Leadership styles & relational energy in high quality mentoring relationship.

Author:Amah, Okechukwu Ethelbert
 
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Mentoring & Relational Energy

Mentoring is valuable because of its effect on the performance and career development of employees (Allen & Eby, 2003). The effectiveness of any mentoring is dependent on the quality of the relationship between the mentor and the mentee as evidenced by the satisfaction of the mentor and mentee (Allen & Eby, 2003; Liebhart & Faullant, 2014). However, not all mentoring relationships are equally effective because the quality of mentoring relationship can either be low, medium or high (Allen & Eby, 2003) depending on how the mentee perceives the relationship with mentor. Owens et al. (2016:37) defined relational energy as 'heightened level of psychological resourcefulness generated from interpersonal interaction that enhances one's capacity to do work'. Relational energy affects many important employees' and organizational work outcomes (Cross et al., 2003; Amah, 2016; Owens et al., 2016). Both high quality mentoring relationship and relational energy depend on the quality of interaction between leaders and their subordinates. In a constantly changing business environment, employees are the main source of competitive advantage to organizations, and must be effectively managed. Hence, organizations must be interested in understanding how different leadership styles interact with employees. Thus, knowing the differential effects of different leadership styles on the quality of mentoring relationship and the relational energy generated will provide important information to organizations as they attempt to recruit and train leaders with effective styles to manage employees.

Earlier Studies

There are many established determinants of high quality mentoring relationship (Allen & Eby, 2003; Liebhart & Faullant, 2014). Although some of these variables refer to the leader as a mentor, no explicit mention has been made of the role of leadership style in determining the quality of mentoring relationship. However, the role of leadership style in influencing the quality of mentoring relationship can be inferred from other studies that established the role of leadership style on other work outcomes (Lyndon & Rawat, 2015). The role of leadership as energizers and de-energizers has been identified by past studies, but how different styles generate relational energy remains a gap in literature. Cross et al. (2003) found out that different interactions generated different levels of relational energy, but they did not relate this to leadership style. Thus, the role of various types of leadership styles in generating relational energy, and in creating high quality mentoring relationship remains a gap in relational energy and mentoring research literature. This gap was alluded to by Dierendonck et al. (2014) when they advised that researchers should go beyond using correlation analysis to establish difference in leadership styles, and establish that these differences exist in the value of outcome variables produced.

The Present Study

The current study answers two questions: how do different leadership styles (servant, transactional & autocratic) affect relational energy and quality of mentoring relationship? What role does relational energy play in the relationship between leadership style and high-quality mentoring relationship? The study makes the following contributions to relational energy, mentoring and leadership style literature. By establishing the direct and differential effects of different leadership styles, the study provides empirical justification for organizations to train future leaders to use effective styles in dealing with their subordinates. The study positions relational energy as a critical variable in mentoring research.

The model tested in this study is shown in figure 1.

Leadership Styles, Relational Energy & Quality of Mentoring Relationship

There are two types of mentoring; formal mentoring established by organizational process, and informal mentoring that is voluntarily developed between a mentor and a mentee. The focus of this study is informal mentoring since the study is considering mentoring developed voluntarily between leaders and their subordinates. During informal mentoring, mentors exhibit two types of behaviors. These are career related behaviors (coaching, exposure to challenging assignment, and making mentee visible to gain in organizational benefits), pro-social support (role model, counseling and enhancement of trust). These behaviors will provide upward mobility, career satisfaction and advancement to mentees. The link between these behaviors and the perception of high-quality mentoring relationship can be explained using the social exchange theory and norm of reciprocity. In the mentoring relationship, the mentees who derive benefit from the career and pro-social behavior of the mentors will see these behaviors as resources which by the principle of reciprocity they must reciprocate. Hence, they will perceive the relationship between them and the mentor as high quality relationship for those leadership styles that provide the benefits.

The different leadership styles may involve in informal mentoring relationships with their subordinates, and enact the mentor's behaviors, but for different motives and in different degrees. Servant leadership is heavily focused on people, and its orientation to people is to serve them first so they develop to their full potential and then they can perform organizational goal. This orientation to the needs and development of people will likely show up in the level, intensity, and quality of the behaviors enacted toward employees. Thus, servant leaders will be high in employee career enhancement and pro-social support behaviors. Transactional leaders are transactional in their relationship with employees. Caring for employees is a currency in the exchange process, and not an interest in employees' personal development. Autocratic leaders do not see value in developing people because they dominate employees for self-interest, and do not believe that employees can make independent valuable contribution in how work is done. Transactional and autocratic are goal directed with less emphasis on people. The transactional leader will differ from autocratic leader because the leader will show some persistence in people development during relationship. However, the autocratic leader has little patience with non-performing employees and will do the assignment for employees not measuring up and issue strict direction to those doing fine. Employees who derive high relational energy from interaction with leaders will, according to the social exchange theory, develop high quality...

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