The Qualities Of Leadership
Leadership and management are both important in forming organizational goals and achieving them. There have been contentions in the scholarly world concerning the concept of leadership and management and whether or not they exist as separate entities or they exist together. McCartney and Campbell define management as a “series of activities (one of which is leading) that are performed for the good of the organization (191). They quote Griffin (2007) definition of management, Griffin defines management as “set of activities (including planning, decision-making, organizing, leading and controlling) directed at an organization’s resources (human, financial, physical and information) with the aim of achieving organizational goals in an efficient and effective manner” ( McCartney and Campbell, 191). On the other hand, leadership is centred on the interpersonal relationship that exists between the leader and his followers. The massive studies in the area of leadership have coined many definitions of leadership, but basically, leadership is “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and reflect their mutual purpose” (Rost, 103). Darling and Nurmi contend that both leadership and management have evolved. They argue that management is more of a position that encompasses responsibilities in an organization (202). On the other hand, leadership is considered as a personal skill “encompassing the abilities to vision, act, communicate and influence people with whom they are involved in the organization” (Darling and Nurmi, 202). Nevertheless, leadership and management are similar in some ways although they involve different behaviours, skills and outlooks. “Good managers should strive to be good leaders and good leaders need management skills to be effective” (“World Health Organization, 264).
Fundamental Nature of Leadership 领导的基本性质
Spiker has opined that leadership is a perniciously vague concept. He asserts that defining leadership employs looking at the concept from different fronts. The fronts include motivation and influence, personal traits and attributes, leadership as management, leadership as a system of authority, as a set of rules and as a relationship with subordinates (Spiker, 34). In the organizational context, leadership involves the relationship between the leaders and the followers with the objective of attaining certain organizational objectives. Leadership refers to the behaviour of an individual guiding a group of people to attain a common target. It is “an art of persuading a follower to want to do the things, activities that the leader has set as goals” (Mihelic, 32). Leadership carries within it power and influence; it also carries obligations, responsibility and vision. A manager, who also plays the role of a leader, should be able to bring up his subordinates, communicate clearly, analyse issues, resolve conflicts and make sound decisions (Burke and Collins, 246). Basically, leadership is about influencing people within an organization to take actions that will lead to the attainment of the organization’s goals. How a leader does this is what is referred to as a leadership style.
Impact of Leadership Styles and Management 领导风格与管理的影响
Both leadership and management are anchored in taking necessary action towards strategic achievement of organizational goals. Decisions are the foundation for action. For effective actions to be taken, then the leader pays attention to sound decisions (Rausch, 979). This implies one’s ability to lead and manage can be aided by making of high quality decisions in all managerial responsibilities. Similar to defining leadership, there are many ways of determining a leadership style. Leadership style can be expressed as the approach or manner in which a leader provides direction, motivates and achieves objectives. One of the best ways to define a leadership style is to look at it from two general perspectives; what the leader does and how the leader acts according to what he values. Theory and research have shown that the style of leadership influence organizations and the decision making process. The major leadership styles include the participative, authoritarian, transactional and transformational leadership. Other classifications include the directive, consultative, laissez-faire, Delegative, management-by-exception and the more recent development – strategic leadership.
Authoritarian or autocratic leadership is a classical approach where the manager has so much power and decision making authority. This kind of leadership is characterised by use of coercive tactics to implement action and rules. There is use of cunningness to manipulate people during decision-making process and the leaders are known to reward their subordinates for loyalty rather than for merit. Authoritarian leadership style in an organization puts in place a clear distinction of the levels of authority and channel of reporting process (Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration, 1) Therefore decision making is highly linked to the managers who are the leaders in the organizations. The major concern of this style is on the task situations and not on relationships. An opposite style of leadership from the authoritarian style is the participative leadership style or consultative leadership. It is a type of leadership in which the leaders discusses with his subordinated before decisions are made. . This style is concerned about the relationships that exist between the managers/leaders and their subordinates.
