CURRENT TRENDS IN THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF LEADERSHIP
Leadership Substitutes Theory
The contingency models discuss conditions that call for certain leadership behaviours. Some situational aspects have an even greater effect by severely limiting the ability of a leader to influence outcomes. Two such situational factors have been identified as substitutes and neutralizers. Some other situational aspects actually have a positive impact on the leader behaviours; hence, they are called enhancers.
Leadership substitutes are aspects of the task, subordinates, or organization that act in place of leader behaviour and thus render it unnecessary. For example, unambiguous, routine tasks or employees' knowledge, ability, and experience can substitute for task-oriented or directive behaviours (see Table 8). Employees in the FedEx centre and UPS distribution centres in Memphis, Tennessee, once trained, require little task structuring in their respective sorting and truck-loading jobs. Their supervisors therefore concentrate on keeping them motivated by engaging in supportive or consideration-oriented behaviour, such as praise or other rewards, which help overcome the tedium of their routines.
The interesting possibility exists that leaders may not be necessary at all in some situations. If a cohesive work team of trained professionals performs structured tasks in a highly formalized environment, then little direct supervision and involvement by a leader may be warranted. Indeed, the understanding and creative use of leadership substitutes may be integral to the success of self-managed work teams.
Leadership neutralizers are aspects of the task, subordinates, or organization that have the effect of paralyzing, destroying, or counteracting the effect of leadership behaviour. For example, if employees, such as those at FedEx and UPS, are indifferent to organizational rewards, then a supervisor engaging in the supportive leadership behaviour of praising and rewarding would likely have little positive effect on employee satisfaction or motivation. In such a situation the supervisor may have to stick to task-oriented behaviours, try other supportive (but nonreward-oriented) behaviours, or replace these employees with ones who will work within the system.
In some situations, other changes might be made that enhance the effectiveness of a leader's behaviour. Leadership enhancers are aspects of the task, subordinates, or organization that amplify a leader's impact on employees. For example, if a nonperformance-based reward system is neutralizing a leader's impact, then changing the system to give the leader more power to influence rewards can make the same leadership behaviour more effective. The creation of leadership enhancers can work very well when a leader has the necessary skill and appropriate organizational goals but is prevented by one or more neutralizers from being effective.
In general, understanding how substitutes, neutralizers, and enhancers influence the effectiveness of leadership behaviour can help an organization when a leader cannot be changed for political, financial, ethical, or other practical reasons, or when leadership is in transition. When Stanley Gault of Rubbermaid retired in 1991, the company got two new CEOs in 18 months - one retiring amid controversy - yet never missed a beat. The highly successful cross-functional team structure continued to manufacture new products and thus substituted for the leadership from above that may have been lacking during the transition.
1. Formulate the main idea of the text.
3. Are these statements true or false? Correct the false ones.
a) Such situational aspects as substitutes, neutralizers, and enhancers have a great effect by either severely limiting or increasing the ability of a leader to influence outcomes.
b) Leadership substitutes are aspects of the task, subordinates, or organization that act together with leader behaviour.
c) The managers in the FedEx centre and UPS distribution centres in Memphis, Tennessee keep employees motivated using praise or other rewards, which help overcome the boredom of their routines.
d) If a unified work team of qualified specialists performs struc≠tured tasks in a highly formalized environment, it requires much direction and leaderís involvement.
e) Leadership neutralizersare aspects of the task, subordinates, or organiza≠tion that have the effect of paralyzing, destroying, or supporting the effect of leadership behaviour.
f) If employees are indifferent to organizational rewards, the only way out is to replace them with ones who will work within the system.
g) Leadership enhancers are aspects of the task, sub≠ordinates, or organization that intensify a leader's influence on employees.
4. Answer the questions.
a) What situational aspects can substitute for task-oriented or directive behaviours?
b) Will the supportive leadership behaviour of praising and rewarding have positive motivational effect on employees who are indifferent to organizational rewards?
c) What can be done if a nonperformance-based reward system is neutralizing a leader's impact?
d) When can the creation of leadership enhancers work well?
e) When can substitutes, neutralizers, and enhancers be helpful for an organization?
f) What helped Rubbermaid substitute for the leadership from above after Stanley Gault retired in 1991?