Leadership in the Third Wave

Leadership in the Third Wave

Viktor Wang, Susan K. Dennett
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch037
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This chapter reviews a variety of studies that explore leadership styles and how these styles may apply to different and new types of situations in a constantly changing environment. Historical research is explored to examine whether leadership styles as we know still apply today and in the future. What types of styles will leaders in this new information age be required to utilize in order to lead effectively? This is only a beginning for leaders. For the global economy age, will one leadership style fit all? In today's world, leaders will no doubt need to comprehend how to lead effectively within a culturally diverse population. Armed with this knowledge, leaders leading in multicultural organizations can have an open mind-set and understand and at times even embrace cultural differences rather than not understanding and to ignoring the differences.
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One may pose the question on whether the research conducted in the past relating to the different styles of leadership and leadership itself will relate to the types of situations encountered in this era. This section takes the reader on a journey to see if that question can be answered.

A classic study on leadership style was conducted by Lippit and White (1958) who examined the leadership styles of youth leaders. Jarvis (2002), Lippit and White (1958) highlighted a threefold typology: authoritarian, laissez-faire and democratic. They found:

  • Authoritarian leaders create a sense of group dependence on the leader. Their presence held the group together and no work was done in their absence;

  • Laissez-faire leaders achieve little work whether they were present or absent;

  • Democratic leaders achieve group cohesion and harmonious working relationships whether they were present or not.

Since then, their finding has been applied to the business world, higher education etc. Later, other studies broke down the three leadership styles and divided them into more detailed categories. Numerous studies (Badaracco, 1998; Farkas & Wetlaufer, 1998; Heifetz & Laurie, 1998; Mintzberg, 1998; Nohria & Berkley, 1998; Teal, 1998; Zaleznik, 1998) indicated that leadership should be viewed dialectically. On the one hand, it should be leader-centered. This is the so-called “follow me” approach. No diversity is encouraged in this kind of leadership. The advantage of this leadership is such that it is an easier form of leadership. The disadvantage of this kind of leadership is that emergence of leadership from people is not encouraged. Whatever goals leaders have, followers do not buy into them. On the other hand, there is other-centered leadership. The obvious advantage of this kind of leadership is that people buy into something leaders try to promote. People take ownership. People assume responsibility for all their actions. Leaders help people get involved in tasks. The disadvantage of this kind of leadership is that it is not an easier form of leadership. Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, people grew disillusioned with this dichotomy of leadership, leader-centered versus other-centered. They developed a new kind of leadership. This new kind of leadership; also known as facilitative leadership encouraged the participation from others, rather than the leader simply giving direction (Rogers, 1951, 1961, 1969, 1980):

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: The act of one person directing others. In this article, leadership is defined as coping with change whereas management is defined as coping with complexity. Some people have the capacity to become good managers but not strong leaders. Likewise others have great leadership, but have difficulty becoming strong managers. Today’s organizations value both kinds of people and work hard to make them a part of their teams. Some scholars consider leadership an art while others consider it a science. According to this article, the effective and successful leadership is the one that copes with change based on followers’ need for direction and need for support. The roles of leaders are such that they must change in order to meet the current and future needs of their followers. If leadership focuses on task only, it is no good; it leadership focuses on people only, it is no good. Good leadership always strives to strike a balance between structure and consideration as implied in the article.

Quadrants: A quadrant is a quarter of a circle. For example, a circle has four quadrants.

Tenets: A tenet is a principle, axiom in a set of beliefs. Setting direction and motivating followers are the basic tenets of leadership.

Synergism: It comes from the word, synergy which means the extra energy, power, or capability produced by combining two or more agents, operations, or processes. Great leaders are interested in bringing out the synergies of their followers by setting a direction for followers and motivating their followers. The process of great leaders doing this is called synergism.

E-Leadership: e means electronic in this article. E-leadership refers to leadership in the new era, namely the information age which is characterized by fast development of technology, a global economy where businesses constantly move across borders to wherever they can make a profit. Leadership is needed to fix many of the problems created by the information age.

Facilitative Leadership: This kind of leadership trust and respect followers. It believes that followers have unlimited resources to contribute to an organization. Therefore, followers’ values and beliefs should be respected and released. This kind of leadership involves followers in the planning process in order to bring out followers’ energy and expertise. It is used in the article to contrast with authoritarian leadership.

Theory X: Theory X refers to a set of assumptions that theory X persons may possess. People who are considered theory X persons inherently dislike work and will avoid it if they can. Because of this characteristically human dislike of work, most people must be coerced, controlled, threatened in the interest of organizational objectives. Leaders must change their roles when dealing with theory X persons. Now their roles should be that of directors or coaches. These two roles work best with theory X persons in today’s organizations.

Charisma: It refers to the attractiveness of a person for others; charm and appeal. Followers may be willing to obey charismatic leaders’ order without their presence. However, when these leaders make wrong decisions or when they die, chaos may appear.

Volatile: Originally, this word means “explosive.” However, in this article, it is used figuratively, meaning unstable, likely to produce change or harm. In this context, global competition is often volatile. Leadership is needed to cope with change.

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