Read this section. Considering that the University of Michigan's behavioral studies are over 50 years old, do the findings still hold validity? Why or why not? Explain your response. Then, record in your journal whether you feel the behaviors discussed in the section about the Ohio State studies, namely "consideration" and "initiating structure", are dichotomous, or if they exist on a continuum. Compare and contrast the two universities' studies.
The Michigan behavioral studies are an important link in the ongoing development of behavioral theory in a leadership framework.
Discuss the Michigan Leadership Studies generated in the 1950s and 1960s in the broader context of behavioral approaches to leadership
A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observations or phenomena or that sets out the laws and principles of something known or observed; a hypothesis confirmed by observation, experiment.
The recognition of leaders and the development of leadership theory have evolved over centuries. Individual ideas, actions, and behaviors have been identified as indicating leadership within societal structures. This theoretical evolution has progressed over time, from identifying individual personalities or characteristics to formal studies related to what constitutes leadership and why leadership is or is not successful. Some of these studies and observations have been informal, while others have included empirical research and data.
Studies of individual leadership styles and behaviors continue to contribute to understanding what it takes to be an effective leader, one who is attuned to the needs of an organization and those it serves. Much of the evolution in the study of leadership behavior has become more connected not only to people within an organization but also extended to those outside the organization. This extension acknowledges that an understanding of the values, beliefs, and norms of those shaping the organization have a definite effect on the evolution and growth of the organization as a whole, as well as its ultimate impact on the community and people it serves.
Rost (1991) writes that in the 20th century, over 200 definitions for leadership were proposed. Leadership research continues as scholars observe, identify, and promote the emergence of new leadership styles and behaviors in the 21st century. A multitude of approaches have been used to identify and explain the complex factors that shape leadership and how it is practiced. These approaches include quantitative methods such as surveys, questionnaires, and diagnostic tests, as well as qualitative observational and ethnographic studies. These theories evaluate the relationship of the leader to organizational members and examine styles of leadership, adding to the general knowledge of leader behavior and effectiveness.
As a leading center of social science research, the University of Michigan has produced some of the most important studies of leadership. Studies dating back to the 1950s identified two broad leadership styles: an employee orientation and a production orientation. The studies also identified three critical characteristics of effective leaders: task-oriented behavior, relationship-oriented behavior, and participative leadership. The studies concluded that an employee orientation rather than a production orientation, coupled with general instead of close supervision, led to better results. The Michigan leadership studies, along with the Ohio State University studies that took place in the 1940s, are two of the best-known behavioral leadership studies and continue to be cited to this day.
The Ohio State Leadership Studies found that consideration and initiating structure are two essential behaviors for leaders.
Discuss the results of the Ohio State University Leadership Model research study of 1945
The extent to which a leader exhibits concern for the welfare of the members of the group.
The extent to which a leader defines leader and group member roles, initiates actions, organizes group activities, and defines how tasks are to be accomplished by the group.
Prior to 1945, most studies of leadership sought to identify the individual traits of effective leaders. Trait theories of leadership were the first to approach leadership study systematically. Trait studies, however, yielded inconsistent results and opened the door to broader perspectives on understanding the behavior of leaders.
In 1945, a group of researchers at Ohio State University sought to identify the observable behaviors of leaders instead of focusing on their individual traits. To document their findings, they generated a list of 150 statements designed to measure nine different dimensions of leadership behavior. These statements were used to develop the Leaders' Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ). The surveys were then given to members of a group, who were asked to respond to a series of statements about the leader of their group. Respondents of the LBDQ-rated leaders cited how frequently they engaged in a certain behavior. The results of the survey showed that two main behaviors, consideration and initiating structure, were the most significant factors in leadership.
The Ohio State researchers defined consideration as the extent to which a leader exhibits concern for the welfare of the members of the group. This behavior is oriented towards interpersonal relationships, mutual trust, and affiliation. This dimension of leadership style is people-oriented. Some of the statements used to measure this factor in the LBDQ include:
The Ohio researchers defined initiating structure as the extent to which a leader specifies group member roles, initiates actions, organizes group activities, and defines how tasks are to be accomplished by the group. This leadership style is task-oriented. Some of the statements used to measure the initiating structure behavior in the LBDQ include:
The LBDQ findings suggest that an effective leader will possess a strong ability to work with others and build a cohesive team but will also balance that with the capability to create structure within which activities can be accomplished. For example, an effective leader must be both personable and empathetic, but he or she will also able to set expectations and guidelines that can motivate and direct the efforts of others.
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