Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

Section Five
LEADERSHIP AND SUPERVISION

Introduction

LEADERSHIP once was thought of as a personality trait that some people "had" and others didn't. However, research indicated that no dependable traits could be isolated which consistently identified effective leaders or which differentiated leaders from non-leaders in all situations. It takes only a little reflection to realize this when one considers the diversity of people in history, politics, religion, athletics, as well as in industry, who would be considered "effective leaders." A more fruitful approach is to think of leadership in terms of "activities which influence others." By this definition leadership cannot be separated from the activities of groups. The leader is effective only to the extent that his group is influenced by his behavior to move toward certain shared goals. By this definition people in supervisory positions may or may not be leaders. Conversely, other individuals in the group not officially designated as supervisors may turn out to be leaders. We can evaluate leadership only in terms of its effects on the behavior of individuals in the group.

There still remains the question of identifying those patterns of leader behavior which are effective with certain kinds of groups. In this section we will focus on leadership patterns and practices in industrial settings. We will examine what these patterns are, the situational forces that influence them, and their relation to group effectiveness.

It is immediately apparent that two basic problems in this area are (1) the identification of meaningful leadership patterns and (2) the development of methods to measure these patterns. The Ohio State University Leadership Studies made these problems major research objectives. Focusing on the kinds of behavior engaged in by people in leadership roles, these investigators developed over 1,800 items (e.g., He calls the group together to talk things over; He knows about it when something goes wrong) descriptive of what supervisors do in their leadership roles. These items were then classified into ten broad categories of leader behavior (e.g., initiation, domination, evaluation, comm

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