Workers’ Performance and Leadership Styles in the Nigerian Civil Service By Uthman E. Oduselu

UthmanOdus By UthmanOdus, 27th Sep 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

The primary objective of this study was to examine the impact of leadership styles on workers’ performance in the Nigerian Civil Service, using the Nigeria’s (Ministries Departments and Agencies) MDAs as a case study.

Background to the current Predicament in Nigeria

Admittedly, it could be said that leadership, to a large extent, is a reflection of the followership. This means that the leaders of any entity is a product of an already brewed followers. Just like 'garri' is the outcome of a processed cassava; leadership is the outcome of a processed followership. Therefore, should we have bad leaders in such entities, it is no doubt, inevitable that there is the predominance of bad followers thereof. The result is that there will be prevalence of inefficiencies in the system and such inefficiencies, over time, would degenerate into norms. Such norms, if unchecked sincerely, would snowball into hopelessness.
Ultimately, this hopelessness becomes a heritage syndrome transmitted from one generation to another. These inherited syndrome, firmly puzzled inside the blood of the later generation, gives birth to a society of a well grounded and proliferated inefficiencies characterised by corrupt practices. A vicious system that dares to consume even the minutest of sincerity and integrity that desires to surface. The predominance of these 'norms' (corruption) in the system tends to tempt any author to digress completely from the topic.
But for me, I refuse to give in to such temptations. The focus of this study is the Civil Servants of Nigeria. As a point of fact, it is hegemonic to opine that, though opinion is divided on the differences between the terms 'civil' and 'public' servants, I have decided to use the duo interchangeably. Personally, I have observe that "99 out of every 100 Nigerian, are ignorant of what they are doing or what they are saying". This is also the case with the Nigerian Civil Servants. Most of them have no reasons to be employed because they lack basic knowledge about even their job descriptions. As a matter of fact the Nigerian Civil Service for instance occupy the front seat of the corrupt system we have in Nigeria.
For instance, Permanent Secretaries (PSs), Directors (Ds) and Deputy Directors(DDs) are more corrupt than most of the Ministers and Senators. And sad enough, it is these PSs, Ds and DDs that eventually graduate to become our most celebrated pollitical, economic and social leaders. The recent happenings in the Police Pension Fund, the Subsidy Probe and the killings of innocent citizens in the country owing to negligence of the Avaiation Ministry are to mention but a few. Only, for instance, after 3 months of mourning, the latter claims that that the seizure of Dana operational lisence was done in error and consequently released for them to resume operation. This can only happen in an entity where the tap root of her system is Corruption - Nigeria - at the expense of other innocent Citizens.
This unfortunate situation, for instance, will never happen in the developed world like the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States where they have a system that work.
On a general plain, the Civil Service is seen as the seat of any Goverment of a Country and this plunged me to pay academic visits to some of the MDAs in Nigeria. The idea was to assess their performance vis-a-viz, the leadership styles thereof. My findings are hereby revealed hereunder.

Surver Observation

First, it was observed that there is a significant relationship between leadership style and staff performance in the MDAs. This is because, a greater number and percentage of the respondents (51.7%) agree to the statement as against (22.5%) who disagree.
Also, the findings reveal that since there is affinities between leadership style and staff performance in the MDAs, the former plays a very pivotal role on the latter. This is because a good number of the respondents (56%) share the view that Leadership styles play a major impact on workers performance in the MDAs.
Added to the above, the analysed data reveal to the me that one of the leadership styles that characterizes the MDAs is Autocracy. In other words, a greater percentage of the response to the statement (58.7%) attest to that fact. Other leadership styles found to have pervaded in the Nigerian MDAs include Bureaucracy as evident in the 49.7% response although there were strong indications that some of the respondents (43.7%) were undecided on the matter.
Moreso, it was observed from the data analysis that Laissez- faire and People-oriented leadership and Relations-oriented leadership styles were also in vogue in the MDAs. These were evident in the (39.4%) and (47.7%) supports they polled respectively.
However most of the respondents reveal that there was no practice of Charismatic leadership style in the MDAs from the 39.9% response gathered. Although there were some who claim that there was Charismatic leadership tendencies and they polled 32.3% of the response. With a difference of 7.6% however, it is clear that there still exist some elements of Charismatic leadership tendencies among the leaders of the MDAs but those without the said style outweighs those with the trait.
Closely related to the above findings is the fact that quite a good number of the respondents (49.8%) were of the view that the MDAs leadership style is not Democratic or Participative. This means that most of the decisions are taken at the top management level (Minister, Permanent Secretary and Directors) without actively involving the majority staff. It is to this end that it was further revealed by the respondents (43.9%) that the leadership style in the MDAs is not Servant oriented. That is not to say that there are no leaders with such quality, as (29%) reveal same in their response. But no doubt, those leaders without that quality in the MDAs by far, outweighs latter by 14.9%.
More so, the respondents reveal that the leadership style in the MDAs is not task oriented as shared by most (45.1%) of the respondents. However, on the issue of transformational leadership style in the MDAs, it is neither here nor there as most of the results collated were undecided as evident in the (40%) response. Although this assertion was closely followed by those who supported the statement i.e (33%). This therefore means that apart from the overwhelming results of those undecided, a few of the respondents still give us the impression that some of the leaders thereof possess transformational leadership tendencies in the MDAs.
By way of advancing remedy to the perceived challenges of leadership styles in the MDAs, the respondents think that the adoption of proper leadership style would help solve same. This was as a result of the total number (51.7%) of the response gathered. The said assertion is closely related with that of (69.7%) response where it was revealed that with the practice of proper leadership styles, employees satisfaction would be achieved.

