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Thematic Review of Leadership
3a. David and Arthur Shriberg offer a comprehensive examination of theoretical and practical elements of leadership. The authors provide a number of implications for practical leadership. In this way, they demonstrate that all theoretical models may be effectively used in practice. At the same time, some leadership models are more useful in some contexts, while others are more helpful in others.
The authors show that the current multi-cultural environment is more comprehensive than a traditional one. Additionally, their work contains a number of additional opportunities that may be utilized by leaders. Modern leaders should be able to understand the dominant cultural needs of different groups and properly address them. It is also necessary to minimize the probability of conflicts between the representatives of various groups. This objective may be achieved if leadership principles are applied correctly.
The authors are also highly successful in exploring the recent trends in leadership as they realize that leaders should always search for the most innovative and effective solutions. For this reason, they examine the essence of virtual leadership (Shriberg & Shriberg 2010, p. 191). They claim that the virtual environment possesses a number of additional challenges for a leader, as it is more difficult to influence followers under such conditions. However, the authors propose a system of application of traditional leadership tactics to satisfy the requirements of the virtual world. Moreover, they demonstrate that almost all leadership principles are universal. The main task is to correctly apply them to the current environment.
The authors stress that correct leadership theories are not arbitrary, but are based on the corresponding philosophy of leadership (Shriberg & Shriberg 2010, p. 208). They contribute to the complex development of the studies of leadership and help to avoid the main sources of confusion and misunderstanding. The broad philosophical approach may specify the existing contradictions and propose an optimal way to avoid them. Some leadership theories focus on behavioral aspects. On one hand, they show how leaders can influence their followers behavior. On the other hand, they demonstrate how different employees attitude may substantially improve an organizations productivity and profitability.
The Greeks considered leaders as teachers and harmonizers (Shriberg & Shriberg 2010, p. 209). They developed the concepts of an ideal city and an ideal leader. Although these representations were unrealistic, they helped to determine the basic functions and qualities of leaders. Plato was especially concerned with the ideal leader, who should be able to harmonize the interests of all citizens. Thomas Aquinas focused on the qualities that a leader should possess in order to inspire others and reach organizational and spiritual progress. The human nature was viewed differently by Locke and Hobbes. The first philosopher viewed it as a peaceful cooperation, while the second one believed that the interests of all individuals are antagonistic. Machiavelli developed a disputable claim that an end justifies all means. The authors discussion of these ideas helped to better understand the transformation of leadership understanding over time.
Additionally, the current trends in the most common workplace technologies are examined. The authors show that they influence leadership as leaders have to adjust their techniques to the dominant technologies. Leaders have to find the optimal way of applying the most effective leadership principles to the existing technological environment. Moreover, they have to regularly adjust their tactics to higher technological opportunities that emerge in different periods. These new technologies may contribute to the emergence of virtual organizations and even a virtual workforce. Modern leaders should respond promptly to all such opportunities and utilize them in their strategies effectively. The authors provide a number of specific recommendations that may be used for maximizing the general outcome.
3b. Leadership is a process of social influence, when an individual supports other group members by encouraging the attainment of common objectives (Kovjanic et al 2012). Under the current business conditions, transformational leadership tends to become the most widespread and popular style. A leader affects others with the help of his/her vision and demonstrates them the most rational and efficient way of realizing the mission. The influence of the leader is neither mechanistic nor random. He/she successfully integrates all organizational and ethical elements in all actions. It serves as a model for followers and allows to increase the effectiveness and productivity of the entire organization.
The foundational theory in the sphere of leadership of the 21st century is the transformational one. It recognizes the importance of a leader when it comes to developing and shearing the vision with followers. Transformational leadership is characterized by such elements as influence, motivation, stimulation, and individualized consideration (Kovjanic et al 2012). There are three broad themes that can be determined in this context. The first one encompasses subjective aspects. They include the leaders charisma, vision, and behavior, as well as the followers responses. The second one includes objective aspects. They include the impact on the companys market share, productivity, and profitability. The third one is the optimization and integration of all subjective and objective aspects into the one coherent system.
