Perspectives on Leadership
1. Analyze various theories of leadership.
2. Understand the relationship of personality and leadership styles.
3. Analyze how leadership is affected by the context and situation in which it is exercised.
4. Understand the relationship of emotional intelligence and leadership.
5. Analyze competencies required for health professions leadership.
6. Identify personal leadership characteristics.
Leadership emerges as a compilation of mysteries that have been investigated for centuries. Researchers have attempted to answer questions such as: Are leaders born? Can leaders be developed? Does the environment create the leader? Is leadership emergence synonymous with leader effectiveness? What role does social dynamics have in the leadership equation? Can leadership be shared (Avolio, 2007; Zaccaro, 2007)? How and why should members assume a leadership stance? The latter questions resonate when contemplating the development and sustainability of effective interdisciplinary healthcare teams. An examination of the broader phenomenon of leadership provides a context for that inquiry.
Perspectives on Leadership
Leadership connotes position as well as action. Positional leadership refers to responsibility given to an individual or group of individuals to guide, direct, or control. The act of leadership or ability to lead refers to the effective use of influence and a complex dynamic that has inspired much of the research on leadership. Leadership can be simply defined as the exercise of power and influence with others. Some theorists have posited that leaders are born while others focus on the role that social, cultural, political, and environmental factors have on the emergence of leaders.
Many perspectives regarding leadership offer intriguing views of the leadership concept, but no definitive conceptualization exists. A comprehensive review of these views is beyond the scope of this book. For the purposes of our discussion, we will focus on three broad theoretical approaches that are supported by modern-day research and are most applicable to healthcare leadership development. These include personality/trait, contingency/situational, and relational theories. We will provide a summary of each of these theoretical approaches, highlight the most relevant theoretical concepts, and provide opportunities for the practical application of these concepts.
Personality and Trait Theories
Early conceptualizations of leadership focused on the “great man” theory, which hypothesized that leaders were born with certain characteristics that predisposed them to take command and lead others (Carlyle, 1841). The Zeitgeist theory credited the convergence of social, political and individual factors with the emergence of a leader—the right person for the right time in history (Tolstoy, 1869). Subsequent trait theorists, informed by the big five theory of personality (discussed later in this chapter), described a constellation of traits that were indicative of a leadership personality.
MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR
One of the first and most widely used models to identify traits was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based on the Carl Jung’s psychological type theory. Jung’s theory is based on a hypothesis that people are born with innate personality traits (Jung, 1991; Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998).
The Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) is a self-report survey instrument that helps to determine personality and preferred behavioral style across the following four dichotomies: extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. The MBTI is designed to determine preferences for finding energy, gathering information, making decisions, and orienting to the environment. While it does not identify talents, quantify intelligence, or predict leadership success, it facilitates self-awareness, which does correlate with leadership success (Goleman & Boyatzis, 2008).
MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE DICHOTOMIES
This diagram summarizes the four types of dichotomies and their related preferences based on Myers and Briggs’s conceptualization.
I gain energy from working with others
I gain energy from working alone
I take information from the here and now
I integrate information from past, present and future
I make decisions based on logic
I make decisions based on belief
I like structure
I like to improvise
Data from: Myers, Isabel Briggs; McCaulley Mary H., Quenk, Naomi L., Hammer, Allen L. (1998). MBTI Manual (A guide to the development and use of the Myers Briggs type indicator). Consulting Psychologists Press; 3rd ed.
REFLECTION: MBTI Detailed Descriptions
Read the following descriptions to determine your personality and preferred behavioral style on each of the four MBTI dichotomies.
|Extroversion/Introversion—How a Person Finds Energy|
|Extroverts (E) are energized by the outside world (people and things).||Introverts (I) are energized by being alone with their internal thoughts.|
|• Draw energy from action
• Tend to act first, then reflect, and then act again
• Energy level tends to drop when not engaged in an activity
• Are influenced by the expectations and attention of others
• Enjoy working in groups
|• Draw energy from reflection
• Prefer to reflect before acting
• Energy tends to drop with too much external interaction
• May defend against external demands and intrusions
• Enjoy working alone or with a few others
|Sensing/Intuiting—How a Person Takes in Information|
|Sensors (S) prefer to take in information in the here and now and in a precise manner.||Intuitives (N) like to take in information in a holistic and extemporaneous manner.|
|• Focus on objective facts and circumstances as perceived by the senses (seeing, feeling, hearing) first
• Have excellent powers of observation
• Deal with how things are rather than on how they could be
• See problems as needing specific solutions based on past information
• Value realism
|• Focus on the big picture and underlying pattern, beyond the reach of the senses first
• Have vivid powers of imagination
• Focus more on how things could be rather than how they are
• See problems as opportunities to innovate based on inspiration
• Value imagination
|Thinking/Feeling—How a Person Prefers to Make a Decision|
|Thinkers (T) will choose objectivity and logic when making decisions||Feelers (F) will choose what they believe in when they make a decision.|
|• Seek logic and clarity
• Question first
• Have an interest in data
• Know when logic is required
• Prefer objectivity
• Weigh pros and cons
• Strive to be fair
|• Seek emotional clarity
• Accept first
• Have an interest in people
• Know when support is required
• Consider impact on people
• Weigh values
• Strive to be compassionate