Function of Leadership and Importance of Effective Leadership

Functions of Effective Leadership 

In every organization, there is a manger to carryout different activities in order to achieve the predetermined goals. Leadership functions of a manager are closely related with managerial functions. As a managerial leader, he has to set a group goal, make plans, motivate subordinates and supervise performance. 

Related Topic:

Leadership Concept and Nature of Leadership

Besides these functions, the important part of a managerial leader is an influencing power to make the work done as he totally depends on his subordinates. So, the managerial leadership is based on influence, not on power and authority. But, he has to perform several other functions. The more important of these functions are given below: 

Functions of Effective Leadership
1. Develop Team Work 

One of the primary functions of the leader is to develop his work group as a team. It is his responsibility to create a congenial work environment keeping in view the competence, needs and potential ability of the subordinates. 

2. Determine the Goal of Organization 

A managerial leader should determine the goal of an organization. For the achievement of organizational goal, he must inform followers about the plan, policies and goals of an organization, so that the subordinates can act collectively in the process of achieving the predetermined goal of an organization. 

3. Act as a Representative of the Work Group 

The leader of work group is expected to act as a link between the workers group and top management. The leader has to communicate the problems and grievances of his subordinates to the top management whenever necessary. He should represent subordinates to top management and vice versa for effective and efficient work at organization to achieve its goal. 

4. Provide Guidance 

When the subordinates face problem in connection with their performance at work, the leader has to guide and advice the subordinates to solve their problems. The problems may be technical or emotional in nature. So, a manager must be pioneer to his subordinates. 

5. Time Management 

The function of leaders includes not only ensuring the quality and efficiency of work performed by the team but also checking that the different stages of works are completed on time. So, the managerial leader has to manage the time for effective supervision of the work done by the subordinates on time. 

6. Coordination 

A manager cannot do all the activities by himself. Hence, he needs coordination from all the subordinates. For that, he tries his best to get coordination for the achievement of organization goal. 

7. Good Human Relations 

A managerial leader must make a good relationship among the employees. He must be loyal to the staffs and able to solve the problems. He must be well informed regarding human problems and act accordingly. 

8. Proper Use of Power 

While exercising power in relation to his subordinates, the leader must be careful and use his power in different way according to the environment and situation. It may be necessary to use reward power, coercive / expert power, formal or informal power depending on what will stimulate positive response from the subordinates. 

9. Secure Effectiveness of Group Effort 

To get the optimum contribution towards the achievement of objectives, the leader must follow reward system to improve the efficiency of workers. Beside, a managerial leader should have to delegate authority, invite participation of employees in decision making, and communicate necessary information to employees so that it will ensure effectiveness of group effort to achieve the objectives of the organization. 

10. Use of Managerial Skills 

A managerial leader faces different problems while conducting managerial activities. To solve the problem, he must have different knowledge like technical, analytical, administrative, human relation and conflict management etc. A good managerial leader must have managerial skill to make the work done through the subordinates.

Importance of Leadership

Importance of leadership can be understood by the following functions which a leader generally performs. 
Importance of Leadership

1. Representative of Subordinates 

Leader is a link between the work group and the top management. As being the representative of subordinates, he carries the voice of the subordinates to top management. 

2. Guides and Inspires 

An effective leader guides and inspires or motivates his group members to work willingly for achieving the goals. He makes every effort to direct and channelize all energies of his followers to the goal-oriented behavior. He creates enthusiasm for higher performance among his followers. 

3. Appropriate Counselor 

Employees often suffer from emotional disequilibrium in organization. Leader can render advice and can try to remove barriers, real or imaginary and instill confidence in the employees. Leadership creates a cooperative and wholesome attitude among employees for successful work accomplishment. 

4. Creates Vision and Initiative 

It has been rightly said, where there is no vision, people perish. Leaders give vision to their followers which, in turn, create initiative and enthusiasm among them. The followers use this vision and initiative to take up challenging tasks. 

5. Leader Develops Team Spirit 

Leader inculcates a sense of collectivism in the employees and forces them to work as a team. Individuals within the group may possess varied interests and multiple goals. A leader has to reconcile their conflicting goals and restore equilibrium. 

6. Creates Work Environment 

Effective leaders can create work environment in which group members can work with pleasure. For this, a leader creates and maintains interpersonal relations of trust and confidence among the group members.

7. Leader Manages Time 

Unsatisfactory human performance in organization can be primarily attributed to utilization of time. A good leader manages his time well by proper planning based on information and facts, and by arriving at decisions at an appropriate moment. He visualizes problems before his subordinates turn into emergencies. 

8. Resolves Conflicts 

Leaders play a crucial role in resolving the conflicts arising in the group. He does it by harmonizing the diverse intense interests of group members and the organization. 

