Sometimes the SITUATION demands your Leadership
MAP of this page: Please select matieral for your level. There are sections here for undergrads, MBA, and Ph.d.'s.This next section gives quick overview of situation leadership.
- All Levels- Start Here - Click here for essay on 7 Principles of Septet Leadershp - applies situation leadership to theatre.
- Fiedler Contingency Model 1964 (Undergrads - most used approach, but not empirically validated, so do not get hooked on it)
- Evans, House et al 1970 Path Goal (applies motivation theory to situatio, but more from MBAsn)
- Vroom & Yetton 1973 Normative Decision Style Model (applies decision style to situation, and is well tested; good for all levels).
- Boje's (1980; 2001) PSL2 - Situation Leadership In Teams. (undergrads skip this section)
- Graen et al 1975 LMX - Leader-Member Exchange Model (less researched, but what has been done appears valid; good theory for all levels)
- Hersey & Blanchard 1969 Situation Model adapted from Blake & Mouton's Managerial Grid. (simplest approach to situation, mostly widely taught, and mostly wrong)
- Kerr & Jermier 1978 Substitutes (good model, but more for master's level)
- House et al Globe Project - 2000 (promises of things to come, FYI)
- Jean-Paul Sartre (1956) Existential Critique of Situation Leadership using three temporality dimensions See What is situation? - More for MBA or ph.d. level
- Theatrics of Situation Leadership - Hexad of Ratios to Stretch the Leadership Box - again, an advanced level
Once upon a time, the Situationists had became an oppressive regime by 1960. All were forced to swear allegiance to LPC or do battle with Knight Fiedler. Most believed that the Situationists were as misguided as the Traitists. It was taboo to ever mention the TRAIT word. All other forms of leader study were banished from the Isle of Situation and Contingency.
The Situationists became very impersonal theorists. They no longer studied great events in history or great leaders who were sensitive to their situations. They plucked out lists of depersonalized behavior and measured these against situational facets. Situationists became actively hostile toward leadership.
Over time, the Isle of Situation fragmented into several colonies.
Knight Fiedler fashioned the LPC colony and held that leader style and trait does not change to fit situation; best to just find the right style and fit them into their favorite situation.
All the other colonies formed around the idea that leaders were malleable and quite flexible beings, willing to change character (in consciousness and behavior) to fit in. The Path Goal colony of Sirs House, Vroom and Yetton married motivational expectancy theory with leaders who could change paths to get a goal done. They remembered the Isle of Behavior teaching that posited that leaders can be directive (autocratic and initiates of structure), supportive (even considerate), and after awhile readmitted the need to achieve, and even the participative style. These four became choice points for the flexible leader.
Sir George Graen decided that leaders change their character to please an in group and to abuse an out group. This is a very flexible leader indeed. Graen founded the colony of LMX (leader member exchange).
Not to be outdone, the Vassals Hershey and Blanchard developed a colony called "Situation Theory." Not many researched there, but many trainers did settle in this colony. They took the dimensions of Task and Relationship from the Isle of Behavior, crossed the axes and posited appropriate leaderly behavior.
high task, low relationship telling is every leader's choice. high task, high relationship requires selling. low task, high relationship calls for participating low task and low relationship needs leader to be delegating
Vroom and Yetton together with Jago founded one more colony on the isle of situation, giving group leaders choice of being autocratic, consultative, group-oriented, and even allowed for delegation.
Finally, nobles Kerr and Jermier decided, who cares about leaders anyway, why not let the situation rule.
Is it any wonder we have presidents who poll the public opinion, to not be out of step with the needs of the situation. Is this leadership?
To Situationists, the situation rules, only when the situation is conducive, is this or that leader style effective.
Ideally, the leaders have behavior styles and traits, that are less subject to change. And when a situation arises that is out of step with their leader profile, then followers will alienate themselves, since the context calls for a new leadership. In the theory of great leaders, the man and the situation became married. The forceful Lions and shrewd Foxes (Princes) were able to change situations, while lesser men changed their style to meet situational contingencies.
But alas the Situationist Tale places leadership in a box with only two sides: the Leader and the Situation. Leave it the that Magician, Kenneth Burke, to come up with a six-sided Box. In the Hexad (six-sided) Box of of Leadership, we deploy quite theatrical terms. Leaders are agents, in situations called "scenes," performing behaviors (acts), using various means (agency) and this occurs with purpose (motivation), within Frames that are historical and political. Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, Purpose, and Frame are the six-sides of a stretched leadership box, one that would contain all of leadership theory; Leadership is not two-sided it is six sided.