Statistical methods may be used for quantitative specification of the leaders influence. Boga and Ensari (2009) provide a regression analysis of empirical relationships between the perceptions of organizational success and transformational leadership. They explain that these issues are closely interrelated. Moreover, the role of transformational leadership is stronger in the organizations, which face considerable changes and a large number of adjustments (Boga & Ensari 2009, p. 235). Their empirical analysis clearly shows that any organization experiencing changes may substantially improve its performance if it has a transformational leader (Boga & Ensari 2009, p. 246).
These results seem to be logical and predictable. The process of transformation is very complex and cannot occur spontaneously. Transformational leaders appraise the whole situation and may propose necessary interventions. The initiators of organizational changes should also take into consideration the presence of transformational leaders and adjust planning accordingly. Organizational changes should be viewed as an option for implementing the necessary reforms that may generate positive results in the long run.
There are various approaches to optimization. Staber and Sydow (2002) claim that traditional reforms of cost reduction and rationalization are not highly effective in the 21st century. This conclusion seems correct, as a company cannot generate any competitive advantage if it uses the same approach as its competitors. Therefore, the search for new methods and approaches in this sphere is necessary. The authors propose to rely on adaptive capacities and select the optimal option from all existing alternatives (Staber & Sydow 2002, p. 408).
Giddens structuration theory may be relevant in this case, as it outlines all key structural dimensions that allow to make rational choices. This theory may generate positive results, but it cannot solve all problems, as it does not address the problem of uncertainty. It is possible to assess the existing market risks quantitatively and allocate resources accordingly. However, uncertainty cannot be assessed quantitatively, as consumer valuations are subject to constant changes. For this reason, the role of transformational leader cannot be reduced to any formal theory. Effective leaders may determine the most plausible state of the market in the future and implement the necessary reforms. If these appraisements are correct, the company may maximize its profits and strengthen the current market position.
When it comes to dealing with actual challenges, it is important to distinguish management from leadership clearly. Management consists of a number of well-developed stages and functions such as planning, controlling, decision-making, and problem-solving (Kotter 2013, p. 1). At the same time, leadership cannot be assessed under the same formal criteria. Leadership always orients towards the future, and a leader evaluates all available alternatives in the context of their contribution to achieving the desired state of business affairs in the shortest time possible.
Leadership necessarily includes vision and ideas about the implementation of the desired changes. Kotter (2013) believes that the modern business world requires more leaders at all organizational levels. Otherwise, organizations will tend to become very vulnerable and unstable. This approach contains both positive and negative elements. On one hand, the author is correct in stressing that leadership is not directly related to any organizational level. Employees at all levels may possess leadership skills, which it will be beneficial for their organization. On the other hand, it seems incorrect to state that the number of leaders may increase to such an extent that it will be sufficient for all companies.
Leadership cannot be analyzed in isolation from the external business environment. It always refers to the specific conditions of time and space. It is examined in relation and in comparison to the other companies. Therefore, effective transformational leaders are scarce, as they help to each the above-average performance. Thus, their number can never be sufficient, as the demand for transformation exists in all organizations, while it is effectively achieved only in some cases.
One of the main disadvantages of traditional leadership theories is the neglect of errors and mistakes caused by the human actions. It is implicitly assumed that effective organizations and transformational leaders may avoid all mistakes completely. Therefore, the existence of errors and responsive strategies are not properly examined. As a result, any real organization lacks a model for dealing and preventing errors. Reason (2000) points out that errors are always present even in the most effective organizations, and the systems approach should be used. Errors are considered as a consequence, rather than a cause of organizational problems (Reason, 2000, p. 768). The existence of mistakes shows that some organizational factors are faulty. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the motivational structure and basic criteria implemented at the given organization.
It seems that error management may be introduced in almost all modern organizations. It may help to deal with both actual and potential errors. High reliability organizations should be able to exclude the negative influence of systemic factors. In this way, the total number of errors can be minimized. Transformational leaders should also be effective in combining creativity with the minimization of errors. As leaders always encourage innovative solutions for the existing problems, errors may emerge. However, the leader should correctly assess the expected probability of error in a given case and compare it with the expected benefits. As a result, all macro and micro-proposals and projects can be assessed on this basis.
