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The six bases or sources of power illustrates how strong a leader’s power is, depending on where he gets it from. The first is coercive power, where a leader commands obedience by the threat of punishment. On the other end of the spectrum is the reward power, where instead of punishment, a reward is used. Both of these are weak sources of power since the leader would have to be constantly present and constantly on guard to give out the reward or punishment, hence it has no lasting effect on both the subordinates and the leader.

Legitimate power is where a leader gets his power by virtue of his position. This is basically the source of power that “bosses” yield, they can command obedience or conformity because they hold a position that is higher than their subordinates. This is stronger than the previous two in the sense that it involved a hierarchy that is more formally outlined and accepted in virtually all organizations. However, it should not be used exclusively to avoid forming feelings of resentment among subordinates.

In my previous employment as a writer for a publishing firm, I saw all six bases at play daily. The office was set up according to the various newsletters we published, and each had a managing editor. Everybody looked to the editor-in-chief for grammar and style guide questions and issues (expert power) or when talking about which stories would be more attractive and salable to our target market (informational power), but teams usually have their own leaders in the person of the managing editors (legitimate power).

One managing editor was loud-mouthed, who readily screamed obscenities at subordinates who failed to meet the daily story quota, or failed to proofread his own work, and other similar failures on the employee’s part (coercive power), while another was well-liked because she gave out incentives at the end of the month to her editors (reward power and referent power). DQ#2 What are the pros and cons of the leadership theories identified by Jex? Which theory (or theories) do you agree with the most?… the least? and why.

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory – The theory is based on a simple premise that leadership success is correlated with only two variables: the characteristics of the leader and the situation. The theory mostly uses situation favorability as can be seen in interpersonal relationships between the leader and team members, the level of structure of the tasks involved and the degree and scope of authority that the leader has. This is mixed with the leader’s characteristics: his inclination or orientation towards relationships or tasks.

Using these variables, the theory has been able to comprehensive explain how a leader can succeed or fail in any given situation. The theory, however, has not really gained full support on all of its presumptions and assumptions. While some studies confirm parts of the theory, other studies have contradicting findings. The theory has also been attacked on the construct validity of the measurement it uses to classify the leader’s characteristics.

Path-Goal Theory – Basically espouses that the leader should be able to show the way to success, or the path to achievement. To do this effectively, the leader must be able to use the appropriate leadership style—directive, supportive, achievement-oriented, and participative leadership. The leader must take into account the characteristics and personality of his subordinate and the work environment to know which leadership style would work best.

In theory, the path-goal theory borrows a lot of concepts from Fiedler’s Contingency Theory. One of the applications of this theory is in placement and recruitment. Identifying the leader’s style might be instrumental in determining where and which team to put him or her in, to be able to fully maximize his or her effectiveness as leader. The theory also gives directions to managers training, specially in recognizing the differences in the personality of the team members.

Because it combines leadership and motivation, it is very difficult to entirely and thoroughly test the path-goal theory, and as such, there is a dearth of research regarding the Path-Goal Theory. Vroom-Yetton-Jago Model – This model focuses on decision-making. The strength of this model is that is provides clear guidelines in terms of choosing a leadership style to adopt in certain situations. It is empirically the one of the most useful, if not the most useful, models that have been developed primarily because of its prescribed guidelines on top of its leadership process descriptions.

It has been found that leaders were more effective in their duties when they followed this model. Studies into the Vroom-Yetton-Jago model, however, are plagued with a methodological limitation wherein a leader being interviewed may change his account of what really happened, which would change the outcomes of the studies. Also, the model does not take into account the complexities of the decision-making process, oversimplifying the conditions into either black or white.

Leader Member Exchange (LMX) Model – This model basically studies the dynamics and interpersonal relationships between the leader and his or her members. Specifically, the ideal LMX is one where the subordinates are competent, there exists a great similarity and fondness between the leader and the team member. The strength of this model is that it presents a more realistic view of the leader and the leadership processes than other theories, and gives more importance to the role of subordinates in the process, and the success of the leader.

The LMX theory also provides practical guidelines like urging the leader to develop more positive exchanges between himself or herself and the subordinates, and encouraging management to train its leaders to develop communication, feedback and coaching skills. But the theory has some challenges to overcome. A major one is its limited view of the “exchange relationship” the very backbone of the whole theory. The exchange relationship that was initially presented was one-dimensional, which is far from being the case in the real world.

It has been expanded to include four dimensions, but it is still lacking and needs refinement. The theory also needs to take into consideration the different and unique relationships that develop between leader and subordinates. These unique relationships, although it is out of the current model’s scope, may impact the leadership process. Among these four, I agree most with Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, in fact it baffles me that is no longer widely used to explain leadership and its processes.

Although, it does not prescribe any specific guidelines, this model is by far the most comprehensive model in terms of explaining and detailing the situations faced by teams. It is also the most empirically obvious and easily observable in any team dynamics. On the other hand, I find the LMX Model lacking. I agree that it still needs further studies and refinement. I think that unlike Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, the LMX does not fully and comprehensively take into account the various significant, albeit extraneous, variables that may affect leadership and subordinates.

I find that its very strength—including the subordinates’ role in the leadership process—becomes its fundamental weakness. In a study of leadership processes, researchers have lost focus in this inclusion that they failed to study the leader and the leadership process more fully. References Jex, Steve M. (2002). Leadership and Influence Processes. In Organizational Psychology: A Scientist-Practitioner Approach (pp. 301-336). New York: John Wiley and Sons

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