The significance of leadership has long been a topic of constant discussion. It is studied as a crucial component of success in government, business and other spheres. In the recent years many publications has been introduced on the leadership subject. Thousands of reports, research papers, articles and other writings have presented provocative and contradictory ideas concerning leadership and the most optimal leadership style. This paper examines the significant role of leaders in different organizations in promoting organizational targets, developing, supporting and guiding business teams.
- How the leadership is defined?
- What type of leadership is recognized to be the most effective?
- What role does organizational culture play for effective leadership?
The information presented in this writing is of great importance for those who wants to know more about leadership, for managers interested in leadership questions and focused on their self-development and improvement of their teams, for employees concerned about the promotion to the higher positions and about pointing the organizational way.
THE MEANING OF LEADERSHIP
The significance of leadership is noticeable in the organizational culture and employees’ loyalty to the company they work for. Leadership helps to define the vision of the future and to set the major working goals. Effective leaders create and promote a powerful organizational culture. Hence, excellent leaders should posses an ability to build productive teams, to motivate them for better work and innovative ideas, to find solutions for problems that may arise. One of the most popular leader’s features is high sensitivity to the external environment, which is reflected in the awareness of the opportunities and threats for a sufficiently long period of time. The strength of any leader depends on the ability to create for the followers a bright and positive motivating vision of the future that beckons all and inspires confidence in the predominance of benefits over risks and difficulties associated with the joint motion to that future. To solve this problem, a leader should posses the feelings of foresight, intuition, analytical and communication skills. These are hard tasks, which explain why successful leaders are rare. Moreover, the lack of leadership may have dramatically negative effects. Without effective leaders organizations develop slowly, have bad business results, stagnate, and turn to be non-profitable.
Leadership is a multi-aspect concept that has changed along with the development of society. In modern science leadership is not uniquely defined. The approaches to leadership may be presented as follows (Lewis):
1. Leadership is a kind of power, the main characteristic of which is a top-down direction.
2. Leadership is a management status, a social position connected with decision-making, a managerial position. This interpretation follows from the structural-functional approach that considers the society as a complex, hierarchically organized system of social positions and roles. Positions occupied in this system give a person the status of the leader.
3. Leadership is the influence on other people (according to B. Katz , L. Edinger , etc.) (Lewis). However, this is the influence which is characterized by four features: firstly, it is necessary that the effect must be of permanent nature. Secondly, the leader’s guiding influence should radiate on the whole group (organization, society). It is known that within any large organization there are several local centers of influence. Moreover, the leader is also exposed to the constant influence from the members of the group. Thirdly, the leader may be distinguished by a clear priority in the impact. Relationship between leader and his team is characterized by asymmetry, inequality in the interaction, the unique orientation of impact - from the leader to the group members. Fourth, the leader’s impact is not based on the direct use of force, but on the authority or at least on the recognition of the legality of leadership.
Moreover, Russell and Swansburg (2006) emphasized that leadership can be described as a group of people who is infused by an individual to cooperate toward reaching desired common targets and missions applying suitable tools and means (Thamrin).
Mechanism of leadership is represented by three forms (Lewis).
In the formal group of organization (management leader) leadership is a fixed right of power provided by a manager in the strictly defined framework of activities.
In the informal group leadership is the actual recognition (or rejection) by the subordinates of the right to power in the business world, which is associated with the personal characteristics of the leader.
In the socio-psychological field leadership is the manifestation of the informal group leadership oriented at organizational goals.
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP
The importance of organizational culture for the leader’s and team’s development is great; however, it is often omitted. The reason for this is that managers involved in leadership practice are so implanted in their personal cultures that organizational cultures are fully out of their sight. According to a foreign researcher and a founder of organizational psychology, Edgar Henry Schein, organizational culture and leadership in the organization is closely connected with each other (Thamrin).
Organizational culture permeates everywhere and affects all aspects of the organization. Interest in the phenomenon of organizational culture on the part of professionals in the field of administration and management of human resources is determined by their desire to obtain additional resources for the management of the organization and its individual units. Organizational culture is seen as an instrument of effective management and disclosure of employees’ potential. The purpose of deliberately formed organizational culture is the ability to implement the organization's strategy by creating a motivational mechanism to ensure high organizational effectiveness and staff loyalty (Bal). When considering the culture at the organizational level or within an organization, problems of its creation, implementation and development become more apparent.
Dynamic processes of creating and managing a culture are the essence of management, as leadership and culture are the parts of a single notion (Lewis). Leadership is the ability to influence the individuals or the groups directing their efforts towards achieving the organizational objectives. Leadership differs from the management for the fact that leaders create and change culture; managers, in their turn, operate within a cultural framework. Organizational culture is the result of a complex process team training partly determined by the behavior of the leader.
