For the longest time, management theories were limited to the behavioural characteristics of the people in leadership roles and their consequent relations with their subordinates. This approach is commonly referred to as a top-down due to its vertical nature. In a top-down scenario of leadership, the management not only influences the subordinates but also literarily micromanages them in every aspect. However, in the past few decades, organizational behaviourists have proposed a different ideology that asserts productivity in an organizational set-up is maximized if and only if leadership is shared among all employees.
Self-leadership is “a process through which individuals influence and lead themselves by utilizing specific sets of behavioral and cognitive strategies.” The concept of self-leadership was first introduced into the field of management by Manz and Sims (1980) in their journal article that was mostly about self-management. Since then, the concept has been further developed upon by subsequent organizational behavior theorists. Hence, the concept of self-leadership as it is known today can be divided into three major strategies. These include behavioural-focused strategies such as self-observation; natural reward strategy which focuses on natural reward building schemes of individual employees; and finally constructive thought pattern strategies such creating mental-imagery. The scope of this report shall therefore be limited to the concept of self-leadership, various specific ideologies behind the concept and impacts to organizations.
The Concept of Self-Leadership
The performance of individual employees usually compounds to total organizational performance. In addition to this, individual performance of employees is greatly dependent on individual innovativeness. However, today world economies are globalized and this implies that competition among other challenges a common occurrence. Such challenges especially competition have had adverse impacts on the business community especially as far as productivity is concerned. To be specific, competition which is one of the major challenges of globalization has meant that most organizations fight over both tangible and intangible resources including personnel. It is critical for organizations to source, recruit, induct and retain qualified and skilled employees. This competition is not limited to organizations but also occur within the organizations whereby employees have in-house professional rivalries. If left unchecked, such rivalries have negative impacts on teamwork within the organizational framework and thereby there is need for managers to formulate strategies that can not only check the adverse impacts of globalization but also stimulate increase in productivity within their specific jurisdictions.
The concept of self-leadership is among many such strategies formulated to deal with the emerging issues in managing the workforce. As earlier mentioned, self-leadership can be simply be put as the “process through which individuals influence and lead themselves by utilizing specific sets of behavioral and cognitive strategies.” This concept was first introduced by Manz and Sims in the 1980s into the field of management and has consequently been developed upon by many theorists. As such, the concept of self-leadership as it is known today comprises of three strategies which include; behaviour-focused, natural reward and finally constructive pattern strategies. Below is brief overview of each of these strategies that are enshrined under the concept of self-leadership.
Self-Leadership vs. Behaviour-focused Strategies
The fundamental ideology on which behaviour-focused strategies are based on is the fact that employees need to not only enhance self-consciousness but also they need to manage essential and adverse aspects of their individual characters especially at the work place. Some of the most common behaviour-focused strategies include; self-observation, self-goal setting, self-motivation, positive self-feedback and reward, and self-coaching. Self-observation involves an employee carrying out regular self-assessment practices to identify the specific aspects of their behaviour that need to be changed, enhanced or done away with completely.
Goal-setting aspect of self-leadership involves an employee setting individual targets which enables employees to successfully complete hard tasks. This is important in the sense that an employee is better placed to meet set targets and organization with minimum supervision from the management. On other hand, self-motivation, positive self-feedback and reward counter the impacts of self-criticism on the productivity of the organization. Self—criticism is a common behavioral characteristic of employees that is mostly evident whenever one experiences one failure or another. Finally, self-coaching involves fostering these positive set of behaviors both prior and during executions so that employees can generally avoid making mistakes and have the in-built ability of correction as mistakes occur. The purpose of these behaviour-focused strategies is to ensure that employees acquire the right character that would enable assume self-leadership roles more often and with a lot of ease.
Self-Leadership vs. Natural Reward Strategies
Natural reward strategies refer to the positive feelings that employees achieve for meeting their share of burden at the workplace and the processes of achieving such feelings. Basically, natural reward strategies focus on employees being fulfilled with their careers and the processes they follow towards such fulfillment. These strategies result to employees finding aspects of the day to day work valuable, rewarding and motivating. This is significant to the organization because it has been found that whenever individual employees view their routine tasks as pleasant, rewarding and enjoyable, this complements their competencies and capabilities qualities which ultimately increase their productivity. The strategic importance of these strategies to management is the fact that self-leadership within the organization is stirred by intrinsic rather extrinsic factors such as motivation among others.
Self-Leadership vs. Constructive Thought Pattern Strategies
Constructive thought pattern strategies allude to positive and optimistic thinking processes and patterns. This is especially critical whenever employees are faced with challenges and obstacles within their professional lives. Challenges are synonymous to all aspects of life whether formal or informal. When faced with challenges, the optimistic employee will follow the positive approach while the pessimistic employee will take the negative approach dependent on the dominant thought pattern. In addition to this based on their environment, individuals can adopt either positive or negative thought patterns which have the capacity to affect their emotional and behavioural wellbeing. For example, an employee when faced with challenges at the workplace will definitely change their thought pattern in two ways; they may choose to focus on the opportunities presented by such challenges or they may choose to focus on the difficulties associated with such challenges.
