Sample Scholarship Essays

Leadership

1**Leadership itself, has been accompanied throughout time, by numerous theories, all claiming to answer the question, Are leaders born or made? Those who accept the verdict, that leaders are born and not made, maintain,
“… that there are certain inborn qualities such as initiative, courage, intelligence and humour, which altogether pre-destine a man to be a leader … the essential pattern is given at birth”
Two leadership theories which concentrate on this point, are the Great man/great woman and theTrait theories. The great man/great woman theory, accordingly to Wrightsman, involves its followers believing that major events, both nationally and internationally, are influenced by those persons in power.
“A sudden act by a great man could, according to this theory, change the fate of the nation”
The trait theory expands further on this conjecture, by concentrating on the personal characteristics of the leader. The theory, which until the mid-1940s formed the basis of most leadership research, cited traits believed to be characteristic of leaders, the list of which grew in length over the years, to include all manner of physical, personality and cognitive factors, including height, intelligence and communication skills. However, few traits emerged to conclusively differentiate leaders from non-leaders. The traits an individual has may, increase the probability that a person will become a leader, though whether such leadership is guaranteed, is uncertain. Nevertheless, it can be seen to be true that some people are more likely than others to assume leadership positions.
“The research on trait theories of leadership has shown that many other factors are important in determining leader success, and that not everyone who possesses these traits will be a leader”
2)*As interest in the trait approach to leadership declined, researchers focussed their attention on the leader’s actions rather than their attributes, which led to the emergence of the behaviourist theories. The most widely publicised exponent of this approach was Robert Blake and Jane Mouton’s Managerial Grid, which attempted to explain that there was one best style of leadership, by various combinations of two factors regarding a concern for production and people. Five leadership styles were determined from this research, of which one, the team management style was deemed as preferable.
3)*Due to the disillusionment with the fore-mentioned trait theory, the situational approach arose, which suggested that the traits required of a leader differed, according to varying situations. The situational approach, which predominated in the 1950s, held that whether a given person became a leader of a group, had nothing to do with his/her personality, but had everything to do with such factors as the flow of events and circumstances surrounding a group. To put it simply, the leader was a person who was in the right place at the right time.
“Rather than a great man causing a great event to happen, the situational approach claims that great events are the product of historical forces that are gong to happen whether specific leaders are present or not “
Unfortunately, this theory still didnt answer, why one member of a group emerged as the leader, rather than another, or why one particular leader proved to be a better leader in some situations than another.

4)* The emergence of a related theory, the interactionist approach, attempted to explain the existing anomalies.
The interactionist theory, proposed that both the characteristics of the individual, and the situation in which the group found itself, accounted for whom would become the leader. Resulting from this theory, was the view that leaders are both born and made, due to the leader requiring certain abilities and skill, but as the situation and the needs of the group changed, so too the person acceptable as leader changed.
5)*Fiedler’s contingency theory of leadership effectiveness, was one theory which evolved from this interactionist approach. It related the effectiveness of the leader, to aspects of the situation in which the group operated, suggesting that factors such as the task structure, the leaders personal relations with the group and his/her power basis, interact to determine what style of leadership would be effective for the situation, ie a task-oriented or group-oriented approach.
“At one extreme, is the leader who values successful interpersonal relations to the exclusion of task accomplishment. The leader at the other extreme, places the highest value on task accomplishment, at the expense of interpersonal relations”
To determine whether a leader was task-oriented or group-oriented, Fiedler devised a model, which used as its basis, the measurement of a leader’s perceptions and relations to the least preferred co-worker (LPC), with whom he/she has ever worked with. Those with a high score, were deemed group-oriented, while those with a low score, were task-oriented. Fiedler’s research concluded, that a task-orientedapproach was more effective when conditions were either highly favourable (good leader/group relations, strong leadership position and a clear task structure) or, highly unfavourable (poor leader/group relations, weak leadership position and an ambiguous task) A group-oriented approach, was deemed as preferable, when conditions were comparatively stable, so more attention is paid to the preservation of group relationships, to starve off conflict and inefficiency which could eventuate from any disharmony in the group setting.
From this research, we can discern(farketmek,ayrt etmek) , that there are no necessarily good or bad leadership styles, but their effectiveness depends on how appropriate they are to the group situation. However, Fiedler’s theory had its critics, who questioned its use of a model to measure leadership style and situational favourability, and emphasised, and emphasised its inconclusiveness.
Still, Fiedler’s theory was not the only interactionist theory circulating during the time period concerned, although, each differed slightly in their prime objectives.
6)*Robert House’s path-goal theory proposed a leader ‘s effectiveness was based on a leader’s ability to raise satisfaction and motivation in group members, by use of an incentive scheme to reward or punish those responsible for success or failure in reaching group objectives. In order to accomplish these goals, a leader would be required to adopt differing styles of leadership behavior as the situation dictated.
7)*Varying, but related to this view, is Vroom and Yetton’s normative theory, which focussed on the degree of participation, a leader should allow, in making any given decision, and the selection of an approach which would maximise benefits, and a t the same time, minimise potential obstacles to the groups goals.
An examination of the relationship between leaders and group members, and how different kinds of relationships develop with different individuals, was the main concern of yet another interactionist theory, the verticle dyad linkage theory. Such factors as age, experience and knowledge of the task, can affect a members standing with the leader; ie an older experienced worker with extensive knowledge of a task would be able to work largely unsupervised, whilst, a relatively inexperienced worker, would require a higher degree of supervision.