Among the most popular types of leadership style is the transformational and transactional leadership styles. The concepts of transformational and transactional leadership styles were introduced by Burns (5). The way to differentiate the two kinds of leadership is in what leaders and followers offer each other (Raja and Palanichamy, 16). Transactional leadership influences individuals through conditional rewards. The leader articulates his expectations from the members and how they will be rewarded for their commitments and efforts. Its focus is in exchange of resources. In this kind of leadership, the leader gives his followers something they want in order to get what he wants. Followers in this kind of leadership meet expectations motivated by the reward they receive. This kind of leadership affects the decisions made in organizations. The success of the decisions made by both the leaders/managers and the rest of the employees is dependent on the rewards. Transformational leadership on the other hand transcends the members’ self- interest to meet the larger organizational goal (Raja and Palanichamy, 16). Transformational leaders focus on higher order intrinsic needs and therefore offer a purpose that supersedes short-term goals. Transformational leadership is a style that involves the leader empowering the members of the organization to achieve a certain goal that the organization has set plus other achievements like professional growth, personal growth and employee morale. Organizational decisions have to put the development of the employees in play. This leadership style influences employees to make decisions towards attainment of organizational goals through transforming them. In transformational leadership style, it is the trust, loyalty and admiration for the leader that the follower feels that motivates him to exceed his expectations. Burns influence, when he talks about transforming leadership, came from the Maslow’s theory of human needs which identifies that people have needs. The theory proposes that the extent to which members of an organization perform effectively is directly proportional to the extent that these needs are met. Transactional leadership promises rewards after certain ways of behaviour. Obiwuru et al agree that human beings’ membership in an organization is driven by a desire to achieve certain objectives. Therefore, the leadership style an organization uses is a major determinant of a member’s interest and commitment to the organization (110). The degree to which the member behaves in the organizational set standards is proportional to the degree to which his personal needs are met.
Burke and Collins say that inspirational motivation leadership “uses inspiration and meaning to persuade employees to believe in and strive to achieve a common purpose” (245). These impacts on decision making in that the people feel inspired to make decisions and take actions that are in line with the organizational goals. Delegative leadership involves a leader leaving the subordinates to make their own decisions (Oshagbemi and Acholi, 762). This, in terms of management, would course a diversion from the course of the company goals since one major characteristic of a leader is to have a vision and influence his followers to that vision or goal. Delegative leadership is close to the Laissez-faire leadership style in which the leader “avoids taking a stand, ignores problems, does not follow up and restrains from intervening” (Oshagbemi and Acholi, 762). Management-by-exception is a style of leadership where a leaser monitors the deviations that occurs from the set performance standards and reacts by taking action to correct the deviation or mistakes and errors. This can either be an active or a passive process. These leaders take advantage of the power their positions endow to them. Their main focus is to identify errors and taking disciplinary action (Burke and Collins, 245). Management-by-extension may cost the organization especially if it is of a passive nature since the mistakes done, even though corrected, cost the organization. Directive leadership, according to Oshagbemi and Acholi, involves a leader attaining desired objectives through telling his subordinates what needs to be done and how to do it.
Strategic leadership is another style marries both leadership and management and blends them. Hoskinsson et al explains strategic leadership as the “ability to anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility and empower others to create strategic change as necessary” (37). This role is mostly taken by top-level managers. When a leader fails to strategize, he fails in envisioning the path the company should take. Consequently, he does not anticipate possible problems or issues that arise. Lack of strategy sups up people to the present and they forget what they want to achieve. As Burns suggests, leadership cannot be separated from the needs and goals of followers. Burns suggests that the power wielders kind of leaders see the workers as a means to an end and treat them in view of that. If a leader is more concerned of the end forgetting the importance to the means of that end, then misses important signals. Organizational level of relationship determines the level of openness and feedback. This involves “activating agendas that infuse organizations not just with a change vision but also with sustained capacity for change implementation.” (459). Nocholls’ (23) strategic leadership star could be applied. It involves the processes of defining the company’s purpose, vision and mission; identifying the processes that deliver value to the customer; focusing on essentials, key competencies and capabilities; creating a measurement standard and triggering and maintaining enthusiasm and value initiatives within the working groups. The processes will guide the behaviour and style of the leader. A strategic leader ensures that management hierarchy should not “sit on top of everyone as a crushing set of controlling layers which are superimposed on those doing the value-adding work. Rather, it should become much flatter and more fluid while being inverted to give necessary infrastructure of support.” (Nicolls, 25).
