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In order for an organization to be a market leader, it must consist of people who share the special talent of being leaders. An effective leader will inspire the human capital to follow the implemented ethical program, thus managing to influence the organization's corporate climate (Yukl, 2010). Leadership therefore is a key concept for today's modern organizations. This essay is an effort to analyse the role of the manager-leader as well as discuss the importance of his presence and role in an organization and present how he can become a source of competitive advantage.
DEFINITIONS AND TYPES OF MANAGERS
Management, we believe, is a team sport that makes similar demands of its players. Unfortunately, many executives (the "team captains") and managers do not recognize how managerial jobs are similar and yet different across organizational levels and functions. This lack of mutual understanding among management players can make it very difficult for them to appreciate one another's work and coordinate their work activities. It can make winning that much harder.
In addition to being able to coordinate work more effectively, executives who understand similarities and differences in managerial jobs gain other advantages. For example, they are better able to:
â€¢ Communicate performance expectations and feedback to subordinate managers.
â€¢ Prepare others and themselves for transitions to higher organizational levels or different functions.
â€¢ Forecast how different managers would perform if promoted or moved into a new function.
â€¢ Ensure that management training and development programs are targeted to fit the needs of managers as they change positions.
â€¢ Diagnose and resolve confusion regarding managerial roles, responsibilities, and priorities.
Whereas R.W. Griffin defines manager as a person who first of all is responsible for realization of management process. In particular manager is the person, that makes plans and decisions, organizes, supervises and controls human, finance and information resources (Griffin, Neal and Neale 2000). A. Pocztowski also holds the view that manager is the profession which essence is the management - the art of reaching goals by proper using the finance, material and human resources (Pocztowski, 2006).
J. Penc equally conceives the manager, i.e. as a person employed for managing, fulfilling all his functions and making use of all or some part of organization's resources in order to achieve goals of the whole organization or its given part (Penc, 2000).
Managing personnel could be divided in to many groups, it depends on the undertaken criterion. The most often referred criterion is the position of manager in the organization's structure (hierarchy) (Penc, 2000). From this point of view one can distinguish:
a) top-management - they are responsible for planning and strategic decisions;
b) middle-management -they come to operating decisions, pass them on first-line management and control implementation of this decisions;
c) first-line management, supervisory management or junior management -responsible for implementation of made decisions and direct control of tasks realization's process.
In another way administration personnel could be divided, when one makes allowance for manager's sphere of activity and job description. When man takes into consideration this criterion, then it could be marked out:
- functional managers - responsible for one kind of activity in given business organization (e.g. production, marketing, selling or finance),
- overall managers - supervising complicated economic unit, like enterprise, branch establishment or separate department and responsible for whole economic activity of this unit (i.e. production, marketing, selling and finance) (Stoner and Wankel 1997).
Next and also essential partition - pointed out by T. Listwan - makes allowance for management as a decisions process and divides all people from managerial sphere population into:
- assistant personnel - their job includes recording, gathering and storage of information,
- specialists - responsible for transformation and preparation of organization or its division's activity variants,
- decisions-makers - people who choose aims and ways of reaching them (Listwan at al., 1993).
Beyond above mentioned indexing (that takes into account first of all essence, extension and method of doing one's duties) managers could be also divided giving consideration to another criterions, like for example: characteristic features, ways of behavior, demographic features or preferred managerial style.
ROLES OF MANAGERS
Manager - which has already been found out - performs many various roles in business organization. Very often they arise as a result of existence of certain behaviour patterns which function in external and internal environment of the company and are related with position of a given person in the organization's structure. One can therefore distinguish many different typologies of managerial roles in the enterprise, if one take into consideration particular criteria (Nogalski and Åšniadecki 1998).
According to task priority criterion (enterprise survival oriented and not development oriented) one can present:
conservative roles - arising from day-to-day problems and as a rule leading to fixation of conservative attitudes; managers such orientation would - in the name of "survival at any price" - avoid any conflicts in the company, restrain it's development aspiration and theirs own self-realization,
creative roles - directed on company's expansion, its adaptation to changing environment and managers self-realization, which makes possible to provide the policy of the long term dynamic development.
When one makes allowance for criterion of market behaviour, one can distinguish:
strategic roles - identified most often with the program of general defining and realization of organizations aims and fulfillment of it's mission,
organizing roles - making possible for manager to accurate organization of the enterprise and it's functioning according to expectations.
More precisely managers are divided by a Canadian specialist of management Mintzberg (1975). According to his works managers of all levels of hierarchy behave in the same way, carry into effect similar activities and therefore fulfill similar roles.
Author groups these activities and defines them as "organized set of behaviours" (Stoner and Wankel 1997). The ten roles are divided into three groups: interpersonal (creating and maintaining of interpersonal relationships), informational (concerned with the information aspects of managerial work - resumption and transmission of information) and decisional (coming to decisions).
