Leadership is an essential ingredient for success in all business ventures. Organizations across the globe realize that good leaders are made not born. They develop through a continuous process of self-development, training, and experience. Employees will follow a person who inspires and motivates them. Effective leaders can achieve big objectives with their vision and passion overcoming barriers with their enthusiasm and energy. The discussion below presents a contextual case study analyzing the role of leadership in an organization and how it can be effectively used to increase productivity and boost employee morale.
Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary
3. Pitfalls of traditional leadership style
4. Practicing different style of leadership and its impact
5. Developing leadership skills
Most organizations have a common drawback – they have enough managers but not enough leaders. Managers, directors, executives, and supervisors in any organization are people at the helm of company affairs and their responsibilities involve, planning, organizing, and directing the company policies and objectives. But businesses cannot succeed only on the fulfillment of these responsibilities – it needs effective leaders who can inspire and motivate people, uncover hidden talents and opportunities, implement changes, and deliver tangible results. Traditional forms of businesses thrived on dictatorial form of leadership where effective management was measured in terms of ability to dictate terms and conditions to the worker get the job done in a preset and predefined way. Employees and co-workers were tuned to obeying the bosses’ order without questioning. Changing business environment and global influences have given way to innovative means of conducting business. This has changed the global human resource perspective and the status quo of employees and co-workers have also undergone a sea change. Traditional form of leadership has given way to persuasive and transformational styles of leadership that takes into account the human values, emotions, and aspirations.
The case study explores the type of leadership that would ensure better employee-manager relationship and greater efficiency of work operations. It analyses the behavioral aspects of a manager at the plant and the resultant implications on his fellow workers and the organization. It also studies the leadership style that would be result in positive reinforcement among the workers and benefit the organization.
Pitfalls of traditional leadership style
The traditional or bureaucratic style of leadership was characterized by imposition of strict discipline on the employees demanding business-like conduct in the workplace with little leeway for any kind of questioning. Leaders adopting this style practice control and power in the workplace dictating terms and objectives to the other employees. The manager in this context assumes he has enough control and power over his fellow workers and that his efficiency is measured in terms of the amount of control he exerts over them and the overall operations.
The greatest limitation of this form of autocratic managerial approach is that it can result in passive resistance from the employees leading to gross dissatisfaction with work. It has a negative effect on the overall productivity of the department along with dwindling employee morale and motivation. The employees feel stressed at work due to the continuous pressure and that has a negative impact on individual productivity. Managers in such cases are self-centered with primary focus on their performance, their achievements, and their recognition.
Managers promoted initially find it difficult to adapt to their new roles. They feel the urge to prove their abilities and achieve their goals and targets efficiently. Autocratic mode of leadership has proved effective in the traditional business mode but with increasing changes in the society this form of leadership has come under lot of criticism. It focuses on achieving the targets without much consideration to the human approach. Employees are regarded as means of achieving the objectives and they are tuned to obey the dictates of their managers under any circumstances. It generally leads to a gap between the employees and the managers that do not allow the development of an understanding between the two parties. It stresses much on the hierarchical structure of the organization.
Changes in the global work environment has resulted in employees having more say in the operational procedures requiring tactful handling of the workforce to utilize their capacities to the maximum.
Practicing different style of leadership and its impact
Leadership is one of the qualities that a manager must possess in order to be successful. “Leaders are observant and sensitive people. They know their team and develop mutual confidence within it” (John Fenton, 1990). Poor leadership capacity can lead to strategic failure, lower productivity, and ineffective work environment that can damage the company objectives. In this context the newly promoted supervisor needs to change his leadership style from an autocratic mode to a softer and more human form of leadership style. How a leader operates, the leadership style they adopt, is as important as who they are. It should be noted that leadership is contextual and different situations demand different approach.
An effective leadership style is encompasses a more participative approach that draws suggestions from their co-workers giving them due credit for their work. The common characteristics of an effective leader include single mindedness, strong self-belief, strong sense of purpose, and charismatic. Leaders are employed to get a job done with the assistance of a team of people over whom he has control. The team comprising of people is an important aspect of leadership. An effective leadership style stresses the importance of people in the overall scenario – since without people participation the leader cannot achieve anything. A persuasive style of leadership where the leader gives equal importance to the task at hand and the human relationship approach gives an incentive, a rationale, and motivation to the team to accomplish the work objective.
The leader’s responsibility is to balance a set of objectives that include accomplishment of targets, developing individuals, building a team, and accomplishing personal objectives too. He needs to decide how the resources can be effectively allocated to complete a particular job, monitoring and supervising against the work plan, attending to personal problems, praising individuals, recognizing individual abilities, building team spirit, encouraging and motivating the team to achieve desired results.
