Traditional Leadership in Light of E-HRMS

Traditional Leadership in Light of E-HRMS

Viktor Wang (California State University, Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-883-3.ch125
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As organizational management in recent times has become more complex, adding the electronic effect to ameliorate human resource management is welcomed. The importance of making human resource management e-based is that time is saved, which may mean that expenses are cut, and an organization would stand to gain in terms of time and money. Does this mean traditional leadership and leadership styles become irrelevant because the everyday activities such as sign-ins, overtime calculations are automatically calculated? What we know about leadership and leadership styles has not changed in this context of e-leadership. The situations and circumstances, however, surrounding leadership and leadership styles have drastically changed in recent years. The business world has become more competitive and volatile, influenced by such factors as faster technology change, greater international competition, the deregulation of markets, overcapacity in capitalintensive industries, an unstable oil cartel, raiders with junk bonds, and the changing demographics of the work force (Kotter, 1998). Does this shift require further changes in leadership and leadership styles? Although the basic tenets of leadership and leadership styles remain the same regardless of the changes through the ages, our changing environment requires further examination of today’s leadership and leadership styles in light of e-human resource information system (HRIS).
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Before e-leadership appeared, a classic study on leadership style was conducted by Lippit and White (1958) who examined the leadership styles of youth leaders. According to 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; and

  • 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, and so forth. 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, facilitative leadership, from Rogers’s (1951, 1961, 1969, 1980) facilitative approach to teaching:

  • Facilitative leadership allows for continuity of operation;

  • Facilitative leadership recognizes that all people possess different values and beliefs;

  • Facilitative leadership encourages objectivity in program evaluation; and

  • Facilitative leadership leads to shared leadership, and the effect of shared leadership do have the potential to exceed the sum of effects generated by individual members with one status leader (this is called synergism).

Key Terms in this Chapter

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.

Synergism: 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.

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, or 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.

Facilitative Leadership: This kind of leadership trusts and respects 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.

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

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.

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.

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