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Leader-Member Exchange Theory and Organizational Behavior

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  • 0:03 Blending of Roles
  • 0:55 The Part of the Theory
  • 3:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn
As we work with our managers and leaders, we begin to develop a level of trust between us. The employee trusts the leader will be good and fair, and the leader also develops trust in the employee's ability to do his job.

Blending of Roles

Many of us are lucky enough to have a person we work with that we trust a great deal. That person that does the work and gets the results we want. Many managers have that person on their team, and they look to that person for help in getting all the work done. Many managers do not have to manage that particular person too closely; they have developed a bond or a trust with that person.

Now, there are also people that we do not trust as much or have as good of a relationship with. Those individuals are people that work for a manager but with whom the manager does not feel a connection with or have a sense of confidence in that they will get the work done the right way.

What we are talking about here is the basis of leader-member exchange theory, which is a theory that explains how managers develop relationships with team members. Those relationships can be good relationships or bad ones, so let us look at what makes up leader-member exchange theory.

The Part of the Theory

Several different parts or concepts are present in leader-member exchange theory. Actually, they kind of work in steps from the first part to the last and explain or show how the relationship between the employee or the manager is formed.

  • Role taking: This is the first step, if you will. In this step, the manager and the employee meet, and the manager starts to assess the abilities of the employee.
  • Role making: In this step, team members begin working on projects, and the manager begins to see how devoted they are to the work that needs to be done. Managers expect employees to work hard, be loyal and also be trustworthy. Thus, during this stage, managers, whether they know it or not, begin to separate employees into two different groups.

The first group is called the in-group. Very simply, this is the group the manager trusts. They start to get more challenging roles, and there is more give and take as it relates to communication. The manager, we could say, trusts the members in this group and begins to bond with them.

Then, we have the out-group, or the group the manager does not really trust. Since the manager does not trust the members in this group as much, their work is less challenging and less critical, and the communication is more directive than give and take. The manager tells these employees what he or she wants done, whereas with the in-group, there is more discussion relating to tasks.

And this all leads to routinization. Once all the role taking and role making is done and in- and out-groups are formed, the teams fall into a routine. They have established norms they follow and begin to work together more cohesively as they are now used to not only working together but how the manager wants to work with them (depending on if they are in the in-group or out-group).

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