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Power Within A Role Of Leadership Management Essay

The terms management, leadership, and power - all have a generic implication capable of being used in multiple contexts and as a result can also be interpreted in flexible ways. Consequently they surround themselves with vagueness and confusion when used in the literature. For instance, in the organisational parlance, management and leadership are used as though they are an interchangeable term which in reality is not the case. Hence in the context of this paper, one needs to understand the subtle differences between the two in order to make a worthwhile contribution to its objectives. While the leaders might have been endowed with the attributes of managing also, managers may not have the characteristics of leaders.

In other words, while the tasks of managers are more immediate running the day to day affairs of the company in a pre-set manner, therefore leaders look beyond that -their visionary qualities of seeing beyond the immediate. Skills, systems, and control of formal structures, could be placed under the domain of management whereas leadership focuses on developing, shaping, fostering commitment and bringing about the growth through managing them (Graetz, 2000). The critical difference between the two is while the former focuses on systems the later focuses on people who run such systems.

The management and leadership theories are always in a flux because of its nature of studying the behaviour of the people behind them and have been undergoing changes responding to the times in which they are placed. Consequently, one cannot pronounce a judgement that one theory is right and other is wrong, and what best one can do is that to state based on some parameters that may one theory might be more relevant than another. In other words leadership theories have to be judged according to the effectiveness and organisational changes they usher in the conduct and character of an organisation. As a result such leadership theories which focus more on performance outcomes only without looking at the values behind such outcomes may not really make it to the grade in a paper whose objective is to present a case on their role in bringing about organisational cultural change. For the purposes of this paper organisational change could be considered as a part of organisational development as their common objective is to bring in organisational effectiveness (Cummings and Worley, 2009).

Power in the organization is the individuals’ ability to act upon others or upon organizational structure. It is an attribute of person rather than role, and it can be influences internal and external sources. External factors of the power usually understood as money, status, privileges, whereas the internal sources of power would be explained as knowledge, strength of personality, experiences, and attitude towards their role. You are as powerful as you are able to show it and as willingness of others to accept it. Status of power is important and can make a huge difference in time of change in the organization. Therefore, the awareness of the use of the power and imposing the authority on staff and management during the time of change is crucial in order to stay focus and not abuse the status, but rather convert it to influential leadership (Obholzer and Vega, 1994).

Leadership quality is one that is easier to be seen rather than described, for there are as many definitions as the number of qualities. If one still has to describe it, it can be done by associating it with some distinct qualities. Leading involves influencing others; leaders have followers; they come into the fore when there is a crisis and leaders have a clear idea of what and why they want to achieve. Though all leadership qualities and ones that are even more effective could not be brought into the narrow walls of one theory or another because they acquire different forms based on the functional characteristics of the leaders themselves, yet, they could be brought under certain broad parameters. The literature widely explains trait, behavioural, contingency, and transformational theories that are briefly dealt herein under:

Trait theory explains that the leaders know what they want, why they want, and how to communicate what they want to others, in order to gain their co-operation and support in to achieve their goals (Bennis, 2005). Effective leaders, nevertheless, have been found to possess very different qualities: intelligence and action-oriented judgment, willingness to accept responsibility, skilful handling of people by understanding and providing for their needs, assertiveness combined with self-confidence. The limitation of the trait theory was that it assumed homogeneity in leadership qualities as it believed that the same set of characteristics would apply in any type of organisation and or situation. In other words, the impact of the situation was assumed to be minimal (Mitchel, 2006).

During emergence of Behaviours theory, the scholars started to rely on the behaviour of leaders rather than the traits in their quest to find such behaviours moulded the outcomes. This meant a shift from leaders to leadership and during the eras of 1950s and 1960s, they clubbed together different patterns of behaviour and labelled them as styles. One popular example of this is the Managerial Grid of Blake and Mounton (1985). Broadly, the styles converged into four, which are put forth below.

Task oriented leaders became drivers of getting objectives or tasks accomplished from their people through orgnising them around activities that would bring in higher levels of productivity. People oriented followers were looked upon as human beings with distinct needs, interests, capabilities, and not simply as units of production. Directive style leadership acquired a directive form where the leaders took decisions with an expectation of the followers as implementers of such decisions. Participative style - this is the opposite variation of the directive style where the decision-making is characterised by a collective sharing with the followers. Among the above people oriented and participative leadership styles attracted considerable amount of interest among the researchers. At one point of time and until it has been proved it otherwise, they had believed that participative and or people centred styles were thought to bring in greater satisfaction amongst followers and hence considered to be effective qualities of leadership. Again there were contentious issues as to whether these styles apply across all the groups in that is it possible for the same style to work in a gang or a hospital emergency situation. In other words, the styles were not neutral in nature and got affected by such leaders were working with.

