Part 1: an example of an outstanding dyadic relationship
Dyads are the relationships formed between a leader and each of his or her individual followers. These relationships lead to the formation of two different groups – the in-group and the out-group (Babou 2008). I’m going to give examples of in-group and out-group relationships in the context of one of my favorite television shows: Parks and Recreation.
Example 1: The In-Group Dyad
Members of the in-group are generally trusted with more responsibility and are invited by the leader to assist with decision-making processes. They are given greater support, and in exchange put more time and effort into their work (Lunenburg 2010). A great example of this from Parks and Rec is the relationship between Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope.
Although Ron is in some cases a less than motivated leader with a profound distaste for the job he’s doing, his relationship with his subordinate Leslie is strong on both a personal and professional level. Despite Ron’s nontraditional approach to leadership, Leslie is easily the most dedicated person to her work I’ve ever seen, even in fiction like this show. Leslie has a lot of power in the Parks and Recreation department, and there are frequent moments in the show when she and Ron go to each other for personal and professional advice. As a result, the work Leslie does is much more involved and extends beyond the typical workday. This is a great example of the extra benefits those in the in-group get from their leader/follower relationship.
EXAMPLE 2: THE out-GROUP DYAD
On the other hand, the out-group comes to work simply to do their job and leave; they are not members of the leader’s inner circle, and their interactions with the leader are much more formal (Gupta 2009). An example of this kind of relationship from Parks and Rec is that between Leslie and Jerry.
Jerry’s priorities are to retire right on schedule and spend as much time as possible with his family; he likes his job, but doesn’t put too much emphasis on career success in the grand scheme of things. As a result, Leslie has fewer interactions with him and puts less emphasis on his opinions than she would a member of her in-group like Ann or Ron.
Since Parks and Rec is a TV show, the characters and relationships are blown way out of proportion, and they are more like caricatures of real life as opposed to examples of how things actually work. However, if you scaled these characters and situations back to a level that coincides with reality, they illustrate very well the difference between in-group and out-group dyadic relationships.
PART 2: Results of LMX Questionnaire
As we talked about during my coaching session in class, I filled out the questionnaire from the perspective of a follower in the context of my work environment at Reporter Magazine. My relationship with my managing editor ended up scoring a 22, which is in the “moderate” range.
PART 3: LMX Questions
A. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?
I do agree with the results, because although I work well with my leader on a day-to-day basis and we get along fairly well, I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions he makes concerning the management of the other section editors. In other words, I have mixed feelings about him, and a “moderate” score reflects that.
B. How does the knowledge of LMX affect your definition of leadership, if at all? If it does not, why not?
My definition of leadership before reading this chapter was as follows:
Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire followers to work together to achieve a common goal.
I think the LMX theory includes an important aspect of leadership that I don’t yet have reflected in my definition, so I’m going to revise it:
Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to work with the group to achieve a common goal.
Although these are minor changes, they tweak the definition enough to show that leadership is not just a one-to-many interaction, but also a one-on-one interaction with each follower.
C. How does the knowledge of LMX affect how you see yourself as a leader, if at all?
I don’t think it really affects how I see myself as a leader, but it does affect the way I’ll behave as a leader in the future; it has helped me understand that different people are looking to get different things out of a job, and that sometimes your energy is wasted trying to get people who aren’t as passionate about your work as you are to engage with their work on a deeper level than they are willing to.
D. What relationship skills, if any, do you need to acquire to become a better leader?
I think I need to get better a gauging how much different followers have invested on a professional and emotional level in each task and change my behaviors accordingly in order to avoid wasting extra energy on relationships that aren’t reciprocated. I also think I need to be more receptive to those followers who may be attempting to develop a more advanced relationship with me as a leader.