Last updated: February 14, 2019
Topic: BusinessEnergy
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The leader is the most important determinant of the success of an organization

 

INTRODUCTION

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An organization does not need great leaders-just responsible and committed leaders. The demands of the modern world for leaders have changed overtime and it is but proper for leaders to adapt to the changing demands of time. As Lombardi stated, “the leader is the heart of the organization” (Lombardi, Caterina 2000). Holding this statement true, we can therefore support the idea that the leader is the most important determinant of the success of an organization. Putting it in another way, this paper argues that the success of the organization lies in the hands of its leader.

This paper aims to support the argument that organizational success is determined by its leader. In order to do so, this paper accumulated some evidences from credible sources such as business articles and journals. Examples from the field of sports were also included in order to present a more credible and objective evaluation of facts and arguments. Such literature review is held important in this paper due to presence of historical, factual examples of the importance of the leader in an organization. Literature provides not just ideas but views from experts of which have already been proven valid by experience and research results. This paper would like to prove by providing examples how a leader makes or breaks an organization he leads.

PRESENTATION STRUCTURE

In order to support the argument, this paper managed to gather information and pertinent examples of successful and failed organizations all because of the incompetence or irresponsibility of the leader. An overview of the concept of leadership in the modern context is presented first in this paper in order to provide a lead for the reader on the issue being discussed. A brief background on some relevant leadership issues and debates are also provided in order to establish a definite point of reference, that is, where the discussion should begin and to what extent. Bulk of the paper focused on the role of the leaders in the organization and how such role played as a vital element in the life of the organization. Most of the evidences included therein are from business organizational set up and avoided as much as possible evaluating political leadership in order to eliminate bias in presenting the writer’s stand in the issue.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE CONCEPT OF LEADERSHIP

Leadership has been examined by different psychologist and management experts in different maybe depending on their experience or maybe on the perspective they prefer or was able to see. Bass sees leadership as “an interaction between two or more members of a group that involves the structuring or restructuring of the situation and the perceptions of the members including their expectations (Bass, B.M. 1990). On the other hand, Hambrick sees leadership as the overall responsibility of all members of the organization (Hambrick, D.C. 1989). Still others see leadership as the exercise of influence and power, persuasion and of inducing compliance. All of these when we are to examine in detail are valid at some point and at a specific perspective. Taken as a whole, leadership can be regarded as ability of an individual to exercise power to positively influence compliance in the absence of control and pressure with much of the heart and moral values.

 

 

BACKGROUND ON LEADERSHIP DEBATES AND ARGUMENTS

There are arguments that say that leadership quality depends on the quality of the team he handles because his leadership emergence depends on the support he gets from the team. Congruent to this they argue that “a good leader can easily become a bad leader without the right team and the right support” (Cayman Net News, April 28, 2005). Modern management trend believes that the employee is the most valuable asset of the organization (Bounds, Wayne). There are also arguments that regarded leadership as a relationship among the members of the organization and as such the success of the organization depends on the quality of the relationship they maintain (Hollander and Julian, 1969). Still others believe that a good leader is measured by his ability to make the toughest and unavoidable choices in the name of the future of the organization (Blunt, Ray).

It is however the stand of this paper that the success of the organization is in the hands of the competent and responsible leader who has the good and brave heart to face changes and challenges on his way to leading the team to success. It is the stand of this paper that a leader can shape a bad team members into worthy ones because leaders should not be negatively affected by negative thinkers, rather he positively influence the black sheep to turn them into tamed ones.

LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH

This paper is limited to the concepts and applications of leadership in the business and sports organizations in order to establish an objective view of the topic and the arguments relative thereto. The writer prefer to eliminate the concepts of political leaderships thus intentionally excluding examples of government, religious and historical political leaders that will somehow create a bias due to some subjective evaluations on most available literature. This paper is also limited to the evaluation of leadership roles and the importance of the leader in the organization. It is also important to stress that the concept of leadership used n this paper is not limited to managerial positions but the also places importance on the leaders at the lower level of the organizational structure. The processes or theories relative to the development of good leaders and of choosing them have been excluded in order to focus on the main argument.

 

THE ROLE AND IMPORTANCE OF A LEADER IN THE SUCCESS OF THE ORGANIZATION

Leaders establish the behavioral realities of the workplace – good leader influences compliance from subordinates not by control and domination but by example. Because leaders are the people has given the power and the opportunity to make written rules and goals real, their presence in the organization is not merely of occupying the box in the organizational chart but of making the chart move and alive. The set rules and regulations including the standards set by the organization are exhibited by the leader. I believe it is better to ask someone to follow than to ask them to go somewhere without you. The purpose of leading by example is for the leader to gain commitment from the subordinates. Without the leader to show how things are to be done, it is likely that the organization will turn out to have erratic working environment and weak working relationship members are left with their own discretions which we expect to vary in every person.

