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The Role of LMX

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Numerous enterprises have a globalised reach that relentlessly relies on innovation for expansion purposes. As such, these organizations have to set up teams, with individuals in far flung areas, to take care of their activities. Tentatively the members of these teams have various knowledge and capabilities which the company must harness and exploit for its benefit in order to achieve its goals. All team members should partake in the decision making processes. As such, the leaders of these teams ensure that the goals, as well as their priorities, are of utmost importance.        

The leader member exchange (LMX) is paramount in encouraging the involvement of members in globally distributed teams. Several researchers demonstrate the beneficial effects of the LMX theory and model of leadership. The effect of LMX is beneficial to traditional teams that work together in the same geographical location. The effect is, however, amplified when team dispersion increases. Team dispersion is the extent of distribution of team members across time zones and geographical locations. As the distance augments, the probability of exclusion of members, as well increases.       

In high quality LMX relationships, the members reciprocate the inclusion by their leader by contributing their knowledge and ideas. Distance reduces physical ties and identification of the members with their teams. Members cannot realize the impact of their contributions, as such reducing their motivation. A high quality LMX relationship with leaders is paramount in cementing the leader and each team member’s importance. Tentatively, it presents a platform of emotional bond within the team members. As a result, LMX strengthens as dispersion increases.

Communication is positive when LMX influence is high, confrontational and negative in the case where LMX is low (Fairhurst, 1993, p 321). A superior LMX relationship, in addition, depends on the frequency of communication. Frequent communication increases opportunities for members’ contribution as well as get positive feedback from their leaders. Tentatively, the members are able to influence their team decisions as the feedback presents a gauge of the impact of their contributions. Proficient and quality LMX relationships depend on communication, but its effects strengthen when dispersion increases. Uncertainly, when the frequency of communication is high, the influence of members on team decisions will be strong as team dispersion increases. In the case when the communication frequency is low, member influence strength will not depend on team dispersion (Ravi and Joshi, 2012, p 1254).   

Additionally, LMX influences the innovation of a team. The influence of members on team decisions is imperative for innovation. Members coalesce their ideas and problem solving expertise to come about with creative solutions. Leaders who involve members decrease the likelihood of resistance and confrontation during decision making. In establishing the effects of LMX, this study focused on the software department of a fortune 500 company with headquarters in the US. The company prided itself in high quality staff whenever its operations were. The employees surveyed dealt with solving unexpected hardware and software problems. These problems arose from the activities of local inexperienced engineers, and the teams often had to improvise to find solutions.

On the other hand, the human resources department sent team members an email inviting them to an online survey. The study employed responses in groups where more than three members participated. As such, the study measured several aspects of LMX whereas controlling the age team members, their gender and tenure with the team leader. It also controlled team size and the extent of team face-to-face communication. The design of the study was partly cross sectional and, therefore, strong conclusions cannot be made from it. A convenient method would be to employ a longitudinal model and combine results from several companies. On the other hand, companies should persuade LMX as it improves innovation. Undoubtedly, companies should present training and involve highly skilled members as this improves trust between leaders and members.

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