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The aim of this report is to provide an explanation to ‘Mimi Vasquez Hair and Beauty’ managers’ approach to leadership and go on to explore his relationship to his work group and how they have developed over time. It will first outline the methodology used to conduct this report and then go on to introduce the managers and workers and explain how their current work roles have developed over time. Subsequently, the report will provide an explanation to ‘Mimi Vasquez Hair and Beauty’ managers’ approach to leadership and go on to explore his relationship to his work group. To conclude the report, there will be a quick summary of what has already been mentioned and some limitations of the findings, methodology and related theories used in the report.
The beauty salon which was named after its manager is privately owned and located in Chiswick in West London. In addition, it has two other branches located in Ealing and Hammersmith, both also within the West London area and owned by the same manager. All three of the beauty salons are relatively small in size making satisfactory profits and located just off the high streets in quieter areas. The first branch was opened in 1999 in Chiswick and the others followed on 5 years later, the Hammersmith branch being the newest.
This report was conducted using both primary and secondary research. The primary research was collected directly from the manager and team members by interviewing them. By so doing, the research collected was new and wasn’t research that had already existed. Secondary research was collected through the use of books, the internet and articles and hence looking at existing data.
Findings and discussion
As the manager, Mimi Vasquez, supervises and manages the overall performance of his staff and the business. His current work role is to analyse and recommend developing strategies on how to improve the quality of their services e.g. more speed and efficiency in cutting hair and accuracy with mixing colours of hair dye. These two examples are some of Mimi’s main targets and he wishes to have met these goals by July 2011. Mimi also examines ways to achieve his business goals of maximising profits and acknowledges that compensations and rewards have worked well in the past as they motivate and encourage staff to work better: Every year he elects 2 people as the most improved and most enthusiastic team members and rewards them in the form of bonuses and HMV vouchers. His work role also involves instructing his team members and allocating them to different parts of the salon when the day gets busy
Moreover, this has played a great role in the development of Mimi’s leadership within the business. Yukl (2006, p5) defines leadership as-
Leadership is the process wherein an individual member of a group or organization influences the interpretation of events, the choice of objectives and strategies, the organization of work activities, the motivation of people to achieve the objectives, the maintenance of cooperative relationships, the development of skills and confidence by member, and the enlistment of support and cooperation from people outside the group or organisation.
Yukl’s definition very closely matches Mimi’s approach to leadership in the sense that it emphasizes the importance of ‘people skills’ and the social influence that leadership can have. One theory to provide evidence for this is the behaviour perspective. This theory claims that people become leaders because of what they do and this can be split into two different categories: task behaviour and relationship behaviour. Task behaviour places the main focus on the degree to which a leader emphasises productivity targets, goal accomplishments and maintaining standards.
These behaviours can also be called ‘production-centred’ and it can be seen in Mimi’s leadership style when he uses HMV vouchers to motivate his staff to work harder and faster. Mimi has also said that rewards gave his staff an incentive to work and this played a crucial part in keeping them happy and full of energy, even towards the end of the day. Furthermore, relationship behaviour focuses on manager’s actions that show concern for their staff and their welfare as opposed to behaviours that concentrate on completing tasks. Although this contrasts to task behaviour, this can also be seen in Mimi’s leadership approach in the sense that he aims to improve his staff’s skills and help them gain more confidence in their job role.
The controversy in defining leadership has enabled many different theories to be developed in an attempt to explain the meaning of a leader within a business or an organisation. Bratton (2010, p363) cited that ‘individuals who occupy leadership positions possess superior qualities or attributes compared with the traits possessed by non- leaders’. This view is known as the trait perspective and its’ theories such as the ‘great man theories’ focus mostly on positive characteristics such as stamina, intelligence and fluency in speech.
Research in 1974 by Stogdill showed that socioeconomic factors also played a great role for example, very few corporate leaders had fathers who held a low class position or who were paid quite poorly. Stogdill also found that intelligence and fluency in speech were very closely related to leadership and used these traits to differentiate leaders from followers. He then concluded that there were ‘specific patterns’ of traits that occurred in some people which gave them an advantage when seeking a leadership position. Shabina and Mario also described their manager to hold very positive characteristics such as friendly, talkative, enthusiastic and organised and wasn’t like the other staff members at ‘Mimi Vasquez hair and beauty’ in the sense that he was much more determined. This therefore justifies why Mimi is a leader.
In addition, research into ‘substitute’s for leadership’ claim that there should be a distinct difference between the leader and the followers in a business and there should be inflexible rules and formalized areas of responsibility in order to prevent the followers from being guided by their peers and replacing their existing leader. This would occur if the followers realized that their peers had the skills equivalent to their leader and they decided to follow them instead. Keith Grint (2005) also argues that successful leadership-
Is not a list of innate skills and competences, or how much charisma you have, or whether you have a vision or a strategy for achieving that vision, but whether you have a capacity to learn from your followers.