The role of a good leader is essentially to keep an objective view of the whole operations applying his extensive knowledge about the operational trends, problems, and activities. He guides the overall process armed with a deep understanding of the existing procedures, potential show stoppers that can prove a barrier to achieving set targets, and preventive action plans that can be implemented in times of distress. The role model leader gets the job done using appropriate methods to inspire and motivate the team members. The process involves the active involvement of each team member in the operational front. This type of leadership approach invites suggestions from the team members on defining targets, identifying resources that can smoothen operations, identify risks involved and the best possible ways of mitigating such risks. This encourages the team members creating a sense of responsibility towards the project at hand in addition to giving them a sense of enthusiasm to fulfill the objectives. It gives the workforce a sense of belongingness and ownership to the tasks and set objectives increasing their satisfaction level.
Effective leaders develop followers inspiring them and facilitating their personal growth objectives. The employee trusts his leader confiding his problems and aspirations with the knowledge that the organization will support him in his quest for better performance and higher roles.
Communication is yet another facet of effective leadership. Communicating with co-workers involves a strong ability to understand the problems and traits of the individuals in the team. It requires good listening skills since people confide in leaders who are willing to listen to their viewpoints. A good leader needs to be a good listener as well. In addition he needs to have the ability to articulate the organizational objectives and policies to the team, persuading them with sound reasoning and logical courses of action and their impacts.
Thinking like a leader in the prevailing business world does not involve forcing employees into submission through directives and orders. It is more a process of involvement and cooperation. The days of command and control are over and the emergence of a more participative and persuasive leadership style has made a big difference to the way organizations operate.
Hence, a good manager has the ability to take charge, inspire his co-workers with compelling vision, exercise influencing and persuasive tactics, keep the energy levels high, develop followers with constructive feedback and guidance. In order to create followers and earn the respect of co-workers, a leader has to build trust and integrity as part of their persona. Effective leadership is nothing more than plain common sense. Many leaders are unable to motivate their team by word or example. The participation of team members is essential and can be implemented through delegation and decentralization of work procedures. The role of the leader is crucial in terms of increased productivity and enhanced work efficiency.
Developing leadership skills
Having identified the type leadership required at the work floor, the senior manager needs to take active steps in developing these skills. Scott Davis analysed the situation and the feedback given to him by the employees. He felt he needed to have a talk with Will Taylor and discuss the situation with him. He charted a development plan of action for Will Taylor focusing on internal coaching sessions for honing leadership skills.
It is evident that good leaders are made and not born. Every leader needs to nurture his skills as situations demand and exercise his powers in an appropriate manner for effective results. The primary need of a good leader is to realize his potentials and understand themselves better. A leader’s capacity to lead others depends on their ability to lead themselves. The need to build trust requires development of self-esteem and integrity. If people do not sense a bridge between what the leaders say and what they do they will not be able to trust that individual. Successful long-term organizational relationships are based on trust.
The importance of learning and developing is very aptly observed by Peter Senge in his works – “Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expensive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together” (Peter Senge, 1990)
Leaders need to have the urge to continually develop their skills. Continuous process of learning and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses is an effective way of developing oneself. A leader needs to identify team members and resources that can support his leadership. Support from fellow-workers boosts confidence and motivates an individual to move forward. In this case Scott Davis the senior manager assumes the role of a mentor who guides the personal development of Will Taylor’s abilities as a supervisor.
The leader needs to assess the situation presented to him analytically and assess the understanding of other fellow members too. Gathering the opinion of others in the team helps in assessing the situation in a broader perspective that influences the decision-making ability in a positive way. This requires effective communication skills that involve empathetic listening abilities. A good communicator needs to identify the overall purpose of the communication process, what is the message that needs to be conveyed, possible ways of communicating (email, meetings, telephonic calls), why the communication is necessary, who are the people that will be impacted by the information, what is the best time to communicate the message, and what impacts can be expected. These are some of the parameters of an effective communication process. It should be noted that effective communication needs clarity, consistency, and reinforcement. Effective communication includes various strategies that can create an impact on the team. “The leader must take a point of highlighting the successes within a team, using charts or graphs, with little presentations and fun ideas” (John Fenton, 1990)
Coaching strategies are meant for developing individual capacities. They assist people in developing themselves. The vital role of coaching and developing strategies lies in evaluating individual strengths and weaknesses. Identifying the core areas of development and growth, constructive feedback and monitoring of individual attitudes is crucial in self-development. Leadership qualities can be developed and tuned with effective self-evaluation strategies that involve the individual in analyzing his own abilities and shortcomings that need to be redressed. These development strategies are aimed at building trust so that people want to work with such leaders, and growing skills that involve understanding what a person needs to develop, assisting them in acquiring those skills and ensuring continuous process of self-development. It also stresses the importance of building motivation and focusing on their objectives and personal growth targets.
The leader or manager needs to relate well with his co-workers and ensure a relationship based on trust and understanding to be able to extract better performance and set higher goals and targets for the team. The ability to gel with the team and establish a human relationship works well for the organizational goals and objectives in the long run. Identifying core values and targets, inspiring the rest of the team to believe in those values and targets and define purposeful actions towards effect goal realization are important aspects of effective leadership. The organization needs to focus on developing people skills through the use of effective coaching strategies and personal development plans that are reviewed at regular intervals.
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