Public service reform programme in Zambia: An evaluation of the impact of the leadership styles on the management of human resources in the public service

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Kanyata, Owen Subulwa
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In order to improve service delivery, the Zambian Government embarked on a programme to reform its public service in 1993. The implementation of the reforms has been going on for the last thirteen years. It is therefore expected that the implementation of the public service reforms has resulted in enhanced efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism in the delivery of public services. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which democratic leadership styles are applied in Zambia and the effect that this has had on the performance of the state bureaucracy. This was necessary in order to determine the extent to which the question of leadership styles was a factor in achieving the objectives of the reforms in particular and the goal of the public sector in general. The research constituted desk and field work. Desk work largely involved reviewing of literature and analysing secondary data. Field work concentrated on collecting primary data from respondents in the public service. The study revealead that the following styles were used by leaders in the public service although their were variances in the manner of application and with varying results: Lasser Faire; in this style the leader exhibits passive indifference about tasks and subordinates. Directive; this style involved leaders letting subordinates know what they were expected to do; giving specific guidance, asking subordinates to follow rules and procedures, coordinating and scheduling tasks. Supportive; this style involved leaders considering the needs of followers; displaying concern for their needs, creating a friendly work environment for each worker. Participative; in this style the leader consulted and took the concerns of followers into account; providing advice rather than direction; establishing a friendly and creative work environment for teams. Delegative; this style involved allowing surbodinates' relative freedom for decision making and from daily monitoring and short term review. Achievement-Oriented; this style invoved the leader setting challenging task goals; seeking task improvements; emphasising excellence in follower performance; showing confidence that followers will perform well. Inspirational; this style involved the leader using intellectual stimulation (for new ideas or processes); inspirational motivation for group goals also reffered to as charisma. External; this style involved the leader focussing attention on organizational matters and environmental context. Combined; this involves the use of two or more styles smulteneously in a single fused fashion;for example being supportive and directive. The study has also looked at the concept of cultural consequences, in order to determine the value system under which the public service leadership was operating and the likely effects of these values on the styles of leadership applied. These cultural factors included among others the following:Masculinity vs. feminism, in this regard the study found the Zambian Public Service was still inclined towards masculinity.It was generally accepted that males could be expected to make tough decisions as compared to females and it was generally expected that males should be given top jobs.Power distance; on this score the study found that power-distance was high in the Zambian public service. Due to high power distance in the Zambian public service it was rare for subordinates to question decisions made by their superiors. In addition Subordinates tended to look for guidance from the top all the time and this had the tendency to discourage initiative and innovation.Risk avoidance; the study found mixed results on risk avoidance in the Zambian public service.Individualism vs. Collectivism; the study found that there was more leaning towards collectivism than individualism in the Zambian public service. In this regard the study found that subordinates expected their superiors to be overly supportive even at the expense of meeting performance targets.Long term vs. short term orientation the study found that leaders in the public service had short-term as opposed to long term orientation. In this regard the study found that it was very unlikely that public service leaders would apply the supportive style,especially in those situations that did not bring immediate benefits to their organizations.
Magement-Imployee participation , Management - Zambia