circumstances, however, the dictatorial leader will be more effective or
productive. The democratic leader is usually "almost as productive" as
the authoritarian leader; in some instances, he/she is even more
productive. Research (Fiedler & Chemers, 1974; Fiedler, 1978) has
determined that task-oriented leaders are more effective than
relationship-oriented leaders when the situation is highly favorable
(good relations with followers, leader has power, and the task is
simple and clear) or highly unfavorable (the conditions are the
opposite). Relationship-oriented leaders do better when there are
some problems producing interpersonal stress, but the conditions
aren't awful. When things are in a total mess, a leader is needed who
knows how to take charge, will overlook interpersonal problems, and
get the job done. When everything is running very smoothly, the
relationship-oriented leader may become like a "dedicated mother in
an empty nest," i.e. looking for personal problems to solve when there
are none and making things worse (so the task-oriented leader is
better). Good leaders adapt their leadership style to the situation they
There is still a strong tendency to think of a leader as being a
male. The rise of women in business and politics is slow, even though
women go to college as much as men. Indeed, close to 50% of
students in many professional schools--law, medicine, psychology--are
now women. Leaders should be selected on the basis of their ability,
not on how tall they are. Women have formed networks in certain
work settings to help each other find leadership roles. Several books,
such as Loden (1985), tell women how to succeed in business.
Industry needs all the brains it can find.
Kipnis and Schmidt (1984) found three common ways of
influencing other people: (1) Hard --getting angry, demanding,
threatening, putting down others. (2) Soft --charming, being nice,
flattering, acting humble. (3) Rational --presenting facts, using
reasoning and logic, offering to compromise. We tend to use hard
tactics when we have the advantage, when we expect the other person
to resist us, or when the other person has done something wrong. We
use soft tactics when we are at a disadvantage, when resistance is
expected, and when we are looking out for ourselves. We use rational
tactics when dealing with equals, when irrational resistance is not
expected, and when the goal benefits us and others as well. These
authors found three kinds of managers: "shotgun managers" who are
ambitious and use any approach they can to get their way, "tacticians"
who rely on reason, and "bystanders" who do very little to change
things. Hard tactics are used by people in power when dealing with
subordinates who may resist and by people who lack self-confidence.
Hard tactics alienate others and soft tactics put down ourselves.
Rational tactics seem to work best.
We have the technology to expand democratic self-determination
into the work place and throughout the world. There have already
been state-wide electronic town hall meetings and national politicians
use the term for question and answer sessions. But every household in