The main difficulty of this assessment is its subjectivity and inability to substitute statistical or regression models. The leader should fulfill the function of uncertainty bearing and make reasonable and well-justified choices. As he/she should make these choices ex ante, it produces a comparatively high probability of error. However, high risks in the business environment typically correspond to high profitability. Therefore, if the leaders appraisements are correct, they strongly improve the companys competitive position.
There are three main elements that should be considered during the implementation of changes. The first one is examining and predicting the future. At this stage, the role of transformational leaders is especially high. They should predict the most plausible future state of the market and assess the existing opportunities and resources. The second one is enrolling change agents. As any fundamental change requires a group of people, the leader should find and adequately motivate them. The third one is engaging in the process of change (Rashid, Edmondson, and Leonard 2013, p. 119). As a large number of people will often resist change, it is necessary to provide adequate motivation and support.
Since external conditions are unstable, it is reasonable to revise the initial strategy on a regular basis. It should be adjusted to both the external opportunities and internal resources. However, the broad vision should be comparatively stable and reflect the basic organizational values. The choice between other alternatives should be organized in accordance with their contribution to the fulfillment of the organizational functions. It may include both financial and social objectives. There is no contradiction between profit maximization and social responsibility in a modern company.
Rashid, Edmondson, and Leonard (2013) stress that modern threats and opportunities require highly flexible solutions and teamwork (p. 119). This statement seems correct, because it is almost impossible to predict the whole spectrum of all possible business situations. Therefore, the leader should familiarize his/her followers with the general vision. In this way, they will become aware of the fundamental principles and values that will help them to make responsible decisions in various situations.
What is more, teamwork may be effectively encouraged only if the synergic effect occurs during the operational process. It means that the overall team results should be higher than the sum of individual contributions. This extra value may emerge, if the leader correctly distributes responsibilities and uses correct motivational techniques. Moreover, a transformational leader should be open for receiving and responding to the reaction of other organizational members. Therefore, the leader should both send and receive formal and informal messages. In this way, the encouraged communication among the team members may be mutually beneficial.
Rashid, Edmondson, and Leonard (2013) suggest that leaders should be tolerant to other peoples mistakes, as it is the essence of a dual approach (p. 119). It does not seem to be entirely correct, because leaders always aim at implementing the changes. Therefore, they cannot neglect mistakes, but should help to understand them and avoid them in the future. At the same time, it is correct that leaders should not be overly-concentrated on the negative experience and address it only as far as it contributes to the solution of future challenges.
The concept of leadership does not contain any gender restrictions, because charisma and other leadership qualities do not depend on gender. However, the role of women is still underestimated in the number of spheres. Nelson (2012) shows that gender bias exists in the social construction of many markets (p. 1). It is correct to state that social stereotyping often influences business decisions. Some entrepreneurs tend to rely on the stereotypes rather than on objective analysis. However, Nelsons overall negative conclusions and expectations do not seem to be well-grounded. As profitability and market share are not constant over time, they will shift towards the direction of more effective entrepreneurs.
Therefore, there should not be any concerns of discrimination or incorrect appraisement of some ethnic or gender group for a long period of time. If the productivity of women is underestimated, then companies that will increase the fraction of women among their employees will generate additional profits. Correspondingly, the companies that are governed by stereotypes will suffer losses, and their market shares may diminish. Transformational leaders should orient on the possible future states of the market and compare them with the current situation. In this way, they determine those factors of production that are underpriced due to incorrect market appraisements of other companies and entrepreneurs.
Gender differences should not constitute a separate problem for a leader, as he/she evaluates all resources and opportunities in a complex way. A bias does not contribute to the correct decisions and objective analysis. Therefore, transformational leaders do not rely on stereotyping, as any successful market decision requires non-standard solutions.
In the 21st century, business tends to become even more global. Leaders have to act in a multi-cultural environment, which creates additional challenges and opportunities. On one hand, the representatives of different cultures may interpret the same events differently. Other things being equal, the probability of conflicts increases. On the other hand, a more diverse population generates more benefits of labor specialization. Therefore, the main task of the leader is to properly integrate all organizational members and encourage mutual tolerance and cooperation.
