Leadership studies: Strategic Leadership and how it relates to the rising trend of Network Marketing

Leadership studies: Strategic Leadership and how it relates to the rising trend of Network Marketing

Abstract

Leadership has become a concern of modern day organizations as it has a profound effect on the success of organizations and in helping meet its objectives. And though leadership has been a subject of study, it now being over a century of inquiry, it has yet to be fully grasped. There is a new wave that recognizes not only leadership but also the strategy that can be formulated from the top. Thus, strategic leadership is a trending topic seeing that the modern market place and operating environments have become highly unpredictable marked with flux even in areas once considered stable. Organizations had been deemed to be structured to be possible to operate and function normally. The emergent of business models that can function from the barest of traditional structures has added to the challenging business environment. Using a case study, this article will look at strategic leadership and how it can be adopted towards creating a competitive advantage and exploiting opportunities. The paper will start with an introduction followed by synopsis of the emerging trend in strategic leadership. In addition, to be discussed is network marketing, organizations and organizational Structures and how these organizations and organizational structures work in network marketing. The paper will then delve into leadership covering theories of leadership, strategic leadership     and the interaction of leadership, strategic leadership and network marketing. The discussion will then turn to how organizations are influenced by leadership, more so strategic leadership. The paper then covers two interesting topics – strategic entrepreneurship and leveraging then closing with a brief            discussion/conclusion.

Strategic Leadership and how it relates to the rising trend of Network Marketing

Introduction

Over the course of time, as civilization has progressed, modernity has seen the need and nature of mankind in harnessing and using resources at his disposal change. He has had the need to want to innovative as it’s been the nature of humans to develop the very ideas, concepts and visions that have allowed him and societies to advance, so that from the simplest of organizational forms, companies have emerged and grown to provide various services and products for people to utilize. Furthermore, in order for organizations to conduct business, whether in their locality, or on a larger scale – say globally, leaders have had to emerge, in order for the conceptualization of those visions can be realized and eventually implemented. Mankind has experienced a dramatic and accelerated rise in various creative ideas, concepts and visions. As such, as organizations and companies have emerged and blossomed, so has the need for those great leaders, innovators and visionaries to run those organizations embodied various kinds of leadership styles and standards even as progress and never ending change has become inevitable.

            As modern day visionaries and groups emerge, so does the need for their organizations and companies to define and characterize the strategies needed to create and implement their ideas. There are also various approaches that would be needed in order to conceptualize an organization’s strategic disposition during its evolution in order to realize its mission and vision using a detailed analysis of what would be needed to be accomplished. In addition, it is in this context that leadership has an integral role to play in organizations and finally decide the direction that such an organization would take. From the initial manager who oversaw workers have come the mentor, coach and most importantly a leader of men who has to pass their vision so as it can be understood, executed and carried on by other men. From this has been the birth and growth of a new leadership style that seeks to transform the fortunes of all – strategic leadership.

To further understand this unique concept as a path to growing strategic leadership, as a case study, the researcher will bring up with intent World Ventures Incorporated, (a network based company within the travel industry), which is actually more indicative of a personal development company, disguised as a travel club, with an inspired, enthusiastic, and determined group of upcoming leaders from who lessons can be learned by those willing to become, teachable, coachable, and able to duplicate, innovate and use the concept of leveraging. As a growing, innovative and financially successful business concept, Network Marketing is trending now. The highly under-rated, network marketing concepts are quickly becoming popular ways to generate personal residual income; corporate income; revenues and profits, and surprisingly, organizational strategies that emerging leaders will need in order to develop leadership platforms for their organizations

A leader requires skill sets such as personal, professional and spiritual education, a solid background with good experience, which is a prerequisite to not only develop a career but also necessary for the development of their organizational strategic plans as well. In order to enhance any kind of success be it at organizational or team level, or virtually successes on various levels, leaders will have to strategically take these trending business concepts, and grow and lead their groups of people, such as the teams within World Ventures Inc., that are being built to organizational successes. I have identified the trend of network marketing, its pros, and cons, and the need for strategic leadership to make them a successful business model. This emerging trend in strategic leadership has become an innovative, trending business concept that uses a servant-hood style of leadership that leaders of traditional companies have never really taken seriously, or, wanted to be part of in the first place, until now, that is of course.

Case study

World Ventures Incorporated (a network based company within the travel industry). World Ventures Incorporated partners with hotels in various destinations and other tourism industry players to offer tourism services (cruise and exotic tropic destinations) that are considered as luxury tourism. On its website, the company touts itself as a lifestyle company that markets travel-related products. As any other marketing network, there are various packages priced appropriately for one to join as a member having been introduced to the venture by the very member. There is a compensation scheme based on the number of people one introduces into the network. There is also a regular payment on a monthly basis towards enabling these independent distributors be able to consume the products of the company.