The mission and vision statements of the organization play like the constitutional laws of the country. Mission and vision statements in the context of formally organized groups serve as point of reference by both the leaders and the members. Like constitutional laws, which serve as standards for one’s social and moral actions, such mission-vision statements should be carried out realistically. Otherwise they are but ornaments in the walls of the company office as with laws not enforced are waste of time and resources spent for the salaries of the members of the house who drafted them. Without the leader to will show them the right path towards the attainment of such mission and visions, members will just be scattered like sheep without the shepherd.

Leaders connect people with purpose – leaders are responsible for keeping the members of the organization in complete autonomy and while keeping them intact. This means that leaders were given the power to positively influence compliance from subordinates without making them feel controlled. The key word therefore is motivation not domination in order to connect the members of the organization because “leadership is not rank, privileges, title or money; it is responsibility” (Drucker, Peter F. 1996). Having organizational members well-informed with the organizational goals and values even before they start taking their seats in their own cubicles, there should not be an excuse for anyone not to know the purpose of their individual presence in the organization. What the leader therefore should focus on is on finding the means of connecting such individual purposes of each member toward the achievement of the same organizational purpose or goals.

Weiss stressed that the success of the organization does not lie on the perfection or imperfection of its set goals and purpose; rather it lies on the translation of them into clear and acceptable individual goals (Weiss, Alan 1998).  Weiss called this process “alignment” of goals the people who are to work for their realization. Without a leader to initiate the alignment process, it will too impossible for the members to patch the pieces of the puzzle in order to clearly see the picture. The pieces of the puzzle are the organizational members characterized by their different personalities and probably with different intentions or motivations of working for the organization. It is the leader’s to set things in an organized manner to make organizational activities run as smooth as possible.

Let us look into this leadership role in another example. Consider a rowing team of several members. Each member knows that their individual role is to row as hard and as fast as they could in order to bring their boat to the finish line, and all of them, I presume desire to win. Consider also that the members of the rowing team are the best rowers in town and of course they are expected to have at least an edge. We know that sports like this require a leader who sits in front of the boat, with the drum he beats in a rhythm that the rowers listen to keep their rowing in harmony. One basketball team coach noted: “Talent is important. But the single most important ingredient after you get the talent is internal leadership” (Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Men’s Basketball Three-time National Championship Coach). Without the leader, the members probably will just row as hard and as fast as they could in all directions without the common rhythm or count. By doing so, it will harder for them to move the boat forward to the finish line.

By connecting people, the leader therefore ensures that each member understands how they depend on each other. The leader gives the autonomy to every member to work individually but makes them understand that their individual results play a vital role in bringing the pieces of the puzzle into a fully realized picture of the organizational goal. Without the leader, the pieces of the puzzle will just stay where they are and will do their own things. Without the leader to bring their talents, knowledge and skills together, even the finest masons and carpenters cannot raise a single building. Let us remember that connecting people with purpose is the first of the toughest choices that a leader should make (Blunt, Ray).

Leaders set standards and keep them from slipping away –  set standards, no matter how impressive they are, will not make an organizational successful unless there is somebody who ensures they are met by every player in the team. This is the vital role of the leader in the success of the organization. When we say vital, we mean it concerns life and for an organization to achieve success, it has to live a life founded in strong bond of organizational players (members) who are keen to the smallest detail of meeting standards.

Team coaches and business leaders believe that success of an organization does not depend on choosing the best and the finest nor does picking the individual with the highest educational achievement to manage ensures the success of the organization. This is primarily because intelligence and skill does not always entail the sense of responsibility. They do not necessarily suggest clean and honest leadership motives. If so there should not have been high school achievers who became successful business owners. If so then non-college graduates were not given the chance to own million dollar businesses. The point here is that success of the organization depends not on the talents, knowledge and skills of the leaders but on how these leaders manage them and turn them into characters that define and live to the standards. “That’s how teams with ordinary talent can win championships. Without leadership, even a team with great talent will struggle to become a champion” (Anson Dorrance, North Carolina Women’s Soccer Nineteen-time National Championship Coach).

Leaders set the tone for everyone else – being the heart of the organization, the leader supplies the energy needed to get the organization off the ground” (Schein, Edger H. 1996). Notice that the leader is not symbolized as the head of the organization but rather the heart which is placed lower than the head. This is primarily because leadership, as have been stressed earlier is not all about control and domination rather it is all about leading and coordinating. The leader as the heart pumps blood to and from the different organs of the body in order to keep them going. The leader keeps the blood flowing as has been symbolized by the transactions engaged into by the organization. The heart does not define the wholeness of the body because each part depends and supports in each. But without the heart, there will be no life and if there is no life there is no future” (Warren, Bennis 1993).