9. Leader Strives for Effectiveness 

A leader throws him to fill the gap between him and his subordinates with a concrete effort to bring order out of the chaos and confusion and improve organizational effectiveness. He provides an adequate reward structure to improve the performance of employees. He delegates authority whenever needed and invites participation from the employees to achieve better results. He tries to infuse strong will to do into the group, as to secure the best contribution of human energy. He provides imagination, foresight, enthusiasm and initiative to group members and forces them to have an identity of interests, outlook and action. 

10. Ensures Survival and Success of Enterprise 

Quality of leadership goes a long way in the success and survival of an enterprise. Without effective leadership, many well-established enterprises have miserably failed.

Process of Team Development / Steps of Team Development

Team is a group of members that works for common objectives. The objectives may be organizational or personal that generates synergistic efforts. Each and every members of the team are responsible for the achievement of the common goal.

Establishing a team is the leader's prime task. Effective and efficient team setting develop the capabilities of employees as well as organization as a whole. For the effective development of team, a manager should try to analyze different aspects from the multiple angles. A manager should remember following points in developing of proper team: 

  • All team members need to agree on a precise definition of what they are working towards.
  • Goal should not be set until management has discussed all possible approaches to the task.
  • Although team members are needed to finalize team goals, the objectives of the team can also dictate membership. 
  • For best results, targets should be challenging with a combination of general and specific goals. 

A lot of research has been done on team formation and development and different theories of team development have been suggested. According to Tuckman, summarizing various theories suggested five stages of team developments:
  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning
Similarly, Kormanski and Mozenter integrated various theories and suggested following five stages of team development:
  • Commitment
  • Clarification
  • Involvement
  • Achievement
  • Recognition. 
In general, the process of team development are:
Process of Team Development / Steps of Team Development

1. Projection into Future 

The team may prepare a common vision of its desirable future. Members, individually or in small groups, may prepare a picture of their team as they see it in the next five or seven years. A specific future scenario will help to inspire individuals to move towards it. The future is a better diagnostic device than an analysis of the past. 

2. Linkage with Individuals Goals 

The vision of the team's future should be linked with the individual's aspirations and goals. Individuals may discuss in small groups how their own aspirations and goals in life can be achieved through the ideal of the team's future developed by the group. 

3. Force Field Analysis 

The team may identify the forces that are positive and are helping the team to move towards the desirable future and the forces that are likely to hinder its progress towards that future. Such analysis is helpful in selecting the next step. 

4. Strengthening Positive Forces 

The team may explore ways of reinforcing the positive aspects that can help the team achieve its desirable future. They can take each positive force and work out plans to strengthen in future. 

5. Reducing Negative forces 

The team can take up all the restraining or inhibiting forces and can plan specific actions steps to reduce, if not eliminate. 

6. Monitoring 

After decisions are taken to work on strengthening positive forces and reducing negative forces, a plan can be prepared to monitor the action being taken. The responsibility of monitoring can be taken up by one or two members and the team may meet from time to time to review the progress.

Techniques for Improving Decision Making

There may be some common errors and difficulties in decision making. Managers need to avoid these errors and difficulties so as to increase the decision quality and improve the end results. There are two types of decision makings i.e. individual decision making and group decision making. Their brief introduction and ideas for improving quality of decision making are given below: 

a) Improving Individual Decision Making 

Individuals think and reason before they act. Under some decision situations, people follow the rational decision making model. But for most people, and for most non-routine decisions, this is probably more the exception than the rule. Few important decisions are simple or unambiguous enough for rational model's assumptions to apply. So, individuals look for solutions that satisfy rather than optimize injecting biases and prejudices into the decision process, and relying on intuition. For the quality improvement in individual decision making, following points can be taken for the considerations. 

1. Analyze the situation 

Adjust our decision making style to the different situations in which you are operating and to the criteria your organization evaluates and rewards. 

2. Be aware of biases and prejudices

We all bring biases to the decisions we make. If you understand the biases influencing your judgment you can begin to change the way you make decisions to reduce those biases. 

3. Combined rational analysis with intuition 

Rational analysis and intuition are not conflicting approaches to decision making. By using both, you can actually improve your decision making effectiveness. As you gain managerial experience, you should feel increasingly confident in imposing your intuitive processes on the top of your rational analysis. 

4. Don't assume that your specific decision style is appropriate for every job 

Your effectiveness as a decision maker will increase if you match your decision style to the requirements of the job. For example, if your decision making style is directive, you will be more effective working with people whose jobs require quick actions. Similarly, an analytic style on the other hand, would work well managing accountants, market researchers, or financial analysts. 

5. Try to enhance your creativity 

Openly or clearly look for novel solutions to the problems in new ways and use analogies. Additionally, try to remove work and organizational barriers that might hamper your creativity. 