Contingency theory of leadership, according to the proponents of this theory, is not rigid in this they could be typecast into a mould, but flexible enough to respond to the contingencies of situations. For instance, they tug in when there is a crisis or fill in a vacuum. Leadership under such situations is contextual and they were defined by the following prominent parameters: a) relationship between the leaders and followers - if such a relationship is governed by liking and respect, this may evoke the support from the followers; b) structuring of the task- leaders would be in a position to exert greater influence where in the tasks are structured reflecting the goals while the methods and standards are well laid out; c) position of power - the accomplishments of tasks are directly proportional to the entrustment of the leaders with powers (Fiedler and Chemers, 1984)

Transformational theory had brought in another approach to the leadership discussion by averring that there was another type of leader – transformational (Blake and Mouton, 1985). Such are distinguished from transactional in that while the former use their followers by trading one thing to another, the later through their visionary qualities appeal to the inner nature of their followers and transform them to higher and universal needs and purposes. Within the above lots of variations could be inputted in between. For instance, authority, charisma etc could be treated either as styles and or traits depending upon the manner one interprets the subject. Most of them, with exceptions noted in this paper, have been based on instinctive views of the scholars and it may hence be necessary to look at the qualitative research on the subject, which dealt in the following paragraphs.

From leadership theories it would be in order to transit to examine organisational theory to discuss more specifically about the role of the leaders in brining about the change envisaged in this paper. An organisation and its leaders are inter-twined, therefore for a good organisation good leadership is a pre-requisite and good leaders’ influence the good governance of their organisations (Drucker, 2005). A society is nothing but a conglomeration of organisations, as civilisation encompasses within itself the ability of the people to organise themselves in a useful manner in whatever pursuits they are engaged in. It is imperative for the leaders to have a fundamental understanding of the factors affecting organisation if they were to leave an indelible mark in the growth and success of their organisations. It is the unique characteristics which they possess distinguish them from the managers.

Leaders in order to distinguish themselves must clarify their roles in relation to the internal and external needs of the organisations which they lead. The internal needs relate to planning, coordination, and direction. The external one relates to the management of the environment in which they operate. The changes which the leaders are expected to bring in to the organisation cannot be isolated from the styles of leadership. Styles of leadership should not be confused with types as styles represent characteristics and types represent the process by which such styles are exhibited. The styles of leadership vary along with the degrees of successes also. Some leaders are focused internally, in the sense, they either ignore the external environment or pay very little attention to it while others spend their time more in creating an image among the public and in the process ignore the internal environment altogether. On the other hand the failure of top leadership is the disaster to the organization in all. As an example we saw the collapse of such organisations as Enron and World com.

Effective leadership requires not only an authoritative state ofmind to monitor the functioning of the organization against the bench-mark of the primary task. A leader also needs the power to initiate and implement changes as required by a change in social or institutional circumstances, or even, in the light of these factors, to change the primary task of the organization. As part of this process, a system of accountability needs to exist, as does a mechanism for the delegation of authority, an in-house,network that allows for the flow of both authority and feedback. By such means, it becomes possible to delegate aspects of the primary task to individuals or teams within the structure, and to call them to account for the nature of their functioning in relation to the overall task of the organization (Vecchio, 2007).

The objective of this paper is to link the changes in the organisational culture to the role of leadership. The role of management in such change is not considered for it is widely agreed that it is the leaders who play the critical role brining out a certain type of culture in their organisations. Organisational culture is considered to be an explanatory concept for what is happening in an organisation is something which could be observed. Such processes as the successes or failures of organisations arising out of various deeds and misdeeds are mostly traced to their leaders though partly some other conditions (say, recession) also may play a role. It is another thing that the roles of such leaders are considered who can foresee even those external events as recession to minimise the shocks for their organisations. The importance of organisational culture, however, comes in understanding as to why such things happen. As pointed, most of the blames in such happenings go to the leaders behind them which in turn are traced to the cultural constructs and in the sense that it is they who are widely held to be responsible in creating or destroying cultures in an organisation. Besides, the leaders are not only expected to create culture but manage them. Like leadership, culture is also a dynamic phenomenon evolving all the times around people, leaders and organisations. In an organisation, if leadership is seen as one side of the coin, the culture such leaders create and manage can be considered as the other side of the coin with the probable difference that while leadership has been a subject matter of speculation for years, cultural association research to the leadership are of more recent origin and an evolving one.

Culture in the context of an organisation is invisible, in the sense, as pointed, the one can be observed but cannot be seen and that probably could be the reason for limited impact of empirical studies to throw clear cut evidences. Again though it is the leaders who create a culture in an organisation, one tends to identify it as an organisational culture and not culture of the leader. In other words, the leaders have to take the backseat after some time though they were in the driver's seat at the time of its creation. Among all the various theories of leadership, the one that appears to be most relevant in terms of the role and effectiveness leaders in creating an organisational cultural change is transformational. It gets more often distinguished from its non-descript counter parts as transactional for the values such leaders brining in the creation and sustenance of cultures that provide the context for effective individual and organisational performance. This is not to say that rest of the theories would have to be outcast and one has to keep in mind that each one of them had its relevance at one point of time or another.

This paper can be concluded by stating that whether it is in group dynamics, conflict management, inter-personal relationship, knowledge sharing or innovation, culture is something which is always present in the background. There is no universally defined single concept of culture that could be applied as one fit for all. All successful leaders have a distinct culture which they bring in to their organisation and drive its growth through the application of them and perhaps they can be identified through a set of characteristics which could be called as transformational leadership.

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