Leadership in Action.
One of the main keys to the success of organization is the right choice of the leader in it who will be able to make the team work efficiently, and achieve maximum performance. It’s very important for the leader to take into consideration the relations which exist within the organization, and carry out decisions which are based on the characteristic features of team members. Oftentimes, problems in the company arise because the manager is unable to coordinate the work of the team effectively, and performance decreases. The most important task of the leader is to merge with the team he or she is managing, understand the needs of every member, his psychology, and with that knowledge develop different strategies of stimulating every member. The performance of the organization in many ways depends on the skills of the leader, and his skills are crucial in the efficient functioning of the company.
The Smith and Falmouth company (S & F company) represents a tele-shopping and mail-order network. In order to achieve the highest performance, the company has formed a separate unit S&F Online. The organization structure of S&F Online includes the following divisions: the web-developing team (6 members); the logistics team (3 members). The company’s marketing manager provides coordination of marketing and logistics operations with the parent company. The operations until the employment of the new COO were handled by the project manager. The structure of the company is organic, and it represents such a type of organization structure as matrix structure. This type of structure is very flexible, and is represented by lots of intercommunication between managers of different levels and employees. It’s a mixed structure in which, like in the linear structure, there is a manager who coordinates the activity of the company but there are also managers of lower levels who coordinate different teams. The organization structure of the company answers the goals which were set for it. The interactions between the employees are very complicated.
The matrix structure is a modern efficient type of organization structure which is a result of combination of 2 types: linear and functional. In the matrix structure, there is both a horizontal and a vertical structure of the organization, and responsibilities are delegated in both levels. Due to the introduction of matrix structures to the organizations, new elements were introduced which play a major role in the development of the management forms the goal of which is increasing the creativity among the employees. Such a structure stimulates the initiative of employees, motivates them to give their own ideas on different issues, thus increasing the efficiency of production, reduction of production costs, and the increase in quality of the production. The main advantages of the matrix structure include: Close interaction of managers and employees due to the creation of program and functional divisions which depend on one another; Division of functions between managers who provide coordination of general level (COO, CEO) and lower-level managers (project manager, marketing manager etc.), their mutual coordination of employees’ work; Involvement of managers of all levels in the sphere of active creative work on technical development of production.
The organic type of structure which can evolve due to the needs of the company is radically different from the bureaucratic types of organizations which don’t adapt to the needs of organization in any ways. If a matrix structure is very flexible and welcomes change, bureaucratic type of organization doesn’t serve the interests of introduction of new technological processes, doesn’t lead to the frequent changes in organization. The concept of the discussed types of organization structures were introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. Bureaucratic types of organization include linear, functional, and divisional. The linear organization structure is based on the principle that all the decisions are made by the top management, and all the responsibilities come to the employees in the lower level from the top. In such a case, a hierarchical ladder is created in which every employee has only one manager wile the manager has a couple of employee whom he coordinates. The main features of this organization are simplicity, strict management, difficult interaction between divisions. Functional structure is created on the basis of divisions for different functions fulfillment. Those functions can include production, marketing, logistics, etc. The functional structure’s goal is constant routine fulfilling of the same tasks every day. Its main disadvantage, like in the linear structure, is that interaction between different divisions is complicated by the fact that only management can make decisions. The divisional structure is another type of bureaucratic organization structure according to which different divisions in the organization are created, specializing in the production of some specific item of production (product structure of management) or based on the territorial principle (regional structure of management).
In the basis of the bureaucratic structure which Max Weber was discussing the following principles were laying: strict division of labor based on the position and skills of the employees; hierarchic structure of management in which the lower level is fulfilling the responsibilities of the higher level; formal rules guarantee the quality of work provided by the management; no care for creativity among employees; no care about the psychological features of every employee and treatment of all employees in the same way; employment due to professional skills and never due to psychological qualities. As we can see, there is a very important different between this type of structure and the organic structure of S&F Online. The bureaucratic structures do not welcome any creativity and they don’t regard a worker as an important member of the team whose needs are the first priority of consideration by the management. The bureaucratic structure results in the impossibility of brining changes into the organization because it doesn’t welcome any modern technologies or approaches. This structure prevents the organization from functioning efficiently because different divisions in it tend to work with different speed and different motivation because differences between employees aren’t taken into consideration. Employees in such a structure don’t have a right to make any decisions because they all come from the top level of management. Thus, the employees get unmotivated, and their performance gets lower (Meskon, 244).