1. Interpesonal roles include:
figurehead role - manager represents the business organization in all matters of formality, legally and socially to those inside and outside of the organization (it depends on his position in the enterprise's structure) and he is like a company symbol for external environment,
leader role - he reaches the organization's aims by using specified type of motivation oriented on employees needs satisfaction,
liaison role - manger interacts with peers and people outside the organization, he enters into agreements, contracts, gain the orders and therefore perform activity essential for the company.
2. Information roles include:
monitor role - manager searches for the information concerned with the company's activity (problems with selling, taxes, production, etc), which are necessary for making decisions; he read professional magazines connected with specificity and selling market of his enterprise,
disseminator role - manager transmits and propagate special information into the organization; he works up and sends reports, letters, etc,
spokesperson - disseminates the organization's information into its environment (central government, local government, different offices, media, etc.) and into the organization (e.g. organized labour).
3. Decision roles include:
enterpreteur role - manager analyzes possibilities of company's development and implements systematic changes, initiates different programs and scientific research, encourages employees to make contribution and present individual ideas for developing the organization,
disturbance handler role - manager improves the organization's structures, responds to conflicts, all types of criticism and complaints that appear in the company, solves them and counteracts new ones, eliminates disturbances and negative events in the enterprise,
resource allocator role - he chooses where the organization will expand its efforts, distribute limited resources (finance, technical, human, etc) in the organization, regulate their usage in work, prioritizes tasks and procedures,
negotiator role - manager negotiates on behalf of the organization in any individual or group, external or internal agreements.
For the most part, research on managerial work has focused on the common denominators of management jobs. Indeed, a considerable amount of research has been published on this subject. Kraut, Pedigo, McKenna and Dunnette (2005), however, have completed a study designed to shed light on the differences in management roles and activities across different levels and functions. They started with a sample of 1,412 managers and asked them to rate the relative importance of 57 managerial tasks to their jobs. Their choices included "Of utmost importance," "Of considerable importance," "Of moderate importance," "Of little importance," "Of no importance," and "I do not perform this task." Almost all tasks were rated "Of moderate importance" or higher.
Using these importance ratings, they statistically identified seven major factors or groups of management tasks:
â€¢ Managing individual performance,
â€¢ Instructing subordinates,
â€¢ Planning and allocating resources,
â€¢ Coordinating interdependent groups,
â€¢ Managing group performance,
â€¢ Monitoring the business environment, and
â€¢ Representing one's staff.
THE MANAGER AS A LEADER
Leadership is predominantly a group phenomenon, since it is referred to as a process of interest and interaction of two or more people, and in the case of a group, between the leader and the members of the group. According to Katz and Kahn the concept of leadership contains two values: a person who influences others and the people who are influenced. Without these two elements we have no leadership. On the other hand, one can definitely speak with confidence for leadership when someone holds an influential position and this influence is exerted by the same way by all people holding the same position. This form of influence stems from the position and not from the person. Therefore in order to analyze leadership, it is essential to have a set of characteristics which differentiate the person's attitude from that dictated by the position one holds (Driscoll and Hoffman, 2000).
Leadership is the process whereby an individual influences a group towards achieving the desired objectives of the group. There are scientists who believe that the concept of leadership includes an influence processes, which in turn involves setting group objectives, creating incentives for a good working attitude so as to pursue the set objectives, and contributes to maintaining the group itself and its culture. It is evident that the common element in the above definitions of leadership is that it is an influence to achieve a common goal. The most important person of the group, perhaps after the group itself is the leader. Generally, as a leader is perceived someone who can influence and direct the conduct of third parties to achieve a goal. Leadership includes three very basic concepts. The people, the ability to influence and the goals. The leader of any group has to interact with other people. A leader cannot exist if a group does not exist for him to lead (Brown and Trevino, 2006).
In general, organizational leadership involves processes and proximal outcomes (such as worker commitment) that contribute to the development and achievement of the organizational purpose, it is identified by the application of non routine influence on organizational life and is inherently bounded by system characteristics and dynamics, that is, leadership is contextually defined and caused. Lastly, the leader influence is grounded in cognitive, social, and political processes (Fairholm, 2009).
MANAGER VS LEADER
A manager in an organization is not always a leader. Management and leadership are two different concepts, though often appear to overlap.
Modern organizations tend to be complex and operate in a global business environment. Therefore, there is renewed focus on the importance of management and leadership and their distinctive roles in promoting and advancing the interests of the organization. Hard competition and continuous pressures for change demand that managers and leaders work closely together for achieving business goals.
