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Leadership - Essay Example

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Leadership behaviour It is often argued that a laissez faire type of leadership is the least effective. Rouse (2009) however implies its existence in modern day nursing. Please discuss this type of leadership as it relates to nursing practice. Introduction: Leadership is the quintessential element of any business management…

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The following discussion focuses on understanding the laissez-faire behavioural style of leadership, which is regarded as the least effective form of leadership. Research studies concerning various perspectives and outcomes of laissez-faire style in the nursing and other leadership-intense arenas will be studied and key points will be noted before concluding with key learning points associated with laissez-faire leadership style. Laissez-faire leadership style is one of the styles identified in the behavioural theories of leadership. Grey had defined laissez-faire leaders as those that do not get actively involved with managing their followers, but give freedom to act as they choose (cited Sarantopoulos, 2009; p.15). Marquis and Huston (2009) explain that laissez-faire leaders are usually very liberal and also aloof, which makes the followers feel lost or ignored. These leaders take very little or no control of the situation or task, which further adds to the followers’ confusion. However, these leaders seem to support or encourage only when approached by the followers. Their lack of involvement in providing direction tends to instil a sense of indifference of the followers towards their leader. These leaders’ communication is more often limited to information exchange type of interaction. . They tend to delegate the work and responsibilities to all members of the group without much consideration to the followers’ emotions, abilities and commitment. They give greater importance to the group and less focus towards individuals of the group. They hesitate to criticize or give feedback due to their own lack of involvement. In general, literature says that laissez-faire style is the most unfavourable style to motivate followers; however, it also identifies certain situations where this style is most suitable. A multidisciplinary systematic review of leadership in the nursing workforce and their environments points out that laissez-faire leadership more often resulted in low job satisfaction among the nursing workforce (Cummings et al., 2010). Employees feel lost and confused, which negatively impacts their performance. Embry (2010) highlights that employees tend to feel that leaders themselves are not interested in the company’s efforts towards achieving its strategic goals, which further dwindles the employees’ commitment. In their research, Skogstad et al (2007) found that the high incidence of workplace conflicts and role ambiguity was due to laissez-faire leadership found in the Norwegian workforce. Based on their findings, Skogstad et al (2007) termed the laissez-faire leadership as destructive leadership. Kanste, Kyngas and Nikkila’s (2007) study on the Finnish nurses indicated high emotional exhaustion and low personal accomplishment feeling with leaders that possessed laissez-faire style. This study ultimately concluded that followers of a laissez-faire leader burn out faster and have low sense of personal accomplishment despite complete independence to work. Casida and Pinto-Zipp’s (2008) study completely ruled any form of association between organizational performance and laissez-faire leadership.For employees to feel valued and self-directed, it is important that they are first directed, coached and guided by their leaders. Hill and Howlett (2012) point out that the laissez-faire leaders do not give much importance to the goals of the employer. Effective leadership involves real-time communication and accessibility to followers (Rouse, 2009), both of which are absent in laissez-faire leadership. Effective leadership is built on trust, and trust can be built only with openness in communication, physical visibility and complete attention (Schuttler, 2010). Further, Schuttler (2010) emphasizes the need for positive visibility of information, which leaders can showcase through emails, memos, meetings and even informal meetings by being present and accessible. Laissez-faire leadership style more often jeopardizes the communication process and therefore trust of followers in their leader. Nevertheless, laissez-faire style also has its own advantages. For instance, this style encourages creative thinking and working among team members. This style provides complete independence of working to the team members to adopt new ways of working without any fear or restrictions from their leaders (Rosdahl & Kowalski, 2008), which is a rare phenomenon in the nursing practice. However, the team should first be aligned to their vision and goals by the leader before they are given such independence by the leader. Conclusions
Based on the findings, it may be concluded that laissez-faire leadership is less effective and undesirable in most of the situations; yet recent studies indicate that laissez-faire leaders do exist in the workforce. Leaders with this behaviour tend to lose their followers’ trust due to lack of involvement, interest, and support towards their followers. Followers of such leaders experience low enthusiasm, motivation and commitment, which can result in lower productivity/performance. These followers’ lack of sense of direction can lead to higher stress levels. However, leaders can adopt this style if the situation demands complete delegation of responsibilities to followers that are highly talented and if the work requires great amount of creativity. Therefore, leaders have to be mindful of their leadership behaviours and be able to determine when to use this behavioural style in order to be effective. ...
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