Fill out Questions on SITUATIONS OF OPPRESSION - We will apply this.
40 years ago, Fred Fiedler took Stogdill's advice and sailed from the Isle of Traits through the Isle of Behavior and landed in the Isle of Situation, founding its first Contingency Colony, called LPC. LPC is Least Preferred Co-worker, and as the theory goes, how a leader perceives their LPC is the whole show. The situation was a scene with tasks and followers, in which the leader (as agent) did perform.
Think of a person with whom you have had difficulty working, someone with whom you have had the most difficulty working. Rate this person on a number of eight-point scales. Given your LPC score, describe the nature of situational control in which you will be most effective as a leader.
in Table One we have Fiedler's formulae. Leaders have two primary motivations (that do not change), to be TASK MOTIVATED or RELATION MOTIVATED. The TASK-MOTIVATED leader (have low LPC scores) focuses on details and will be tough and autocratic to get any failing subordinates to just get the task done. Their self-esteem comes form completing tasks. They are only considerate when tasks are going well. RELATION-MOTIVATED leaders (have high LPC scores) get bored with details and focus instead on pleasing others, getting loyalty, and being accepting. Their self-esteem comes from interpersonal relationships.
These leaderly types are more or less effective, depending upon three Sit Con (Situation Control) variables:
- LMR - Leader-member relations can be good or bad. The group can be cohesive and supportive to the leader or divided and unsupportive.
- TS - Task Structure can be high or low. In high TS there is clarity of task, clear goals, clear procedures, and few pathways to get to the goal, and outcomes are easy to measure. In low TS, goals, procedures, paths, solutions, outcome-criteria are all unclear.
- PP - Position Power can be low or high. In high PP, leaders have official power and influence over hiring, firing, rewarding and punishing subordinates. In low PP, all influence and power is informal.
Table One: Fiedler’s Contingency Model
Sit Con (Situation Control)
High Sit Con
Moderate Sit Con
Low Sit Con
LMR – Leader-member relations
TS – Task structure
PP – Position power
TASK MOTIVATED BEHAVIOR LEADER IS BEST FIT TO SITUATION I, II & III
RELATIONSHIP MOTIVATED BEHAVIOR
LEADER IS BEST FIT TO SITUATION IV, V & VI
TASK MOTIVATED BEHAVIOR LEADER IS BEST FIT TO SITUATION VII & VIII
FORMULA: LMR+TS+PP equals Sit Con
In High Sit Con situations, the Task-Motivated (low LPC) leaders are effective, while the Relation-Motivated ones are not. The Low LPC feels at ease with High Sit Con since the task is getting done there are no threats to self esteem and this leader relaxes to take care of details and can actually be considerate (recall Ohio State). The High LPC (Relation-Leader) in a High Sit Con situation feels bored; no one needs the leader when the group is cohesive, the task is clear, and there are no obstacles for the leader to remove. the Hi LPC leader gets into trouble by trying to be needed; they interfere with group task performance to try to demonstrate their leadership must be needed. They end up initiating structure (Recall Ohio State), when they should leave well enough alone.
In Moderate Sit Con situations, the Low LPC (Task Master) feels threatened by the ambiguity in the task, or by lack of group support or unclear official power. The task master turns autocrat and can kill off a group's creative search for solutions in unclear tasks. No tolerance for ambiguity. The High LPC (Relations Master) turns to participative and interpersonal management skills well suited for the relational conflicts or unstable task.
In Low Sit Con situations, the Low LPC (Task-Motivated) leader manages the chaos that is everywhere apparent and initiates more structure, more group control, and stronger position power. The Task leader needs to see tasks completed, above all else, and pushes hard using an autocratic style of decision making. This leader is not worried about how the group feels. The High LPC (Relation) leader sees the Low Sit Con as a nightmare of chaos. They can not reconcile a group that refuses to be cohesive, tasks that are completely ambiguous, and react by withdrawing, which is said to cause even worse performance by their laissez faire abandonment.
What is the Story Fiedler Tells? Fiedler moved away from the Great Man, heroic trait theories of Carle and combined the Behavioral theory (Ohio State initiating structure vs. consideration) with the Bureaucratic theory of Weber and the Structural theory of Woodward to create his contingency model. See- Fiedler's Genealogy of his Leadership Theory.
