This assignment will highlight a past work experience from which to reflect and analyze in relation to management and leadership theory and practice. The work experience chosen is from a residential child care context which took place three years ago when I a support worker in child residential care center. While in the facility, I had to work night shifts three times a week. Owing to the nature of the work, two people had to be present on a night shift. In a workplace, people who are working together are expected to interact and communicate. However, my colleague exhibited poor interpersonal relationship. While I tried my best to improve the working relationship with my colleague, there was a lack of commitment from his part. Overall it could be summed up as an apparent unwillingness of a colleague to communicate with me while working together on night shifts. How does communication affect performance and how can management influence good interpersonal relationships in the workplace?
When dealing with young children especially when one is trying to manage their needs in early years, it is very important to create not only a welcoming but also a supportive environment for them (Daly, Byers, & Taylor, 2004). It is therefore expected that those handling children display positive behavior. Clearly, communication is an essential part of any working relationship and especially when working within sensitive contexts with potentially vulnerable young people. Without communication, working becomes difficult because there is no interchange of ideas, views, and opinions. Before I went far, I had to inquire what influence ones behavior to behave in a certain way. Mullins (2013) identified the individual as one of the dimensions that influence behavior. Mullins argued that regardless of whether one is acting singly or in collaboration with others, the individual is central to the overall organizational behavior. He further pointed out that when the organizational needs and those of the individual are incompatible, conflicts and frustrations occur. To Mullins, it is the responsibility of the management to provide an environment that meets no only the individuals needs but also the organizational needs. According to Cross (2017), interpersonal communication is central to organizational performance because effective communication not only results in improved operational efficiency but also it facilitates teamwork. Additionally, it dictates the efficiency of the major organizational functions such as the resolution of conflicts within an organization. Although there is a lot of evidence that shows the importance of effective communication in the workplace, there is evidence of widespread deficiencies in communication skills among employees (Kinnick & Parton, 2005). Since communication has a great impact on the overall organizational performance, it is necessary to ensure that there is a good interpersonal relationship among the employees. Previous studies suggest leaders have a great influence in supporting interpersonal relationships among the employees. Good leadership understands that good interpersonal relationship among employees goes hand in hand with effective communication.
To illustrate how leadership can influence good interpersonal relationships and communication, Endrissat, Muller, & Kaudela-Baum (2007) described the concept of social proximity in the context of authentic leadership. The authors contend that authentic leaders are more likely to advance social proximity in the workplace. To them, personal closeness in leadership relations has a positive influence on a personal commitment to the task. A strong community of committed employees inspire one another and have more energy and commitment to organizational tasks. The researchers found that authentic leaders are concerned about social proximity in their organizations. Such leaders emphasize the establishment of personal relationship within the organizational structures. Authentic leaders wish to be seen as people with whom a personal relationship can exist. Rather than retreat to their formal positions, the leaders are more focused on developing good interpersonal relationships with their employees. In their quest for social proximity in the workplace, authentic leaders face various challenges. Endrissat, Muller, & Kaudela-Baum (2007) revealed that the major challenge for an authentic leader is to sustain a balance between personal and close relationships and also maintain a straight line of task fulfilment that is unaffected by the relationships. Another challenge is changing work context as well as foreign cultures that demand an individual to comply with foreign cultures. Different cultural and societal context presents challenges to authentic leaders. Often, working in a foreign culture puts the leader in a dilemma. On the one hand, the leader has to be authentic as a way of attracting leadership attributes. However, on the other hand, the leader is expected to adapt to other cultures especially when dealing with issues such as personal distance, order, and power. The authors contend that it important for such leaders to strike a balance between maintaining their important personal values and adjusting to the local customs.
Initially, I approached my colleague so that we can try to resolve the issue together. Because of his silence, I did not know whether the issue was related to our job tasks or our personal relationships. This would have given me a chance to identify the best approach because De Dreu (2008) pointed out that regardless of whether the conflict is person-related or task-related the way they are managed is different. My colleague dismissed my idea of finding a solution to our tense workplace relationship. The impact was felt in our poor performance during our shift, and I need a solution before the problem got worst. The situation worsened to the extent that I felt compelled to discuss with my immediate line manager. Although I made the decision to discuss with my immediate manager, there were other alternatives to finding solutions. Leadership is regarded as a crucial factor that facilitates the effectiveness of a team. Our structure is based on focused leadership. It was, therefore, necessary for me to discuss the issue with my immediate manager. However, if our organization were operating on a shared leadership concept, I would have sought solutions from other team members.
The idea of shared leadership has been widely discussed by Carson, Tesluk, and Marrone (2007). Unlike focused leadership where leadership is focused on one individual designated leader, shared leadership implies that leadership is distributed among the team members. Shared leadership has a positive correlation with team performance. Shared leadership is more appropriate for a workplace involving children such as in the children resident center where I was working. In his work, Booker (2012) discussed more on the aspects of leadership in the context of childrens service where he advocates for integrated working. He argued that childrens services demand leadership at all levels to facilitate interactive and dynamic services on the front line.
As soon as I informed my immediate manager, he responded by telling me he needs time to get views from my colleague. According to him, there could have been other factors that were hindering communication and interpersonal relationships such as generational, cultural, language or personality differences. The manager assured me that once he has all the information, he will take action. His approach was consistent with the theory of management and leadership because a good leader need not rush into making decisions before getting full information. In the theory of management and leadership (Mullins, 2013), leaders ought to respect the unique differences among their subordinates and that they should learn to approach issues from different perspectives so that they can understand how to avoid or resolve conflicts. Due to the increasing cultural and generational diversity, the theory of management and leadership suggest issues such as conflict resolution is not a matter of black and white. Instead, there are many grey areas. Further, the theory of management and leadership suggests that some of the responsibilities of managers are controlling and problem-solving while those of leaders involve aligning, motivating, and inspiring people (McKimm & Phillips, 2009). The actions of my immediate manager suggest he was acting as a leader as well as a manager.
Booker, R. (2012). Leadership in childrens services. Children & Society, 26(5), 394-405.
Carson, J. B., Tesluk, P. E., & Marrone, J. A. (2007). Shared leadership in teams: An investigation of antecedent conditions and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 50(5), 1217-1234.
Cross, V. (2017). The Effects of Interpersonal Communication in an Organization. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effects-interpersonal-communication-organization-18338.html
Daly, M, Byers, E., & Taylor, W. (2004). Early Years Management in Practice. Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers.
De Dreu, C. K. (2008). The virtue and vice of workplace conflict: Food for (pessimistic) thought. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29(1), 5-18.
Endrissat, N., Muller, W. R., & Kaudela-Baum, S. (2007). En route to an empirically-based understanding of authentic leadership. European Management Journal, 25(3), 207-220.
Kinnick, K. N., & Parton, S. R. (2005). Workplace Communication What The Apprentice Teaches About Communication Skills. Business Communication Quarterly, 68(4), 429-456.
McKimm, J. & Phillips, K. (eds.) (2009). Leadership and Management in Integrated Services. Exeter: Learning Matters
Mullins, L.J. (2013). Management & Organizational Behavior. Harlow: Pearson Education.
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