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Effective leadership, in the majority of cases, is one of the core elements which businesses use in order achieve a common goal, as without a defined leadership processes in place, an organisation may be at risk of losing control of its original goals. So for that reason, the main body of this analysis will outline what I have learned about the concepts of effective leadership, in order to prevent a company from losing sight of its common goals. Therefore, in order to provide this research with a coherent structure, the opening section of this analysis will briefly outline the name of organisation which has been selected, and then supply a brief description of main reasons behind this decision. Once this information has been established, the following section will take a more in depth look at some of the pre-existing theories of leadership, in order to establish an academic definition of what leadership is and how it is used by organisations.
Once this document has outlined a number of theories of leadership, it will then go on to analyse how - and if - some of these theories are put in to practice at New Age Media, at the same time as providing a brief commentary on how successful they have been adhered to. Following on from this, the penultimate section will then outline what I have learned about effective leadership and organisational management, based on the information provided by New Age Media and from the academic material that I resourced. This section provide a critical examination of what leaderships skills are required to perform well within a leaders designated role, at the same time as questioning whether any of New Age Media's leadership skills are related to any of the leadership theories previously mentioned.
Then to summarise, this report will highlight the positive and negative impacts of these leadership's traits have had on the overall impact of their business model, at the same time as putting forward a number of possible solutions that could help improve on some elements of their organisational leadership.
The main body of this research will derive from the interview (appendix: interview 1|2013) I previously conducted with two leaders at New Age Media, and my independent academic research on the subject. The name of the organisation this report is primary based on is New Age Media ltd. Com. Presently the organisation is a multifaceted digital media company, who specialise in providing premium quality services that range from Web-Design right through to Search Engine Optimisation. The organisation members that were interviewed are the Companies director, Stephen Mizon and the head of PR, Damien Kirkby.
The reason behind this decision was solely based on the fact that I was able to interview both the director of the company and a PR manager; thus enabling this investigation to compare and contrast a number of leadership and organisational skills that may apply to both a manager and a leader. However, in order to do this, is important to define a number of important leadership theories in first instance. For that reason, the subsequent section will outline a number of leadership theories, based on academic research.
Theories of Leadership
As previously mentioned, the central purpose of this section will be to identify three different leadership traits, in order to help provide a more balanced definition of what leadership is. In the majority of cases, if an organisation is to get everyone to pursue a common goal there must be a leader in place, to steer the staff in the right direction. One could say that a leader is one person that influences the behaviour of the other people.
To put the term leader into context, the verb "to lead" has several meanings: 'to cause to act, feel, think or behave in a certain way' or this could mean 'to guide, control, direct: to lead an army' (Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus). Whilst this premise of what a leader is may seem self explanatory, there are still a number of attributes required to define what a leader is. So in order to gain more a more balanced overview of what a leader is, it is necessary to define three types of leader style:
The Autocratic style: this is where communication is often dictated to the staff, rather than seeking their opinions on the matter. In my option, the autocratic style is more suited for factory workers, because their tasks are often quite repetitive and manual. (Fiedler, 1967)
The Democratic style: this is where the leader gathers the opinions from various members of staff, before they make some decisions. I would assume this Democratic style would be ideal for hospitality industries, where RGM (Restaurant General Manager) tends to hold a series of micro meetings with the vast majority its staff. During these meeting, the RGM tends to discuss how the company could improve, in terms of productivity and quality control. (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939)
The Laissez-Faire style: otherwise known as the free rein style: This leadership method tends to apply to creative industries, as this management technique tends get everyone involved with the decision making process; from the initial creative design brief, right through to final production. (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939)
Other Theories on Leaderships include:
Trait Theory: Trait theory suggests that people are born with the attributes to become a leader. Such as (Fiedler, 1967)
Contingency Theory: According to Fiedler Contingency Theory is based on the association between the variables available. Fiedler researched the relationship between: "
The type of task being carried out.
The relationship between the leader and the subordinates
The leader's position of power".