There are some specific problems with contingency theory.
- What does LPC really measure? The scale lacks face validity, but it is short and easy to administer to classes and trainees so it has manifested much data.
- Predictability is in the direction of the model in Table One, but not always stable.
- The model assumes that leader behavior does not change (except in narrow band width). The leader's self-esteem motivation (Task or Relation) is thought to be stable. There are no intersecting styles.
The Path-Goal began with two leader behavior options (from Ohio State behavior leader model: directive (initiating structure) or supportive (consideration). It was later expanded to include (McClelland's) achievement orientation, and participation (House and Mitchell, 1974).
Table Two: Path Goal Situation Model
Leadership Behavior Options:
Formal Authority System
Primary Work Group
Expectance that effort leads to performance
Instrumentality that performance is path to valued rewards
3. Achievement Oriented
Directive - When task is unstructured, complex or novel or subordinates lack skills, then be the directive leader because they need your instruction and you to remove any obstacles in their path.
Supportive - When task is unambiguous, boring or stressful, be this leader to increase satisfaction of your subordinates.
Achievement Oriented - When task is unstructured, you can be achievement-oriented by challenging followers so as to increase their self-confidence and satisfaction.
Participative - When task is unstructured then your style is to call for participation.
House, B. (1996) "Path-Goal Theory of Leadership: Lessons, Legacy, and Reformulated Theory", Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3, 323-352.
Vroom and Yetton decided that there must be more than three sides to a leadership box. They decided that Leaders have Acts (Styles) that they use in various situations. If you are keeping count, that gives us Agent (leader), Scene (situation), with Purpose (motivations), and now Acts (decision making styles). That is at least a four-sided box (still very odd as boxes go).
Decision Making Styles:
1. Autocratic - Consult no one, decide alone.
- AI - Leader makes decision and does not seek information
- AII - Leader makes decision but asks specific info form subordinates.
2. Consultative -
- CI - Leader makes decision, but asks specific info from each group member
- CII - Leader decides with considerable group input and asks info from whole group.
3. Group - Democratic group decision
- GI - Leader and one other person from group do mutual info exchange and decide.
- GII - Group decides with input from leader and a consensus is reached.
- DI - Other person analyzes problem and makes the decision.
Contingency Factors in the Normative Decision Model
- QR Quality requirement - How important is the technical quality of this decision?
- CR Commitment requirement - How important is subordinate commitment to the decision?
- LI Leader information - Do you have sufficient info to make a high-quality decision?
- ST Structure of the problem - Is the problem well structured?
- CP Commitment probability - If you were to make the decision by yourself, is it reasonably certain that your subordinates) would be committed to the decision?
- GC Goal Congruence - Do subordinates share the organizational goals to be attained in solving this problem?
- CO Employee Conflict - Is conflict among subordinates over preferred solutions likely?
- SI Subordinate Information - Do subordinates have sufficient info to make a high-quality decision?
The eight questions are set into a decision tree with more branches than I care to display. At the end of all the branching, you can determine if you are to behave as AI, AII, CI, CII, G1, GII, or D1.
SITUATION LEADERSHIP IN TEAMS
The PSL2 Problem Phases, Solve & Save, & Learn & Lead method (adapted Boje, 1980). There is a study guide at PSL2
PSL2 stands for PROCESS AND PHASES, SOLVING AND SAVING, LEARNING AND LEADING.
Professor Mark Sandberg of Rider College taught me the fundamentals of PSL2 while I was his student in early 1970s. I went on to write a book chapter in 1977[i] and reprinted it in Readings in Managerial Psychology (Leavitt, Pondy & Boje, 1980). I combine research on problem solving process leadership strategies that seem contingent on situational factors such as available time, hidden conflicts in the flock, and commitment needed (Boje & Murningham, 1982; Boje, 2000). I developed the model to train buffalo herds to fly like geese (or camels to be horses) [Belasco & Stayer, 1993]. Since then PSL2 has been used by thousands of MBA students who took it into the corporate world. Every so often I run into consultants who built their practice on it.
PSL2 Problem Solving Phases (See Table One)
PSL2 Table One presents the five problem solving phases, and highlights (in yellow) the seven questions an effective team of Geese must answer to know they are on course.
