How bad are the effects of bad leaders? 7 pages

KELLY Youth Services is a non-profit organization that operates group homes in Ohio. It was founded by a former NFL player, Joe Kelly, a first-round pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. The organization focuses on providing support and empowerment for youths and the community as a whole. The mission of the organization is “to educate, stimulate and motivate youth into becoming self sufficient, responsible and employable citizens in the community” (KELLY Youth Services, 2016). KELLY Youth Services is designed “to assist in the rehabilitation of its residents by providing a structured disciplined environment based upon basic behavioral principals, educational standards, counseling, treatment care and role modeling” with the goal being to “increase each resident’s likelihood of becoming successful independent productive adults” (KELLY Youth Services, 2016).

Organizational Theories

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Human Relations Theory and Social Exchange Theory can explain KELLY Youth Services by focusing on the motivation of employees (inspired by a social good, as identified by Human Relations Theory) but also by the negotiation of an exchange so that it is a win-win situation for all parties (as is explained by Social Exchange Theory). KELLY can be understood in the light of these two theories because it offers individuals with a civic mind who want to give back to the community the opportunity to assist youths in need. It also enables workers to benefit from their service by giving them experience, training, and the tools needed to develop their own social work skills.

Human Relations Theory states that attitudes of workers and stakeholders, relationships and style of leadership are all instrumental in how well an organization performs. The key concept of the theory is the aspect of “human”—i.e., what aspects of the human are instrumental in making the workplace efficient (O’Connor, 1999). The theory holds that while employees will always be incentivized by financial reward (pay, salary, bonuses, etc.), they are not wholly motivated by this alone. There are, in other words, numerous social factors or variables that also play a part in how hard an employee will work to achieve the organization’s goals. These variables include: 1) having a sense of belonging, 2) taking pride in one’s work, 3) receiving praise and positive feedback, 4) having the ability to enjoy feelings of success. The key concepts of this theory are that individuals should feel like they have a social benefit to their work, one that is both personal and relational. This theory helps an organization to focus on human capital.

Social Exchange Theory states that the key concepts of relationships are self-interest and interdependence. These two variables are what determine how interactions are effected. This theory asserts that social behavior is the result of a give-and-take phenomenon that can be described in terms of a cost-benefit ratio. The theory asserts that rewards and costs are what determine relationship or workplace decisions, and so outcomes may be both social and economic in nature (Lambe, Wittmann, Spekman, 2001).

These two theories apply to KELLY Youth Services’ functions, rules and procedures in terms of how the organization views its role in the community and how workers there respond to the needs of youths in the community. Human Relations Theory explains how KELLY encourages individuals to work for the organization by calling on people who have skills in tutoring and/or various therapy treatments. The theory explains how the organization puts the needs of its clients first and supports workers by providing them with positive feedback for making a difference in young people’s lives, via praise, and via relationships established in the workplace.

Social Exchange Theory explains how KELLY provides benefits to workers for their commitment to the organization and to the community. The functions that KELLY provides to youths requires 24-hour care, and in order to secure workers for 2nd and 3rd shifts, the organization offers benefits to workers that provide them with personal incentives for working these hours. Since the organization is a group home, the organization recognizes that workers want incentives such as health care to work with the youths, and this trade-off is explained by the social exchange theory.

KELLY and the Structure Continuum

The organization is structured to fall on both ends of the continuum by offering both structured continuum and unstructured continuum options. In terms of structured, it is more on the functional end of the continuum than on the project end, which means it is oriented towards providing services that individuals can access rather than tailoring and developing a specific project for a client (Goubko, 2002). KELLY aims to provide individual youths with the right therapy that they need, but this is often delegated to counselors who possess experience in dealing with particular issues. The organization’s standard programs that it offers are maternity-oriented, adult services, transitional living services, and youth mentorship to facilitate life goal development.

In terms of unstructured, the organization’s focus on human individuality and well-being on one end of the continuum is balanced by its focus on objective, efficient completion of tasks on the other end. KELLY wants every client to reach his or her potential and to that end, it focuses on the unique needs and talents of the individual and identifies ways that the client can grow. For this reason, it seeks to promote individual workers who are dedicated to this pursuit. At the same time, it wants to achieve real results with tangible effects, so there is also a focus on measuring outcomes and monitoring development.


The two theories used herein both attend to diversity issues well enough: Human Relations Theory identifies that different individual workers and clients from different backgrounds will celebrate meaning in different ways. The organization embraces diversity and seeks to let individuals define their own terms of success within a larger overall accepted framework that is socially approved within the community.

Social Exchange Theory also supports diversity in terms of how it explains this organization. KELLY Youth Services offers workers incentives to be committed to the organization’s aims and practices, and the programs that are offered to the public will not work unless they are assisted by real professionals who are dedicated to the job. The theory recognizes that every individual will differ and come to the workplace with his or her own sensibilities, background, and desires, so the organization approaches each individual with a sense of how this person may be incentivized in order for the relationship to be a win-win for all.