There are two types of mechanisms that allow leaders to implement their beliefs and values (Bal):
1. The primary mechanisms for implementing the culture:
- How leaders evaluate and monitor situations and details;
- How leaders behave in difficult situations and organizational crises;
- How leaders allocate resources;
- Conscious role modeling;
- How leaders determine the levels of remuneration and status;
- How leaders hire, select, promote employees.
2. Secondary mechanisms that contribute to clarification and consolidation of the culture:
- Organizational structure;
- Organizational systems and procedures;
- Organizational customs and rituals;
- The exterior and interior design.
Thus, leadership is an important aspect of management and leadership ability is a key moment in the development of an effective manager in any organization. Any manager needs to strive to become a leader in his organization. Manager performs strategic and analytical functions to achieve organizational goals by combining the available resources. This requires freedom of action, defined by the powers delegated to the manager and the power that is the result of leadership. If to assume that the manager must be a leader, management and leadership are turn to be practically synonymous. The success of any organization depends on the leader, on his strategies, on his ability to foresee business prospects and to develop a strong organizational culture. The further success depends on the leader's ability to choose the right team members and to inspire effective and creative work.
Transformational leadership is proved to be the most effective among the numerous leadership styles. The idea of this model was developed by James MacGregor Burns which had used it on political context and continuously brought it into organizational framework (Lewis). He reported that transformational leadership can be implemented in the organization that introduces innovative or transformational ideas. Transformational leadership creates supportive environment for development of creative and innovative ideas. The leaders motivate their subordinates to find effective solutions for the projects they are involved in.
Transformational leadership helps to reach the highest level of employees’ motivation, their loyalty to the organization and to its mission and targets. Additionally, it has a positive impact on teams’ performance and may considerably improve it. Moreover, this leadership model has a positive influence on employees’ organizational commitment.
For instance, H.M. Thamrin in the article “The Influence of Transformational Leadership and
Organizational Commitment on Job Satisfaction and Employee Performance” presented result of the survey in which respondents have a strong desire to have the transformational leadership in the companies they work (transformational leadership index is 75.86) (Thamrin 569).
ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
The information analyzed shows that leadership is very crucial for effective working processes. Its significance, which could be hardly underestimated, is the following:
- Creating confidence – Confidence is very crucial for employee’s performance and leaders should clearly describe and distribute roles among employees in order to make them confident in work performed. It is also important to analyze employees’ feedback and complaints.
- Providing guidance and supervision – an effective leader is not just a supervisor but a guide for his subordinates. Guidance here is used as instructing the employees for better performance and results.
- Coordination – Leaders should coordinate business goals and personal interests. Such coordination may help in better employees’ concentration on work and excellent performance.
- Initiative – leader is a person who demonstrates initiative in everything he does having a goal of attracting his team into the project and providing support in the initial actions.
- Building ethics and morale – Ethics denotes employees’ willing to work, their trust, reliance and confidence. Leaders, in their turn, should perform as morale promoters by winning full cooperation with their teams and achieving organizational targets.
- Building supportive and sound working environment – One of the major tasks of modern leaders is to build such a working environment which may support employees’ development and growth. Understanding, cooperation and support play a crucial role for human relations within a working team.
- Strengthening the resistance to change – Employees’ willing to change or leave the company they work for is less evident in the workplace with the efficient leadership as the communication channels are open and team members’ feedback is encouraged.
The significance of leadership can be seen in the organizational culture as they are interdependent and influence the organizational processes and employees’ behavior. Effective leadership and organizational culture help organizations be dynamic and flexible in their development, open and simultaneously resistant to external factors to effectively respond to changes. Organizational culture affects the quality of organizational communication and is directly related to staff cooperation. Culture, in its turn, may be promoted with the help of transformational leadership creating organizational commitment, profitable companies and encouraged employees.
Thus, the importance of leadership is in organizational culture, commitment, confidence, coordination, ethics and morale, initiative, supportive and sound working environment.
Overview of the main directions of development of leadership theory shows that there is an extensive research in this field of management, which captures new sections and opens new topics. However, this overview is not exhaustive. The main reason for the expanding research in the field of leadership is in its synthetic nature. Leadership concepts and activities synthesize virtually the changes occurring at the level of the individual and society. It also means that the decline of interest in leadership issue is not expected. Moreover, the significance of the leadership will only grow.
Bal, Vadula & Laura Quinn. “The Missing Link. Organizational Culture and Development”. LIA September/October 2001: 14-17. Web.
Lewis Pamela, Stephen H. Goodman, Patricia M. Fandt, Joseph F. Michlitsch. Management Challenges for Tomorrow's Leaders. Mason: Thomson South-Western, 2007.
Thamrin, H. M. “The Influence of Transformational Leadership and Organizational Commitment on Job Satisfaction and Employee Performance”. International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology October 2012: 566-572. Web.