'Best Fit' Approach: This Approach applies when there is not a best suited approach. This Approach is a combination from the different theories. Now that this section has highlighted a number of theories of leadership, the next section will highlight what traits were evidently used by the leaders at New Age Media and how they have shaped business model. (R Heifetz, 1994)
The New Age Media Leadership methods
New Age Media's business configuration is based on the Matrix structure. According Stephen Mizon, 'The main purpose for this is because we want everybody to take the responsibility for the tasks in hand, which fits in with the whole ethos of the company. In this instance, everyone gets involved with decision making process. Nevertheless, the final verdict is still made by the project manager. This style of leadership enables me to make a decision based upon the findings of other experts, in different fields'. (appendix: interview, 2013). Although this approach may still encourage a number of conflicts, in terms of different departments having contrasting views over what is the best way to take the company forward. For case in point, the head of the Search Engine Optimisation department may have opposing views to head of the Web-Design department, which could lead to internal arguments. Nevertheless, this method is less likely to cause internal conflict, in compression to the traditional hierarchy structure, which is often utilised by those involved within the estate agency sector. To illustrate further, estate agents tend to have two major subordinate offices, the estate agent itself, which deals with sales and booking viewing slots and office based side, which focuses on the administrational processes of the business, i.e. writing letters to customers and taking properties off the market.
In terms of individual leadership styles, based on the information gathered in (appendix: interview,2013), there appears a distinct difference between the approach Steven and Damien apply, and this maybe a result of the difference between the role of a manager and the role of the leader. Stephen tends to take more 'free rein style' approach to leadership, whereas Damien tends to take a more 'demographic approach' towards task. To illustrate this point further, company director says Stephen says, 'I would say that I am more of a transformational leader; in terms of I have a clear view of the future of the company, at the same time as motivating others to go above and beyond their current skills and talents (appendix: interview, 2013). Whereas Damien says, 'I tend to take a more pragmatic approach towards leaderships. For instance, I like to make a written document of all the tasks at hand, and then tick them off as they are completed. This process allows me guide my teams in the right direction, whilst also enabling myself to transform long term tasks into bite size manageable chucks." (appendix:interview,2013). Despite the fact these approaches may appear to have a conflicting nature in the short term, in long term they actually work effectively together, as Stephen's long terms versions are effectively filtered down into manageable tasks by Damien, as can be seen from the diagram below.
(Source: Graph drawn in Photoshop)
This graphic represents how one long term goal can be broken down into a manageable size task. In this instance, the long term goal is represented by the leader (as seen at the top of the graph), the medium term goals is represented by the manager (as seen in the middle section) whereas, the boxes at the bottom of the diagram represent the tasks which are to be completed by the workers.
So now that this assignment has outlined which approaches to leadership New Age Media ltd employ, the concluding section of this investigation will take a critical look at positive and negative implications of these two leadership styles, at the same time as outlining possible solutions that could possibly improve the overall organisational management structure of New Age Media.
There were a number of excellent leadership traits that were deployed between the managing director and the head of PR at New Age Media. For case in point, the Managing Director (Stephen) is open to suggestions from other employees, which enables him to look at a number of situations from different perspectives; this enables the company to grow in an orderly manner, whilst also allocating sufficient enough time to make sure that all tasks are completed in the most efficient manner possible. This is a strong example of organsiational management.
Whereas, the Head of the Public Relations department, Damien, has a more structured approach towards achieving his leadership goals, Damien tends to be more focused with the job at hand. Once again, this approach is also an excellent example of organisation management, as it helps him and the department he manages to meet tight deadlines in efficient and orderly manner.
Nevertheless, there is a number of leadership solutions that I believe would help enhance their current management structure, for instance one could argue that both Stephen and Damien could allocate more time towards developing a more effective contingency plan, in terms of dealing crisis with management.
For instance, the nature of search engine optimisation is consistently evolving, so they could spend more time developing a contingency plan that will look to deal with potential changes in search engine optimisation sector in the future. To illustrate further, Google recently changed the way in which their algorisms worked, with the introduction of the Panda and Penguin formulas. This basically meant the whole search engine optimisation industry had to place a greater focus on producing original content. Unfortunately, this change was not catered for in New Age Media's contingency plan, which meant they had to divert more time and company finances towards finding brand new ways to perform search engine optimisation; a problem which could have been avoided with a more structured contingency plan.
To conclude the findings of this investigation, it is possible to put forward the theory that there is not a right or wrong answer when it comes defining what makes a leader, as different business models tend to demand different styles of leadership. However, it is possible to suggest a good leader will not only inspire those who follow them to achieve a common goal, but they will also organise the path in which those who follow them should take, in order to get the most effective output possible.