Leadership -- its Importance for Today's Organization
When looking at leadership and the role it plays in organizations, it is important to not only define it, but also recognize the differences with respect to "Management." The characteristics of effective leaders need to be examined, as well as how one can develop leadership skills in today's work environment.
This report will show the importance of leadership in terms of developing and implementing effective strategies, as well as traits employees feel are important for an effective leader. Three articles concerning leadership will also be examined in this report.
Definition of Leadership and Differences with Respect to "Management" good definition of leadership is one who possesses the "capacity or ability to lead (http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entries/06/m0070600.html)" or give an organization direction or guidance.
Management, however, refers to the executive ability or skill in managing an organization.
Management skills should be balanced with leadership skills. It is important to place extra emphasis on developing leadership skills, and less on management skills (Bolton).
Management deals with "planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, controlling and problem solving (Bolton)."
In contrast, leadership deals with "establishing direction and aligning people, as well as motivating and inspiring (Bolton)." Some feel that if there is too much management, there is bureaucracy, while if there is too much leadership, there is anarchy, creating a need for a balance between the two.
The Importance of Leadership to Effective Strategy Development and Implementation
When developing and implementing an effective strategy it is important to understand the leader's competencies. These are the results of one's "experiences and the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes he or she has acquired during their lifetime (Pickett 103)."
In an organization, the competencies may be used to perform a number of duties which produce products and services to others. The quality of the services or goods, as well as the response from the receiver, leads to "results with positive, negative or neutral consequences for the organization; the people who work there; and its suppliers, shareholders, clients, and customers (Pickett 103)."
Many companies today realize the importance "to improve management competencies, improve organizational structure, to better utilize corporate strategy to drive change and to strengthen the link between strategic intent and day-to-day implementation (Pickett 103)."
It is important that current and projected needs of an organization be reflected in workplace and managerial skills. Senior management needs to be able to recognize the basic competencies of the organization and make sure the managers and workforce are adequately skilled, since the future success of any organization depends on adept employees.
The organization and its employees can realize growth with "the development of an effective competencies framework and complimentary performance management program (Pickett 103)."
Employee Perceptions of what Constitutes Effective Leadership
Employee perceptions of what they feel represents effective leadership vary from one organization to another. Some employees feel it is important for the CEO and senior executives to share strategic leadership. They feel a team approach to leadership is important for the survival of the organization.
This type of leadership has been shown to be effective in multinational organizations.
Another variation of this leadership type "extends strategic leadership to include middle management (Harrison 299)."
Employees feel middle management is a crucial connection between the "strategic decisions made at the top of the organization and the implementation of such decisions in the operational areas (Harrison 299)."
Some employees like a participative style of strategic leadership in which they and management in all levels of the organization participate in decision making. Some feel this is a way to be successful by giving employees, consumers and suppliers an active voice in the organization. In this type of leadership, the CEO is relegated "to a role as first among equals, although the CEO must maintain ultimate responsibility for the formulation and implementation of strategy (Harrison 299)."
Other employees feel that strategic leadership is not an important aspect, no matter what level of the organization it is proposed. Instead, they feel performance of the organization is based on environmental factors.
They feel leadership should adjust to the current strategy for the organization, and in this opinion, the "significance of strategic leadership is downplayed by asserting that the board is the genuine source of strategic vision and the CEO functions mainly as a facilitator of the board's vision (Harrison 299)."
The employees in this case believe that organizations are able to run themselves, while the CEO's leadership has little influence.
Characteristics of Effective Leaders
There are numerous characteristics that make effective leaders.
A leader must have a global perspective of the business industry, by not only "appreciating differences across cultures, but also find cultural denominators (McClenahen Vol. 248)." The leader must create a logical approach by finding a common ground among different areas of the organization.
A leader must also have an entrepreneurial spirit which is "the ability to see value, often where others can't (McClenahen Vol. 248)."
Leaders who possess this trait are not afraid of trying new things and often are able to combine items to achieve their goals.
Technical literacy is another important characteristic of a strong leader. Although the leader does not need to possess a Ph.D., it is important for him or her to have knowledge of the equipment "so they know how to use it, and deploy it, and make it work in their organizations (McClenahen Vol. 248) key aspect for a successful organization is to have a leader who has enterprise-design capability. This leader will be able to "configure the appropriate set of resources, capacities, and capabilities to go after the opportunity in front of him or her (McClenahen Vol. 248)."
The leader should be self-assured in a chaotic environment. An influential leader has the ability to act as a teacher, giving instructions to employees and not expecting them to learn only by doing. A leader needs to be "absolutely anchored, firmly anchored, in three fundamental values (McClenahen Vol. 248)."
This fundamental values are integrity, respect for the dignity of other people, and personal responsibility.
An effective leader is "open to other's ideas, optimistic about their ability to solve problems, knows how to draw people together around a cause and to draw the best from them (Sweeney 9)." A proficient leader is able to build confidence in the employees, while creating a system those in the organization can trust.
How can one Develop Leadership Skills Required for Today's Rapidly Changing Environment?
One can develop leadership skills by continuously trying to have an unpretentious attitude, thus building trusting relationships with employees.
One should also actively listen to issues that concern the employees, and learn when and how to say "no." Leadership skills can be achieved by reading business-related articles, as well as non-technical books. One can increase their self-confidence by learning to trust their intuition.
It is important for a leader to learn to lead a solution, instead of just evaluating the problem. By developing "visions and plans, creativity and analysis, logic and intuition (Bolton)" one can become an effective leader.
Summary of Findings from Three Articles Concerning Leadership
After examining three articles which concern leadership, one can conclude that managerial competencies are important "for an effective performance management program (Pickett 103)." It is crucial to compare the competencies required for a job with those of the person performing the job, in a manner such as a yearly evaluation.
Organizational results can be achieved through management competency programs, which identify the main requirements needed to perform a job effectively. These programs emphasis "the knowledge and skills of people must be developed and matched with their current and projected future roles in the organization (Pickett 103).
It is important for one wanting to assume leadership roles to have a motivational model. The model, which is expectancy theory, states that people "acting through self-interest, adopt courses of…