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Experience with negative leadership

Updated on January 14, 2012

The details of the experience

My experience of a bad leadership was when I was a member of a project management team made up of fifteen members. The team ran out of its allocated budget funds and had to scale back on its spending to finish the project within the stipulated time. However, the team leader was not straightforward with team members on realizing that the only way to complete the project was by cutting stipend costs for the team as maximally as possible to leave the project development budget intact. The reductions of team member compensation lead to a dip in morale that negatively influenced work performance. The realization that the team leader had deliberately influenced the pay cut without consulting team members brought a new dispute within the team of the role of the leader in shaping up the working environment of the team. Unfortunately, instead of dialoguing with team members, the team leader dismissed their claims and request and chose to quell further misgivings in the team by releasing complainants from the team. As a result, the project completion delayed and the final quality did not meet the expected standards.

An analysis of the leadership behavior

The leadership behavior described in the above experience is autocratic. In this case, the leader did not want any team member to voice concerns that are against the leader’s views. The leader dismissed the importance of communication within the team by deciding to decide what is best for the team without consulting. The leader’s approach of dealing with arising disputes is not sustainable and left team members with a low self-esteem. The autocratic nature also comes out when the leader failed to accommodate team members and used their expulsion from the team as a way to tow other team members into line. The leader failed to lead by an example during the financial difficulty facing the team and instead forced the team members to accept new conditions.

Research Supporting the Negative Leadership Behavior Description

Daft and Lane (2008) indicate that leadership traits alone do not make up a leadership quality and that behavior plays a key role in defining a leadership style. The authors further indicate that positive leaders inspire action in their teams and adopt their behaviors to suit the condition even when changing their behaviors goes contrary to their personality traits.

According to Schafer (2010), ineffective leaders lack a proper work ethic and do not show integrity in their work. Ineffective leaders are uncaring to their subordinates and do not appreciate the diversity of opinion in their teams. The authors report that their empirical findings indicate that most sought after trait of a leader that is significant in project management is honesty. Team members judge their leader’s honey policy through direct communication with the leader and by observation of how the leader conducts leadership roles. Finally, a leader’s failure to demonstrate honesty and integrity leads to a drop in the efficacy of any team.

According to Hamilton (2008), an autocratic leader improves the time taken by teams to make decisions. However, the author cautions that the timely decision-making does not usually encompass the input and concerns of all team members. While there is an increasing favor of team project management by organization, the autocratic leadership style is becoming rare because of its characteristic on a one-way communication from the leader to team members. One-way communication does not improve team member accountability of tasks performed.

When the working environment in a team is bad then team members become dissatisfied less committed to voluntary completion of their assigned tasks. Wells and Peachy (2011) support this view and present empirical findings of their study that shows transformational leaders display positive leadership behaviors. Transformational leaders encourage their employees to express their concerns and interests in the organization even when those interests go contrary to the leader’s intentions. The authors posit that the main cause of voluntary organization departure intentions for employees lies in unfavorable communication environment.

A recommendation for strengthening leadership behavior

It is important for leaders to question themselves whether as team members they would be happy with the leadership behavior they demonstrate. Secondly, leaders should aim to create a positive influence to their teams and therefore must refrain from demonstrating behaviors that seems questionable and display a lack of appreciation for team members. Leaders should plan, clarify their intentions, have personal relations with team members and use effort recognition to demonstrate desirable qualities of the team.

Planning allows an effective leader to engage team members properly in accomplishing tasks. Clarifying of roles and objectives forms the core of the initiating structure behaviour of the leader and monitoring operations and performance facilitates the effectiveness of other behaviours. Specific relations behaviours are important in demonstrating a concern for people. They are namely; supporting which results to less absenteeism as well as a reduction in other non-favourable behaviours of subordinates like alcoholism. Secondly, developing offers mutual cooperative relationship as it allows team members faster career advancement. Lastly, recognition allows the leader to communicate using symbolism of the team’s values and priorities. Recognitions occur in the form of praise, awards and recognition ceremonies.


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