ABSTRACT

CHAPTER 12 SUPERIOR - SUBORDINATE COMMUNICATION: PRESSURE AND GAME SPIRIT IN PRACTICE

Leadership and subordinateship

Relationships between superiors and subordinates are of trenlendous importance for all hierarchical organizations. There is a widespread belief in business that alnlost any problem can be solved by changing leaders. Many studies have been devoted to leadership, to discover what really is the secret why some lead~rs succeed and others fail. Factors like job-centeredness, employee centeredness and teclmical expertise have been related to productivity and employee job satisfaction.1 When these studies are done seriously, their results are always somewhat disappointing. There are no simple recipes for leadership. The effect of leadership depends as much upon the subordinates and upon factors like culture and technology as upon the leader. What makes superior-subordinate relationships in organizations so particular is that they combine an elenlent of communication with an element of power. Power is a fascinating thing; so fascinating, that in business often far too much stress is given to the power element and far too little to the communication element in the superior-subordinate relationship. In normal day-to-day operations it is the communication element which deterlnines the effectiveness of the relationship. When

1 For a general picture of the study ~f leadership see Lanlnlers, 1965. SOlne results of quantitative investigations into leadership effects are published in Argyle, Gardner & Cioffi 1957, 1958; Indik, Georgopoulos & Seashore 1961; Patchen 1962; Parkerl963; Evans 1965.