The informal structure of the organization has a very important influence on the formal structure of it. The main reason of it can be found in the fact that depending on the psychological features of employees, their interactions in the company can be very different. Oftentimes, some divisions get connected with other divisions the most during their personal communication, and in order to achieve the goal, the manager needs to find approach to both divisions. If some employees have high leadership skills, it’s necessary to encourage them to make decisions. They will be unsatisfied if they don’t get a chance to participate in the management’s decision, and their productivity will get lower. In S&F Online, the informal structure has a very deep impact on the formal structure. It’s possible to see that through the interactions within the social network of organization. Most of the employees are very connected with one another and for the most part, influence each other’s decisions. For example, the Project Manager has very close communication with most of the employees of the company: with Marketing Manager, Web Development Team, Logistics Manager and Logistics team. They interact on the regular basis, and spend their free time together as well. That results in very strong connections between the Project Manager and other employees, so it’s possible to make a conclusion that the Project Manager is a very important center of power, and through influencing him many other employees will be influenced. The Logistics and Marketing Managers also have close communication with employees but they are not even half as powerful as the Project Manager. He has to key to the organization’s success in his hands. However, it’s necessary to notice that he is very considered with power issues, and dislikes it when a new COO tries to take his responsibilities in making decisions away from him.
The role of power and politics in the organization is very important. By the correctness of style which the leader will choose when managing employees it’s oftentimes possible to make a conclusion about the future results of the organizations. It’s always necessary for the leader to define the centers of power in the organization, and use them wisely for the efficient management of the organization. According to Doug Bond, the things to keep in mind for managers are:
v Top managers must accept the importance of flexibility and innovation as a major part of their company’s culture.
v Major beliefs should be put in writing, if managers are aware of the beliefs they share, they might be less likely to be blinded by them. (Bond, 5)
The leader can apply the following styles when managing the team: supporting, directive, coercive, “transformational leadership” styles. Each of them has special recommendations for usage in different situations. For example, supporting and “transformation leadership” styles are very efficient in situations when a new leader comes into the organization, and seeks to establish warm relations with all the members of the team. Directive and coercive styles can work only in the teams which welcome this style and are ready to fulfill all the management’s assignments. However, nowadays such employees are quite rare, therefore, it’s usually necessary for the manager to combine the styles. He should be supportive in many situations but he should also be directive in certain issues when he knows that he is providing the most efficient policy. In S&F Online, the most efficient leadership style which has to be used by the leader is supportive style. Only with the help of this style the new COO will be able to achieve all of the goals which he wants to achieve. The team members don’t want to separate with the power which they had before the appointment of the new COO, so the directive style will only make them rebel. In many ways, the new COO has to apply “transformational leadership” style in order to make the employees understand that they participate in making decisions, and their power of making decisions hasn’t been taken by them. In order to make them work the most efficient, it’s necessary for the COO to make an impression that nothing much has changed in the organization except the appearance of some coordination from the COO. However, the employees in power (like the Project Manager for example) can still influence the activity of the company by making important decisions. The supportive style usually results in the best performance of the team because it gives the most motivation to the employees. They feel how important they are. Therefore, it’s very necessary for the COO to make sure he implements this style in his work. He should avoid the directive or coercive styles in the work because they will make the team only work less efficiently than they do now. Those styles would immediately unmotivated the team.
The simulation has helped us to learn many new things about the leadership styles, and how to apply them in different kinds of teams. This experience is very useful because all the knowledge obtained can be applied further in the real work. It’s very difficult for the manager to figure out what style of leadership to use on different employee groups, therefore previous theoretical practice helps very much in this regard.
Bukowitz, Wendi R. and Ruth L. Williams. New metrics for hidden assets. Journal of Strategic Performance Measurement 1, no.1 (February-March 1997): 12-18.
Davenport, Thomas H., Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa and Michael C. Beers. Improving knowledge work processes. Sloan Management Review 37, no.4 (Summer 1996): 53-65.
Doug Bond. What is Strategy? The Power and Culture Schools. www.hr.com.
Garvin, David A. What makes for an authentic learning organization? Management Update: Newsletter from Harvard Business School 2, no.6 (July 1, 1993): 7-9.
Mattimore, Bryan W. 99% inspiration: tips, tales & techniques for liberating your business creativity. New York: American Management Association, 1994. 236 pp. (Shelved at HD53.M374 1994).
Meskon M.H., Albert M., Hedouri F. Management. 1992.
Nadler, Gerald and Shozo Hibino. Breakthrough thinking: why we must change the way we solve problems, and the seven principles to achieve this. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1990. 350 pp.
Sugarman, Barry. Notes towards a closer collaboration between organization theory, learning organizations and organizational learning in the search for a new paradigm. Cambridge: MIT, . 22 pp. (BPR225; available online at http://learning.mit.edu:80/res/kr/Sugarman.html