This again, provides evidence against the trait perspective stating that this is not what makes an effective leader.
The shared/super leadership theory
The founding of Mimi’s other branches, helped him gain experience which developed his role even further as he had to identify problems, make choices and provide alternatives actions to his initial plans. His role development throughout the years has been quite significant and his responsibilities have duplicated allowing him to improve his time management and organisation.
Mario and Shabina are two team members of the salon who were also interviewed. Mario is a professional hair stylist whose work role involves restyling and cutting clients’ hair, dying, permanent hair straightening, Brazilian hair blow drying etc. His work role is crucial to the business as he has qualities and skills that require a lot of training and experience in order to gain. Mario’s work role has developed over the years as his experience has allowed him to move up the ladder in regards to the styles and haircuts he can confidently perform. The number of clients he reserves on a daily basis has also increased over the past 6 years of working at the salon showing an improvement in his abilities.
He is now responsible for his own clients as before he would only deal with Mimi’s clients and help around. However, he is still in a lower position to Mimi and is usually responsible for making sure that Mimi’s clients are booked in for the dates and times they requested, making sure none of the time slots clash with one another. The Shared/super leadership theory suggests that excellent leaders are those who help their followers develop by acting as their teacher rather than keeping all of their knowledge to themselves. To add, Peter Senge(1990) also stated that ‘leaders are designers, stewards and teachers’ which supports the view. Mimi has constantly trained his team members, in particularly Mario and this also adds towards the statement that Mimi is an effective leadership.
Fiedler’s leadership contingency theory
Shabina is the only beautician at ‘Mimi Vasquez Hair and Beauty’ and her role involves taking care of her own customers and making her own bookings as well as offering all of the services; waxing, laser hair removal, threading, massages etc. Her role doesn’t involve anything to do with hair, and she works in her own room downstairs. However, Mimi is her manager also and so it is her responsibility to follow all of his guidelines and instructions. Her role has developed over the past 3 years as she first started out as an assistant, cleaning around and helping the beautician. She then worked her way up by gaining experience and qualifications and developed her role into a full-time professional beautician.
Fiedler’s leadership contingency theory proposes that the effectiveness of the leader depends on whether the leadership style is matched with the followers and the environment. It is based on 3 main assumptions: 1) leader-member relations, which relate to whether the leader receives support, respect and trust of the followers; 2) task structure, which relates to how structured the tasks performed by followers are; 3) position power, which relates to the formal authority that the leader can exert through the use of punishment and rewards. This theory can explain Mimi’s leadership style as it explains why Mimi’s leadership is effective and hence how he has been able to successfully run the business for so many years. In relation to this theory, Mimi is placed to be known as a relationship-orientated leader and so it explains that his team members have been able to develop throughout the years because of his concern for them.
The situational leadership theory
Mimi’s relationship to his group is fairly hierarchical where he would force influence upon others to do something that they otherwise wouldn’t. This hair and beauty business is a good example as it shows how Mario takes responsibility for making bookings for both, his and Mimi’s clients. The group itself had developed over the years as they have slowly started to work as a team, helping each other and finishing each other’s jobs off when the salon gets busy. In 1999, manager Mimi’s Vasquez’s main roles were to simply open and close the salon, receive payments for the service provided and order raw materials such as; hair dye, scissors, wax etc. Now, with the growth of the business, all of the team members in the salon have developed their roles as they have had to cover for each other and enhance coordination skills.
The situational leadership model is where the leaders’ leadership style depends on the maturity of the followers; it can explain that why Mimi trusts his staff to look after his salon whilst he is in a different branch. The friendly nature of the business also allows Mimi to be less formal and more flexible with rules and procedures. Bratton (2010, p.370) states that ‘Follower maturity is determined by the ability and willingness of the followers to accept responsibility for completing their work’. The fact that each team member has their own set of responsibilities proves that their levels of maturity are very high and hence can explain why Mimi’s rules are quite flexible, according to Mario and Shabina.
The report has explored Mimi’s approach to leadership using the behavioural, trait, shared/super leadership, contingency and situational theories and it can clearly be seen that leadership is not easily defined and its effectiveness isn’t easily measured. It has also outlined the work roles of the manager as well as the team members and explained how their roles have developed. To conclude, although the report gives a sense of idea of what Mimi’s leadership approach may be, in reality it is very hard to accurately describe using only one theory.
Bratton, J. (2010) Work and organisational behaviour. 2nd edn, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Grint,K.(2005) Leadership: limits and possibilities, Basingstoke: Palgrave Senge, P.M.(1990) The Fifth Discipline. New York: Currency/Doubleday Yukl, G.(2006) Leadership in organizations.6th edn, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall