Self-leadership in managerial work: the case of middle managers
Abstract: Background: The middle managers’ managerial work is characterised by the absence of clarityand structure around the work practice and implies excessive responsibility on the individual toorganise the work. Self-leadership is a tool for individuals to become more effective in their work and can provide middle managers with guidance in their unstructured work. Research Question: How do middle managers apply behavioural-focused strategies for self-leadershipin relation to their managerial work? Purpose: The purpose of this study is to better understand and contribute with new theories about how middle managers apply self-leadership in relation to their managerial work. The study will depict how middle managers relate to the activity of self-leadership in their professional role. The research will focus on how middle managers apply behavioural-focused strategies for self-leadership, namely self-goal setting, self-reward, self-punishment, self-observation and self-cueing. Method: A qualitative study of observations and interviews were used. Three middle managers in the organisation have been observed and interviewed to identify their application and attitude about behavioural-focused strategies for self-leadership. The observations have been categorised according to Mintzberg’s and Choran’s managerial and operational roles (working roles). Theoretical framework: Theories of self-leadership and behavioural-focused strategies are combined with theories of managerial work and working roles. Bringing together the different theories, a comprehensive theoretical framework is formed to understand how middle managers apply behaviour-focused strategies. Findings: The findings suggest that middle managers’ application of behavioural-focused strategies is largely characterised by their working roles. Furthermore, middle managers associate behavioural-focused strategies primarily with other-orientated behaviours, includingthe co-workers and the organisation. At the same time, there is a distinct individual difference in how middle managers apply the behavioural-focused strategies for self-leadership.
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