Strengths and Limitations

Human Relations Theory helped me to understand this organization in terms of how it appealed to individuals: it approaches both clients and workers with the same idea and goal in mind—the betterment of the community. It calls on both clients and workers to work together, to interact, and to support one another so as to achieve the goal of a better community. In doing so, the organization believes that people will grow and develop their own lives to be more in line with success. The balance that it strikes in terms of the theory are that it identifies human needs and seeks ways to provide for those needs. In other words, it uses praise to win the hearts and minds of both workers and clients, calling out those who sacrifice their time, make donations, volunteer or work for the organization and dedicate themselves to the organization’s goals. It also gives support to those who want to accept the challenge of turning their lives around and making changes to become more accountable.

The limitations of this theory are that it does not recognize the unsung heroes of the organization, those who work and dedicate themselves without receiving honors or appreciation. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in just day to day operations; however, the idea of taking pride in one’s work also helps to explain this concept, so in terms of limitations there are few that apply to this theory.

For Social Exchange Theory, its strengths are that it shows how the organization appeals to stakeholders and what it offers in return for commitment from others. Its only weakness is that it views the exchange as one that is focused on developing a win-win for everyone, and in some cases I do not see a win-win situation as always possible. In some cases, an individual will be required to sacrifice more in order to achieve the greater or common good that is the goal of the organization. This might me longer hours, or giving up some habit that the individual has cultivated for a long time in order to meet the goals of a particular program. For this reason, Human Relations Theory works better to explain the organization because it includes taking pride in one’s work, which comes from sacrificing to achieve a good. In this sense, as Kissack and Callahan (2010) show, the organizational culture that is cultivated by the organization is what supports the Human Relations Theory approach to understanding the organization over the Social Exchange Theory. However, both can be helpful in understanding aims of KELLY Youth Services and what the non-profit is about.


I found that using multiple theories to assess the organization was rather helpful. One theory alone is not adequate to always understand everything about an entity. Sometimes having multiple perspectives or frameworks from which to gauge the entity allows one to better see all its characteristics and understand its approaches. In terms of recognizing the role of leadership in KELLY, for instance, Human Relations Theory is helpful because it shows that, just as Schyns and Schilling (2013) do, leadership is essential for producing positive outcomes. At the same time, Social Exchange Theory is helpful for seeing how the organization attracts stakeholders. Stakeholders see that the organization is offering some benefit to them either through employment incentives, social recognition, empowerment, or a change of life assistance offering via a program designed to make lives better. Thus, together these two theories explain a great deal about the organization, and even though one might be relied upon more so than the other to explain certain aspects or dynamics of the organization, each is helpful in the overall picture that develops.

Applying the Saint Leo Core Value of Responsible Stewardship

The Saint Leo core value of responsible stewardship applies to this organization because at its essence, KELLY Youth Services is the embodiment of this value. The organization sees itself as a steward of the community and wants to make a difference. Its founder is one who has benefitted by playing professional football for the community and recognizes the opportunity to give back by assisting those who are less fortunate than him to have the chance to better their lives. The founder represents the Saint Leo core value of responsible stewardship because he has been blessed with an abundance of resources and has fostered a spirit of service to use those resources for community development. The organization thus teaches others to serve as responsible stewards, either in their own lives or in their communities in order to make the world a better place.

Responsible stewardship can best be characterized by the idea of servant leadership, which fits in with the Christian ideals and values associated with this core value and with community values as well. By being there for youths who are in need and offering programs to help them climb out of their troubles and giving them shelter and a place to stay, grow, and develop, the KELLY Youth Services organization works as a responsible steward in the community, taking in those who have problems such as homelessness, psychological issues, drug habits, or poverty and poor education.

Overall the organization is there to make a difference and to effect positive change in the lives of all stakeholders. It helps those who give just as much as it helps those who receive. It puts all stakeholders in a better light because the light is illumined by the grace of service, which is what is at the heart of the Saint Leo core value of responsible stewardship, and which is what is at the heart of Christian values that Saint Leo represents. These same values are represented well by the giving nature of KELLY Youth Services and the goal of its founder, who received much from the community and now wants to give back.



Goubko, M. V. (2002). Structure of the optimal organization of a continuum of

executives. Automation and Remote Control, 63(12), 116-130.

KELLY Youth Services. (2016). Welcome to KELLY Youth Services. Retrieved from

Kissack, H., Callahan, J. (2010). The reciprocal influence of organizational culture and

training and development programs: Building the case for a culture analysis within program planning. Journal of European Industrial Training, 34(4), 365 – 380.

Lambe, C., Wittmann, C., Spekman, R. (2001). Social exchange theory and research on

business-to-business relational exchange. Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, 8(3), 1-36.

O’Connor, E. (1999). Minding the workers: The meaning of human ‘and human relations’

in Elton Mayo. Organization, 6(2), 223-246.

Schyns, B., Schilling, J. (2013). How bad are the effects of bad leaders? A meta-

analysis of destructive leadership and its outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 24, 138-158.





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