PSL2 Problem Phases, Solve & Save, & Learn & Lead (adapted Boje, 1980)[i]
Phase I - PROBLEM ID - To ID a problem is to explore the problem, first, to write it out in a single sentence, and insure every team member understands the problem. There are eight critical thinking questions to ask. Three first three happen in Phase One, Problem ID. In Problem ID, the first question is asked:
Q1: "Is problem appropriate for Geese action?" Many untrained teams try to solve problems that are Buffalo business. In phase one, there is a second question,
Q2: "Is it a problem or a symptom?" Untrained geese get lost trying to resolve symptoms, instead of finding the underlying root causal problem (See SEAM site).
Q3 "Can problem be decomposed?" Decomposing allows the team to work on one sub-problem, take it through all five phases, then come back and work on the next chunk.
Phase II - SOLUTION GENERATION - There are three critical thinking questions for flying geese in Phase II.
Q4 "Is creativity or accuracy more relevant?" Teams get stuck in a rut, using the same solution generation process over and over without looking at the situation. Some solutions require accuracy (generate three alternatives, even split into sub-groups to work them out and come back and share). Other solution lists are creativity problems and the brainstorming rules apply (See brainstorming rules[ii]).
Q5: "Should team work together (as Geese) or as individuals?" Untrained teams allow a few squawking gooses to use up all the air time. There is no sharing of ideas and solutions by the flock, and the result is a poor quality discussion, weak alternatives, and no commitment. When air time is being respected then fine, work together. Research shows that individuals working alone to generate ideas, then combining them round robin generates more and better solutions. If you must work as a flock, then decide how to lead this process.
Q6: "Is Directive or Supportive process leadership needed?" Working as a flock, the geese sometimes need a lead goose who is supportive and other times the lead goose must be directive.
A supportive style of leading means to move out of the lead goose role, and fly with the flock. Use active listening skills and use silence to solicit more alternatives. Throw your ideas up on the list along with everyone else's.
For a directive style, limit evaluative comments from the flock. remind them of the rule, "save evaluation for the evaluation phase." Keep control of the wall pad or flip chart to work up the list with the flock. Manage the tempo (e.g. in brainstorming get as many ideas up on the chart as quickly as possible). Confront people who get into "hard sell" or "lend me your ear" games. Managing air time means being a directive lead goose.
Phase III - EVALUATION - There are two steps in the evaluation phase. You promised to allow the flock to get critical, real, and skeptical. Keep your promise here.
STEP 1 - "List Main Solution Strategies and Clarify each one for understanding." If you have done the accuracy method in Phase II, then you only have two or three options that were carefully thought out. Discuss them for clarity. If you come to Phase III from an enthusiastic brainstorming session, you may have a hundred ideas. Take time to sort them into types, collapse similar ones together. However, postpone the the selling and pros and cons till step 2. In accuracy and creative method you can lead the flock to greater heights by keeping a good record of the solutions.
STEP 2 - "Discuss (and list) pros & cons for each strategy." List on the flip chart. Write each solution option down, and under it write "+" and list each plus. Then write "-" and list each con.
In both steps you will need to confront "Love me, love my dog" and "Groupthink" games.
Phase IV - DECISION - Train the flock to be flexible in its flight patterns and use different decision processes for various situation contingencies (consider time, energy, conflict history, coalitions, and risk).
Q7: "Which Decision Option" - When is it best to have the Buffalo decide, do a consensus process, just rank order (or vote) to make a decision, or recognize a "Turkey" (symptom) and start over again in Phase I.
Buffalo Decides when:
Task is trivial to interest of the flock or Buffalo has an obvious preference.
The authority to make the decision rests outside the group; when flock has vested interest.
Issue is highly emotional and talking it out will only divide the flock.
Flock does not have requisite knowledge or background to decide or act.
Consensus by Flock when:
It is a complex task with high rate of information to exchange and a critical discussion of the issues is needed.
A simplistic vote will only disguise conflicts and disagreements it is now time to resolve.
Flock members need to take responsibility and support the implementation decisions.
A high-quality discussion and decision needed to copy with possible risky consequences.
Rank Order or Voting when:
Issue where tension and disagreement is likely to so divide the flock that pushing for consensus is dysfunctional; where obtaining a group sanction is preferable to a Buffalo-only decision.
There is no available time to allow for the arguments and conflict to be fully developed and resolved (there is price to pay for haste: flock will use next decision to act out any unresolved conflicts).
