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Leadership plays an important and significant role in the organization’s operation today. Leadership is seen as the capability of a leader to organize and form a group of people so that they can work together towards the way that achieves a shared vision and goal (Rudd, 2000; Kouzes and Posner, 1995, p.30). In terms of the meaning of leadership, it can be shown in different situations, and be expressed in different form (Rudd, 2000). The discussion of leadership can be derived from the behaviour of leaders and followers which between the relationship of those who is able to inspire others to follow their instruction and those who is willing to be led (Kouzes & Posner, 1993).
A leader that is able to encourage the organizational commitment of his or her followers is seen as an effective leader. Besides that, an effective leader is able and willing to share the vision, objectives, and plan to the employees. A competence leader will be able to set an achievable goal and lead the followers toward the goal together. An organization that is able to develop to retain the effective leaders will achieve a good result in the productivity and employees’ commitment to the jobs. According to Kouzes (1999, p.64), without the assistant, encouragement and motivation from others, one will not be able to reach a fascinating achievement. Thus, leadership is a significant determinant of the organization’s effectiveness.
For several decades, the literature study of leadership had been playing an important role for the area of organizational behaviour. A good practice of leadership with the supported of top management in the organization will encourage the employees’ job satisfaction, motivation and positive thinking. This will result in organizational commitment of the employees. According to Kouzes (1999, p.64), employees will feel confidence about themselves and be able to have a better performance when they work with a leader that always motivate, encourage, and care about their dignity. Employees that have fully commitment are willing to contribute their effort to the organization. They are willing to stay still with the organization even though at the time when company meet crisis or difficult time. Besides that, employees that have their commitment to the company tend to result in good performance and this will create a win-win situation for the organization as well as the work forces.
In the globalization world of today, the implementation of leadership practices in organizations is getting more difficult due to the change in the organization’s complexity and their advanced technology and operations. The diversity of current business environment will influent the employees’ perceptions, expectation and obligations towards the organization (Hyatt, 2007; Drucker, 1997; Kickul & Liao-Troth, 2003). Today’s organizations are going through downsizing, merging, and restructuring in many ways. Therefore, employees may feel that their organizations are not living up to their expectation. The relationship among the employees within an organization is the main factor to determine the achievement of the organization. Leader’s ability to influence, and identify the contribution of the employees is essential to form a positive perception of the employees towards the leaders and organization (Hyatt, 2007; Weber, 1946).
Leadership is said to be successful when its meet the expectation of the employees. According to Kouzes and Porner (1990), leadership is a process that involves two parties of people which are leaders and followers that treat each other in an equally way and willing to share the ideas within each other selflessly. A successful leadership depends on the employees’ perception and trust on the leader’s ability. Therefore, the practices of leadership is a platform of winning the trust of the followers and thus results in organizational commitment. The five leadership practices suggested by Kouzes & Posner (2009) are (a) Challenging the Process, the extent of a leader that is prepare to face the risks and challenges; (b) Inspiring a Shared Vision, the degree of a leader to share a future plan and vision; (c) Enabling Others to Act, the extent of a leaders to influent others to act; (d) Modelling the Way, the ability of a leader to practice his or her values and be the role model of the followers; and (e) Encouraging the Heart, the degree of a leader to show the appreciation and recognise of employees’ contribution (Carless, 2001).
Leadership is an essential element in the association of leader and followers. Leaders play an important role in driving and managing the subordinates. Hence, leadership can be identified as a process of knowledge, skill and social exchange between leaders and followers (Weinberger, 2009). Managers are seen as leaders of their subordinate in an organization. Therefore, the perception of the followers towards their leaders will link to their perception of the company as well as the leadership process. In this study, leadership practices were examined in the context of organizational commitment.
Leadership practices are important elements in fostering organization’s culture and building organizational commitment for the sustainability of the organization performance. Managers play a significant role to influent the perception of subordinates to the organization through effective leadership practices. Leaders affect their followers directly through their interactions with the followers. However, there is a difference of current managers’ behaviour. Many of them claim they care about employees’ expectations, obligation, and well being. Yet, there are managers of some organizations today always implement projects with words and make empty promises to the employees (Hyatt, 2007; Kouzes and Posner, 1993). In such situation, managers can be said that they are not facilitating their obligations, thus the trust and organizational commitment of the employees towards the managers will then decrease.
There are studies found that 68% of employees do not have any confidence on their managers’ words and behaviour. Meanwhile, 43% of employees think their managers always deceive them (Connel, Ferres & Travaglione, 2003; Davis and Landa, 1999). Shaw (1997) argues that employees nowadays are getting selfish in terms of knowledge sharing and willingness to contribute to the organization due to the erosion of trust towards their leaders. Consequently, employees decrease their confidence in work and also their organizational commitment. The management literature tends to emphasise the importance of the trust and commitment of employees towards their managers. It is believed that a successful leadership practices in work place promotes greater productivity and commitment among employees (Connel, Ferres & Travaglione, 2003).
The nurturing of relationship between managers and employees is very important. This is because a relationship that form with mutual trust and respect within all the members in an organization will prepare the organization to confront with difficulties and at the same time create a harmony situation (Kouzes & Posner, 2009). A good leadership practices by the managers in the company will increases employees’ organizational commitment. This can lead to desirable workforce behaviour. Therefore, it needs to be determined if there is a correlation between five leadership practices and organizational commitment among managers in Malaysia.
Objectives of Study
Generally, this study attempts to investigate the influence of each of five leadership practices on organizational commitment. Specifically, this study aims to:
Examine the influence of challenge the process leadership practice on organizational commitment.
2) Examine the influence of inspire a shared vision leadership practice on organizational commitment.
