In any social set up or organization, the importance of leadership cannot be underestimated. Leaders within the organization do the planning for most of the sectors such as financial, marketing, policy formulation, and control of the major assets. In addition, they also do the control, organizing and leading of all the aspects of development in the organization. They also exercise their powers on any issue arising such as the decision making processes. In addition, they build industry standards for the organization, set systems running and document procedures that guide both the leaders and employees within the organization. The leaders in any organization are responsible for building the large workforce and human resources within it. They build teams and develop the necessary talents that are seriously needed by the organization to perform their duties. This paper will therefore examine the role of leaders in today’s organizations and particularly in relation to the two theories of leadership; Management Theory (Scientific theory) and the Contingency Theory (Leadership). It will thus help organizations to realize the importance of adopting better leadership styles in their organizations.
Leadership can be defined as directing people to do specific duties by influencing their personal behavior through incentives and motivation, teamwork, individual dynamics and discipline. The core purpose of leadership is to channel all the employees’ behavior towards attaining the organization’s objectives. Leadership is thus essential in creating and maintaining a healthy organizational culture within the organization. (Hepburn, 2006). Moreover, leading does not necessarily come from that in power but from any individual who provides information and suggestions on the way forward. Decision making within the organization rests on the shoulders of the managers and leaders in the company who usually take risks whenever an issue that requires to be addressed arises (Koskela & Howell, 2002).
Giving an example of the kind of leadership employed by Microsoft where the management style is quite extraordinary from what it is currently applied in many other organizations. Surprisingly, the leadership style applied by Bill gates-Microsoft founder has got many leaders offside as it has proved to be working. In order to illustrate the importance of having competent leadership in the organization. An example of Microsoft as a case point can be used as a paradigm to show the value of having excellent leadership. It is one of the best companies in the world at the moment with a huge capital base, extensive market and more revenue.
But the question is; has anybody asked why the company is so successful. The answer is obvious; the leadership style is magnificent, reliable and effective. Even after too many legal suits and condemnation from human rights activists, Bill Gates alongside the management of the organization made the right counter resolutions that has been able to keep the company alive for the last two decades. Globalization, competition and changes in technology have also been the risk features that have contributed to the improvement of the issue of leadership within this organization. (Lee & Miller, 1996).
In fact, many organizations worldwide are confronting more turbulent markets, more demanding shareholders, and more discerning customers, and many are restructuring to meet such disputes. Transformation is always imminent just like a river winding its way to the ocean; it never ceases. Only the successful ones will continue to expand these competencies in order to maximize their leadership skill base. (Cohen, 1996).
Normally, there is no twofold situation in which companies are either healthy or in deep dilemma. Clearly, problems come in many degrees and the smaller the problems, the less need for a directive autocrat. Moreover, a charismatic, transformational leader, regardless of style, will in all likelihood turn around even the most troubled firm (Meznar & Johnson, 2005). The problem with finding such charismatic, transformational leaders is that they are conspicuous by their absence in the real world.
Leadership is all about motivating people or a group towards achievement of the organizational goals. In this case, it is not just one person that is motivated but the whole group of persons in the organization. It involves mutual influence between people especially through incentives, teamwork, individual dynamics and discipline. The main reason is to channel all the employees’ behavior towards the attainment of the organizations’ goals. Therefore leadership is important in maintaining a healthy organizational culture. Leading doesn’t necessarily have to be done by the person in power in the organization. Rather any person in the organization can lead. This is by being influential to the rest of the team. He or she can provide information and give suggestions on the achievement of the set goals. (Cohen, 1996).
In any social setup conflicts do arise and it is the leaders who are entrusted with the responsibility of mediating the wrangling factions in the organization. Conflict can be either they working during weekends without overtime payments or there is lack of accountancy in monies billed and the amounts collected. Under such circumstances leadership management is required to provide solutions with will be beneficial to both the employees and employer by achieving the company goals and objectives. (Husted, 2000).
Conflicts can either be constructive or destructive depending on how they are expressed. Destructive disputes leads to undermining morale or self concept, polarizes people or groups reducing their cooperation, taking attention away from other important activities and irresponsible or harmful behavior like name calling and fighting. This leads to wastage in time, money and energy away from goals of the business. On the other hand it can constructive if there is clarification of issues, solutions to problems are achieved, cooperation among the aggrieved parties is strengthened, and emotions and anxiety with the work place is relieved and understanding is established. (Meznar & Johnson, 2005).