Phase V - IMPLEMENTATION - Implementation planning involves the flock in developing an action plan for the chosen alternative. Responsibilities get assigned to group members, schedules are made, and resources to get the job done are inventoried and requested. In short, don't leave the meeting with out an action plan and a list of which goose is going to do what when.
Q8: "Will if Fly?" - Before you leave the meeting, reality check the solution, process, and action plan.
If it still flies then try a process such as "moment by moment virtual reality prediction test" (See footnote[iii]). This is where you lead the flock through a theatrical exercise. Imagine each scene and act out the implementation of the solution. Act out who does what, the resources you will use, time you will take, and what it will look like when if flies.
If you can not pass a reality check, then go back to Problem ID phase One. No harm done in finding out you were working on the symptom of some hidden problem. It will save you money, time, and energy in the long run.
PSL2 Process Leader Roles
Supportive - Keep discussion free and open; Sit back or take role of goose in the team
Directive - Control and focus the content discussion; Be the lead goose for content. If you are vested in the content, you may want to let some other goose lead the process.
Recorder - Until you know what you are doing, do not delegate this role. The recorder is the one who is controlling the process on the flip chart, but this is no secretarial role. Every PSL2 team process has a recorder; someone who writes out the problem statement on flip chart, lists each and every idea (Saving Ideas is important), lists any pros and cons, lists all solutions, and list implementation action plans and notes who will do what when.
Game Playing Conflict and Confrontation - This is every goose's role in the team, but the lead goose, the one with the pen in hand, ends up doing much of the confronting, especially in untrained flocks.
Leading the problem solving phases, and knowing what phase your flock is in, is only part of the leadership task. The other issue is confronting games that groups and individuals act out in the flock meetings. Eric Berne defines a game as "an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome" (p. 48). As a transaction leader, a group process leader (or facilitator) needs to be able to confront recurring games. Flocks get into scripts, like repeated scenes in a movie. The same scene gets acted out over and over, until the game gets confronted, and the issue resolved. Process leaders manage the content, problem solving phases, and the conflict management levels. It helps when all the geese are trained and know how to spot the games.
Boje, D. M. (1980) "Making a Horse Out of a Camel: A Contingency Model for Managing the Problem Solving Process in Groups." In H. Leavitt, L. Pondy & D. Boje (Eds), Readings in Managerial Psychology. IL: University of Chicago Press, 445-470.
Boje, D. M. & Murningham, J.K., (1982) "Group Confidence Pressures in Interactive Decisions," Management Science, 28, 10, pp. 1187-1196, Oct. This is a research study contrasting Nominal Group, Delphi, and Laissez faire group processes on accuracy problems.
For more on PSL2
The George Graen Vertical Dyad Linkage Theory -- aka LMX model. Now we look at agents and counter-agents, at the leader-follower dyads to assess purpose (motive) and scene (situation).
The contingency here is the emergence of in versus out group and how the leader responds differently to each situation (sub-group). Graen and his colleagues observed that leaders develop different relationships with each member of their work group. Leader forms a vertical dyad with each follower. And as a High quality relationship develops with some members, a feeling is being part of "in-group" evolves from a series of exchange relationships. The in group has more responsibility, decision influence, higher satisfaction and access to valuable resources. A Low quality LMX relationship occurs when members feel they are in the "out-group".
Leaders use a more participative/consultative style with in-group members, and a more directive style with out-group members.
In and Out groups evolve across three phases.
- Phase 1: Role-taking as leaders and members come to understand how the other views and desires respect.
- Phase 2: Role-making is the trust that develops in order for leaders and members to further extend the relationship and influence over each other's attitudes and behaviors
- Phase 3: Role-routinization of the social exchange pattern becomes routine
For More -
Graen, G., Novak, M. A., and Sommerkamp, P. (1982) "The Effects of LeaderMember Exchange and Job Design on Productivity and Satisfaction: Testing a Dual Attachment Model", Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance, August, 109131.
Graen, G. B., & Uhl-Bien, M. (1995). Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective: Special Issue: Leadership: The multiple-level approaches (Part 1). Leadership Quarterly, 6, 219-247.
This is the very famous but totally invalid Blake and Mouton, Managerial Grid. It is taught everywhere, and researched no where. The two dimensions are appropriated from the old Oho State two behavior-style theory of leadership. It is a retreat to a two sided box: situation (task or people) and agent (their orientation to task or people). They do add a third side, the ACT (telling, selling, participating or delegating).
