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Leader-Follower Relationship on Organisational Success: Analytical Essay

Leaders motivate, inspire and guide their followers, however, the perceptions and attributions of the leader as seen by the followers can directly affect organisational success, no matter how inspiring the leader may see themselves as. This leader-follower relationship is a key component in organisational success and there are several ways it affects it. Firstly the leader’s mood directly affects the performance of the followers. Secondly, trust in leader-follower relationships is critical for individual and organisational. Lastly, the leadership style, namely transformational leadership, is a main factor in the leader-follower relationship, and thus also affects organisational success.

Leader’s moods are a major part of the leader-follower relationship, as such, it is believed that leaders positive moods impact the performance of their team. A positive leader creates greater organisational success by influencing their followers from their positive mood and inspiring a better work ethic. According to one study, it was found that leader positive moods positively predicted group coordination, through increasing the overall affective tone in the group, this was seen in a sample of 56 self-management student teams (Chi et al., 2011). Transformational leadership behaviours are the key motivator in leaders positive moods that affect team process and performance, this is seen through conscious, deliberate, and explicit processes. Watson, Clark, and Tellegan (1988) defined positive moods as the “extent to which a person feels enthusiastic, active, and alert… [a high positive mood] is a state of high energy, full concentration, and pleasurable engagement.” (pg. 1063) A further three studies have looked into the affect of leaders with higher positive moods and how this correlates with their teams performance. George and Bettenhausen (1990) used 33 stores as a research sample, to find that leader positive moods are positively related to work group sales performance (r = .35). Also, George (1995) documented that leaders with higher positive moods created better sales team performance (r = .41). Lastly, Gaddis et al. (2004) used a sample of 87 student teams and found that teams with leaders in positive moods performed better in terms of quality than did teams with leaders in negative moods. Overall it is apparent that the relationship between the leader and follower strongly relies on ones mood for organisational success.

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Another key part of the leader-follower relationship is trust. Trust between the leader and the followers is necessary for organisational success. For instance, a trusting environment creates helps increase employee self-esteem, enhanced productivity, and organisational communication. Trust is a psychological construct crucial to the formation and sustainment of human relationship (Davis, Schoorman, Mayer, & Tan, 2000). Trust can also be seen as the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of another individual (Gillespie & Mann, 2004). Martin et al., (2015) conducted a study using a survey,and received 1,329 student responses. Nearly two-thirds of all responses (61%) indicated leader traits are highly important when leading and developing followers. This comes down to three dimensions: humanistic, occupational, and value-oriented. These traits, when positive, can create trust in followers; when these traits are negative, however, mistrust is evident in the leader-follower relationship.

The nature of the trusting relationship ultimately affects followers' attitudes and behaviours. Together, these traits lead to followers tending to trust or mistrust their leaders (Martin et al., 2015). Academic and applied settings increasingly recognize the critical nature of developing an environment of interpersonal trust for individual and organizational effectiveness. Employees' trust in their leaders directly relates to a range of productivity-related processes and outcomes, such as the quality of communication and problem-solving, discretionary effort, organizational citizenship and commitment, and the rate of employee turnover (Gillespie & Mann, 2004). A strong leader-follower relationship directly influences organizational and team performance as well as bottom line indicators. No organization can operate successfully without interpersonal trust, and thus, no leader can ignore the powerful effects of trust among the organization (Fairholm & Fairholm, 2009).

Transformational leadership plays a large role in the leader-follower relationship, as such team-building may be the link in this leadership style that leads to organisational success. Aga et al., (2016) used a field survey of 200 development project managers in the Ethiopian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) sector, to find that team-building as part of transformational leadership does lead to organisational success. There appears to be general agreement in the literature on four of the dimensions that make up transformational leadership: idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration. Idealized influence is behaviour that arouses strong follower emotions and identification with the leader. Inspirational motivation is shown when a leader conveys a vision that is appealing and inspiring for subordinates and provides them challenging assignments and increased expectations. Intellectual stimulation is behaviour that increases followers' awareness of problems and influences them to develop innovative and/or creative approaches to solving them. Individualized consideration includes providing support, encouragement, and coaching to followers (Avolio et al., 2004, Lindgren and Packendorff, 2009).

A key element of human resource management based off of studies in project-based organisations saw that team-building is valued as a core aspect of HRM (Huemann et al., 2007, Turner et al., 2008). Studies also show that transformational leadership has a significant effect on workplace outcomes, including project success (Anantatmula, 2010, Yang et al., 2010). McDonough (2000) provides four arguments explaining the influential role of the project manager's leadership style on team-building practices. First, effective project leadership is needed to delineate task boundaries for the team and allow the members to perform within those boundaries. Second, project leaders should exhibit transformational leadership, in which team members are given the freedom to explore, discuss, and make their own decisions about the techniques to employ, problems to solve, and tasks to perform. Third, an effective leadership style is vital to share information and knowledge within the team and with other groups in the organization, so that realistic decisions can be made. This involves designing communication mechanisms to share information about the focus of the project, project changes and developments, and the individual members' responsibilities. Fourth, effective project leadership is required because it enhances the team commitment by instilling a positive attitude and climate that helps to achieve project success.

Combined all four of these arguments show the importance of the leaders leadership style, and how it can affect the followers, highlighting that there are many factors involved in the leader-follower relationship that can lead to organisational success. Sohmen (2013) underlines that leaders must create a work environment that is conducive to team members working together in cooperative and goal-oriented efforts. Thus, effective leadership is clearly imperative in order to induce team-building. Even if the project team is high-performing with the right capabilities, it will not be successful in the absence of effective leadership (Burke et al., 2006). Aga et al., (2016) study targeted NGOs that undertake development projects targeting poverty reduction in Ethiopia. First randomly selected 100 NGOs to ensure the representativeness of the institutions engaging in development projects (Bartlett et al., 2001). From this, they obtained 300 project managers who constituted their sampling framework. They were then invited to participate in a questionnaire survey. They measured project success with 14 items, covering time, cost, performance, client use, satisfaction, and effectiveness. The project managers assessed each of these items on a Likert scale of 1–5 ranging between ‘strongly disagree’ and ‘strongly agree’. All of the constructs' α values are above 0.8, indicating a high degree of internal consistency in the responses, confirming that transformational leadership positively influences project success and that transformational leadership is positively related to team-building, as well as that team-building is positively related to organisational success.

In conclusion, we can see that through various studies and sources, there are many factors in the leader-follower relationship that lead to organisational success. Firstly the leader’s positive mood directly affects the performance of the followers creating a better work ethic and thus more success. Secondly, trust in leader-follower relationships is critical for individual and organisational. Lastly, the leadership style, namely transformational leadership, is a main factor in the leader-follower relationship, and thus also affects organisational success.

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