An Emerging Trend in Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership can be broadly inferred to leadership and management practices that are able to identify areas of strength available to an organization and pursue ways to fully maximize these advantages to enable competitive advantage and positioning in the areas of operations. Network marketing requires an exceptional differentiated leadership to pursue objectives fulfillment as it requires the exploitation of unique circumstances that are both available and lacking in ordinary organizations. That is why they are the best kinds of settings and organizations to experience the effects of strategic leadership. This new and growing, innovative and financially successful business concept and trendsetter in the Network Marketing has been highly dependent on what can be termed as strategic leadership. It is a highly under-rated marketing concept that utilizes personal networks while it is catching on quickly, becoming a popular way to generate personal residual income; corporate income; revenues and profits, and surprisingly, organizational strategies that emerging leaders will need in order to develop leadership platforms for their organizations. To truly be successful at a Network Marketing concept, an individual has to be able to create a viable network to which they offer exemplary and strategic leadership or otherwise failure is inevitable.

In this case study, strategic leadership definition will be adopted as stated by Elenkov et al (2005), who define strategic leadership as, “the procedure of outlining a vision for the future, communicating it to those beneath you, inspiring and motivating supporters, and taking on in strategy-supportive exchanges with peers and  subordinates”.

In order to see the emerging trend in strategic leadership and the way it is becoming used to engage in business and ensuring returns, some basics will be covered. It is aimed at the end the author will be able to successful assert that strategic leadership is not only a viable leadership style but also one that can ensure success even in new environments – in this case network marketing

What is network marketing?

Network marketing is a type of direct-selling business model that seeks to exploit social connections. In itself, direct selling as identified by Cruz & Olaya (2008) “is a retail level distribution and commercialization channel for products and services”. The foundation of direct selling is based on the purchase and consumption of commodities by independent distributors who make their money on a commission based system either through what they have ‘pushed’ through their own efforts or though other such independent distributors that they have been able to bring in to the distributorship channels. Therefore, network marketing as a model of direct selling gets new entrants that act as distributors for their products and these distributors join a network that grows over time. Owing to the nature of accrued benefits as becoming a part of the group, in the network growing process when a new distributor is recruited, only one connection is generated to his/her upline (Cruz & Olaya, 2008).

Network marketing organizations are direct selling channels that sign up fresh distributors and outline a certain kind of communal system, which is formed in the course of time and founded on preferential attachment (Cruz & Olaya, 2008). The dissimilarity as further recognized by Cruz & Olaya (2008) is that in network marketing, hierarchical structures do not exist or fit – this can be attributed to the fact that new distributors connect directly to only one sponsor thereby rendering the identity of a cluster impossible which limits its replication, let alone a co-existence of modularity.

The advantages that are attributed to network marketing are twofold, to the organization and its distributors. As a business model, network marketing affords massive cost savings as there are no investments in maintain a workforce, distribution channels and people get paid for their efforts. As for the distributor, apart from being a consumer of the products probably at reduced costs as a result of cutting of the supply chain that would have required aren’t seeking compensation, they are compensated on volumes that they demand on their time as much as they are willing to work. If they desire to pursue other interests simultaneously this is possible as their time demanded is flexible. Still the residual income will come. Also there is the aspect of training that is associated with network marketing teams/organizations to induct them into the proper distribution channels, it has its own accrual benefits including making of more connection points in the network, increased socialization and the realization that they are part of something – more so considered psychological benefits.

The disadvantages are more found on the distributor’s side than the network marketer’s side, that is, after the initial part of becoming operational is passed. Sakalas & Venskus (2007) have established that network marketing may fail as a result of several factors top of the list being owing to income expectations, budget investments  and the recruitment of a large number of distributors. But that is not an issue as we are looking at successful network marketing organizations and as such as has just been pointed out, it rarely is experienced on the organizations side. Therefore, to the distributors, for one to become really successful at the distributorship so as to earn significant revenue requires a significant investment on their part. Still Sakalas & Venskus (2007) have pointed out that each distributor has to recruit a large number to occupy a viable position and this requires wading through a large number of people at least hundreds of people. And it is due to this that it can be claimed that 99% of distributors in network marketing organizations lose profits as a result of the expenses related with creating their business network exceed the returns: therefore a few distributors are in a position of receiving superior revenue at the expense of several downlines conscripted by them who buy the network marketing organization’s products or services and receive the lowest incomes (Sakalas & Venskus 2007). From this realization arises the challenges of ensuring that those that become discouraged or drop off after a while have to be replenished from new sources or given the motivation and incentive to stay on. To those at the helm, their leadership then has to become crucial hence then need for it to be strategic.