Leadership Styles and Workers' Performance in Nigeria's MDAs

In a related development, (66.4%) of the respondents reveal that the observation of good leadership styles would obviously boost productivity in the MDAs since ofcourse, the staff would have attained job satisfaction. It is consequence upon this therefore that a good number of the respondents (73.6%) assert that the kind of leadership style practiced in MDAs has, to a large extent, have impacts on the Employee performance. This, according to the response, are both positive and negative impacts.
In line with the above mentioned categories of impacts therefore, (79.4%) of the respondents advance that the adopting a wrong leadership style leads to tension between Employees and their leaders in MDAs. Another impact of the adoption of wrong leadership style in the MDAs is that it causes low employee morale and depletes productivity. This result were gathered from (72.9%) of the respondents and it obviously constitute that of the majority.
As a follow up to the above claim therefore, the respondents have also demonstrated that the adoption of the right choice of leadership style has been one of the bane of leadership in the MDAs. This was evident in the total number of (42%) responses gathered.
However, the respondents also show their level of awareness and openness to certain issues, as a good number of them were able to demonstrate that no single management style can suit all situations as evident from the total number of (53.6%) response gathered and consequently, most of the respondents (58.7%) were of the view that MDAs leaders should therefore practice a blend of leadership styles in their day-to-day routines.

Survey Summary

From the analysis of gathered data, the styles of leadership that has predominance in the Nigerian MDAs include autocracy, bureaucracy, laizzez-fair and relations-oriented.
The result of the analysed data also show that, to a large extent, leadership styles influence employee performance.
From the analysis of the said data, it could be said that the leader-employee relation can only affect the organizational growth if there is lack of tension and low employee morale occasioned by the adoption of the right leadership styles in the MDAs.
I also found that adopting the wrong style of leadership and choosing the right style of leadership are factors hindering cordial leader-employee relations as it has led to low employee morale, creation of tension and ultimately, depleting productivity.
From the analysis of the gathered data, I also found that a blend to all the leadership styles advanced above are to be adopted to improve employee performance as no single style can best suit the structure of the MDAs.

Survey Conclusion

The following conclusions were therefore reached regarding Nigeria's Civil Servants based on their performance.
     I.       The performance of employees in the MDA is anchored the type of leadership styles exhited by their leaders.
   II.        Autocracy, bureaucracy, laizzez-fair and relations-oriented are the leadership styles adopted in the most Nigerian MDAs.
  III.        The non adoption of the right leadership styles inhibits the organizational growth.
 IV.        The wrong application of leadership style leads to lots of tension and low employee morale among employees.
  V.        The adopting the wrong style of leadership and choosing the right style of leadership are factors hindering cordial leader-employee relations.
 VI.        The practices of a blend to all leadership styles improve employee performance.
VII.        No single style can best suit the structure of the Nigerian MDAs.

Survey Recommendations

Haven examined the impact of leadership styles on employees’ performance in the Nigerian MDAs, I hereby recommend the following:
1)   The MDA heads, especially from the Ministers Permanent Secretaries, Directors, Deputy Directors as well as Assistant Directors should review their approach to leadership in their MDAs.
2)   MDAs heads should be flexible in their styles of leadership implemented in their MDAs.
3)    The autocratic leadership style should normally only be used on rare occasions and not to constantly and arbtrarilly impose decisions on their subjects.
4)   For the Nigerian MDAs to have the time and want to gain more commitment and improved performance from their employees, they should, on regular basis, adopt the participative style of leadership.
5)   However, when autocratic styles are relied upon too much, and the employees are ready and/or willing to react to a more consultative type of leadership style, then it normally becomes quite damaging to the overall performance of the MDAs.

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
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