Introduction ‘About the Fit’. The founder is Jules

Introduction

Leadership
is the process by which an individual influences followers in order to reach a
shared goal. Leaders have to manage, innovate, inspire and motivate the group,
whether it be employees or peers, towards a set target (Huczynski
et al., 2013). Motivation is how much effort a person commits to a task,
and can be changed by many influencing factors such as pay, job title, and
satisfaction (Robbins et al., 2018). Team-work is
the idea of operating as a group and working effectively together to create new
ideas and build relationships. Being in a team means the task can be completed
more effectively and gives individuals a sense of belonging (Robbins et al., 2018). Communication is a key component
of an organization as the correct information must be communicated to
recipients in order for jobs to be performed accurately.
There are several types of communication- from face-to-face to written, but
with these come communication barriers which prevent information being
transported efficiently (Robbins et al., 2018).

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‘The
Intern’ is a film about a self-established company called ‘About the Fit’. The
founder is Jules Ostin who created the firm herself around 18 months prior,
starting with just a website and now obtains around 220 employees. The film
follows the journey of a newly employed senior intern Ben Whittaker, and
portrays what a real-life business looks like. This essay will identify the key
leadership, motivation, teamwork and communication theories and approaches used
in the film, and a critical analysis of these.

 

Leadership

There
are several leadership theories and approaches that have varied beliefs as to
what is the correct way to lead a team. 
Transformational leadership is where leaders tend to be capable of
manipulating and changing the groups’ desires through inspiration and
motivation (Khan and Ismail, 2017). Contingency
leadership theory states that there is not just one leadership style that
succeeds but that different situations require different types of leadership (Lussier and Achua, 2015). 

Path-goal
theory is a contingency approach that insinuates it is the leaders’
responsibility to assist followers by using structure, giving support and
ensuring their task is compatible with the overall organizational goal (Robbins et al., 2018). This approach uses 4 varieties of
leadership behaviour. Directive leadership is used to inform followers of what
is expected of them, supportive leadership is used to show concern towards the
individual, participative leadership is where the leader consults with the
group to gain opinions before making any major decisions and achievement-oriented
leadership is where the leader sets challenging goals
for the followers to reach (Malik, 2013).

Jules’ approach to leading her
employees matches that of path-goal.  Directive
leadership is demonstrated when Jules visits the packaging department after she
notices a problem with the parcels, and instructs employees on exactly how the
boxes should be packed up. The employees seemed grateful for this guidance as
they had previously struggled with the job. 
Participative and supportive leadership are demonstrated where Jules
offers positive feedback on the homepage of the website, listens to the
employees’ ideas and sets him a goal.

Leaders tend to display a variety of
behaviour depending on the situation; therefore it would not be beneficial to
limit them to one style. This is because leadership is greatly contoured by
contextual factors (Lussier and Achua, 2015), so leaders are inclined to take a
more holistic approach by using a mixture of theories most suited for the
circumstances. For instance, with the help of Ben, as well as path-goal theory Jules
demonstrates transformational leadership when she recognizes how much Becky
exerts herself.

The use of path-goal theory has a
positive correlation with job satisfaction of employees (Malik, 2013). This has
most likely derived from the fact that employees have a voice in the
organization, and are challenged and supported to reach established goals.  As shown in a study on effects of job
satisfaction, the productivity of employees is greater in businesses with more
satisfied workers (Singh and Jain, 2013); thus it would benefit an organization
to use path-goal theory.

Although the path-goal theory is
considered more holistic, it is reductionist in the sense that it only has four
leadership behavioural categories (Malik, 2013). However, path-goal theory accentuates
the need to identify leadership behaviour and group attributes as well as the
work situation (Northouse,
2013), thus extending the limited link between just leader and task.

 

Motivation

Content
motivation theories focus on internal needs- for example Maslow’s Hierarchy of
Needs, which states that an individual’s psychological, security, social,
esteem and self-actualizing needs are a source of motivation for a person, and
these need to be reached in order for the individual to feel inspired
(Aanstoos, 2013).

Process
theories are more contemporary and state that internal needs and cognitions
both influence a person’s motivation- using just needs as a theory for
motivation is a simple way of explaining a complex behaviour. For example,
self-efficacy theory says that motivation derives from an individual’s self-belief
that they are capable of performing a task (Robbins et
al., 2018). Self-belief can arise from esteem needs such as job role,
and cognitive ability can be identified through the difficulty of the task.  This type of motivation can be increased in an
individual through enactive mastery, vicarious modelling, verbal persuasion and
arousal (Robbins et al., 2018).  

The
employees at ‘About the Fit’ seem self-motivated, confident and engaged in
their work. The work environment is clear, fresh and exciting which boosts
employee arousal. Jules offers verbal persuasion when she complements employees
on their work- for example when she says she loves the changes a creative team
member has made to the homepage. In several scenes of the film, Jules
demonstrates vicarious modelling- she is continuously showing how tasks are
accomplished and encourages workers to be efficient at completing them.

The
extensive use of self-efficacy in an organization is associated with higher job
satisfaction and performance (Judge and Bono, 2001), which often leads to
employees being more committed to the company. Workers who are dedicated to the
organization are often found attempting to improve skills and are self-motivated
to perform better (Cherian and Jacob, 2013).  With this comes a lessened fear from employees
when approached with a difficult task, but rather a sense confidence. This is a
massive advantage for an organization as it requires little involvement of
management for increased productivity, as employees are self-efficient at
becoming more educated in their job role. However, this does mean that it
cannot be completely controlled by the organization, suggesting success is not
always guaranteed as motivation is reliant on self-belief.