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*****From a review of leadership theories, it is obvious, that there are no best leadership styles. Leaders, are rarely totally group or task-oriented; group members and the situation itself, all influence a leaders effectiveness. The leader needs to be aware of his own behaviour and influence on others, individual differences of group members, group characteristics, task structure, environmental and situational variables, and adjust his leadership style accordingly. Leadership needs to be adaptive.


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Leadership

When you think about a leader you think of someone who possesses a number qualities. You would like to think that they are enthusiastic, have good judgment, are intelligent, a good people person, and a great speaker. You can go on and on naming what you think are good qualities. In this weeks discussion several types of leadership were brought up. The charismatic leader was the most appealing. The film we watched in class brought up three qualities that I feel are very important: passion, composure, and consistency. These qualities are characteristic of a charismatic leader. The managers we watched are all very respected. They have a “fire” inside them that makes others around them want to achieve. They are very outspoken and fight for what they believe. You don’t expect any more or any less from them. The energy, strong conviction, and self-confidence of a charismatic leader can make the difference in a company or for a team. Without passion the leader won’t be willing to go that extra mile or push others to perform at their greatest level.

Over the past few years I have been involved with an NIFL (National Indoor Football league) team. Many points touched on during class are characteristic of the leaders of this organization. During the teams’ first season they were part of the IPFL(Indoor Professional Football League). There were many problems from the beginning. The ownership was extremely shaky. They were a family that happened to have the money to buy the team but, didn’t have the skills to run the team. Because of their selfishness they didn’t hire someone with the qualifications to lead the team. Instead the job of general manager was held by the son of the owners. The owners didn’t care about the players or coaches. Three hours before the season opener I found myself, along with the head coach and a number of players, painting the old turf. The players’ names had not been sewn on the jerseys and they didn’t have their shoes yet. A number of players hadn’t even received their checks. These were just a few of the problems. As you can imagine this troubled the players and the coaches. The head coach did all he could to stand by his players. He was a great leader and made numerous complaints to the ownership. Because of his loyalty to the players he was eventually fired in the middle of the season. The team captain and other top players threatened to leave the team. They were able to coerce the other players to join in their effort. To avoid this the ownership made just enough changes to avoid the strike. The coach stayed in contact with the players and supported the team as a fan. His leadership encouraged the team not to give up and to focus on having a winning season regardless of the ownership’s’ downfalls. Throughout this whole ordeal the players began to look up to the team captain as they did the coach. The captain was able to barely lead the team to a winning season. He was a charismatic force for the team. After the season many of the players began to look to play for other teams. A couple of months before the opening of the next season the wife in the ownership family became the president of the IPFL. This was a big shock to the team and the people in the community. The big question was how will she be able to run the league when she couldn’t run a team. How did she even get the job? The only noticeable leadership trait she possessed was her high socioeconomic background. The team was bought by a group of local businessmen, one of who was the fired coach from the previous season. The team moved up to the NIFL. The changes in the organization are very evident. The first season under new management the team had more confidence and was able to make it to the playoffs. The number of season ticket holders increased along with fan participation. The new ownership is involved and cares about the outcome of the team and the players’ personal lives. This drives the players to work harder and not take the leadership for granted. The job of the previous owner and now president of the IPFL is up in the air. This goes to show that the leadership can make or break an organization. You have to be able to maintain a level of respect from those under you, provide direction, and have a passion for your organization in order to be truly successful.

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