Pessimistic thought patterns are viewed upon as being dysfunctional in nature. Challenges at the work-place are a common occurrence and whenever employees surmount such challenges they acquire a sense of fulfillment. Individual employees need to transform their dysfunctional thought patterns and processes into functional ones . Another strategy that employees can rely on to achieve such transformations is self-talk. Self-talk stirs self-influence and self-efficacy in most cases. Mental-imagery of positive actions and behavioural patterns can also eradicate destructive thought patterns among employees. Mental imagery is “the process by which individuals can symbolically make and experience virtual behaviors, which are similar to real ones.” It enables employees to simulate challenging conditions at work before they appear and thereby they are better placed to improve their capacity and consequently their performance in advance. Generally, the link between self-leadership and thought patterns is not only profound and simple but also very significant. Negative thought patterns diminish the growth of self-leadership skills within the workforce while constructive thought patterns accelerate the growth of such skills.
Self-Leadership vs. Creativity at the Workplace
Self-leadership affects organization in several ways the key of which being that it transforms the organizational culture. Specifically, self-leadership stimulates and nurtures a creative culture within the organization. Every organization must strive to attract, recruit and retain creative employees. This is the case because creativity could play a significant role in dealing with some of these emerging challenges as a result of globalization and other challenges as a result of the dynamism of the business environment. One of the key performance indicators used to gauge whether or not the culture within the organization is productive or not is creativity. As such, below is a brief overview of some of the advantages of creativity.
The advantages of creating a creative culture in the organization are: High commitment levels among employees to the organization reduced operational costs, and excellent customer relations among other advantages. Self-leadership principles and processes are useful in changing the employee’s behaviors especially during the work environment therefore creating an ideal working environment for creativity. This therefore implies that self-leadership is a fundamental management strategy whose sole purpose is to empower the employees at their various organizational levels thereby stimulating creativity within the firm. However, it must be mentioned that self-leadership affect creativity within organization in varied ways depending on the field and method of implementation. In addition to this, advancing a creative culture within an organization through self-leadership might be detrimental especially if the goals and objectives of the organization are not clearly defined to the employees. Some of the specific aspects of employees’ behavior that self-leadership transforms and that advance a creative culture within the organization include:
Self-Leadership vs. Employee Autonomy
Self-leadership principles create an autonomous working environment within the organization. Autonomous actions among employees help advance a creative culture within the organization. In addition to this, it has been found that the levels of autonomy that employees experience in an organization further impacts on their motivational levels. An autonomous working environment and thereof a creative one is characterized by employees being motivated by intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors. Autonomous employees make decisions based on available information, self-regulation and self-selected principles and goals rather than the ones imposed on them by the organization. A degree of autonomy within the organization is motivational to the employees if the decisions reached at by the employees in their line of duty are not only free-flowing and intuitive but also spontaneous in nature. Generally, self-leadership enhances autonomy and autonomy in turn stimulates a creative whose ultimate result is many ways of attaining productivity culture within the organization.
Self-Leadership vs. Self-Efficacy and Job Satisfaction
Self-leadership advances a creative environment within the organization through self-efficacy principles. Self-efficacy therefore describes the behavioural patterns that employees adapt during their professional, how long such patterns shall be relied upon and how these patterns are relevant as far meeting personal as well as organizational goals and objective are concerned. The significance of self-efficacy is that it increases the capacity of employees to perform especially during difficult working conditions by inferring upon their professional experience thereby encouraging a creative culture within the organization. Self-efficacy skills enhance success, performance and the capacity to cope with not only dynamic but also difficult working environments. Employees with high self-efficacy levels are generally more likely to overcome professional obstacles as a result self-initiated strategies, more focused, and more persistent in their fulfillment of the requirements of their job description.
Finally, it has been ascertained that self-leadership nurtures a creative culture within the organization through job satisfaction. Job satisfaction can be simply be referred to as “the attitude a person has concerning job; which is the result of perception of job they perform, including the degree of cohesion between individual and organization.” Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to be fulfilled, happy and self-driven. This is significant to organizations given that this would imply less micromanagement of the workforce and management personnel can now focus their resources on much pressing issues compared to supervisory duties.
The concept of self-leadership has not only revolutionized management studies but also practices within most organization in the world. Self-leadership as it is known to day comprises of three major strategies which include behavior-focused strategies, natural rewarding strategies and finally constructive thought pattern strategies. While behaviour-focused strategies stir self-consciousness and management of adverse behaviors among employees, natural rewarding strategies focus on the processes and the patterns that employees rely on to derive fulfillment from their jobs. Constructive thought patterns strategies on the other hand enable employees to cope with challenges especially in their professional lives. Finally, the impacts of self-leadership strategies on an organization are numerous thought they can be summed up into the development of a creative culture. The specific include development of autonomy, efficacy and finally job satisfaction.
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