Leadership and Management
Organizations rise and fall on leadership, as the saying goes. This fact has been proven multiple times, as the media has been full of stories about the companies and organizations that have folded because of poor leadership that led the company in question into the gutter. At the same time, there are many innovative and thriving companies occupying a niche in their respective markets because of the efficient leadership models that they employ. The current paper aims to analyze how effective leadership affects the overall health and performance of the current organization that I work for, which deals with investments.
Leadership Theories in the Organization
There is a number of leadership theories that can be applied to my organization. The most prominent of them is the trait theory. The trait theory states that there is a list of traits or qualities that are associated with effective leadership (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano, & Dennison 2003). This theory describes positive human attributes that are key to being an effective leader. Here, essential leadership traits are identified and isolated. Later, those individuals who possess these traits are recruited as leaders.
While the list of traits is vast and their level of importance varies from organization to organization, there are some basic ones. For instance, friendliness, supportiveness, charisma, intelligence, ability to adapt to changing environments, ambitiousness, decisiveness, cooperation, dominance and confidence are a few of the traits widely recognizable and desirable in leaders. Moreover, such skills as creativity, tactfulness, diplomacy, adept communication, persuasion and good organization, as well as technical skills required by a specific job, are some of the skills that would define an individual as a potential leader. According to Weiss (2011), the abovementioned skills and traits together with the ability to apply one’s skills and emotional control to the task at hand make some of the best leaders an organization could hope for.
However, this theory is not without any setbacks. For instance, numerous studies on traits that could identify potential leaders have shown that there are no specific and consistent traits that could be used to identify leaders. The traits varied from organization to organization, thus there was no set universal leadership-related trait. Also, while some leaders may have certain desirable traits, the absence of other characteristics does not necessarily mean that they are not leaders (Bolden et al., 2003).
My organization’s philosophy reads like a compass. Leaders are expected to possess decisiveness, professional expertise and genuine concern for their people. Traits like positive attitude, drive, adequate competencies also make a person a desirable leader. Problem solving, entrepreneurial leadership and the ability to involve others are also highly valued in my organization. After all, the core duty of the management is to discover potential talents and innovative skills of the already existing workforce.
Effect of Power and Influence Exerted By Leaders in My Organization
Leadership determines the values, vision and mission of an organization. The way leaders handle themselves in an organization will determine whether employees will be motivated and productive or not (Weiss, 2011). Leaders also shape the strategy of the organization as well as monitor its interpretation and successful or unsuccessful implementation (Germano, 2010). Influence and power are the tools that allow leaders to either dictate or direct employees to achieving organizational objectives.
There are several leadership styles that leaders of an organization can choose to adopt. There is an autocratic style, which is basically the “do-as-I-say” model. In this model, the leader is a dictator ordering his or her employees to achieve objectives. This model is the most ineffective way to wield power and influence in an organization, as the employees will only perform their duties out of the fear of punishment. The levels of motivation in such setting are very low and high employee turnover is usually the case (Germano, 2010).
Another form of power is exercised as part of the bureaucratic model. Here, the leader may not be a dictator per se, but he is a stickler for creating and following the policy in order to achieve organizational goals (Germano, 2010). Because policy dictates direction, these types of leaders do not deviate too far from the policy that has been set for them by the organization. This blind implementation does not inspire motivation among the employees, as there is little room for creativity and innovation.
The democratic model has a leader who is only a leader by the virtue of his title. Otherwise, the leader is considered part of the team and is not different from the employees in any way. The underlying assumption of this model is that everyone has an equal stake in the expected outcome and thus must be involved in the process equally (Germano, 2010). This fact is often misleading and creates an atmosphere of weak execution and poor decisiveness as the leader is a faux leader. It may seem like an ideal model, but the drawbacks eventually outweigh the advantages.
The model that leaders should employ if they wish to exercise power and influence effectively is the charismatic model. Here, the leader has a strong vision and an accompanying personality that motivates the employees beneath him to work towards that vision (Weiss, 2011). There is a strong atmosphere that inspires creativity and innovation, as the leader not only provides vision, but charts a map and leads the way towards the goal. A charismatic leader is cognizant of the fact that he is the leader of a team, and thus seeks the input of his or her employees as often as possible. He is not afraid to delegate, as he trusts his team to deliver results (Germano, 2010). This type of leadership is a great but risky venture, because the entire team is dependent on the charismatic leader. Should the leader leave, the team would become rudderless without its guide. Moreover, this type of leadership does not accommodate new leaders in the presence of the charismatic leader.
In our organizational setting, there is a blend of leadership models. The accounting department, for instance, upholds the bureaucratic model. The accounting director is a stickler for policy, as the nature of the duties demand the workers to stick to the policy that has been set for them by the managers of the organization. Therefore, all they do is according to the book with very few deviations.
The marketing department is, however, refreshingly different. Because they are responsible for the image of the organization as well as attracting more business clients, they employ the charismatic leadership model. Marketing manager is a very charismatic individual who inspires vision and creativity. When one attends their meetings held every Tuesday and Thursday mornings, she will be asking for ideas and bouncing her own thoughts onto her employees. She is not afraid of difficult tasks, as she believes that she and her team are more than qualified to surmount them. Her team is the most enthusiastic and efficient of all departments, as they radiate synergy and team spirit.
