SUBSTITUTES FOR LEADERSHIP
OBNotes.HTM by WILF H. RATZBURG
|.||Substitutes for Leadership.|
The work of Steven Kerr and John Jermier looked at those situations in which leadership is not needed...
...situations in which leader behaviors are neutralized by the characteristics of the subordinate, task or organization.
"substitutes for leadership" -- "...certain situational determinants" that have the potential for "...rendering the leader incapable of influencing subordinate satisfaction very much for either better or worse" (Kerr, 1973).
|What happens as patients, seriously ill,
arrive at the emergency room of urban hospitals? As the ER personnel spring into
action, who is in charge? Similarly, what about the situation of a team of air traffic
controllers bringing a jet into an airport during an air traffic crisis; where is the
Whereas each member of the emergency room staff appears to have specific tasks to do, they generally accomplish these without any apparent supervision. In terms of leadership, what is happening here?
The work of Steven Kerr and John Jermier looked at those situations in which leadership is not needed. They examined situations where existing leadership models could not account for what was observed; work situations where it is difficult to tell who is really in charge.
The literature is replete with references to numerous contingency models; Fiedler's Contingency Theory, Yukl's Multiple Linkage Model, House's Path- Goal Theory, Vroom-Yetton Model of decision making, and Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership Theory. All these models assume that some type of hierarchical leadership is needed and important in formal organizations. Ineffective leadership was assumed to be the result of leader behaviors which were inappropriate to the situation.
Kerr and Jermier questioned these assumptions and suggested an alternative -- that certain aspects of the individual, the task or the organization reduced the importance of formal leadership by "neutralizing" the effects of leader behaviors. Further, other situational variables not only "neutralize" leader behaviors, but also "substitute" for them. These leadership substitutes have a direct impact on the subordinate.
By focusing attention on nonleader sources of influence, the leadership substitute model recognized that many factors in the worker's environment could provide the guidance needed on the job.
|.||Characteristics Of Subordinates|
|Several characteristics of subordinates may neutralize a leader's behaviors.||Several characteristics of subordinates may neutralize a leader's behaviors. These characteristics include the subordinates' abilities and experiences, their needs for independence, their professional orientation and their indifference towards organizational rewards.|
|Highly competent subordinates may not need nor want to be told what to do.||Highly competent subordinates may not need nor want to be told what to do. Because of their abilities, experiences, training, or job knowledge, subordinates very often have the competence to act independently, without immediate supervision, as they perform their day-to-day duties. In effect, they know what needs to be done and how to do it. Leadership by some "superior" would be redundant.|
|.||Need For Independence|
teams... assign specific tasks... monitor and control performance... have considerable
autonomy over work scheduling...
leadership comes not from a "leader", but rather, from the team itself.
|The workplace of the new millennium will be a workplace of greater worker autonomy; employees are demanding it. Subordinates want more control over how work is performed and how their workday is structured. In many firms, work teams which assign specific tasks to their members, monitor and control performance and generally have considerable autonomy over work scheduling, have become the norm. Thus, leadership comes not from a "leader", but rather, from the team itself.|
|greater concern for the peer review process than hierarchical, organizational evaluation||Accountants, engineers, doctors, or software developers may show greater allegiance to their disciplines or their professional associations than to their employing organizations. Often, they have greater concern for the peer review process than hierarchical, organizational evaluation. Such employees may develop important referents, external to the employing organization. As these employees place their discipline above the best interests of the organization, organizational leadership may become irrelevant.|
|.||Indifference Towards Rewards|
|.||As is described by the Expectancy Theory of Motivation, motivation
is linked with perception. The degree to which a specific reward will motivate an
individual will depend upon whether:
Organizational leadership, if unable to provide rewards as stipulated by this theory, will fail to incite subordinates to follow.
|.||Characteristics Of Tasks|
|Where is the need for leadership if the job is so intrinsically satisfying that subordinates will take it up voluntarily?||Generally, leadership is defined as an ability to get followers to engage in activities beneficial to the organization. However, where is the need for leadership if the job is so intrinsically satisfying that subordinates will take it up voluntarily, or if it is so routine as to make any leadership superfluous?|
|...if a job is routine and simple, the subordinate may not either need nor want directions.||For routine tasks, unnecessary and redundant leader directions will have an impact upon subordinate satisfaction, morale, motivation, performance and acceptance of the leader. In effect, if a job is routine and simple, the subordinate may not either need nor want directions.|
|.||Feedback and Intrinsic Satisfaction|
|...performance feedback from the work itself is another characteristic of the task which acts as a leader substitute.||Motivational research indicates that employees desire a leader's
support and feedback for ambiguous tasks. However, for clearly defined assignments they
may not need nor want support or feedback from a leader. Often, performance feedback from
the work itself is another characteristic of the task which acts as a leader substitute.
Extrinsic rewards are extraneous to the tasks, bestowed by someone else -- promotions, pay raises, awards, titles or even compliments. Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, come directly from performing a task. Intrinsic rewards are a form of internal reinforcement such as feelings of accomplishment and self-worth, or having a sense of achievement. When a job is challenging and intrinsically satisfying, the employee may not need feedback or rewards from a leader.
|.||Characteristics Of Organization|
|.||The formalization of norms and rules, group cohesion, inflexible or rigid reward structures may serve as organizational substitutes for leadership.|
|Clear job descriptions or specific task objectives can substitute for leadership.||A highly structured organization with explicit
norms, rules, policies, procedures, plans, goals and areas of responsibility may be
defined as being highly formalized.
Clear job descriptions or specific task objectives can substitute for leadership. In effect, the specificity of the objectives and job descriptions leaves no room for misunderstanding the organization's expectations of the subordinates.
|...adherence to team norms will very often outweigh any leadership dictates.||In cohesive groups, the team members' desires to stay in the team outweigh their desires to leave. The team serves as an important source for satisfying the individual members' social needs. Further, the desire to maintain those social relations, and not alienate the other team members causes team members to adhere rigidly to team norms. This adherence to team norms will very often outweigh any leadership dictates.|
|.||An organization that is either incapable of, or resistant to, being changed may be said to be inflexible. This may be a result of very rigid organizational control structures, clear lines of authority, or unbending rules and procedures. In such an organization, employees are expected to adhere to clearly defined policies. Further, given strict adherence to organizational policies, leaders are given virtually no discretion over the enforcement of the rules. If the employees are aware of this lack of supervisory discretion, then they are likely to disregard supervisory leadership.|
|.||Rigid Reward Structure|
|.||In order for rewards to be effective, employees must place a high value on the rewards -- pay raises, promotions and high visibility work assignments -- under the leader's control. If a supervisor is able to exercise control over pay raises, can make recommendations regarding promotions and has considerable discretion in task assignments, he or she has a high level of reward power. However, if the rewards are not within the supervisor's control, he or she will have little or no influence. This lack of control then diminishes the effectiveness of the leader.|
|.||Current theories and models of leadership have placed considerable
emphasis on hierarchical leadership that, in order to be effective, takes situational
variables into account.
There are many instances where "substitutes for leadership" exist. In these instances, the subordinate's dependency on the leader is reduced. Rigid bureaucratic rules and regulations, can reduce subordinates' information needs about the task to almost zero. In other instances the task may be totally specified by technology, or "professional standards" and the prescribed methodology may render the leader superfluous.
The substitute concept identifies situations in which the leader's behaviors are neutralized by characteristics of the subordinate, the task and/or the organization.
This site last updated 01/11/11