As tone setter, the leader has the initiative to say “It’s time” or “It’s enough”. Using his skills, knowledge and abilities, the leader creates some form of system that each has to stick into and to deal with. Without the tone setter, everyone will be lost as they will possibly be hard up distinguishing where and when to begin and to stop with which and why. The importance of a tone setter in a team is highly regarded by sports team coaches: “if the tone is positive, you have half the battle won. If it is negative, you are beaten before you ever walk on the field” (Chuck Noll, Super Bowl coach, Pittsburg Steelers).

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LEADERSHIP AND ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR

The scientific management concept of leadership holds that productivity of the human factors in an organization depends on the ability of the leader to break down or delegate the work into small parts and require each worker to work strictly within the instructions given. This concept also holds that human factors are to be analyzed in relation to machines, time and speed (Wertheim, Edward). In this context, the vital role of leader is stressed in the role of breaking down the job into small parts. However with the integration of machine as important as playing an important role in productivity, the concept somehow no longer places the highest importance on the role of the leader but equally treats material and human resources as vital in productivity. Because the concept is scientific, it failed to consider other human aspects such as emotional and social aspects of human factors that also play an important role in human motivation.

Hawthorne studies of Rewards and Punishment on productivity recognized the interdependence of each member and the diversity of the motivations that each member have. Further this concept asserts that organizational leadership should be reformed into requiring social skills and not just technical skills. This concept somehow jives to the concept of leadership as a relationship. It is however to be stressed that the establishment and maintenance of a quality relationship depends on the leader who supervises or looks over it. Being the guardian of standards, the tone setter and the one responsible for bringing goals into realities the leader still is held the most important personality in the organization. Again the leader is responsible for connecting the individual purposes of every member which will consequently create a healthy working environment founded in a healthy working relationship.

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CONCLUSION

The leader is the single most important determinant of success of the organization. We have proven this argument to be valid by examining the vital roles played by the leaders in the organization. By taking into consideration the statements made by winning coaches of different sports teams, we were able to prove than even outside the business arena, the leader as the heart of the organization works and fits in. Although we have excluded the examination of the role of political leaders in running the government, we still assume that the same vital role is played by such leaders.

This paper was able to prove that the success of the organization lies on the hands of the leader because the leader primarily is the one setting the behavioral standards of the organization into reality. The leader plays the vital role of connecting people and their individual purposes and aligning them into the organizational goals. The leader serves as the guardian of the standards and not just standards setters and finally the leader critically sets the tone for every member of the organization. Having such vital roles combined, we were able to learn that the leader is truly the heart of the organization who gives life to every member and the whole team and continuing such will give them a successful future. This paper concludes that it is by playing their vital roles well and bringing the organization into success that makes leaders great rather than great leaders bringing the organization into success.

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REFERENCES

Bass, B.M. (1990). Concepts of Leadership. Bass and Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research and Managerial Applications. 3rd Edition. New York Free Press

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Bennis, Warren. On Becoming a Leader. Wilmington, 1993.

Bounds, Wayne. Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://www.sgaus.org/per_org.htm

Blunt, Ray. The Toughest Choices a Leader Must Make. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://www.govleaders.org/choices.htm

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Championship Coaches on the Importance of Leaders. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://www.teamcaptainsnetwork.com/public/199.cfm

Drucker, Peter F. The Leader of the Future. San Francisco, 1996.

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Hambrick, D.C. (1989). Putting Managers Back in the Strategy Picture. Strategic Management Journal. No. 10. pp. 5-15

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Hollander, E.P. and Lewis Julian (1969). Contemporary Trends in the Analysis of Leadership Processes. Psychological Bulletin, Volume 7 No. 5. P. 391

Lombardi, Caterina. Leader: the Heart of the Organization. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?ei=UTF-8;p=importance+of+leader;fr=slv8-msgr;u=www.aaleader.tcu.edu/tcu2000.pdf;w=importance+leader+leaders;d=Sp2pcOdmPb0E;icp=1;.intl=us

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The Importance of Leadership. Cayman Net News. April 28, 2005. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://www.caymannetnews.com/2005/04/826/editorial.shtml

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Schein, Edgar H. The Leader of the Future. San Francisco, 1996.

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Weiss, Alan (1998). The Modern Leader’s Role. Innovative Leader. Vol. 7 No. 11. November 1998

Wertheim, Edward G. Historical Background of Organizational Behavior. Retrieved on September 30, 2007 from http://web.cba.neu.edu/~ewertheim/introd/history.htm

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