Leader-Member Exchange Theory of Leadership

The Leader Member Exchange [LMX] theory of leadership has a unique emphasis on the relationship between a leader and a person who directly reports to that leader. It’s not always in the best interest of a team or an organization to treat everyone in the same fashion. People you trust more as a leader tend to get more challenging projects because there is a reliance on their experience. Those who are new to the team or an organization tend to get easier tasks so that their skills can develop.

It’s no secret that leaders have personal preferences. There are some people that are thought of in high regard by leaders and there are some people that a leader will think less well of pretty much every day. There are Friday of reasons why leaders might not appreciate certain team members as they do others.

1. There might be a lack of ambition towards a long-term career.
2. There may be a lack of overall skill competency.
3. There may be past actions that have caused certain people to have a lack of trust through rebellion, negativity, or a pattern of lying.

LMX helps to explore why leaders develop the relationships that they do with their team. It shows how relationship can grow a team like that for or hold people back from the success that they may be able to achieve.

How Can Leaders Utilize This Theory Effectively?

The most important utilization of LMX allows leaders to be able to identify those they don’t trust very well. These people who have fallen out of favor have done so because of specific circumstances. By recognizing who is in this group, a leader can re-examine the circumstances which caused each team member to fall out of favor and give them another honest look. More often than not, many of the facts have been exaggerated and then blown out of proportion in a reaction.

Once this occurs, the leader can begin to make an effort at reestablishing the relationship. Direct reports that have a high quality relationship with their manager have higher overall morale. They are also more productive and are more likely to create a positive working environment for everyone else. If someone has been out of favor, then they will be very leery of any engagement. Take things slow and easy.

Provide Development Opportunities Daily

The primary advantage of the LMX theory is that it allows for equal distribution of development opportunities. People who are out of favor have a natural bias against them that is sometimes active on a subconscious level. Leaders who incorporate this theory actively move information from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind. By doing so, they create a better system of the quality as they are better able to recognize who needs training and skill development based on facts instead of emotional responses.

The one fault of the Leader-Member Exchange theory of leadership is that it assumes all employees are equally worthy of trust. Not everyone is hard-working, honest, and willing to be productive. These people are easier to identify, however, and this allows a leader to maximize the efficiency of their team on a daily basis.

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