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Cast Study: WEAA Radio Station

Application of Leadership Theories

Angelina Spaulding
OGL 300: Theory Practice of Leadership
College of Letters and Sciences
Arizona State University

Case Study: WEAA Radio Station Application of Leadership Theories

Corin Fiskes accepted her position as Director of News and Public Affairs at WEAA,
Morgan State Universitys public radio station, with an understanding that the cultural of the
station requires a transformation to help it grow to a larger and more profitable organization.
Fiskes inherited a position that had been managed by laissez-faire managers for many years.
As a result, the overall station requires a major shift from an attitude of anything goes due to
lack of oversight, to a more streamlined non-authoritative leadership styles that will help guide,
rather than direct the predominantly volunteer staff. Change can be cultivated at the radio
station through the use of at least three separate theories of leadership: Leader-Member
Exchange (LMX) theory, Path-Goal theory, and Servant Leadership theory. If Fiske can utilize
the these three models of leadership within the organization, the possibilities of her addressing
the primary issues of lack of motivation, lack of knowledge, and lack of organizational relations
can likely occur. By implementing new practices based LMX theory, Path-Goal theory and
Servant Leadership theory it will hopefully allow a shift towards a more productive, more
efficient, more motivated, more knowledgeable, more willing, more able, and more engaged
work group of volunteers that are involved with the happenings of WEAA.
The first theory that will be applied to the volunteers of WEAA is the Leader-Member
Exchange Theory (LMX). The, LMX theory takes[an] approach and conceptualizes
leadership as a process that is centered on the ...the dyadic relationships between leaders and
followers [as] the focal point [of] the leadership process (Northouse, 2015, p. 137). This model
focuses on in-group and out-groups to help provide a clear understanding of when a leader has
a favorable or unfavorable relationship with a follower (Northouse, 2015). A leader that has a
positive relationship with a follower would be categorized as part of the in-group, where as a
leader that has a relationship with a follower that is not as productive would be more suited
under the out-group perspective. When reviewing the LMX relationships levels at radio station

WEAA, the relationships of the direct followers of Corin Fisk have yet to be cultivated to in-group
status. However, the benefits of developing positive dyadic relationships can be of great for
Corin and the team at WEAA.
When followers are part of an in-group they receive more information, more influence,
more confidence, have more concern for their leaders, are more dependable followers, are
more highly involved, more communicative than out group followers. In-group followers do extra
things for the leader, and in return the leader does more in return for the followers (Northouse,
2015). Those leaders that are able to develop high quality LMX relationships with followers
promote a sense of partnership that unites everyone within the organization to be empowered to
How will Fiske be able to institute this relations oriented theory in the current
environment at WEAA? Fiske has some ideas to facilitate change within her department, such
as creating award ceremonies (Foster, 2009, p. 114). However, this sort of volunteer
recognition will not be enough. Leader to member relationships are personal and built based on
one-on-one interactions. Some volunteers have noted that Fiske is not as accessible as they
would like her to be (Foster, 2009). What can Fiske do to be more accessible? She can create
office hours that are intended for volunteers to show up and knock on the door to have personal
conversations. If volunteers know that every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
her doors are open helps to put the power within the volunteers hands to reach out for direction
or guidance. This could also help Corin with her other issue of being over stretched, because it
would provide her specific times when she must focus herself on staying engaged on specific
tasks. In addition, Fiske can hold monthly meetings that help to bring the team together as a
whole. It would allow for more lateral relationship development for the team, because it would
give everyone the chance to connect. Group meetings can be a time to address concerns or
recognize the accomplishments of volunteers. Group meetings could also help to identify those
volunteers that are unwilling, but able, to conduct work, but do not have the desire to do the

work that needs to be done. Even though the positions at the radio station are voluntary, it is
within Corins authority to excuses those members that are not inclined to do the job at hand.
Another model that can be applied to WEAA is the Path-Goal theory. ...[T]he path-goal
approach suggests that leaders need to choose a leadership style that best fits the needs of
followers and the work they are doing (Northouse, 205, p. 121). The path-goal theory
recognizes four major leadership behaviors that can be equated to follower characteristics and
task characteristics: Directive leadership, Supportive leadership, Participative leadership and
Achievement-Oriented leadership (Northouse, 2015). Corin Frisk has options when determining
a desired leadership approach, as defined by the path-goal theory, to utilize when working with
followers based specifically on the characteristics of the follower and the tasks the followers are
supposed to complete.
A base concept of the path-goal theory is the expectancy theory, which states that,
...followers will be motivated if they think they are capable of performing their work, if they
believe their efforts will result in a certain outcome, and if they believe that the payoffs for doing
their work are worthwhile (Northouse, 2015, p. 116). Based on the concept of the expectancy
theory it can be easy to recognize that the volunteers at WEAA lack motivation. The path-goal,
theory suggests that each type of leader behavior has a different kind of impact on followers
motivation (Northouse, 2015, p. 116). If the motivation of the follower is to be had, that is
completely up to the ability of the follower to be motivated by the tactics in which the leader uses
when choosing specific leadership behaviors. Based on the Path-Goal leadership approach two
styles of leadership would be the most useful at the radio station: Supportive Leadership and
Participative leadership.
An example within the case study in which can be viewed as a situation that would
call for a more supportive leadership style comes from the perspective of Narius Coleman.
Coleman mentions as a, ...suggestion for her to pick up her phone...she is so busy, shes hard
to get on the phone (Foster, 2009, p. 116). Based on this perspective a lack of motivation

