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Leadership is one of the most mysterious phenomena that occur in our
society. Leaders appeared in the ancient times and since then the
necessity in leadership has increased. Our society has become more
complicated. Today there are a lot of social units on different levels that
need leaders to function effectively. But it has been a difficult task to
understand how leadership occurs. Leaders are different, their tasks vary,
as well as the way they lead their teams. Being an effective leader in one
organisation does not presuppose the same success in other organisation.
There are many “but” in this field of study, leadership raises lots of
questions. No wonder that there are several approaches to leadership.
The aim of this paper is to assess the applicability and value of different
approaches using a service organisation as an example. I have chosen
Quality Arcticus Hotel in Harstad and three of its leaders as a field for
my research. I work at this organisation, so I know the personnel and I
have observed the style of their work for some period. Now I will use my
knowledge and the method of interview to go deeper into the question.
Quality Arcticus Hotel is a typical service organisation that offers
lodging and catering. The restaurant and the café belonging to the hotel
are both very popular among the citizens of Harstad. The hotel itself is
the second best in the town, following Røkenes Gjestegård (which takes the
first place due to its exclusiveness) Such success of Arcticus Hotel would
be impossible without effective leadership.
My work consists of theoretical and practical parts. In the theoretical
part I describe the approaches that we have been introduced to.
In the practical part I take a look at the structure of the Quality
Arcticus Hotel and try to apply different approaches to leadership to
understand the style of work of the three leaders that I have chosen as the
subject for my study. I describe what, in my opinion, helps these three
persons to be effective leaders (if they are so in reality)
2. Theory about leadership.
2.1 Definitions of leadership
Defining leadership has been a complex and elusive problem largely because
the nature of leadership itself is complex. A lot of studies have emerged
from every discipline “that has had some interest in the subject of
leadership: anthropology, business administration, educational
administration, history, military science, nursing administration,
organizational behaviour, philosophy, political science, public
administration, psychology, sociology, and theology.” (Rost, J. C.
Leadership for the Twenty-first Century, p. 45)
Joseph Rost -- and many others, including James MacGregor Burns, Warren
Bennis, and Henry Mintzberg -- goes on to argue that the entire history of
modern leadership studies has been seriously flawed. First, because while
everyone talks about leadership, no-one has satisfactorily defined what it
actually is. Like art, we seem to know it only when we see it.
We can see how definition of leadership changed:
1927: “...the ability to impress the will of the leader on those led and
induce obedience, respect, loyalty, and cooperation.” (Steward, in Moore,
1930’s: “…interaction between specific traits of one person and other
traits of the many, in such a way that the course of action of the many is
changed by the one.” (Bogardus, 1934)
“Leadership may be broadly defined as the relation between an individual
and a group built around some common interest and behaving in a manner
directed or determined by him.” (Schmidt, 1933, page 282, quoted in Rost,
1940’s: “Leadership…is the art of influencing…people by persuasion or
example to follow a line of action. It must never be confused with
drivership…which is the art of compelling…people by intimidation or force
to follow a line of action.” (Copeland, 1942)
1950’s: “...the process (act) of influencing the activities of an organized
group in its efforts towards goal setting and goal achievement.” (Stogdill,
1960’s: “…acts by persons which influence other persons in a shared
direction.” (Seeman, 1960)
1970’s: “…a process in which an individual takes initiative to assist a
group to move towards the production goals that are acceptable to maintain
the group, and to dispose the needs of individuals within the group that
compelled them to join it.” (Boles and Davenport, 1975)
Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book “Leaders” said that “Leaders
lead by pulling rather than pushing; by inspiring rather than ordering; by
creating achievable, though challenging, expectations and rewarding
progress toward them rather than by manipulating; by enabling people to use
their own initiative and experiences rather than by denying or constraining
their experiences and actions. (Bennis, W.,Nanus, B.,1985:225)
In 1993 Joseph C. Rost defined leadership for the twenty-first century:
“Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who
intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.” Four essential
elements must be present:
1. The relationship is based on influence.
The influence relationship is multidirectional;
the influence behaviours are no coercive.