3) Examine the influence of enable others to act leadership practice on organizational commitment.
4) Examine the influence of model the way leadership practice on organizational commitment.
5) Examine the influence of encourage the heart leadership practice on organizational commitment.
Today, the movement and speed of the organization in terms of structure, systems, and processes change rapidly. This scenario has increases the need for the organization to train their managers to become better leaders and better (Skipton and Fred, 2010). This study focused on the effectiveness of the leadership practices implemented by the managers in the attempt to influence organizational commitment of their subordinates. Leaders are the group of people that have the ability to lead the subordinates towards desirable objectives even in a diverse situation. This study is conducted among managers in different organization and work place and aims to determine the levels of organizational commitment and leadership practices among manager.
This study will be guided by the following research questions for the purpose of answer the research objectives above.
To what extent leadership practice of “Challenge the process” influence organizational commitment?
To what extent leadership practice of “Inspire a shared vision” influence organizational commitment?
To what extent leadership practice of “Enable others to act” influence organizational commitment?
To what extent leadership practice of “Model the way” influence organizational commitment?
To what extent leadership practice of “Encourage the heart” influence organizational commitment?
H1: Leadership practice of “Challenge the process” has a positive significant influence on organizational commitment.
H2: Leadership practice of “Inspire a shared vision” has a positive significant influence on organizational commitment.
H3: Leadership practice of “Enable others to act” has a positive significant influence on organizational commitment.
H4: Leadership practice of “Model the way” has a positive significant influence on organizational commitment.
H5: Leadership practice of “Encourage the heart” has a positive significant influence on organizational commitment.
The research of Kouzes and Posner (2003) shown that leadership was a set of practices that can be mastered by leaders through consistent training. In theory, the Leadership Practices Inventory was created in order to have a consistent research on all levels of leaders (Kouzes and Posner, 2006). The purpose of this study is to determine if 5 types of leadership practices is related to the levels of organizational commitment among managers in Malaysia. The independent variables of this study are leadership practices of (a) Challenge the Process, (b) Inspire a Shared Vision, (c) Enable Others to Act, (d) Model the Way, and (e) Encourage the Heart, while the dependent variable will be organizational commitment. The moderating variable of this study is the demographic details of respondents include gender, age, marital status, race, occupation, monthly income, education levels and working experience. Figure 1 shows the research framework of this study.
Challenge the Process H1
Inspire a shared vision H2
Enable others to act H3 Organizational Commitment
Q4 Dependent Variable
Model the way H4
Encourage the heart H5
Figure 1: Research Framework
Significance of Study
Leadership is not something that is difficult and impossible to explain, and it can be understood by ordinary people (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). This study will be beneficial to all managers and leaders of different organizations in Malaysia. Through this study, managers get to design leadership programs base on 5 leadership practices. Leadership practices can provide an appropriate and understandable model for the managers in conducting their leadership program. Besides that, leaders that fully understood the 5 leadership practices will lead to a good performance of their team in the organizations. This is because leadership practices conducted by the leaders will receive feedback of the employees in the end of the projects and this will improve their attitudes and behaviours to become better.
Leadership practices suggested 5 types of practices should be posses by managers. Managers can improve and foster the relationship with their employees by implementing the leadership practices efficiently. It also increases the confidence of the managers while confront any crisis. Furthermore, leadership practices provide a platform and foundation in forming organizational commitment.
Many young people that took leadership course for the first time already have more leadership experience then they realize (Kouzes & Posner, 2006). So, this study also helps the part time students of Master Business Administration to obtain more information about leadership practices. This is because they are people from executive levels and have some experience in work place. They may have the chance to become a leader or manager in the future. Therefore, they will have the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership practices in their tasks as a group or team. Through these practices, the employee at executive levels or taking the courses of MBA will be able to improve their performance in work place and building their confidence especially in the time that need to have decision making.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Following are some important terms used throughout this study:
Leaders: The term leaders refer the body of people who lead a group of people in the organization. Leaders is the people that in charge or in command of others.
Leadership: Leadership is a group of people of a particular organization. It is the ability to be a leader or the qualities a good leader should have.
Leadership Practices: For the purpose of this research, Leadership Practices is viewed as the tasks of division managers, head of department or supervisor involving in one of the following: (a) Challenging the process, (b) Inspiring a shared vision, (c) Enabling others to act, (d) Modelling the way, (e) Encouraging the heart.
Challenging the process: The process that leaders venture out into an unknown world or situation. Leaders constantly look for new and innovative products, processes, and services. Leaders also encourage their employees to challenge the former ways and attitude in doing their work.
Inspire a shared vision: The ability of leaders to inspire a shared vision within the followers and spur out their commitment. It is the desire of leaders to change the way things are and create something new.
Enable others to act: It is the ability of leaders enables others to act not by coercive power but by their sincerity to affect others. They strengthen follower’s capacity to deliver on the promises that they make and promote collaboration in the organization.
Model the way: The ability of leaders to guide and lead the follows by setting a good example and role model. Leaders model the attitude and behaviour expected by their subordinates in order to achieve high standard of organizational performance. Leaders’ behaviours and attitudes are far more important than their words (Kouzes and Posner, 2006). The employees would rather believe the person first than the plan.
Encourage the heart: The ability of leader to recognize and appreciate the contribution of the employees. Leaders create a culture of cherish the contribution of their followers and reward them for their achievement in order to retain the good employees.
Organizational commitment: It is the willingness and feeling of responsibilities of the employees to work hard and contribute their energy and time to a mission or a task in the organization.
Managers: A Manager is the person responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individuals, monitoring their work, and taking corrective action when necessary.
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