Journal of Nursing Education

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Models in Administration and the Dean's Exercise of Power and Leadership

Caroline H Hollshwandner, RN, PhD

Abstract

Introduction

The impact a dean may have on the parent institution and the functioning of the respective unit depends in large measure on a clear comprehension of the organizational dynamics operative within the parent institution. This knowledge allows for choices in important and longrange decisions, and for the structuring of effective communication within the entire organization. Although the immediate interactions with members at all levels is important, it is in the long-range decisions that the effects of leadership and its consequent power are most significant.

This brief summarizes the ideas encompassed in a paper which attempts to examine several models and to determine how a particular model may hinder or help the dean to fulfill the administrative role.

Classification and Characteristics of Models

Miles (1975) indicates three basic forms of organizational designs which he identifies as: 1. traditional, which is essentially pyramidal in structure implying that final decisions are made at the top; 2. human relations, which differs from the traditional model with respect to acknowledging or emphasizing the effect of interpersonal behaviors among individuals; and recognizing that the interaction among individuals has a direct effect on the group performance; 3. human resources model, which is based on the concept that people do not normally realize their full potential of self-destruction and self-control in jobs, and that the manager must develop an atmosphere which encourages decision making at all levels.

The emphasis on self-fulfillment is the key to the human resources model which sets it apart from the human relations model.

Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory is an example of the human resources model.

It is a two-factor theory based upon the concept of good and bad feelings labeled as satisfiers, or motivators, and dissatisfiers, or hygiene factors, respectively (Albers, 1974).

Communication

The management theory which imparts to the structure its particular form will determine the communication system that exists within an organization. If communication is recognized as a process in which the message to be imparted acts as a link between the sender and the recipient, its importance as a persuasively powerful tool can be readily understood (Culbert & Conrad, 1970). The degree to which the art is mastered enhances the sender's ability to influence other persons' actions, attitudes and values (Appelbaum, 1974).

This complex dynamic process is affected by the characteristics of both sender and authence. As the situation changes, the flow and effectiveness of communication vacillate; therefore, the group structure becomes important and the role of the leader within that structure is of utmost importance.

A major danger in the traditional model is the centralization of power to the extent that the attitude of the leader is condescending. This leads to dissatisfaction among the subordinates, low self-esteem and can readily become a subversive element. A spirit of cooperation is lacking; hence, the functioning of the group becomes task-oriented with little regard for the underlying objectives.

In the human relations model, the social environment becomes a very important factor because the movement toward team effort is an important component. The atmosphere must be relaxed and a certain kind of camaraderie can develop. Members of the team or unit are more supportive to each other and recognize the leader as a member of the group with special functions. The atmosphere creates a motivational factor which ultimately results in the accomplishment of tasks readily and enthusiastically. Perhaps the most potent force for successful performance is the satisfaction derived from discovering the latent abilities of the individual.

The interdependence which develops establishes a communication environment which is open, free and accepting. Hence, the individual's value to the group effort is enhanced and underscores…

Introduction

The impact a dean may have on the parent institution and the functioning of the respective unit depends in large measure on a clear comprehension of the organizational dynamics operative within the parent institution. This knowledge allows for choices in important and longrange decisions, and for the structuring of effective communication within the entire organization. Although the immediate interactions with members at all levels is important, it is in the long-range decisions that the effects of leadership and its consequent power are most significant.

This brief summarizes the ideas encompassed in a paper which attempts to examine several models and to determine how a particular model may hinder or help the dean to fulfill the administrative role.

Classification and Characteristics of Models

Miles (1975) indicates three basic forms of organizational designs which he identifies as: 1. traditional, which is essentially pyramidal in structure implying that final decisions are made at the top; 2. human relations, which differs from the traditional model with respect to acknowledging or emphasizing the effect of interpersonal behaviors among individuals; and recognizing that the interaction among individuals has a direct effect on the group performance; 3. human resources model, which is based on the concept that people do not normally realize their full potential of self-destruction and self-control in jobs, and that the manager must develop an atmosphere which encourages decision making at all levels.

The emphasis on self-fulfillment is the key to the human resources model which sets it apart from the human relations model.

Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory is an example of the human resources model.

It is a two-factor theory based upon the concept of good and bad feelings labeled as satisfiers, or motivators, and dissatisfiers, or hygiene factors, respectively (Albers, 1974).

Communication

The management theory which imparts to the structure its particular form will determine the communication system that exists within an organization. If communication is recognized as a process in which the message to be imparted acts as a link between the sender and the recipient, its importance as a persuasively powerful tool can be readily understood (Culbert & Conrad, 1970). The degree to which the art is mastered enhances the sender's ability to influence other persons' actions, attitudes and values (Appelbaum, 1974).

This complex dynamic process is affected by the characteristics of both sender and authence. As the situation changes, the flow and effectiveness of communication vacillate; therefore, the group structure becomes important and the role of the leader within that structure is of utmost importance.

A major danger in the traditional model is the centralization of power to the extent that the attitude of the leader is condescending. This leads to dissatisfaction among the subordinates, low self-esteem and can readily become a subversive element. A spirit of cooperation is lacking; hence, the functioning of the group becomes task-oriented with little regard for the underlying objectives.

In the human relations model, the social environment becomes a very important factor because the movement toward team effort is an important component. The atmosphere must be relaxed and a certain kind of camaraderie can develop. Members of the team or unit are more supportive to each other and recognize the leader as a member of the group with special functions. The atmosphere creates a motivational factor which ultimately results in the accomplishment of tasks readily and enthusiastically. Perhaps the most potent force for successful performance is the satisfaction derived from discovering the latent abilities of the individual.