exists based on a followers feeling of being unsatisfied, the follower has a desire for affiliation
and a need for more of a human touch. This individual has been with the radio station for
fourteen years, so it is likely to believe that the task characteristics from the followers
perspective are repetitive, unchallenging and mundane. Based on the followers standing a
more supportive, nurturing stance, would help motivate the volunteer to perform better at the
radio station. Fiske can overcome this obstacle by making it a point to reach out to at least
three different volunteers a day. Connections can be made before or after a program has been
conducted, because most volunteers only come into the radio station when it is time to
broadcast (Foster, 2009). She can reach out to the volunteer and ask them to show up a few
minutes early or stay a few minutes after a program to engage in conversation. Build a
relationship. Seek to understand the needs of volunteers by asking questions. She is very
busy. She is very overworked. However, taking the time to show that she wants to understand
how to support volunteers would help in the long term. Volunteers that are feeling supported,
would most likely support Corin if she is willing to empower followers by delegating tasks to
them, listening to them and problem solve solutions with them; rather than fixing problems as
they form. Having a more proactive and supportive nature to her leadership will show that she
cares, and in doing so will help volunteers to take on a great sense of ownership of their own
A participative leadership approach would also be likely to help empower and engage
volunteers. This leadership behavioral approach is intended to provide more involvement
(Northouse, 2015). Sharyn Johnson discusses that, a show needs a producer to come up with
story ideas, do research, book guests, feed the would be much better to hire hosts
versus have volunteers. Then, we could set standards (Foster, 2009, p. 116). Analyzing the
comment Johnson has shared shows that the follower is searching for a need for clarity. The
task characteristics are ambiguous, unclear and unstructured. According to the Path-Goal
approach participative leadership style is best suited, because it requires the leader to become

more involved. If applying this approach is accurate, that it is easy to believe that the followers
within the station would become motivated to complete required tasks. Again, these are
volunteer positions. Yes the workload is intense, but if Corin shows she cares about the
volunteers, it is likely to believe the volunteers will be motivated to work harder for the station.
Corin also has to be willing to remove those volunteers that are not willing but able. Having
volunteers that are not willing to step up and meet established values and standards at the radio
station become a burden, and cause more stress and more work for Corin, which is nothing that
is needed at this time.
The final theory that will be explored as a practical model at WEAA is Servant
leadership. ...Servant leadership is an approach focusing on leadership from the point of view
of the leader and his or her behaviors. Servant leadership emphasizes that leaders be attentive
to the concerns of their followers first, empower them, and help them develop their full personal
capacities (Northouse, 2015, p. 225), through the use of ethical behaviors and practices.
It is important to note that the station has been in business since 1977, and has a history
of producing, ...a community-oriented radio station[that is] committed to academic excellence
and the professional development and training of students interested in careers in broadcasting
(Foster, 2009. p. 109). Based on this information it would be easy to consider that a culture of
greatness once was part of the institution. The downfall of this culture came from poor
performing leaders that were unsupportive, uninvolved and distant from the operations of the
organization. Fiske has identified on her, Ideas For Change within Department of News and
Public Affairs list, a task to, Establish core values and standards (Foster, 2009, p. 114). This
action helps to cultivate measurable, tangible, evidence for volunteers that there is a purpose for
the programming and their volunteer work. By doing so, this should help provide a refreshed
sense of appreciation for the reasons why followers took the position in the first place. By doing
this it will help to set the platform for future development of the organizations culture.

Fiske has showed that she wants to put followers first and help in follower growth and
success. First, Fiske wants to develop volunteer curriculum and career development
workshops. This will have an immediate effect on the job satisfaction and quality of work. This
will also help to empower volunteers to challenge themselves, which will help to build
confidence and increase self-efficacy. As well, Fiske has a goal to establish ownership of
programs and empower followers to lead themselves. Also by the desire to purchase field
reporting equipment for expansion, can show followers that Fiske is willing to invest in tools that
will help make their positions at the station easier to conduct, which can help lead to greater
satisfaction overall.
Fiske also shows that she wants to help provide greater value to the community.
Through the, desire to strengthen content, diversify programming and develop a more versatile
approach to programming (Foster, 2009, p. 114), Fiske is attempting to add value to the
community. By helping volunteers provide a wider range of programming content with greater
quality, it helps the listing community. The community is affected by the type of information that
is provided on air from the radio station. By giving the listening audience more opportunity to
hear a greater range of material, it can be argued that Fiske is attempting to better the
Leadership-Member Exchange theory will help the volunteer groups at WEAA radio
station at Morgan State University to develop relationships that help empower those within the
organization to perform for the organization as a whole. Path-goal theory will aid Fiske by
finding more successful ways to engage the volunteer staff, despite the directors very busy
schedule. A servant leadership approach will help the volunteer staff understand that Fiske
wants to put the needs of the volunteers first, to help cultivate a culture of excellence at the
radio station. If these three theories are applied at WEAA public radio, it is likely to believe that
the radio station will once again achieve high accolades that were received during the stations
early years.

Foster, M. K. (2009). Radio station weaa: Leading in a challenging situation. Retrieved from
Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th Ed.) [Digital Copy]. United
States: Sage Publications, Inc.