There is also the need to understand the structure and organization that is network marketing. Various networks exist in the business world but what makes network marketing to be unique are the interactions within it and the value that comes from this interaction. We have noted that distribution and consumption largely goes on within the network almost as a self-sustaining unit in itself. As opposed to other networks in business, a slightly different perspective has to be understood as offered by the ‘networks-as-markets approach’ by Jones et al (2013), where the spotlight is on the market as sets of interconnected exchange relationships between actors who control resources for value creation, leading to an early focus on buying as well as selling. This approach acknowledges that individual, interconnected relationships form network structures.  The enterprise structure today is understood from the position of the long-term position, approximating its diverse relationships in the framework of the open market and the necessity for the quick change. Much is spoken about the network or virtual organizations. Sakalas & Venskus (2007)  understand this well and state, “the joining of several business units is peculiar to these structures where the people and work processes communicate in pursue of common results and mutual advantage”.

This is part of the new enterprise in the contemporary extremely competitive global organizational operating environments. Those that see opportunity in being dynamic and identify the necessity to change as they pursue common results and mutual advantage have eclipsed the traditional business. When elaborating on modern organizations the novel conceptions appear, such as being itinerant, horizontal-flat, elastic, user-friendly, fast-rapid, worldwide, limitless, rapidly reacting, capable to become accustomed, command-type and network organization (Sakalas & Venskus, 2007)

Organizations and Organizational Structures

It has been already underscored that for economic purposes, man has evolved over time and in coming up with institutions to direct his economic activities and his evolution has been unlimited to the formation of organizations for the control of resources and execution of business decisions. As a result the organization and the inherent organizational structures have formed the basis of business, decision making and even leadership to manage economic affairs, the organizations and its functioning’s.

In their article, Sakalas & Venskus (2007) identify the structure/characterizations of the traditional organization and has the following descriptions for a traditional organization: the power is very centralized, formal hierarchy,  exceptionally formalized – the activity is coordinated with formal rules in mind, requires the reliable bureaucratic structure and processes with perfect functioning, functional divisions, the structure promotes hostile/competitive relationships inside the enterprise, and sophistication/complexity and work specialization are especially valued. The question therefore becomes; Are Network Marketing Organizations, ‘Organization’?

Organizations and Organizational Structures in Network Marketing

The networks though cannot be identified as not being organizations since they do not grow randomly but rather through already existing structures that gives preferential treatments to new recruits and dictate their engagements and involvement while in the ‘organization’, as such particular structures play a part to either allow or restrict the diffusion of goods and services, and thereof arising benefits throughout the network. Franken & Thomsett (2013) have a wonderful definition of the resultant loose organizational structure when they describe it as a restricted to plain ground rules and/or joint improvised regulation of associate activity that is weighted by the open membership that is always in a constant flux – making authority to be less well defined since such connections are emergent rather than directed.

Characteristics of Network Marketing Organization

Adapted from (Cruz & Olaya, 2008)

Leadership

Leadership is a subject that has received both study and understanding over the years from various groups and schools of thought and divergent views have been expressed. When it comes to understanding leadership the most widespread of all descriptions is that, “leadership is an influence process that assists groups of individuals towards goal attainment,” says Germain (2012). In addition, although several definitions have been advanced, it should not dishearten anyone as having missed a point as the correct definition of is largely dependent on the particular aspects of leadership that are of concern to an individual (McCleskey, 2014).

Theories of Leadership

Numerous debates and investigations have wanted to highlight what leadership is all about and in the process-established theories of leadership. Initially this dwelt on leadership as being inherent in certain individuals with certain qualities – born with these traits destined to lead. This focus shifted then to the impact the environment had on leadership and situations were factored in on how they affected the actions of individuals considered leaders. Then it moved to the ability of some of these characteristics or traits being identified and learned as a skill so that it can be passed on. This is what can be broadly identified as the summarization of leadership being understood as either a behavior, a trait, or a skill (Germain, 2012). Without dispute, the breadth of previous research has established that having certain personality traits is associated with being an effective leader, Germain (2012) further claims.

In exploring the place of leadership in networks, the study adopted a qualitative design as it is most appropriate to explore complex processes and investigate ‘little-known phenomenon of innovative systems’ such as network leadership (Bryce, 2013). With this in mind numerous literatures was interrogated to understand the place of leadership in ensuring successful enterprises and also its place in what is considered a new and unique field of businesses, network marketing.