Leadership behavior in work includes; directive, supportive, participative and achievement oriented values and ethics. They are concerned with people’s feelings and making things pleasant for the followers and defining tasks requirements and other aspects of the work agenda within the organization. (Hepburn, 2006).
There are various leadership styles that can be incorporated in overall running of an organization. There is authoritarian leadership which involves telling the employees what needs to be done and how the task should be done. This is very effective when employees are still new in an organization and they have no experience. In participative leadership, employees or other stakeholders are incorporated in the decision making process. It is normally very effective and makes employees to feel important in an organization. (Koskela & Howell, 2002)
In delegative style of leadership, a leader entrusts decision making to employees. This is effective when employees have experience and are qualified. Good leadership always incorporates some authoritarian, participative and delegative style of leadership. The type of leadership adopted will highly influence the relationship between the leader and the followers. (Herbert & Matthews, 1977).
In case of team leadership, every one is expected to have high degree of interdependence geared towards achievement of complexion of duties allocated. A leader within a team is expected to stand apart from the team by virtue of position held and help team members in clarification of issues, advocating for members where there is injustice. In finding solutions team leader is supposed to clearly understand the issue and its possible solutions. These are then formulated and addressed to relevant authorities for action to be taken. This is characteristics of team leadership where a leader gets commitment from individual members to take action on issues concerning the entire group (Galbraith, 1974).
Roles of leaders in an organization
Leaders are the main movers that the organization depends on in order to create and maintain a healthy organizational culture within itself. These roles cut across the board to include all the sectors in within the organization. (Lee And Kim, 1999).
Set goals and objectives for the organization
This is the core role of both leaders and managers in an organization. The objectives and the goals of the organization should provide and insight to what the organization is aiming to achieve. (Husted, 2000).
Monitor the company’s progress
This includes its performance in the market in terms of current rating compared to other companies. Where there is any negative progress, they provide guidance and direction and if there is an improvement it passes the information to the other employees and congratulates them for a job well done. (Herbert & Matthews, 1977)
They are responsible for making investments for the organization by globalizing the products/services of the company. Such investments include building factories, training of the personnel on production procedures and to report the progress to all the stakeholders of the organization (Meznar & Johnson, 2005)
Leaders and mangers communicate what they consider important to all the other employees within the organization. Communication is the ideal tool for making sure that the company creates and maintains a healthy organizational culture within it. Communication can be in the form of giving instructions on how work shall be done within the company or reading out the financial progress of the company over a certain period of time. (Bouwens & Abernethy, 2000)
Provide new ideas
With stiff competition from other organizations, some organizations are under pressure to come up with more improved products. The managers and leaders are expected to work in collaboration with the players in the organization to come up with brands and services for the organization. Provision of new ideas is therefore the responsibility of those in authority in the company and diverge this information to other employees. (Herbert & Matthews, 1977)
Formulation of policies
Policies are the main movers of a company in terms of the strategic tackling of important issues. Policies range from legal restrictions, trade tariffs, industry standards, competitors advantage and company regulations. (Cohen, 1996)
Accountability and discipline
Every member of the organization is accountable for the actions they do that affect the organization. Discipline has been considered the backbone of success both in empirical and implicit terms (Accel-team.com, Frederick Winslow Taylor)
Contingency theory (Leadership)
This one of the leadership theories developed in the century to explain the issue of leadership in the organization. The contingency theory Dissatisfaction with trait-based theories of leadership effectiveness led to the development of contingency leadership theories. Fred Fiedler, in the 1960s and 1970s, was an early pioneer in this area. Various aspects of the situation have been identified as impacting the effectiveness of different leadership styles. For example, Fiedler suggests that the degree to which subordinates like or trust the leader, the degree to which the task is structured, and the formal authority possessed by the leader are key determinants of the leadership situation. Task-oriented or relationship oriented leadership should would each work if they fit the characteristics of the situation. (Herbert & Matthews, 1977).