The rest of the department leaders can be described as both bureaucratic and democratic. While they do not dictate their terms for the employees, they do adhere to the policy set by the investors and stakeholders. While they may have a few fresh and innovative ideas, they cannot be described as charismatic leaders. Their employees display the same characteristics, as there is a sense of complacency and comfort within the departments.
The heads of the company are visionary and charismatic leaders. The founders, who comprise of two men and a lady, are passionate about what they do, and they do their best to communicate the same motivation and passion to the staff. While they do set the policy and procedures to be followed while running the business, they give their employees autonomy as to how they choose to conduct their work. They have complete trust and confidence in their employees, and the same feeling is reciprocated by the staff, as they have only lost 7 employees in 8 years of operations. The employees are satisfied, motivated and productive when it comes to achieving the vision and goals of the organization.
I would not recommend another strategy for my organization. While I agree that a bureaucratic model, as seen in the accounting department, is not the best way to motivate workforce, I understand why this model may work for some departments. Accounting, for instance, is a procedural affair, thus innovation is not an everyday occurrence. Bureaucratic style is a suitable model here. Marketing is a vibrant and fun department. Because it helps keep the organization ahead of its competition, it must ensure that it constantly innovates and looks for creative ways to outwit the competition. Thus, a charismatic leader would be the best fit for such department. The fact that the heads of the organization are motivators and true believers in their vision shows the team that the leadership styles implemented are indeed effective.
Role and Effectiveness of Transactional and Transformational Leadership
By definition, transactional leadership is a model where the leaders offer something in return for the loyalty and service of their employees (Germano, 2010). It may be in the form of a raise, a promotion or a good performance review, or related to any other issues that are of great importance to an employee. This model can be quite effective, especially when creating an atmosphere of motivation and competitiveness by the prospect of a reward. However, it may come undone when the leader is unable to meet the expectations or deliver the promises made to employees (Hays & Kim, 2012).
On the other hand, transformational leadership is a model where the leaders seek to change people whom they lead. They employ their knowledge, expertise and vision to transform those around them and bring out the leaders in them (Hays & Kim, 2012). This is the most valuable form of leadership, as there are no hidden agendas or constricting factors. This model is focused on changing mentalities and thought processes of employees to improve their responses to leadership challenges (Germano, 2010).
In our organization, it is difficult to determine with certainty the type of model being employed. The main reason is different leadership types employed in various departments. However, the transactional leadership model is more dominant than the transformational model in this organization. This fact can be attributed to the nature of work, which is trading stocks and investing in profitable assets. Thus, the employees are motivated by the returns and consequent bonuses they may receive as a result of their hard work. The department heads capitalize on this hope and institutionalize set bonuses for achieved goals personalized to each employee. Thus, on top of the general bonus they might get at the end of the year, the employees are more motivated to work harder and be more aggressive in achieving their own personal career goals because of the possible reward.
Traits of an Effective Leader in My Organization
Our Marketing Director is the leader that I have identified as the most effective and motivational person among her colleagues. This is mainly because her team is the most motivated and productive of all the employees in the organization. She is very honest about her expectations concerning the organization of her department. At the beginning of every financial year, she and her team analyze the overall performance of the group. She is not afraid to point out mistakes and shortcomings of her leadership and her team, after which they find solutions and better ways to operate and achieve their goals.
She is also an adept communicator. She easily communicates her vision to her team and ensures that she clarifies every point. Her office is always open for her employees, and she is ready to offer advice and guidance. She is approachable and friendly, yet firm and tough when it comes to the execution of her work. She is confident and committed to her work and team members. She is full of positive energy that is infectious and evident in her subordinates. Her creativity is unparalleled and her ability to inspire makes her a valuable asset for our organization. She is truly an effective and motivational team leader who should be a benchmark for the rest of her colleagues.
To sum up, if I was a leader at our organization, I would endeavor to bring transformational change and leadership to the teams within. The currently existing teams seem to be motivated and satisfied, but this approach is probably not sustainable in the long run. Rewards and promotions can only go so far in motivating the workforce. I would ensure that I inspire the employees under my command to aspire to be better, to be more than what they are.
A motivated and inspired workforce brings great things to an organization. From achieved goals to well executed strategies, an organization whose employees are motivated boasts of high productivity and performance. Thus, there is no true measurement of the importance and value that effective and good leadership brings to an organization. It should be remembered the organizations who are serious about their business ought to be concerned with the type of leadership employed within their institution. With proper leadership, an organization will not only survive, but thrive in their respective field.
Hays, J. M., & Kim, C. C. (2012). Transforming leadership for the 21st century. New York, NY: Xlibris Corporation.
Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A., & Dennison, P. (2003). A review of leadership theory & competency framework. Exeter: University of Exeter. Retieved from http://business-school.exeter.ac.uk/documents/discussion_papers/cls/mgmt_standards.pdf
Germano, M. A. (2010). Leadership style & organizational impact. American Library Association-Allied Professional Association Library Worklife, 7(6).
Weiss, J. W. (2011). Introduction to leadership. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.