MBA-550 Leading in an Organization
Discussion: Leadership and Management Effectiveness Using examples and material found in the text Chapters 1 and 2, explain why both leadership traits and management skills are foundational for leading an organization, improving organizational structure, and making managerial decisions. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts, reflecting on their examples of leadership traits and managerial skills. To complete this assignment, review the Modules One Through Eight Discussion Rubric document.
The Meaning of Leadership
You will read about many effective organizational leaders throughout this text. The common characteristic of these leaders is their ability to inspire and stimulate others to achieve worthwhile goals. Therefore, we can define leadership as the ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals.
A Google search of articles and books about leadership in organizations indicates 123 million entries. In all those entries, leadership has probably been defined in many ways. Here are several other representative definitions of leadership:
A process in which an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
The influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with directions and orders.
An act that causes others to act or respond in a shared direction.
The art of influencing people by persuasion or example to follow a line of action.
An effort to maintain control and power over others.
The principal dynamic force that motivates and coordinates the organization in the accomplishment of its objectives.
The exercise of social influence between and among many sources of leadership (including the leader, follower, and setting), working toward a common goal by using various mechanisms including the leader’s traits, behavior, and emotion.
First figuring out what’s right, and then explaining it to people, as opposed to first having people explain to you what’s right, and then just saying what they want to hear (as defined by former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani).
Importantly, leadership is not only found among people in high-level positions. Quite the contrary: Leadership is needed at all levels in an organization and can be practiced to some extent even by a person not assigned to a formal leadership position. For example, working as a junior accountant, a person might take the initiative to suggest to management that they need to be more careful about what they classify as a true sale. It has been suggested that for improved business results to come about, it will be because managers below the C-suite (such as CEO, COO, and CFO) take the initiative and risks to drive the company in a different direction. Change needs to come about from leaders at lower levels, rather than relying exclusively on leadership from the top.
Another way of understanding that leadership can be exercised by many people in the organization is the presence of people who provide leadership to others who do not have a job title suggesting that they are managers or leaders. You can also rise to leadership when people come to respect your opinion and personal characteristics and are thus influenced by you. Emergent leaders are group members who significantly influence other group members even though they have not been assigned formal authority. You, therefore, can exert some leadership by being an influential coworker. A team member who is influential based on personal attributes and behaviors will often be regarded as a leader by peers.
The ability to lead others effectively is a rare quality. It becomes even rarer at the highest levels in an organization because the complexity of such positions requires a vast range of leadership skills. This is one reason that firms in search of new leadership seek out a select group of brand-name executives with proven track records. It is also why companies now emphasize leadership training and development to create a new supply of leaders throughout the firm.
Leadership as Shared Responsibility and Collaboration
Many leadership theorists and managers agree that the leadership role within a team is seldom the responsibility of one person. Rather, several individuals within the team may serve as leaders, both by formal assignment and informally. Leadership may shift, depending on whose expertise is the most relevant at the moment, such as one member of a marketing team having advanced expertise in using social media for product promotion.
The essence of shared and collaborative leadership is reflected in the comments of Nick Petrie who conducted a study on leadership development. He said, “There is a transition occurring from the old paradigm in which leadership resided in a person or role, to a new one in which leadership is a collective process that is spread throughout networks of people.”
A key force driving collaborative leadership is the hyperconnected organizational world fostered by e-mail and social media, along with globalization. The collaborative leadership style is well suited to harness the power of this multitude of connections. For example, a head of marketing can readily gather and welcome the input of thousands of people on broadening the market for a product. In this way, the head of marketing collaborates with people from afar instead of developing the strategy alone.
More will be presented and shared about collaborative leadership throughout the book, especially in the discussion in Chapter 4 about leadership styles, and Chapter 9 about developing teamwork.
Leadership as a Relationship
A modern study of leadership emphasizes that it consists of a relationship between the leader and the people being led. A theoretical analysis by Gail T. Fairhurst and Mary Uhl-Bien explains that leadership is not a trait or behavior of an individual, but a phenomenon generated in the interactions among people acting in a given setting. The social actions between and among people enable them to work together in meaningful ways to produce leadership outcomes. For example, a leader at a vehicle dealership might be pursuing the outcome of generating more revenue per vehicle purchase. By building good relationships with dealer associates, he or she gains their cooperation in generating useful ideas for generating more revenue, such as pushing harder to get customers to purchase a navigation and security system that generates monthly revenue.
The given setting mentioned previously refers to the context of the relationship. In a high-power and authority context, such as an entry-level employee working with the CEO, the communication is likely to be both tasks based and relationship oriented as well. The entry-level worker, having much less power and authority, is likely to emphasize politeness, speak formally, and be complimentary.
Research indicates that having good relationships with group members is a major success factor for the three top positions in large organizations. James Kouzes and Barry Posner conducted an online survey asking respondents to indicate, among other responses, which would be more essential to business success in five years: social skills or Internet skills. Seventy-two percent indicated social skills, and 28 percent, Internet skills. The authors concluded that the web of people matters more than the web of technology. (Yet a person who lacks Internet skills may not have the opportunity to be in a position to manage relationships.) Building relationships with people is such an important part of leadership that the theme will be introduced at various points in this text.
How leaders build relationships has changed somewhat in the modern era and its emphasis on interacting with people electronically. It is common practice for leaders to give recognition and praise via e-mail or a posting on the company social media site, or a public social media site such as Facebook or Twitter. The late Steve Jobs, the Apple Company cofounder, however, emphasized that leaders should not let communication technology block them from interacting face-to-face with work associates. “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.” In addition to sparking innovation, the face-to-face encounters help develop relationships.
Leadership Versus Management
To understand leadership, it is important to grasp the difference between leadership and management. We get a clue from the standard conceptualization of the functions of management: planning, organizing, directing (or leading), and controlling. Leading is a major part of a manager’s job, yet a manager must also plan, organize, and control.
Broadly speaking, leadership deals with the interpersonal aspects of a manager’s job, whereas planning, organizing, and controlling deal with the administrative aspects. Leadership deals with change, inspiration, motivation, and influence.
According to John P. Kotter, a prominent leadership theorist, managers must know how to lead as well as manage. Without being led as well as managed, organizations face the threat of extinction. Following are several key distinctions between management and leadership:
Management produces order, consistency, and predictability.
Leadership produces change and adaptability to new products, new markets, new competitors, new customers, and new work processes.
Leadership, in contrast to management, involves having a vision of what the organization can become and mobilizing people to accomplish it.
Leadership produces change, often to a dramatic degree, such as by spearheading the launch of a new product or opening a new market for an old product. Management is more likely to produce a degree of predictability and order.
Top-level leaders are likely to transform their organizations, whereas top-level managers just manage (or maintain) organizations.
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