On the practical level, a manager is called upon to evince the quality of leadership and a leader the knack for managing difficult situations in their respective roles in any organization. Pragmatically speaking, then, the distinction between a manager and leader is not problematic. "A manager is often portrayed as a procedural administrator/supervisor-an individual in an organization with recognized formal authority who plans, coordinates and implements the existing directions of the organization (Koontz et al, 2004)."
A leader, on the other hand, is defined as someone who occupies a position of influence within a group that "extends beyond supervisory responsibility and formal authority" (Vecchio et al. 1994: 504) and is involved in devising new directions and leading followers "to attain group, organizational and societal goals" (Avery 1990: 453). This distinction between the supervisory manager and visionary leader has to be understood in terms of their respective tasks and functions.
Dunsford, a management guru, believes that management is concerned with 'efficiency'-with tasks such as coordinating resources and implementing policy, while leadership has to concern itself with 'effectiveness' of making decisions, setting directions and principles, formulating issues and grappling with problems. Katz (1974: 90-102), however, has identified three critical managerial skills and the last two happen to be attributes of competent leadership. These are: technical skills (the ability to perform particular tasks or activities); interpersonal skills (the ability to work well with other people); and conceptual skills (the ability to see the 'big picture').
Modern leadership theory supports an integrated approach to management and leadership. Early work on leadership identified the various styles of leadership based on personal traits and behavior of an effective leader, such as drive, desire to lead, decisiveness, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, job relevant knowledge (Kirkpatrick and Locke 1991: 48-60). The behaviorist models focused on the relationship between a leader's actions and their impact on the attitudes and performance of employees. These studies compared various styles of leadership, such as authoritarian and democratic styles. They studied if an effective leader was more prone to efficient accomplishment of a task rather than being inclined to the welfare of employees and subordinates.
The ideal style, as proposed by Stogdill in 1974, combined the best of both approaches. In later work we find considerations of leadership theory as part of a wider approach to modern management.
The traditional distinctions between a manager and leader are disappearing. Modern business operates in the midst of uncertainties as the current global slowdown and enveloping financial crisis show. Accordingly, the role of a manager demands flexibility, dynamism, management skills as well as leadership quality.
MANAGERS PROMOTING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Management practices that foster an effective workforce are interrelated. It would be difficult to implement only one practice in isolation and hope for success (Pfeiffer, 2005).
Participation and Empowerment
Employee participation and empowerment increase both satisfaction and productivity. In a movement away from rigid control and decision making structures, autonomy has become one of the most important job dimensions. The fundamental change has involved moving away from hierarchical coordination and control and toward decentralized decision making. Lower-level employees, who often have the most information, then become empowered to make decisions. An example is allowing workers on the factory floor more autonomy in solving production problems (Pfeiffer, 2005).
Organizations that promote team environments regularly report improvements in productivity, increases in quality and decreases in cost. Teams are effective because of peer monitoring and the powerful effect of coworker expectations. This peer pressure is so effective that some union leaders have complained that it causes workers to push themselves too hard (Pfeiffer, 2005).
Training and Skill Development
Training is an integral part of developing the potential of the workforce. But it is effective only to the extent that the organization supports trained workers in using their new skills. If the organization fails to change the structure of work in ways that allow people to do things differently, the results will be disappointing (Pfeiffer, 2005).
Cross-Utilization and Cross-Training
Multiple benefits can be gained from having people do multiple jobs. One of the foremost is that doing more things makes the job more interesting. Variety in jobs permits a change of pace, a change in activity and potentially changes in coworker interactions (Pfeiffer, 2005).
The symbols that separate people from each other stand as barriers to decentralized decision making, self-managed teams and the elicitation of employee cooperation and commitment. Therefore, many companies that are known for achieving competitive advantage through people have eliminated the trappings of power. Some of the more obvious include (Pfeiffer, 2005):
Executive dining rooms
Reserved parking spaces
Large offices and executive suites
These status symbols are remarkably difficult to eliminate, because managers often hold onto them tenaciously. But the effort is worthwhile. Any actions that remove barriers between people will result in enhanced communication.
Promotion from Within
There are many advantages to promotion from within (Pfeiffer, 2005).
It promotes skill development in pursuit of higher level positions.
It facilitates decentralization, participation and delegation by promoting trust across hierarchical boundaries.
Supervisors are responsible for coordinating the work of people they probably know quite well.
By the same token, employees know their managers, reducing barriers to communication.
Employees know that high performance can lead to promotion and its financial and status-based rewards.
It provides a sense of fairness and justice in the workplace.
The six practices above may be accompanied and supported by others, including employment security, selective recruiting, high wages, incentive pay, employee ownership and information sharing.
While a new piece of equipment can be installed quickly or a new product technology can be acquired in the time it takes to negotiate a license, developing competitive advantage through the workforce is another matter. It takes time, and it requires leaders who can take the long view.