2. Leaders and followers are the people in this relationship.
The followers are active;
there must be more than one follower, and there is typically
more than one leader in the relationship;
the relationship is inherently unequal because the influence
patterns are unequal
The definition given by Rost comprises all the previous attempts to define
leadership, as it includes the elements reflected in the other definitions.
However, most of the scholars considered some elements to be more important
than others, so we have a number of approaches to leadership. We will
describe the major ones in the next chapter.
2.2 Leadership evolution
Our world is changing and these changing surroundings need new leaders.
When the world used to be stable, the tasks of the leaders were to control
and predict. Further, as the world was getting more chaotic, leaders faced
new tasks. This model shows the evolution of leadership:
Figure 1. Source: Richard L. Daft: Leadership: theory and practice. (1999,
Different approaches to leadership concentrate on different eras or types
2.3 Trait approach to leadership.
Early efforts to understand leadership success focused on the leader’s
personal traits. In the 1990’s the “great man” theories appeared. They
tried to figure out who is born to lead. They studied the great leaders of
the past such as Caesar, Napoleon, and Richard III. Those days the world
was stable and predictable, the societies were not so complex, the groups
were few and small. The leaders acted on “macro” level and were associated
with heroes. Later researches (1940’s-1950’s) tried to find the universal
traits common to all leaders. There was a sense that some critical
leadership traits could be isolated. There was also a feeling that people
with such traits could then be recruited, selected, trained and installed
into leadership positions. In their studies some traits did appear more
frequently than others: technical skills, friendliness, intelligence,
general charisma, drive, task motivation, application to task, social
skills, emotional control, administrative skill, group-task supportiveness.
The problem with the trait approach lies in the fact that almost as many
traits as studies undertaken were identified. Stogdill examined over 100
studies based on the trait approach. (Daft, R., 1999:65) He uncovered that
the importance of a particular trait was often relative to another factor-
the situation. Indeed, when we look at such leaders as Stalin, Hitler,
Churchill, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy,
Margareth Thatcher, do they have any traits in common all together? Having
failed to identify the leader’s traits, the researchers understood that
leadership is usually a more complicated process.
2.3 Behaviour approaches
The results of the trait studies were inconclusive. Researchers changed
the focus from the “great men” to small groups and their leaders.
Researchers turned to an examination of leader behaviours. Rather than
concentrating on what leaders are, as the trait approach urged, the
behavioural approach forced looking at what leaders do. This approach
(1950’s-60’s) says that anyone who adopts the appropriate behaviour can
be a good leader. (Daft, R., 1999:69) Behavioural patterns can be learned
in contrast with traits that must be possessed.
The studies of Iowa State University were a precursor to behaviour
approach. They recognised autocratic versus democratic leadership styles.
The most prominent studies were those undertaken by the University of
Michigan and by Ohio State University. Interestingly, both studies
concluded that leadership behaviours could be classified into two groups.
Ohio State University University of Michigan
- Initiating Structure - Production Centered
-Consideration - Employee Centered
Likert (the University of Michigan) found that employee-centered leader
behaviour generally tended to be more effective. Blake and Mouton of the
University of Texas went into the same direction and suggested the two
similar dimensions: concern for people and concern for results. But they
worked out the leadership grid and suggested five leadership styles:
1. Impoverishment Management (minimal degree of each concern). The less
9.1 Authority-Compliance Management (maximal degree of concern for
results, minimal degree of concern for people)
5.5 Middle-of.the-Road- Management (average degree of both concerns)
1.9 Country Club Management (minimal degree of concern for results,
maximal degree of concern for people)
9.9 Team Management (maximal degree of each concern). This was
considered to be the most effective leadership style.
This approach goes further that trait approach by trying to group leaders
into several categories instead of finding something common to all
leaders. Still, leaders were supposed to have “either-or” style.
