Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Management Theories # 10 - Leadership Continuum

The Leadership Continuum model of Tannebaum and Schmidt (1973) suggests that autocratic leaders are more likely to make their own decisions and not engage their subordinates, whereas a more democratic leader (laissez-faire manager) gives subordinates a greater degree of delegation in decision-making.

In 1938, Lewin and Lippitt proposed classifications of leaders based on how much involvement leaders placed into task and relationship needs. This range of leadership behaviors was expressed along a continuum by Tannebaum & Schmidt in 1973, ranging from boss-centered (task) to subordinate-centered (relationship).To choose the most appropriate style and use of authority, the leader must consider:

  1. Forces in the manager: belief in team member participation and confidence in capabilities of members.
  2. Forces in the subordinate: subordinates who are independent, tolerant of ambiguity, competent, identify with organizational goals.
  3. Forces in the situation: team has requisite knowledge, team hold organizational values and traditions, teams work effectively.
  4. Time pressure: need for immediate decision under pressure mitigates against participation.
Advantages of the Leadership Continuum Model include:
  • Gives managers a range of choices for involvement.
  • Presents criteria for involvement and delegation.
  • Focuses decision maker on relevant criteria (e.g., forces & time).
  • Emphasizes employee development and empowerment.
  • Is heuristic--encourages research to see how effective delegation may be under the model.
Some limitations of the Leadership Continuum theory:
  • Involves only the initial step of assigning a task to someone, not the following processes that may determine the effectiveness of the outcome.
  • Assumes the manager has sufficient information to determine disposition to self or team.
  • Assumes "neutral" environment without social bonds or politics.
  • Simplifies complex decisions to a two-polar dimension; more simple than reality is.

No comments: