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The organization, I had the opportunity to work with, was known as Lion bridge Technologies Pvt Ltd (LIOX).Lion bridge is a Multi National Company, having its offices in 26 countries and employee strength of over 4500. It is translation, localization, internationalization, interpretation, content development, software development, and software testing services. The name Lionbridge is spelled L10NBRIDGE in the logo, a play on the numeronym L10N for the word 'localization'.
On February 12, 2008, a workplace union representative of Lionbridge Poland was summarily dismissed. The dismissal came shortly after the announcement to management that a trade union had been formed in the Warsaw office. The person who was fired was elected as a union representative and thus was protected from dismissal under Polish Labour Law. The case has been filed in a Polish Labour Court. In October 2008, Lionbridge was chosen by Microsoft as their "Vendor of the Year. I was campus-recruited in 2007 as a Software Engineer wherein my client was a major e-learning services provider in America called Pearson's. We had to develop the software, test them and deliver chunks of that software on a regular basis. Also, we had to keep tweaking the delivered chunks according to their requirements. I was a part of this team for 2 and half years. Initially, when the team was formed the size was 30, but very soon the original team was sub-divided into small functional teams of 15-17, based on the function of the software to be developed by each team. These small teams, called 'modules' were headed by a Module Leader and these module leaders would report to the Team Leader. The team leader was deputy to Project Manager There was one Project Director assigned to each team to explain the business requirements and rest all the members of the team were called 'Associates' and performed the role of 'Developers' of the software as well as testing the software. We had monthly meetings with our Project Director and Quarterly meeting with our Delivery Head whose deputy was the Project Director. There were few members of the team always present on the client side that was in Arizona (USA) who played a mediators role in case of difficulties encountered by developers or testers in India office. The two best performing employees were given a chance every three months to travel to states for the project, due to which there was healthy competition in the team.
Part 1(Leader, effective and How)
Leadership is an essential ingredient in the successful working of an organizational. It's like an entire building where the base is the organization and the pillars are the managers who basically support each floor of the building which are the employees. Some of the ways in which people can lead efficiently would include leading by example, Setting clear goals, Proper communication, Delegating work, recognizing individual contribution, focusing on teamwork, working well under pressure and of course being fair and consistent as cited by James(1999:61-62). The above stages if one could say are a necessity in the development of a leader, which in turn builds into leadership qualities. Leaders like Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi or even Martin Luther King appeared to be charismatic about their approach which probably made them stand apart from others as cited by Makin (1989:65). All teams, work groups, organizations, societies and nations need Leadership. In fact, it is a very oblivious yet dominant fact that, wherever humans are concerned with associating themselves to other humans, a leadership is bound to emerge and is required. Be it even a small, close knit family we need a Leader. Without any effective leader and hence proper leadership no organization can work smoothly. I had several managers in my organization but one who stands out would be my Delivery Head (DH). He was someone who occupies a role which involves to a set of behavioural norms and expectations emanating from followers as cited by (Rollinson, 2008). Furthermore, My DH was able to change the way team members would usually think and raise their bar to a higher level and look for things which are desirable, possible and necessary. Leadership could be considered as the process of influencing the activities of a group towards goal setting and goal achievement as cited by Bryman (1996: 26). A leader would become effective if he/she is able to mould/influence members' and basically create an impact in the team. Leadership could also be called as a symbolic action by means of which leaders engage in sense-making on behalf of others and create a social consensus around the resulting meanings. From this finding it shows that leaders basically blend their thought process into their team and provide them with paths through which they can achieve the goals of the organization. This shows that leaders very often change the thinking of their fellow members which makes their tasks even simpler and hence it assures that everyone is clear about their profile and ways to approach it. In this claim and grant process, individuals believe in having a desire for being a leader or follower and these identities gets embedded into them. Many of these individuals don't make it far due to the lack of confidence and persistence in them in spite of having the desire. Due to which few reach the top step in being famous our probably successful. The DH of the previous organization had the desire along with the confidence in him to go that far. He does business with 12 countries at one time and has quite a lot of managers reporting to him across the globe. He has the charisma and style which sets him apart others. Along with that he had the inspiration of setting high expectations which included modelling appropriate behaviour. Individualized consideration was also a part wherein providing personal attention to followers along with giving followers respect and responsibility was essential. One of the more important ingredients for good leaders is to continuously challenge followers with new ideas and approaches which kept them active and hence not make their work monotonous.
The leadership at my organization was quite challenging irrespective of the project which was assigned to the manager, as every project had a high financial value attached to it. Increasingly turbulent environments, heightened competition, and unpredictable technological change, more and more managers were coming to realize that they should encourage their employees to be creative as cited by Shalley & Gilson( 2004: 453-470). In making employees creative, my DH was not only makes indirectly contributing towards organizational innovation, but also making our team resistant against difficult times like recession. The three pillars of leadership namely authority to formal position the leaders have, knowledge about their field and example meaning their actions inspire and motivate people to be like them are one of the most important features which was also shared by the DH of my organization as noted by Connor(1998:27). During my tenure with this organization, I have experienced that it's important to have a leader who can be easily approachable, listen to your issues and recognize hidden unconscious emotions and basically understand you better. During bad times especially, your leader should be able to give you strength or probably should be the reason to look up to. Every follower expects that his/her leader posses these superior qualities. All these qualities were clearly seen in my leader, the (DH) of my company. Besides these qualities my DH has a charismatic personality which helps matters. Charisma is the ability to charm people and to provide the need for love and protection. This ensures that followers feel the attachment with their leaders which is highly critical. A charismatic leader basically changes the current atmosphere and installs a vision that appeals to his followers. They believe in taking risks which in turn develops the trust among followers as noted by Daft.(1999:336). The most and the instant example of charismatic leaders would be Martin Luther King who had a dynamic and charismatic leadership quality. They often think differently from others which could be called out of the box thinking. They always look for new ideas and find solutions for them.
"No amount of learning will make a man a leader unless he has the natural qualities of one."(General Archibald Wavell, The Times, 17th February 1941). The quote clearly signifies what Trait theory is all about. It believes that certain characteristics meaning traits are essential for an effective leader. These traits are visible and should be applicable irrespective of the situation the leader is working on as noted by (Rollinson.2008:359). I can relate this with my chosen leader who was not highly educated by he would always talk about vision, goals and desire of leading by example. Such and many more traits like these are almost essential for an effective leader .Although there is no definite list of traits which signifies effective leaders nor there is any process of deciding a leader as it could be a matter of subjective judgment. Despite this weakness, we can't rule of the possibility of this being an effective theory as it is one which I can relate through my organization. Or in other words, we could say that these traits could be present for an effective leader.
Continuing with trait theory we have some other traits being charismatic, vision, intelligence and sensitivity which describes Transformational leadership as cited by (Rollinson, 2008:377). Although these traits doesn't guarantee an effective leader but certainly helps in getting an idea about the above. My DH was definitely charismatic, and as discussed before had a personality which suited his designation. He had a firm vision for the progress of the company which was addressed to us at frequent intervals, which ensured that everyone knew what's coming and were moving towards the right path. He not only had knowledge about the project in hand but also had enough idea about other projects. He would always tell us to think from out of box and analyze problems from various other methods. Such talks would motivate, energize the group on a whole and hence create a healthy atmosphere to work in. Talking about sensitivity, he would always give ample of time to our team, address their issues if any and was very good at judging a person's talent. He would provide and delegate people work according to their ability and capacity. This is another reason why his effectiveness of being a great leader is justified.
Although trait theory was effective in pointing out characteristics required for effective leader, but it wasn't very successful in predicting how success the person would be in his/her position. Due to this, a more closely attached pattern of behaviour was of another practice called as Style theory or behaviour approaches. Behaviour approach can far more easily be understood as compared to trait, thus enabling leaders to be accessible to all. This approach is further divided into two parts. Autocratic and Democratic approach as noted by Daft (1999:69). Autocratic leaders are one who tends to seek maximum control over every matter, prefers to be dominant, derive power from his/her position and basically be present always. Example which comes to mind would be Hitler. Whereas, democratic approach is more of distributing authority among followers, try involving participation of the entire team. My DH was of the democratic approach. This approach enabled people in the team to think from a higher management perspective. This also prepared for our next step in terms of position and which indirectly benefited the organization. This also made us less dependent on our leader and with higher responsibilities came better job satisfaction. This is further proved by studies conducted at Iowa State University wherein groups with democratic leaders perform as good as without leaders with positive feelings as compared to Autocratic leaders.
Motivation also plays a significant role in making the leader effective. It could deal with rewarding strategy, positive gestures, setting various goals, providing greater responsibilities, perk etc as noted by Bryman (1986:113). Quite of these motivational ideas were practiced by my DH. Such ideas really help in making a leader communicate to his team members in an indirect way and it's a way to acknowledge one's work. But he would definitely point out the punitive points if any and make sure that he was unpleasant to you and hence making you aware that there is lack of effort put by the respective member and it's time to pull up one's socks.
One of the key findings from my analysis was that able leaders and prompt action by senior management can play a vital role in the progress of the organization. It not only improves the productivity and profitability of the organization, but also helps the individuals and subordinates at a personal level. Although finding a specific theory which gives accurate findings for an effective leader is slightly difficult, but one theory which comes close to achieving it is Behaviour approach. This is more because of my personal experience at work wherein my DH was more of the democratic approach which really helped in growing as a person and taking in more responsibilities. This made me ready for my next role as a team lead. A lot of members including me in the organization learned a lot from my leader and started putting his teachings and his approach of dealing with problems in day to day approach. Also by his approach, it passed the message that a leader like my DH has the confidence in us to take decisions on our own which was a strong motivating factor at work.
Thus, through this assignment and through the evidence it makes more sense to say that Assertiveness is considered to produce a more effective leader as compared to either passive behaviour. As these assertive people like my DH were clear of what they wanted to achieve out of the team, made their views clear and which made others accept it. Once a team is formed, its motives and objectives have to be aligned with organization goals which exactly what an effective leader does.
Part 2 (Organizational Culture)
The word culture represents various patterns, be it internal or external which deals with human groups, behaviour, beliefs which are common in a community which has shared values, goals that deal with group, institution or an organization. Although it doesn't have any universally accepted definition as people from different disciplines have different thinking. But it's more or less on these lines. This culture gives rise to Organizational culture. Here the idea remains the same only thing is organization is attached to it which means these values and norms is shared with people in the organizational and stakeholders outside the organization. The company I was working in Lionbridge Technologies was a mid-sized American MNC which always tried ways to enhance its performance through innovation. The existence of innovation and international competition can be dealt with organizational culture bridging with perception of empowerment that lead to innovation as cited by Cakar.N.D (2010: 325-359). Organizational Culture through my experience helps in making a strong and long lasting relationship between junior employee and senior management. As my being an American MNC, we had a culture being followed wherein we had to call or address our bosses strictly with names and not their designation. This was something really new and initially difficult to digest. Just to get people use to and obey this culture we had to pay a fine of 5 pounds if addressed our bosses with their designation. But as time passed, we got adjusted to this culture and slowly realized that it was helping us interact with senior management far more comfortably than before. My organization being an MNC had people from diverse cultural background so it was very necessary that a common culture is followed in the entire world which helped people from various countries to communicate far better. Thus, due to a more informal way of interaction in organizations such as the one I worked in, people were able to share information and welcome participation in order to be clear of their goals and roles. Organizations are only one constituent part of the society. People come from various communities and bring their culture along. With culture comes better communication, power and designation importance, rewards, policies, various rituals, hierarchy etc. as cited by Kennedy & Harvey (1997:39). Due to this organizations can have their own culture as they possess the paradoxical quality of being part and apart from the society. One aspect that I can recollect from my past experience is leadership to a certain extent plays a role in setting up a organizational culture. It's the way our managers respect employees, behave in the organization is something crucial as we employees get moulded easily to that culture. Leaders also create a culture wherein employees are given indirect perks like opportunities to grow and better work profiles which creates a competitive environment in the organization. This culture covers a wider range of behaviour like the technical knowledge, skills at work, the methods of production, attitude towards work, discipline, habits of managers, their strategy building process and punishment as cited by Jaques (1952:251). This range covers the range of culture which basically then varies from organization to organization. The organization which governs control over the wider range ultimately tastes success.
Organizational Culture forms a bridge wherein it connects the organization as a whole with everyday experiences and individual's hands on experience. It's a key area for management as managers try to manage the ideas and understand their subordinates as cited by Alvesson (2002:14). This was experienced at my work place as my managers had to take and manage not only ideas, thoughts but also look at issues, and address feedback sessions which also is a part of culture specific to organization. Organizational culture is quite varied although these are levels which describe it. They are Artefacts, Languages, ceremonies, norms of behaviour, symbols, beliefs, ethical codes and of course history as cited by Senior & Fleming (2006:142).Artefacts is the most visible of the culture as in it covers right from physical layout of a building, dress-code to the way people talk and the people they hang out with. My work place had a dress-code of formals where our ID had a little message from the chairperson about our goals, so as to remind about our targets at all times. We also had a weekly gathering on each Friday for an hour, which created a platform to interact with friends and basically talk. This helped me as a individual to learn the way things are dealt in various other departments of the company. Language was something that was stressed on most. People had to talk politely irrespective of seniority. It was told to use only English as the mode of communication and avoid using regional languages at work. Our company had Lion as a symbol which signified passion, power and ruler. It was also for the reason that our company name was Lionbridge. We had special funds between every team which was used for rites and ceremonies like birthday and farewell parties. This again made the entire team come together and celebrate showing signals of good bonding. The company had list of policies which were made quite clear during our induction. It was an outline of the culture that the organization followed and people were advised to go by it. Although suggestion or improved were truly entertained. Basic Assumptions I guess is quite common in most organization. Employees assumed that people which held higher position had to given respect and the matter of fact they are more skilled and have greater abilities as compared to people below them. Although the organization was quite strict on performance either way. As in awards were given to employees for great work and at the same time people with less than satisfactory performance over a period of time where shown the exit gate. So people knew that employees holding higher positions are justified and not just assumed.
Motivation is an integral part of organization culture. This is quite familiar in organizations having high solidarity as cited by (Rollinson, 2008:608). Solidarity is where people work collectively towards achieving their targets. They are motivated with the fact that their hard-work will surely fetch them with rewards. My organization too believed in working with high solidarity, as this form of culture most benefited them as it suited their business domain. The organization I was working with dealt with changing technology so it was essential that employees are aware of their goals at all times and with motivation in the form of clear goals, rewards etc. really meant that the organization was heading in the right direction. Although sometimes what I felt that if a company has a high level of solidarity, it can hurt a person's individual goals as its focus is strictly on groups. Motivation also offers employees with means of identification. This makes employees feel valued with a sense of belief that they are required by the organization, which helps in adding to their motivation and hence enhancing the performance of the organization.
Along with motivation, identity too plays a role in Organization Culture. Organizational identity refers to what people perceive, feel and think about their organizations. It is collective understanding of organization's values and characteristics as cited by Hatch.M.J (1997:356).It can be divided into internal and external. The internal includes the middle to higher management. It's more of the experience they bring into the company along with their leadership qualities. They too have a major role in setting up the vision along with mission for the company. From my experience, my senior management was called the face of the company. They would represent the company at all major events, conferences, etc. In the external part of the identity is the way our clients' eg.Pearson would look at the company. Their views and feedbacks where critical for knowing the actual image of the company in the world outside. So both internal and external mixed together formed the identity of the organization which was regarded as the highest priority in the organization I worked previously.
So, finally when we're talking about organizational culture, its analysis and of course its needs, the purpose or its importance is equally vital. There is a definite link between organizational culture and business performance otherwise companies wouldn't invest its time and resources on it because generating finance is at least one reason for business as cited by Peters (1982:103). Although it doesn't suggest that success or failure of an organization depends on culture but companies adopting culture have met their articulated goals far more often. Business is not all about getting profits, but meeting its goals along with having a broader set of values. In my organization too, lots of emphasis was given on maintaining the culture. It was believed that a positive and strong culture clearly makes a strong impact on the performance of employees and hence organization. Our HR staff would conduct feedbacks on quarterly basis wherein every employee had questions asked whether he/she is satisfied with the company, their roles and of course their suggestions without disclosing their identity. This was an important part of culture which was religiously followed. Also, comes with culture is sharedness, which expresses the extent to which employees in organization have similar core values.
A firm's culture can possibly be a source of their sustainable competitive advantage if that culture is rare, different and consistent. The sustained advantage gained by companies like P&G, BBC etc. can partly be a reflection of their organizational culture. Firms with such rare and valuable culture should at best maintain and nurture their culture. On the other hand, firms which fail to obtain such rare culture should work on gaining one. Although these firms can't expect a change in generating superior performance overnight. It takes sufficient time for the culture to settle in and most importantly for their employees to accept and trust it. As a firm's culture is one of the various dimensions which separate one from another.
Organizational culture strongly appeals to the senior management's concern along with projecting an image of the organization as a community of interest. There is still a debate about whether this culture can be managed and different writers have varied opinion. But there are times when the reason for success of a particular organization is not very clear, basically because organizational culture is not easy to define as it's visible above. Moreover, successful organizations take that extra to fulfil the needs of their employees, customers and also their suppliers which are a strong part of the culture, ultimately help them to gain and have a sustainable advantage over others.