2.4. Situational (contingency) approach
Unable to determine which particular behaviour patterns consistently
resulted in effective leadership, researches then attempted to match
behaviour patterns that worked best in specific contexts or situations. The
previous researches studied two dimensions: leaders themselves and their
relationships with followers. The central focus of the new research was
situation in which leadership occurred. The most important point is that
the components of leadership style, subordinate characteristics and
situational elements impact one another. Fiedler’s contingency model,
Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory, the path-goal theory, and
substitutes for leadership each describe that different situations need
different styles of leadership behaviour so that it was an effective
According to Fiedler, leaders can determine if the situation is favourable
to their leadership style. Task-oriented leaders tend to do better in very
easy or very difficult situations, while person-oriented leaders do best in
situations of intermediate favourability. Hersey and Blanchard say that
leaders can adjust their task or relationship style to accommodate the
readiness level of their subordinates. The path-goal theory states that
leaders can use a style that either clarifies the path to desired rewards
or increases the rewards so that the followers would display increased
effort and motivation. (Daft, R., 1999:114) We will have a closer look at
two of these theories in our practical part.
The limits of this paper do not allow us to analyse other theories as
dyadic theory, integrate and alternative approaches. But all these theories
took into consideration the fact that leadership is a complex phenomenon
and its effectiveness depends on many factors.
3. Implementation of the theory in practice.
3.1 Presentation of Quality Arcticus Hotel
Quality Arcticus Hotel is a typical service organisation. It is an
equivalent of a four-star hotel, and a member of a hotel chain Choice
Hotels. Here is an organisation plan of the hotel.
As an action company, it has a committee, consisting of 5 persons who were
chosen by the personnel. In the hotel we can see a vertical power
structure. One can observe three levels of leaders here:
Strategic level – the hotel manager (administrative director)
Middle level – the economy chief
Operative level – the restaurant chief, the bar chief, the chief-cook, the
reception chief, and the selling manager.
I have chosen three leaders for my research: the hotel manager, the economy
chief and the restaurant chief. I work at this restaurant, so I know the
restaurant chief’s work best out of the operative leaders.
In connection with this paper I am interested in what kind of leader styles
these three persons practice. I consider their work as very effective. To
this point, the hotel has not had serious economical problems or conflicts
with the personnel. I should mention that it is a small hotel, and it can
be considered a family organisation. Moreover, all the three were not
elected to their positions and in reality can take their leader positions
as long as they wish to. Such relations give more power to the leaders.
However, their relationship to the personnel is very good. Their
subordinates call them democratic bosses. I would like to find out what
helps these leaders work effectively and keep such a good reputation. I am
going to use the leader theories that I have talked about in this paper. I
want to find out whether those theories are relevant when explaining the
success of these three leaders.
Now I want to look closer at the tasks of these three leaders. The hotel
manager works with daily leadership and strategic planning. Since it is a
little hotel with few departments, most of the leaders have additional
responsibility. Quality Arcticus Hotel does not have a marketing department
and the hotel leader has marketing as an additional task to his main tasks.
This leader has a number of tasks which he handles alone, e.g. problems
outside the hotel: the marked, competition, promotion. He can take
decisions alone, having consulted the economy chief if it is possible to
put his ideas into reality. In my opinion, this fact that he can solve some
problems by himself helps him to avoid possible conflicts with the
subordinates. Actually there are fields where he does not need to lead a
The economy chief takes charge of economy and budget, this is her main
responsibility. Her additional responsibility is the personnel. Her tasks
are more management tasks than leadership, as she works mostly with
calculating and controlling, and this is the work that she handles alone.
Still, she also works with the personnel, deciding who and how much is
going to work in different situations.
The restaurant chief takes responsibility for the personnel in the
restaurant and for the budget. She also takes charge of the arranging,
marketing and selling of all the products that the restaurant can offer.
3.2 Trait approach in practice
First, I want to find out if these three leaders have some traits that
explain their success. I have interviewed the leaders and asked what
particular traits help them in their work, in their opinion. I have asked
their subordinates as well to describe these persons as chiefs. At last I
have tested the three leaders, using the questionnaire from the book
“Leadership” , to find out if these persons have potential leadership
qualities. The test showed that all the three of them may have such
qualities, especially the restaurant chief. On my question, if they could
be leaders of a big concern/company, the economy chief answered “no”, the
restaurant chief answered “yes” and the hotel chief was not sure. The
restaurant chief was very excited of the thought to lead a big company,
which, to my mind, means that she has qualities and abilities necessary for
Among the qualities the hotel chief possesses his subordinates mentioned:
democratic, flexible, not so demanding, motivating, honest, social, result-
oriented, fair, friendly, well-organised, purposeful. He himself means that
what helps him in work is an ability to listen to other people and to
foresee the situation.