Another
weakness of this theory is that enactive mastery affects motivation. Poor performances
and motivational discrepancies are often the result of previous task failure,
which reduces confidence when asked to complete again (Brunstein
and Gollwitzer, 1996).  This is deficient
for organizations such as ‘About the Fit’, as employees assigned to a specific
job role often have to perform analogous tasks.

As
previously mentioned, a combination of theories is often the reality of a
successful business. Self-efficacy motivation is actually complemented by the
use of goal-setting motivation (Robbins et al., 2018).
It’s often beneficial to an organization to use both of these theories at the
same time as it reaps productivity and efficiency benefits for task completion
see exhibit 1.

 

Team Work

Working
in teams often creates a range of benefits for organizations; however,
businesses repeatedly forget to recognize individual characteristics within
groups.  There is a significant
uniqueness of each person on a team- for example, age, race, gender and
cognitive ability (Robbins et al., 2018).

Personal
differences are categorized into surface-level and deep-level diversity.
Surface-level characteristics are obvious differences, such as age and race.
Deep-level characteristics differentiate people through personality and values-
these are much more complex (Robbins et al., 2018).

Team
diversity can be seen when Jules assigns Ben, Jason, Lewis, and Davis a task of
breaking into her Mother’s home to delete an email she accidentally sent. The
group worked efficiently together by assigning team members tasks fitted to
each individual’s skills- for example, Ben who known for being organized and
well composed, was assigned a leader position and Lewis, who is more
technologically advanced, worked on the deletion of the email. However, when
task completion was threatened the team did experience some conflict.

Diversity
in groups can often lead to discrimination and stereotyping of team members,
and this can greatly affect task completion. In a recent survey, 32% of
respondents admitted they have witnessed discrimination at work (Awang, Shafie, and Pearl, n.d.).  Without the correct discrimination management
prejudice at work can be destructive to an organisation, however, if diversity
is dealt with properly it produces an array of benefits to a business.  For instance, in 2015 managers in the top
quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in 366 companies were 35% more
probable to have financial returns greater than their division average (Rock and Grant, 2016). This suggests that businesses
should attempt to create contrastive groups within the work environment as it
actually conveys economic advantages. Not only this, but diversity brings a
range of ideas and skills- unique people are proven to be more innovative and tend
to focus more on the processing of facts (Rock and
Grant, 2016).

With diversity comes
differences, and often this can result in conflict. Relationship conflict is
based on personal affairs (Robbins et al., 2018),
and can cause attention to divert away from the task, resulting in the team working
less effectively and producing a poor quality of work (Griffith et al., 2003).
This is a huge drawback of using diverse teams as although it can bring
benefits, it can also actively decrease task fulfilment. However, conflict can
actually be valuable to team performance. Task conflicts revolve around the
targets assigned to the group (Robbins et al., 2018).
Due to the task being discussed in depth, teams that face this type of conflict
are likely to have increased satisfaction and better intellectual understanding,
resulting in improved choices (Simons and Peterson, 2000).

 

5.   
Communication

In order for tasks to be carried out efficiently, the
communication process must be accurate. The process begins with a sender, who
encodes the information and converses this to a receiver. This message is sent
through a communication channel, such as face-to-face or written, and is then
decoded by the recipient (Lunenburg, 2010).

 

Communication is a vital part of an organization, and is
the root of five main functions within a business; management, feedback,
emotional sharing, persuasion, and information conversing (Robbins et al., 2018). It is critical that the correct
information is received by the reader; however, this is not always the case.
Barriers to communication distort and prevent information being communicated
successfully- examples of these are filtering, selective perception and
information overload (Robbins et al., 2018). 

 

Information overload occurs when the processing
capabilities of an individual are exceeded by the information intake (Robbins et al., 2018). When we are given to too much
information to process the brain cannot cope, and this results in confusion,
forgetfulness and a loss of concentration (Sadiku,
Shadare and Musa, 2016). This barrier can be identified through the
character Becky, who is continuously given excessive amounts of tasks, leaving
her stressed and unable to process information. For example, when she is
speaking to a client on the phone and gets distracted by another conversation, she
struggles to handle both and forgets her original discussion is still
happening.

 

IDC conducted a study identifying that workers are often
participating in unproductive tasks for up to 20 hours a week- therefore a
recommendation for organizations with workers experiencing information overload
such as ‘About the Fit’, would be to improve their information management
skills (Hoq, 2016). One way to attain this is to
use self-management methods such as reminders and flagging emails. This can
actively help minimize excessive processing and make work hours more productive
(Whittaker et al., 2007).
This would make information and the decoding process of messages more
manageable and therefore prevent information overload distorting communication.

 

A recent study has shown that improvement of information
processing stems from workers advancing in their media capabilities, regulating
individual work flow and expanding email literacy (Soucek
and Moser, 2010). So perhaps organizations could prevent information overload
distorting communication by putting workers on media training courses, ensuring
a reasonable distribution of work and advising them on the most efficient way
to use their email.

 

6.   
Conclusion

Leading,
motivating, communicating and working as a team effectively can be the root of
a successful organization. As demonstrated above, in order for tasks to be
completed well and for a business to function efficiently and lucratively,
leaders must ensure their employees are content and motivated, rid of any
discrimination, deal with conflict correctly and ensure that tasks are being
communicated accurately.

Effective
leadership is often seen as the biggest contributing factor that determines the
effectiveness of a work environment. Motivation, determination, and efficient
communication among employees are significantly correlated with effective
leadership and implementation of change within the organization (Gilley, Gilley and McMillan, 2009). Therefore, for
communication, motivation and group work to be successful, there must be high-quality
leadership.