The Managerial Grid forms the basis for Hershey and Blanchard (1977)- model of Situational Leadership. The four leaderly choices are to tell, sell, participate, or delegate depending upon the High and Low combinations of relationship (supportive or considerate concern for people) or task (initiating structure or directive concern for production). There are four acts, leaders (agents) chose depending upon the situation (scene):
high task, low relationship telling is every leader's choice. high task, high relationship requires selling. low task, high relationship calls for participating low task and low relationship needs leader to be delegating
Again, while this is a favorite model for trainers it appears to have not been subjected to much research. Other problems include no task structure variables. The concept of follower maturity is not well defined. The model lacks any empirical support. It is considered by most scholars as the weakest contingency model. Still it lives on and on.
Finally, someone decides that besides Agents, Scene, Act, and Purpose , we must like at Agency. Substitutes for leadership (Kerr & Jermier, 1978) asks why do we need leaders anyway? If certain situational criteria are met such we may not need them at all. The writers begin with the old Ohio State model of Consideration and Initiating Structure, and look at follower characteristics, task characterizations, and organizational characteristics, that can act as substitutes or neutralizers.
Substitutes - reduce the need for leaders (be they considerate or initiating of structure).
Neutralizers- counteract leadership behavior and make it difficult for leaders to be effective.
Table 3: Substitutes and Neutralizers of Leadership
CHARACTERISTICS CONSIDERATION STRUCTURING Follower
- Experience and Training
- Lack of value for goals
- Direct feedback fro task
- Cohesive team
- Leader's lack of power
- Standardization and formalization
- Organizational rigidity
- Physical distance between leaders and followers
Adapted from Kerr & Jermier (1978).
If the followers are experienced and professional and the task is clear with good feedback, and the team is cohesive then who needs a leader? The subordinates can initiate their own structure and be considerate to one another. The leader can lack the power to deliver outcomes or be in such a rigid corporate culture that they have no latitude in being considerate or initiating anyway.
There is also good application of the model in determining when self-managing teams will work.
The Substitutes model been tested widely and studies continue. The results have been supportive. Howell et al (1990); (also Howell, 1997) argue that it is difficult for the leader to be effective when many neutralizers in Table 3 are present.
For more, see
Kerr, S. & J. M. Jermier (1978) "Substitutes for leadership: their meaning and measurement." Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 22: 395-403.
Howell, J. P. (1997) "'Substitutes for leadership: Their meaning and measurement.' - an historical assessment." Leadership Quarterly 8(2): 113-116.
In the big Scene, there are country (and within country) differences that are important. This ten-year study is still in progress, having begun in October 1993 by Robert House and others. It involves a sample of over 15,000 leaders from 779 organizations in 62 cultures around the globe. It enlists the help of 170 co-investigators.
For More See
Likert - Effective leaders were thought to be those who adapted behavior to fit the expectations, values, and interpersonal skills (cultural background) of the group.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1956) Existential Critique of Situation Leadership using three temporality dimensions
One way out of the Leadership Box, is to focus on its Existential Crisis. Jean-Paul Sartre (1956) presents a temporality theory of Being and Nothingness which can be used to enrich the Situation approaches to leadership. The basic issues is that while Fred Fiedler says the leader does not change his or her stripes, all the other situation models posit that the leader does (perhaps Substitutes is somewhere between).
The leader who changes leader behavior to fit a conception of the situation is both being and nothingness. The leader sacrifices their ensemble character, they consciously adjust style, seeking to enact a set of behaviors consistent with the reflected situation. Nothingness is the being the leader is not being, and the leader is being what the leader can not be to be successful.
This dilemmas sets off three ekstatic dimensions of temporality and nihilation (Sartre 1956: 137).
- To not-be what the leader is being
- To be what the leader is not being
- To be what the leader is not being and to not-be what the leader is being.
The leader nihilates the Present style of being to not-be what the leader is being and the to be what the leader is not being. The leader tries to be what the leader is not. The leader takes flight from their style, to become some other character, yet they are themselves being and not being. The three ekstatic nihilations represent the changes in consciousness of behavior and situation, as the leader lets one character pass away to become what is presently nothingness, a style to be enacted.
