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Management Styles in Bahrain

Providing the kind of managerial leadership needed for success in the business world is not substantially different in Bahrain than elsewhere in today's global economy. But there are certain areas that call for an extra measure of understanding — zeroing in on the types of leadership skills that are actually being brought into play.

Leadership and emotional intelligence (EI) are two vital elements that must come together in all managerial styles in today's organizations. Managers who have the best results do not rely on just one leadership style, but use a combination, depending on the situation (Goleman, 2000). Typically, they will incorporate emotional intelligence as a key element in organizational success (Samad, 2009; Goleman, 1998; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2001; Merlevede,Bridoux & Vandamme, 2001; Orme, 2001; Orme & Cannon, 2000, Samad, 2009).

Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence means tuning into our emotions — understanding them and being aware of our emotions, managing them or taking appropriate action (Goleman, 1998; Goleman, 1996; Orme, 2001; Mayer, Higgs & Dulewicz, 1999; Mayer & Salovey, 1999; Salovey, Caruso & Sitarenious, 2001). While most of the research into emotional intelligence has been conducted in the Western economy, we have found it to have an important bearing in Bahrain as well. Leadership does not know national boundaries.

Bahrain Business Environment
Bahrain's culture is dominated by Islamic beliefs, traditions, and norms of behavior. This culture is characterized by strong adherence to traditions and greatly involves the extended family. These cultural components are powerful enough to reflect themselves both in the nation's institutions and the interpersonal

relationships of its people — true not just in Bahrain but also throughout the Gulf States.

A typical manager finds himself relying heavily on personalized and informal methods and styles in the management of his organization. According to AlHashemi (1987), social pressures as well as business pressures impinge on the attitudes and behavior of a typical manager. The term "social pressure" refers here to the expectations, constraints and/or demands which society places on individuals. These pressures originate from, and are shaped by socio-cultural values, norms and mores that seem to have their roots in a long history of traditions, religion, and popular belief systems. A leader's legitimacy is sanctioned by tradition and they extend to followers' protection and welfare. The Western concepts of leadership and emotional intelligence may not be applicable to an Islamic culture setting.

The standardized tests which have been developed in the West and especially the United States do not take into consideration the effect that national and corporate culture can have on leadership styles and emotional intelligence. What managers practice and use is shaped by the nature of the organization, the corporate culture of that organization and the overall national culture. This issue is also highlighted by Weir (2004) and supported by Hofstede's work (1980; 1991), pointing out the Anglo-American paradigms that are now being challenged in the West.

Each of the six leadership styles identified was appropriate to certain situations and settings but no single style alone was found to be appropriate to all situations. The most effective leaders appeared to know how to use the right style for the situation at hand. The study also showed that leadership styles used in the West are not uncommon in Bahrain. The Coercive style is preferred in combination with the Affiliative and Democratic styles. The Democratic style is strongly associated with the Pacesetting and Coaching. The Authoritative is favored with the Pacesetting and Coaching styles. However, it was found that the Pacesetting and Coaching styles are not compatible with each other. These results differ from other studies such as Kelner et al (1994), where the combination of the styles used together produced slight variations based on the nature of the styles, especially when combined.

Relationship Between Styles
This research proved that there is a moderate relationship between the six leadership styles identified by Goleman (2000) and the various components of emotional intelligence, where managers possessed moderate to high levels of emotional intelligence. The analysis revealed that corporate culture plays an important role and can influence some of the leadership styles and components of emotional intelligence.

In addition, national culture is an important element to be taken into consideration when designing and applying standardized measurements or tests.

The Coaching and Democratic styles were the least used and the least preferred styles out of the six. These unexpected results came from the negative correlations of the Democratic and Coaching styles. This is justified by the influence of national culture, where democracy has only recently been introduced and is gradually taking root.

As pointed out by the 16 executives (in the study), the corporate culture in Bahrain is changing towards a more democratic and open approach. The managers interviewed agreed that employees today are given the opportunity to express their opinions freely, participate in the decision making process and planning. Furthermore, managers are becoming more transparent in dealing with change and leadership styles. They indicated that this shift is gradually taking place, and that it would take some more time before more democracy is practiced at various levels in all organizations in Bahrain. The managers also expressed their concern towards the minority of people who have negative attitudes towards democracy and change, as they consider this may hinder progress. The managers are striving to make the workplace appealing for employees, through activities that help bring employees together, especially after working hours. Another unexpected result came from the positive correlations of the Coercive leadership style which ordinarily leads to negative correlations. The Affiliative style yielded low correlations, but was expected to have a stronger relationship with the emotional intelligence competencies because of its nature.

It can be assumed that managers in the Gulf region have been conditioned or socialized by common managerial practices and problems and that they are aware of and influenced by a commercial tradition that dates back many centuries (Badawy, 1980). The use of personal ties and connections is evident in a wide range of activities (Al Ismaily, 2006). These personal relationships have become an important and necessary part of doing business. However, today's managers are exposed to modern business practices and conditions through formal education and a great deal of interaction with other Arabic and Western businessmen.

 
 
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