match the situation and the news of his or her followers.” And his summary is very appropriate here:

Leader effectiveness is determined by what people do, not by some inherent personal characteristic… I’m not saying personal characteristics don’t help; they certainly do. But leaders have to adapt their behavioral styles to fit the situations in which they find themselves” (p. 7).

Howell says the good news is most people can learn leader behaviors and learn to recognize situations in which certain behaviors are most important. Howell and Costley (2001) argue for the match of leader behavior, leader traits and characteristics, follower characteristics, and the situation at hand. And there are seven leader types, fit for various behavioral processes and situations in my read of their leader theory:

  1. Supportive Leaders (those considerate, people-oriented leaders).
  2. Directive Leaders (fit for repetitive or work spread between sites and for cultures such as Mexico that prefer status well defined.
  3. Participative leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower, who could tame the Primadonna generals and politicians of WWII, and by careful listening to many voices craft an alliance.
  4. Reward and punishment leaders (transactional).
  5. Charismatic (heroic) leaders
  6. Boundary spanning (network) leaders
  7. Leaders who build and forge social exchange (also networkers).

And now we have left the obsession with one best style of leadership. There is no universal style. There is, as I have suggested, a dimension of behaviors running between Transactional and Transformational. The behavior school to this point is fixated on the transactional. To find transformational, we must sail to the Isle of the Situation.” (Howell and Costley, 17 March 2009). The same principles of Howell and Costley are elucidated in the paper.

Core leadership behaviors

There are mainly five major behavior patterns, namely, supportive behavior, directive behavior, participative behavior, reward and punishment behavior, and charismatic behavior. Every behavior pattern has its own pros and cons.

But the behavior pattern which works out the best undoubtedly rewards and punishment behavior. In this, the terms and conditions are made very clear to the employees; any breach of these terms and conditions result in punishment; on the other hand, if the employee performs well, he/she is rewarded suitably for his/her work. This is probably the best behavior pattern, simply because everything is made crystal clear to the employees.

The harder the employee works, the more will be his/her chances of getting rewarded. This pattern also has some risks involved like if an employee is punished for some mistake, the employee may leave the organization or will keep underperforming for the organization but the biggest positive of this behavior pattern is that if an employee is rewarded that will surely boost the confidence of that employee and with more confidence the employee will be motivated to surpass the expectations of the leader ones more, and this whole process will go on.

Reward works as a stimulus and makes the employee work harder; the appreciation shown by the leader to the employee becomes a huge positive for the employee and gives the employee motivation of the highest order.

The main goal of any leadership behavior is to make sure that the company achieves its goals and reward and punishment behavior acts very effectively in making sure the same, this is exactly why this type of behavior is the most appropriate and suitable in all situations.

Leadership style

“Howell said, Dwight Eisenhower was a superb example of “participative leadership,” especially in his role as supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II.

Eisenhower treated the other Allied leaders with patience, gave each a chance to state his point of view fully and was able to convince his counterparts he approached problems objectively. As a result, he succeeded in uniting the other commanders — several of whom were flamboyant, egotistical men unused to sharing decisions — to reach a common goal.” (NMSU, 17 March 2009)

Eisenhower is a classic example of a leader; he handled everything with ease and made sure he reached his goals; this is how a leader should be. Patience is the key to leadership, had Eisenhower not shown patience; he would not have been as successful as he was.

Patience is the key for any leader, and without patience, it is highly improbable for a leader to be successful. The behavior pattern followed by Eisenhower was participative behavior, in this, the leader gets actively involved in the thick of things, the leader sets an example in front of the other people and provides motivation of the highest order.

Some leaders do not opt this type of leadership thinking that if they involve in themselves in the activities which will also have the employees, it will give an impression that they are weak, so to project themselves strong some leaders never choose participative leadership behavior, but Eisenhower never thought about the negatives of participative leadership and set an example in front of all the leaders of today.

Ethical Problems

There are ethical problems that the leaders face; these problems arise when the employees forget the ethics which should never be forgotten, ethics, in other words, are values that an employee is expected to stick too in any circumstance. In financial institutions, ethical problems arise because the employees may involve themselves in various scams and other undesirable activities, solely done for the purpose of money.

Such problems can be treated by having a code of ethics, one ethical standard should be followed by everyone, and there should not be double standards, meaning that the code of ethics should not treat employees of different position unequally, all the people working under the leader should be treated equally and the code of ethics should be followed.

All these things can be done by a leader if he/she consciously involves in reflection, in the sense that looking back at ethical issues and keenly finding a way out to deal with the same. It is highly important that the people stick to their morals in order to avoid any ethical problems, a leader can make sure that this happens by reflecting upon the ethical issues and also by talking to the employees.


Howell, JP, Costley, DL 2000. Understanding behaviors for effective leadership

NMSU Professors. In nmsu.edu.

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