The economy chief was characterised as fair, polite, well-organised, nice,
understanding, with sense of humour, flexible, democratic, precise,
consequent, hardworking, and motivating. She herself considers the most
important for her success is being social, friendly and co-operative.
The restaurant chief got a variety of characteristics from her
subordinates: flexible, understanding, drive, motivating, demanding,
obliging, stressful, funny, purposeful, open, helpful, optimistic, active,
with a sense of humour, charismatic, absent-minded, messy, enthusiastic,
precise, co-operative, concerned about quality. She herself pointed out
such traits as open, helpful, purposeful, tough, and a bit autocratic.
As we can see all the three leaders possess a number of qualities that many
researchers consider having great value for leaders, such as drive,
honesty, friendliness, and motivating. Still, all the three possess
different qualities, what does not prevent their success. Such traits as
messy and stressful, for example, can be an obstacle in handling situations
that demand responsibility and self-confidence. To my mind, this approach
does not go deep enough to explain the success of the leaders.
3.3 Behaviour approach in practice
Further, I have tried to find out what kind of behaviour these three
leaders practise. I have tested all of them, using two questionnaires from
the book “Leadership” . I have also interviewed both the leaders and their
One of the approaches, which I have described above, recognises autocratic
versus democratic leadership styles. The hotel chief is a democratic
leader. All his subordinates pointed it out. The characteristics he got
from the personnel, such as flexible, fair, friendly, not so demanding,
indicate his democratic relations with the subordinates. In the interview
the hotel chief explained that although the organisation has a hierarchic
structure, in practice he and his subordinates is one team, working
together. When there is a problem to lose, he is on one line with the other
leaders. Everyone has the right to say what they mean.
One of the tests I have used was designed to assess aggressive, passive and
assertive behaviour. According to the test, the hotel chief’s behaviour is
assertive. This behaviour is considered to be the most effective for
leadership. Assertive people ask for what they believe, and stand up for
their rights in a way that others can accept. The quality of assertiveness
means being straightforward yet open to the needs of others. Assertiveness
strikes the correct balance between being too dominant and too “soft”,
which are not effective ways to influence others.
Another test shows if a person is people-oriented or task-oriented. The
hotel chief is task-oriented according to the test, but only with a one
The economy chief is also rather democratic than autocratic. All her
subordinates named her social characteristics. She delegates authority to
others, encourages participation and relies on her subordinates.
However, the test showed that she practises passive behaviour, which is not
effective for leadership. She prefers conflict avoidance, suppressing her
own needs, being inhibited and submissive.
She is also more people-oriented than task-oriented. She trusts her
colleagues and asks their opinion. For example, is there are too many rooms
to clean, she never insists on cleaning all of them the same day. Satisfied
room-maids are more important for her than 100% done work.
The restaurant chief is both democratic and autocratic. Her subordinates
mentioned her social qualities as well as her concern for work, e.g.
demanding, drive etc. She is a person who always helps her subordinates,
asks for their opinion, in some cases fully delegates authority to the team
of waiters and lets them decide how to complete the tasks. But in some
cases, especially demanding to represent the restaurant at its best, she
becomes autocratic and tells how to do the work. In such cases perfectly-
done work is more important for her than satisfied subordinates. When a new
waiter/waitress is being trained up, she pays much attention to every
detail in doing the everyday tasks, such as laying up the table, talking to
the guests and so on. When she lets her subordinates do the job without her
supervision, every worker knows how to do the tasks so that the chief would
like it. It is obvious that she is more task-oriented than people-oriented.
She characterises her relationship with the subordinates as good, but she
is aware of the fact that some persons are discontent with her pressure and
a great deal of work which she expects to be done.
Another test showed her assertive behaviour, which is considered the most
effective for leadership. (Daft..)
3.4 Situational approach in practice
All the three leaders behave in different ways. It is interesting that the
hotel chief, having serious tasks, allows higher degree of democracy than
the restaurant chief. To my mind the difference is the situations they work
in. Both the hotel chief and the economy chief have a number of tasks they
can handle alone and the number of their subordinates they work with on the
other tasks is little.  The restaurant chief has around 20 waiters under
her charge. And there is almost no task she can do alone without any help.