The interdependence which develops establishes a communication environment which is open, free and accepting. Hence, the individual's value to the group effort is enhanced and underscores the worth of each contribution to the total effort.

Power, among its many definitions, is defined by Webster as "the possession of control, authority, or influence over others."

Two interrelated constituents integral to power, according to MacGregor Bums (1978), are motive and resource. He views leadership as a "special form of power:" hence "to understand the nature of leadership requires understanding of the essence of power."

Stogdill (1974) recognizes major sources of power as expertness, legitimation, coercion, reward, and reference; hence, the person who is identified as an expert readily gains agreement from a group. This is also true of the individual whose role coincides with the expectations of the group, and who is elected to a position rather than the one who acquires position by force or emergence.

In a power situation, the holder of power has the advantage; yet, the group is able to disperse or weaken that power through the use of countermeasures. Peers interacting with influential group members, whose values and goals differ from those of the leader, can infringe on the extent of power held by the leader. In the traditional model, the sphere of influence of the leader permeates the entire group. If this model is followed implicitly, the ability of a counteracting force to develop within the group is minimal. Yet, it is precisely this type of climate which nurtures counterf orces, particularly if job dissatisfaction reaches a critical low (Stogdill, 1974).

With task accomplishment as the exclusive goal, this type model is most effective; however, if the task is related to personal interactions, even peripherally, the traditional model will impede success of the endeavor.

The human relations model relieves the leader of very little power. The manner in which this power is expressed or realized becomes a function of the degree of acceptance of the leader by the group. As the leader's acceptance by the group improves, the leader is more closely associated with the group. This can be disadvantageous when job performance of any member becomes unsatisfactory because the leader may be held equally responsible.

The human resources model allows the leader to develop a different kind of power which ultimately enhances the sphere of influence. This will have far-reaching effects by influencing the personal life and achievements of each member of the group, a most valuable outcome.

Leadership

Any organization, however modest, is comprised of diverse personalities and common goals. To mesh these contrary concepts, competent leadership is required. Leadership has many definitions. Stogdill (1974) sees it as a "process of influencing group activities toward goal setting and goal achievement."

Despite its many definitions, Bums (1978) reflects that "leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena of earth." According to him, in the classical and middle ages, this problem did not exist. During those times, concepts of leadership were carefully examined and recognized. Today, despite a vast reservoir of data and theories, no central concept of leadership is recognized.

Leadership effectiveness in the traditional model is reserved for the few, particularly because the nature of the relationship between leader and group requires a personality that can function in an environment that is essentially isolationist. Group loyalty is not characteristic, and the major concern of the individual member is to function satisfactorily enough to reap the rewards of the effort.

The human relations model provides a closer relationship between leader and group. Although the manager is still responsible for the major portion of planning and controlling activities, the added dimension of concern for individual desires makes the leader more vulnerable to personal reactions from workers to the work situation.

With the human relations model, the leader's role becomes more complex, more demanding and more diversified. A higher level of performance results from the development of individual creative ability. This effects a greater degree of self-satisfaction and self-actualization which endears the leader to the group members and nurtures a spirit of identification to the group effort for all members. The need for closer interpersonal communication between worker and leader fosters a spirit of stability. Because the organizational unit becomes more self-directed and more flexible, the concept of change loses its threat and promotes the individual's adaptability.

Summary

As a result of the investigation into theories of leadership in today's society, it is probably safe to assume that any one of the models presented does not exist in pure form. Rather, the principles of one system predominate with a reflection of other systems becoming apparent in a given situation.

In an institution where governance can best be classified as following the traditional model, the ability of the dean to arrive at immediate decisions in the day-today activities or to institute minor changes promptly is seriously hampered. Emergency situations which tend to arise in a department of nursing, especially in conjunction with the practice component, become exceedingly stressful. Independent action is stifled and unless the chief officer is cognizant of the nature of nursing, the potential for a high degree of professionalism is thwarted.

The human relations model ameliorates some of these effects by promoting a degree of communication horizontally and by placing the immediate superior officer in a role which contributes to this communication process. The ingrethent that is missing is the free exchange vertically which often translates into lack of support from the higher echelon. The dean's position lacks credibility; hence, the sense of power is lacking and effective leadership suffers.

The human resources model best promotes a unified effort toward excellence in nursing for students and faculty alike by encouraging the continued development of all persons within the department.

The open communication fostered in this model permits an active peer and student evaluation system which encourages activity toward self-improvement and greater teaching and learning effectiveness.

Major shifts in policies and procedures mutually planned among administration, faculty and students create a climate of acceptance which allows for a smooth transition from the old to the new.

The dean's sense of timing and sensitivity to the interaction among individuals plays a leading role in determining the degree of the dean's power within the organization. The extent to which individuals are urged and assisted to realize their potential is a measure of effective leadership.

References

  • Albers, H. Principles of Management: A Modern Approach (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974, pp. 24-25, 503-504.
  • Appelbaum, R.L. et al. The Process of Group Communication. Chicago: Science Research, 1974, p. 244.
  • Burns, J. M. Leadership. New York: Harper and Row, 1978, pp. 2-5, 12, 18-19.
  • Culbert, CJ. & Conrad, R. How To Communicate and Succeed. New York: Vantage, 1970, pp. 1-8.
  • Miles, R.E. Theories of Management: Implications for Organizational Behavior and Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975, pp. 34-43, 100.
  • Stogdill, R. M. Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research. New York: Free Press, 1975, pp. 9, 10, 284, 291, 293.

10.3928/0148-4834-19830901-07

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