6. Others 

Increase information inputs, proper communication, select appropriate timing, increase acceptance and commitment, create supportive environment, change personal negative habits and attitudes, proper reward and punishment system, calculate risk and return etc. for improving quality of individual decision making. 

b) Improving Group Decision Making 

Inspite of problems in group decision making, there are ways to minimize the effect of time constraint, groupthink, group polarization and conformity to peer pressures. Participation, communication, free flow of information, changes of interaction and respect for each individual member in the group are the main factors that lead to improved decision making. Below presented are some important techniques frequently used by organizations in making effective group decisions. 

1. Interacting Group 

Interacting groups are formally created to take a decision on a specific task. In these groups, members meet face to face and rely on both verbal and non-verbal interaction to communicate with each other. Interacting groups often censor themselves and pressure individual members toward the conformity of an opinion. It is the traditional but most common form of group decision making technique. 

2. Brainstorming 

It is one of the most popular forms of interactive group decisions. Under this technique, group members are free to generate different ideas and alternatives to solve novel problems. In other words, interaction is free and open and finally with the accumulation of pooled information and derived judgments, consensus is achieved. It is thus, an interpersonal free exchange and sharing of ideas converted into decision. It is applied during idea generation phase of decision making. Alex Osborn (1953) introduced the concept of brainstorming for the selection of different courses of action. There are different rules for brainstorming which are as follows: 
  • Do not criticize ideas: Members are not allowed to criticize the ideas given by their colleagues during brainstorming. 
  • Provide as many ideas as possible: Another rule for brainstorming is collection of ideas from as many members as possible. All the presented ideas are noted down for further discussion.
  • Speak freely: Every member is free to put ideas no matter how wild they are. The only thing is that ideas are presented without any sort of hesitation. 
  • Build on the ideas of others: Members should build on the different ideas provided by group members. This is the synergy process where ideas are to be modified and simplified by adding others' ideas. 

3. Nominal Group Technique 

The nominal group technique (NGT) was developed to gain the benefits of group participation. This is a structured technique for making decisions where members are invited and familiarized with problems or issues to be solved. Using this technique, members carefully listen and study the problems and they are given 5 to 10 minutes of time to work independently to generate and write down their ideas. Then they describe and clarify their ideas to other group members. To reach in an agreement, there will be voting. 

4. Electronic Meeting 

It is the group decision making technique designed to help decision-making in groups to reach a decision through an interactive, computer based system allowing members for anonymity of comments and aggregation of votes. Issues are presented to the participants and they type their responses onto their computer screen. Individual comments as well as aggregate votes are displayed on a projection screen in the room. 

The major advantages of electronic meetings are anonymity, parallel communication, honesty and speed. Participants can anonymously type any message they want and it flashes on the screen for all to see at the push of participant's keyboard. It allows people to be brutally honest without penalty. And it is fast because chitchat is eliminated, discussions are not digressed and many participants can talk at once without stepping on one another's toe. The future of group meetings undoubtedly will include extensive use of this technology. 

5. The Delphi Technique 

This technique was originally developed by Rand Corporation in the late 1940s to predict the demand for manpower in the organization. Using this technique, a series of questionnaires is distributed among experts for filling in who work independently and avoid any sort of face to face discussions. An intermediary establishes contracts with these experts and accumulated questionnaires. The main jobs of the intermediary are to collect and summarize responses along with the follow-up questionnaires. The panel members again send back their responses. This cycle is repeated until a convergence is reached for with final decision making. 

Delphi Process or Steps 

Step 1: A series of questionnaire is distributed among experts for filling solution independently. 

Step 2: An intermediary establishes contracts and accumulates questionnaires from experts. 

Step 3: Intermediary summarizes the responses and gives feedback to the panel of experts. 

Step 4: New follow-up questionnaires are prepared and distributed again. 

Step 5: Panel of experts again send back their responses. 

Step 6: Same process is repeated again and again until consensus is reached. 

6. The Step Ladder Technique 

This technique of decision making is effective to reduce the potential inhibiting effects of face to face meeting in group. Under this technique, group members are added one by one at each stage of decision making process so that their input is fresh and clear by the previous discussed point of view. The steps involved in this process are as follows: 

Step 1: Two individuals (eg. A and B) are given the same problem to come up with the solutions. They work independently and bring an independent solution to the problem. 

Step 2: Both A and B sit together and develop solution to the problem and meet with another member (eg. C) who had independently analyzed the problem and arrived at a decision point. 

Step 3: A, B and C meet to discuss on the problem and arrive at a consensus decision, and they are again joined by another member (eg. D), who has independently analyzed the problem and arrived at a decision. 

Step 4: A, B, C and D sit together, discuss on different solutions and make the final decision.