Pillai, Scandura, and Williams (1999) demonstrate that different cultures have distinct patterns of responses to the external stimuli, though some mutual characteristics are present. The authors claim that transformational leaders should contribute to both job satisfaction and distributive justice (Pillai, Scandura & Williams 1999, p. 774). Such approach entails a serious challenge, as the standards of justice are not identical in different cultures. At the same time, a leader cannot discriminate the representatives of different cultures.
It seems that the proper solution to this challenge includes assigning remuneration in accordance with ones productivity. Correspondingly, more productive members will have additional financial and career opportunities, regardless of their culture. Moreover, the leader may propose additional benefits for those people, who are able to find additional types of motivation on an individual basis. Finally, the leader may inspire all team members and encourage their responsible behavior.
A leader should also recognize that other group members are not passive responders to his/her influence. They rationally assess all information and interpret it according to their life principles and worldview. Kovjanic et al (2012) examine mediating mechanisms of followers. They demonstrate that a number of issues in this sphere are still not properly investigated and require further elaboration. They also show that transformational leadership and job satisfaction are closely interrelated (Kovjanic et al 2012, p. 1031). Thus, transformational leaders not only affect objective organizational aspects (productivity, profitability, etc.), but they also influence subjective features (employees evaluation of their performance).
Moreover, subjective aspects may be even more important at some stages than the objective ones. As job satisfaction is related to higher productivity, transformational leaders may successfully correlate the companys objectives along with employees mental and psychological states. Kovjanic et al (2012) also stress that leaders contribute to self-determination of employees (p. 1031). This observation is correct, as effective leaders aim at encouraging responsibility and critical thinking among all organizational members. They should fulfill particular functions not only because they are required by the job description, but due to their self-discipline and belief in organizational values. All contradictions between individual and organizational objectives should be abolished.
Hull and Read (2003) stress the importance of learning in the process of leadership (p. 4). It seems highly relevant both for leaders and their followers. They have to improve their knowledge constantly both in relation to leadership theories and changing external conditions.
Thus, transformational leadership is concerned with all organizational elements. Moreover, leaders have to compare the present state with the potential one and develop the possible measures accordingly. The amount of information and alternative scenarios is significant, and transformational leaders have the capacity to work under such pressure and find optimal solutions. Although they also can make mistakes, their developed set of alternatives still allows maintaining the highly productive level. Moreover, transformational leaders make correct conclusions from their experience and increase the probability of future success.
After all, the most important skill is the leaders ability to transform the vision in organizational setting. They optimize the entire structure and coordinate all the key elements. The followers perception of their job is influenced by their leaders perspective. Transformational leaders demonstrate a number of new opportunities for all participants. As a result, the general organizational results tend to improve, and the interests of all parties are well-balanced. As this equilibrium is temporary due to constant changes, transformational leaders have to regularly adjust their strategy and introduce relevant innovations.
3c. It is necessary to present my personal leadership philosophy and an action plan. The core of my leadership model is based on vision and credibility. The leader should be able to clearly present his/her thoughts and encourage others to act in the same manner. The main traits of the leader include persistence, high motivation, and tolerance towards others mistakes. The key leadership skills include confidence, ability to motivate others, and integrity. The most important task of the leader refers to the coordination of efforts of all team members as well as encouraging their progress according to the leaders vision.
My leadership model emphasizes the following key values: responsibility, honesty, and devotion. The leader encourages these values in all his/her employees. The relationships in the organization are based on mutual respect and trust. All followers consider their leader as a model for future professional development. At the same time, the organization is highly flexible and open to constant innovations.
The healthy culture of an organization is based on encouraging individual talents and their proper integration into the general framework. Such leadership means pursuing individual professional objectives and the goals of the entire organization simultaneously. The outside world is a highly complex environment that is characterized by global uncertainty and changes. This leadership model is different from the existing ones, because it promotes self-responsibility and balances the interests of all employees and organization in general. In order to start doing leadership, I need to specify all relevant issues and develop a specific plan. Then, I will find followers who share my vision and necessary resources. Finally, I will begin implementing my plans. I will regularly adjust my strategy to the changes in the external business world and social environment.