The leader reflects upon the situation in a pause of self-reflection chooses to transcend one character for another. The cessation of one leaderly character, puts the leader into some doubt; the character they are being is not sufficient to the situation. The leader consciously reflects upon the future possibilities of their character and envisions nihilation.
Another way to Think Out of the Box is for us to apply theatre to situation leadership. One of my favorite approaches is Kenneth Burk's Pentad, which I have modified to a Hexad (See Boje, 2002a). We have been building up to this point in the study guide; We moved from two to three and four sided boxes of leadership. Now we go to six.
1. Act – What was done? Names what took place, in thought or deed (sequence of actions). What did the leader do? Acts are behaviors by a a leader. The "basic unit of action" is defined as "the human body in conscious or purposive motion" (Burke, 1945: 14).
2. Scene – When or where it was done? Scene is the Situation of the leader's act. scene contains actions (and agents). Background of the act, the situation in which it occurred; physical, geographic and cultural environment or setting in which the act or action takes place. Acts can dramatically affect scene and vice versa; scenes can motivate or influence characters to take action (e.g. crisis on a battlefield versus reunion after give different motivation or a more comic Frame).
3. Agent - Who did it? What actor or kind of person (agent) performed the act? The Actor’s identity and role- played out in terms of the action. Non-human elements can be agents, e.g. the tornado tore up the town.
In Situation leadership, the leader is the agent; in Substitutes for Leadership, the substitutes are agents. "The term agent embraces ... all words general or specific for person, actor, character, individual, hero, villain, father, doctor, engineer, but also any words, moral or functional, for patient, and words for the motivational properties or agents, such as, 'drives,' 'instincts,' 'states of mind'... 'super-ego,' ... 'generalized I'" (Burke, 1945: 20).
4. Agency – How it was done? The instruments (means) agents (i.e. leaders) used; how characters initiate and accomplish action. Or characters can claim there are instruments, tools of those they report to in the chain of command. Agency can be personal leadership or by way of substitutes.
5. Purpose – Why? Intended effect or outcomes of the action. What motivates the leader to act and the counter-agents (followers) to follow?
6. Frame - Dialectic between "Frames of Acceptance" and "Frames of Rejection."
The frame of situation leadership is narrow, down to the level of the small group, type of technology, the characteristics of followers (counter-agents), etc. For Burke, Frames are grander, more about the paradigm or grand narrative in which something happens.
Leaders (agents) perform their behaviors (acts) inside a situation (scene), and the accomplishment of leadership takes into account the means (agency) and the ends (purpose), and this all happens within a social and historical Frame. The six sides are not in isolation, they are part of an interdependent and dialectic system. The rules of the leadership game are governed by ratios.
Ratios - Burke proposes we look to two ratios (act-scene and scene-agent). "A ratio is a formula indicating a transition from one term to another" (Burke, 1945: 262). This question for Burke is which of the six element mostly defines the Situation? I have added a few to Burke's original listing (1945: 15). The ratios says Burke (1945: 15) "are ratios of determination." The six elements work together as a embedded system or Grammar. For example act and agent require scenes that "contain them. Scene-act and scene-agent ratios position leadership behavior (acts by agents) in a scene. The pairs of elements form dialectics and the leadership analysis is to figure out which term (dialectical counterpart) dominates in a situation.
- Scene-Act Ratio - Is behavior (act) or situation (scene) more important? Leaders can engage in acts than transform the scene more to their purpose. The scene inspires new acts. Some scenes call for participative acts; others call for directive, even authoritarian acts. Leaders can change the nature of the scene to be in keeping with preferred acts. Situation Leadership sees the scene as the motive force behind acts of leadership. Behaviorists look to the acts to dominate over the scene. Leaders can strategically modify the arrangement of the scene in such a way it will contain the quality they want to enact. Yet, Burke makes it clear that there are many other, often more important ratios (dialectic counterparts).
- Scene-Agent Ratio - Is the situation (scene) or the leader (agent) more important? Let's say it is the scene: "Thus, a mode of thought in keeping with the scene-agent ratio would situate in the scene certain potentialities that were said to be actualized in the agent" (Burke, 1945: 262). The office of the President (the scene) affects the agent (President) who occupies it. Scenes can change over time, making different agency, purpose, and acts more appropriate. Or, let's say we assume its the agent; the hero, for example, has a role to play in the scene: to bring back the Holy Grail. The following statement by Burke (1945: 18) sounds much like substitutes for leadership: "One may place 'fools' in 'wise situations,' so that in their acts they are 'wiser than they know.'" A historical situation (scene) can "bring to the fore... certain kinds of agents (with their appropriate actions) rather than others" (Burke, 1945: 19). One scene may call bureaucratic leaders as the appropriate voice, another may call a more heroic voice.; yet another can call a leader that listens to other voices. Certain scenes amplify the leader's trait or character.
