Leadership style can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the working process and its outcomes. Fiedler who distinguished between relationship-oriented and task-oriented leadership styles stated that neither of them is ideal and each of them can be effective for a specific situation (Daft and Lane 67).
Leader’s behaviors in a typical leadership situation
A few years ago I worked as a waiter in a hotel restaurant. The waiters built a rather warm relationship with one another, but the manager was distanced from the rest of the staff and did not show much interest in socializing with subordinates.
Preparing for a New Year’s Party, the manager organized a special meeting for discussing the terms of the festival and our functions. He said that a lot of visitors were expected to visit our restaurant on New Year’s Eve and we had to follow the instructions directly to avoid any misunderstandings and possible fines. The manager said that we had to do our best if we wanted to have that job.
He continued that New Year’s Party was extremely important for the reputation of the hotel and friendly services could play an important role in producing a positive impression. Then he drew our attention to a few changes in traditional operations we were responsible for. Some of the waiters tried to criticize the extended functions of working with more tables than usual, saying that it may reduce the quality of services and cause the visitors’ dissatisfaction. However, the manager answered that nobody was going to employ waiters for only one night and we had to do our best to provide customers with high-quality services. After the meeting was over, the subordinates discussed the manager’s behavior, criticizing the strategies he chose.
Using Fiedler’s contingency model of leadership style for analyzing the above-discussed typical leadership situation, it can be stated that the purchasing manager used a task-oriented leader’s style (Daft and Lane 67).
From the recreated dialogue between the restaurant manager and his subordinates, it can be stated that the manager used a task-oriented style. Task accomplishment is his most important goal and he shows no interest in maintaining close interpersonal relationships with waiters as his subordinates. The secondary goals of status and esteem were not valued by the leader who did not even try to treat his subordinates in a supportive manner. Moreover, the subordinates did not show respect to their leader and tried to criticize his decisions. Therefore, it is obvious that the leadership style used by the manager was task-oriented.
Classification of the leadership situation
According to Fiedler’s leadership theory, three main situational components need to be taken into account for determining the favorableness of the situation for a particular leader’s style. These include leader-member relations, task structure, and leader position power (Daft and Lane 68).
Judging from the atmosphere within the group and the employees’ acceptance of their manager, it can be stated that the leader-member relations within the hotel staff were bad. The leader did not show understanding and trust towards employees, their needs, and opinions. The employees felt free to express their concerns, but the manager did not consider their remarks. The only way to get good performance from the employees was to resort to possible fines which were mentioned by the manager.
Regarding the task structure, it was high. The work of a waiter is routine, the goals are clear and do not require any complex decisions. The effectiveness of the waiter’s performance can be easily evaluated.
The manager’s position power was high because he had official authority over subordinates, could evaluate the quality of their work, and make decisions concerning possible rewards and fines.
Favorability of leadership situation
Applying Fiedler’s model to the analysis of the three main situational criteria of the leadership situation (leader-member relations, task structure, and leader position power), it can be stated that the situation in the hotel was of intermediate favorability to the leader (octant 5 of the contingency model). Regardless of the high levels of task structure and position power, the situational favorability of the leadership situation can be defined as intermediate because leader-member relations which were poor carry much weight.
According to Fiedler, the relationship-oriented leadership style is the most appropriate one for the situations of intermediate favorability (Daft and Lane 69). Understating the importance of human relations skills, the hotel manager lacked the popularity and support of his subordinates and could not establish a positive group atmosphere and interpersonal relations with waiters. Therefore, according to Fiedler’s contingency model, the task-oriented style chosen by the hotel manager was inappropriate for the leadership situation under consideration.
According to Fiedler’s contingency leadership theory, the task-oriented leader’s style is effective for highly favorable or highly unfavorable situations, and the relationship-oriented style is preferred for a moderately favorable environment (Daft and Lane 68). Therefore, the task-oriented style chosen by the restaurant manager in the situation under analysis was ineffective for achieving high group performance because the leadership situation was of intermediate favorability.
Daft, Richard L., and Patricia G. Lane. The Leadership Experience. 5th ed. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.