Moreover, she needs to co-operate with the kitchen. Her working
surroundings are more conflictable and she needs to be firm. I think it is
incorrect to say that some behaviour is more effective than other, without
taking into consideration in what situation the leader work. The leader
effectiveness is in other words contingent on the situation.
The situational theory of Hersey and Blanchard focuses on the
characteristics of followers. According to this theory I can say that the
restaurant chief has telling style, as she gives explicit directions about
how tasks should be accomplished. And this is an appropriate style in her
situation if we take into consideration the fact that 50% of the
subordinates are not professional waiters. Half of the waters started to
work without any knowledge about the specificity of the job, many of them
work part-time. So, not all the waiters show high degree of readiness.
Letting them decide and giving them responsibility is not the right thing
On the opposite, the hotel chief and the economy chief work with a team
that has high readiness and shares the goals of the organisation. The
department chiefs can take responsibility for their own task behaviour. The
hotel chief prefers delegating and participating styles of work. The
economy chief has delegating style.
Fiedler takes more factors into consideration than just the characteristics
of the followers. He also means that task structure and the degree of
leader power are important. Here is the table showing different situations
the leaders can work at.
Source: Richard L. Daft: Leadership: theory and practice. (1999: 97)
Knowing the situation we can say what is more effective for a leader: being
people-oriented or task-oriented.
The leader-member relations are good with all the three leaders in our
case. The task structure is high. There are little ill-defined tasks or
researches, the hotel chief and the economy chief handle such tasks alone.
At the restaurant it can be a challenge to work with new unexpected tasks,
here we have work that sometimes needs creativeness. The task structure at
the restaurant is lower. I would place the restaurant chief in the
situation with unstructured tasks.
The formal position power is strong with all the three leaders. Although
the hotel chief and the economy chief prefer to work on one line with their
subordinates, formally they have power to evaluate, reward or punish.
I can conclude that the hotel and economy chiefs work in a favourable
situation, while the restaurant chief- in an intermediate. In both cases
task-oriented leaders perform better. As I have found out before, the hotel
chief and the restaurant chief are task-oriented leaders, while the economy
chief is more people-oriented. But as she is as popular as a chief and does
her work successfully, I presume she can allow being people-oriented in her
situation as well. The tasks for her subordinates are so clear and routine,
and the relations with her team are so favourable that she does not need
focus on tasks.
In this paper we have tried to analyse different approaches to leadership
and implement them in practice using Quality Arcticus Hotel as a model. I
think that all the three approaches are relevant to some extent. All the
three leaders possess traits that are necessary to succeed in a leading
position. The leaders in my analysis possess different behaviour styles but
it is understandable. If a leader has to handle with tasks demanding high
degree of responsibility from the subordinates he is more task-oriented. To
be a hotel chief is a responsible work, the leader should be more task-
oriented than people-oriented. On the operative level as well there are a
lot of daily tasks which need to be performed with high quality. All the
goals that the leaders on the upper levels set up for the organisations
shall be realised on the operative level. We can judge the work of the
hotel by the work of the departments on the operative level (reception,
kitchen, restaurant, bar, selling department). That is why it is more
natural, to my mind, for these leaders to focus more on the tasks than on
Situational approach takes more factors into consideration and that is why
I think it is a more applicable theory to find out the best style of
leadership. Leadership is a complex phenomenon and it can not been
explained with simple concepts. I do not mean to say that contingency
approaches are the best in explaining success in leadership. There are many
theories about this phenomenon. But out of the three approaches analysed it
gives more concrete answers on the question, why exactly this leader
performs well in exactly these surroundings.
. Yukl, Gary Leadership in organisations, fifth edition, 2002
. Daft, Richard L. Leadership: theory and practice, 1999
 The hotell manager is married to the economy chief and one of the
operative leaders is their son-in-law.
 The hotel chief normally handles problems with the economy chief and
the five operative leaders. The economy chief has two persons working with
economy under her supervision. Besides she takes charge of the 8 room-