- Scene-Agency Ratio - Changes in the means (agency) such as computers instead of calculators, internet instead of telegraph are now determinant of scenes.
- Scene-Purpose Ratio - Changes in the scene have a motive (purpose) impact upon scenes. Changes in motives can affect the scene. Morale can become an aspect of the situation.
- Act-Purpose Ratio - Certain acts may be compatible or incompatible with particular motives (purpose).
- Act-Agent Ratio - Suggests a more sequential relationship that the purely positional (act-scene or scene-agent) ratios. The character traits of a leader (good or bad, wise or shallow) can rule over the act. The agent's acts are in keeping with their nature (character) as an agent.Where do you (as observer) lodge responsibility, with the act or with the agent of the act? We could, for example, situate motives (purpose) for an act (behavior) in the agent (leader) through our attributions. People act as agents for democratic or bureaucratic organizations, making their acts democratic or bureaucratic. The act-agent ratio can fit the scene or tug at its dedges (Burke, 1945: 20).
- Act-Agency Ratio - Do you lodge responsibility for an act with the act or with the means (resources) that are set in motion? A person's location in a hierarchy can modify a leader's character, so he or she acts differently. Democratic acts (behaviors) are thought by some to derive from agents (leaders, who are democratic agents/leaders).
- Agent-Purpose - Agents act heroic to prove their patriotic motives (purpose).
- Frame-Scene - When street protestors resisted the WTO in Seattle in 1999, there is a Frame of a global economy affecting the local street theatre (local scene). The protestors indict the global Frame through local scenes of street theatre. In doing so, they hope to stretch the global Frame, by making spectators to their theatre scenes more conscious consumers.
- Frame-Act Ratio - Political economy structures (Frames) affect the manifestation of local acts (behaviors). We would credit Marxism and Capitalism as frames that determine different acts of worker involvement and resistance.
- Frame-Agency - The political economy has many agencies. A Marxist view is the material aspects of production set in motion various agencies, capital and labor. Marx and Lenin's Manifesto saw the working class as the agency for the coming revolution. Yet the revolution did not happen; rather the Frame got stretched quite another direction.
- Frame-Purpose - Our motives are situated in political and historical projects. A dialectical materialist sees purpose in the economic and material conditions.
Frame stretches the leadership box. Adding more than just situation and leader (scene and agent) stretches the box, as when we look to Frame, Purpose, Agency, and Act. The Hexad provides a more precise analysis of the leadership theatrics that is ubiquitous. See What is situation?
- Progress Myth - Situationists seem to invent situation as the natural progress of leadership science. Will it ever get beyond a three-sided box? Yet the situation was stresses as far back as Plato. And Aristotle saw six elements to the Poetics of leadership (350 BCE). There are also Frames that assume an Invisible Hand of God or Free Market Competition (or both hands) steers economies toward progress through human applications of science and technology (division of labor, automation, Biotech). Marxist progress is through the exploited class revolting against the class of oppressors. Other Frames resist the very idea of Progress as inevitable; perhaps we get worse instead of better as a society which does consume more than its fair share of resources.
- Leaderless Theory - With the rise of situation studies, attempts to validate the hero theory ceased. Historical studies of great leaders were discarded as noble fiction. An alternative explanation is that there are failures in Situation measuring instruments. Or perhaps the box is too small when the scene of leadership is just the task and the small group; hwy not extend leadership to Frames that are world-changing?
- Stereotypes -The situations have become stereotypes. Yes, there are country differences, but everyone from a country does not behave the same.
- Determinism - The Situation theory is too tightly coupled. The situation determines appropriate styles of leadership. This ignores the ability of leader to modify situations. It also (except for Burke) ignores Frame and Purpose. Even the Hexad seems deterministic, sometimes mechanical.
- Cause and Effect - There is no more evidence that great situational forces rule men than there is evidence that great men rule these forces (Jennings, 1960: 217). When does situation or scene, act or agency rule?