The type of an organization’s structural configuration determines the kind of leadership style a leader should adapt (Chen, 40). “Persons who are consistently cast in the leadership role are behaviourally flexible and thus able to perceive and predict variations in group situations and pattern their own approaches accordingly.” (Sumner-Armstrong et al, 844) This requires leaders to have a repertoire of leadership behaviours and be able to select the most appropriate leadership style for different specific situations. Leaders work in a diverse environment with a lot of demands and expectations from organizations’ stakeholders. They are faced with a challenge to balance between change and diversity. If a particular style is not working, then a leader should adapt the best alternative.
Leadership in IT companies IT企业领导力
Every organization aspires to grow as well as to offer strategic competition to its competitors. This objective, as Kumar notes, is achieved through several organizational mechanisms “but the most important among them are the leadership practices of the firm” (3). Kumar (3) says that the productivity of an organization is dependent on management of valid knowledge through suitable leadership styles. In Graetz words “Against a backdrop of increasing globalisation, deregulation, the rapid pace of technological innovation, a growing knowledge workforce, and shifting social and demographic trends, few would dispute that the primary task of management today is the leadership of organisational change.” (550). Taylor-Bianco and Schermerhorn confirms that, “Change is the order of the day in our organizations. Commitment to continuous change is expected; it is ever-present as the goal.” (p. 458). However, they note that regardless of whether the capacity to manage change is an indispensable characteristic of an executive leader, there a startlingly low record of change success.
Chadna and Krishna point at an important area in Information Technology (IT) that needs good leadership – attracting and retaining quality human resources (1). Employee commitment is a major concern for leaders in this field. The best leadership that can address this issue is the transformational leadership style which gives the subordinates a job satisfaction (professional development) as well as a commitment to achieving the organizational goals. Professionals in the IT sector need technical leadership. Thite points at some occupational-related characteristics those professionals in IT posses. They include “High need for autonomy, achievement orientation, first loyalty to profession and second to organization, craftsmanship approach, project orientation, association with logic or absolutes, project orientation, bifurcated career path, mobility, isolation from corporate society and sensitivity to work” (Thite, 235). Most of the managers in the IT industry acquire their positions based on their technical talents and expertise. This in some instances overlooks whether or not a manager has leadership and interpersonal skills. Most IT companies have required leaders with a repertoire of technical, managerial and business skills.
In his study on leadership in health IT, Castro asserts that, “perhaps no factor is more important in explaining why some countries lead in health IT adoption than strong national-level leadership” (1). This is because implementing health IT entails relationships among organizations and even individuals who have competing goals and priorities. The leadership style adopted in IT firms should reflect the needs of the employees as well as the goals of the company.
It is apparent that having an appropriate mix of management and leadership skills is vital for the success of an organization. Good managers have been often described to have good leadership qualities and good leaders have had to perform managerial skills. What has evolved from the leadership and management research and scholarship is that a leadership or management style impacts on the organization especially its decision-making process. Although scholars have suggested transformational leadership as the best king of leadership, current changing times that organizations find themselves in calls for situational leadership. Both leaders and managers should have a repertoire of skills and characteristics that will enable them to detect changes in situations and decide on the kind of leadership that situation calls for. Situational leadership ensures sustainability of the company and ultimate attainment of organizational goals across a period of changing situations and times. Leadership and management development is one way that an organization will ensure that it maintains top leadership at management level.