This theory was developed by several people including Harold Kelly. It is all about how people explain why other people behave the way they do. This ‘explanation’ is the attribution. In this theory there are two types of attribution discussed. In External attribution, a person relates what happens to an external factor like the weather. In the internal attribution, the explanation is based on personal points like the persons level of education or their intelligence (Herbert & Matthews, 1977). When something good happens, most people attribute their success to internal factors. When it is a bad thing then external factors are attributed. When many people see what others do they immediately make attributions on their character? The external attributions can change someone’s behavior. Many people attribute the fact that they are working to the pay rather than an internal factor like enjoyment. (Bouwens & Abernethy, 2000)
Management Theory (Bureaucratic or Scientific)
The management theory of charismatic leadership assumes that followers make attributions of heroic leadership abilities when they observe certain behaviors. It also recognizes that leadership and its effects may not be able to be identified and measured objectively (Bouwens & Abernethy, 2000). In the past, most notable organizations were large and industrialized. Often they included ongoing, routine tasks that manufactured a variety of products. The United States highly prized scientific and technical matters, including careful measurement and specification of activities and results (Herbert & Matthews, 1977). Management tended to be the same. Frederick Taylor developed the: “scientific management theory” which espoused this careful specification and measurement of all organizational tasks. Tasks were standardized as much as possible. Workers were rewarded and punished. (Herbert & Matthews, 1977)
This approach appeared to work well for organizations with assembly lines and other mechanistic, routinized activities. Leaders and subordinates behaviors are significantly influenced by the attributions each makes about the other behavior. Charismatic behaviors include role modeling, image building, articulating goals, emphasizing high expectations, show confidence and arousing follower motives. (Lieberman, 2004)
This theory is about people understanding themselves. This includes the physical social and also the psychological attributes of a person. They are highly affected by person’s habits, ideas, beliefs and the attitudes. Self concept is usually learnt. It is never inborn. Repeated experiences usually shape a persons self concept. How a person feels about him or herself may be very different from how the other people perceive him or her. It is also good to note that self concept is quite dynamic and it can change with time. Many people normally change their old perceptions and embrace the new ones. (Lieberman, 2004)
Transformational leadership occurs when leaders broaden and elevate their followers’ interests, generate awareness and acceptance of the group’s purpose and mission. They stir their followers to look beyond their own self interests to the good of others. Dimensions of transformational leadership are charisma by providing vision and sense of mission (Chenhall, 2003). There is respect and trust in followers, inspiration by expressing important purposes in simple ways. Intellectual stimulation used. Individualized consideration-provides personal attention, treats each employee individually (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1976).
Culture and leadership
This involves developing leaders from very diverse backgrounds. The leaders have to be qualified expertise. Very strong leadership is encouraged in such a case. This is where an organization tries to diversify the leadership team. The leaders should be at least from different backgrounds. There is a lot of dynamism, inspiration and the management practice is sound (Husted, 2000). Leaders are the most important and powerful influence on the culture of an organization and are responsible for creating credibility and trust. It is obvious that employees contribute more when they are working for something they believe in. There is more to work than is commonly assumed. There is rich opportunity here for leaders to appeal to more than just the material rewards. Great leaders, like great companies and countries, create meaning, not just money. (Hepburn 2006)
To achieve success in today’s competitive environment, it is essential that leaders develop the ability to interact positively with others, whether they are employees, employers, colleagues, customers or suppliers. Strong interpersonal skills are also required if one have to maximize (Lee, 1996). Organizations worldwide are confronting more turbulent markets, more demanding shareholders, and more discerning customers, and many are restructuring to meet such challenges. Change is always happening, like a river winding its way to the ocean; it never ceases. The successful ones will continue to expand these competencies in order to maximize their leadership skill base. (Cohen, 1996)
A leader in an organization has to be equipped with knowledge in dealing with these situations. These mechanisms have to be incorporated in time to avoid situations going overboard. Any leader has to have sound knowledge in leadership behaviors, attribution, self concept, revolution and culture. This knowledge will help in carrying out leadership effectively and efficiently. Leaders normally have vital roles that are paramount to the success of the organization. Leaders and managers have almost equal roles but leadership is what is believed to drive the whole aspects of the organization home. The two groups however, have unique responsibilities within an organization that are considered to be the backbone of the organization and utmost necessity in creating and maintaining a healthy organizational culture within the organization.
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