The author will proceed to review the most identified theories as highlighted by Germain (2012) and these are:

  • Great man theory, brought out in the 1900s that saw leadership as belonging to those born with it, and could not be made
  • Trait theory was next riding its wave between 1940s – 1950s and it had that; inherited traits that were suitable like physical, personality, abilities, social skills were necessary for leadership
  • Contingency theory, 1960s – 1970s determined that what was ideal for leadership was the environment, which determines which style of leadership is best suited for particular situations. This in essence declared that no leadership style was best suited in all situations
  • Participative theory was also proposed and it expressed that when it comes to inclusion of others, three types of decision makers in leaders emerge: autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire
  • Situational theory in the 1960s with proponents having that the best action of the leader depends on a range of situational factors (motivation, capabilities of followers, l leader/follower relationship: Contingency theory, i.e., task oriented or relationship oriented); it received good exposure by (Fiedler, 1964; Hersey & Blanchard, 1969)
  • Then came Transactional theory introduced to the academia by Burns (1978) that people are motivated by reward and punishment and that with clear structures leadership was possible to brought out
  • Thereafter the Transformational theory (Bass, 1985) had it that people will follow a person who inspires them and this was majorly influenced by the vision and passion held by the person considered as the leader

The above theories are not exhaustive but rather a starting point from which more and diverse theories have come to be. However, the study will want to dwell though on the three major theories of leadership developed more recently that translate to the styles of transactional leadership transformational leadership and situational leadership. Whereas McCleskey (2014) covers them all, Elenkov et al (2005) coverage of the two leadership styles was found more informative for the purposes of this study. The three theories synthesis later will be to pitch towards Full Range Leadership theory – the study’s informed foundation of the strategic leader.

Transactional and Transformational Leadership Styles

Text Box: Transactional leadership refers to the exchange relationship between the leader and the follower. There are three forms by which transactional leadership manifests itself: (1) contingent reward behavior where the leader clarifies for the follower what the follower needs to do to be rewarded for the effort; (2) management by exception behavior, where the leader monitor’s the followers performance and takes remedial action if the follower fails to meet expected standards; and (3) laissez-faire behavior, where the leader avoids taking any action at all times (Bass, 1998).
Transformational leadership refers to the leader moving the follower beyond immediate self-interests. There are four forms by which transformational leadership manifests itself: (1) Managers exercise idealized, or charismatic, influence by becoming role models for their followers (Shamir et al., 1993). Followers seek to identify with charismatic leaders and want to emulate them. Such leaders are endowed by their followers as having greatly superior capabilities and other important personal characteristics (e.g., persistence and determination). (2) Leaders who practice inspirational motivation behave in ways that motivate and inspire those around them by providing meaning and challenge to their work. Such leaders communicate clear and challenging expectations that followers want to meet. (3) Leaders who engage in intellectual stimulation provide support to their followers’ efforts to be creative. Such leaders question existing assumptions and approaches. They reframe issues important to their organizations in new ways. (4) Leaders exhibit individual consideration by providing followers with support, mentoring, and coaching. Such leaders pay special attention to each individual follower’s needs for personal achievement and growth. New learning opportunities are created along with a supportive climate. Leaders demonstrate acceptance of individual differences in terms of needs and desires. Leaders’ interactions with each of their followers are personalized (Bass, 1998).

Adapted from Elenkov et al (2005)

According to McCleskey (2014) Transformational Leadership has been the single most studied and debated idea with the field of leadership: owing to its positive influence on followers and attaining organizational performance, it has been linked to CEO success, middle manager effectiveness, military leadership, cross-cultural leadership, virtual teams, personality, emotional intelligence, and a variety of other topics. On the other hand, transactional leadership has its foundation in the exchanges between leaders and followers with rewards for productivity insulating against uncertainties as mutual objectives are met (McCleskey, 2014).

Situational leadership is rooted in the position that effective leadership is best developed when a rational understanding of the situation and the proper reaction instead of the leader who is considered charismatic and having a following of groups (McCleskey, 2014). Here, it is anticipated that the leader’s center of attention should be on the required tasks rather than on their relationships with their followers to ensure the attainment of objectives. According to McCleskey (2014), task-oriented leaders delineate the responsibility for followers, provide specific directives, make organizational blueprint, and set up official communication channels as opposed to relation-oriented leaders who observe concern for others, try to lessen emotional conflicts, seek out harmonious associations, and standardize equivalent involvement.

According to Elenkov et al (2005), strategic leadership has received attention on three fronts. On managers and in what they do in relation to their subordinates, on leadership and its influence on organizational performance and on strategic leadership behaviors – if they can be known and understood. This has resulted into disjointed outcomes in their varied forms either as theories, research agenda or plain arguments among other such derivatives. I would like to show though there have been efforts to reconcile the divergent and sometimes ambiguous efforts that has characterized the understanding of leadership, strategic inclusive. This can be best show cased as captured by Elenkov et al (2005) in their work where it is argued:

Whereas transactional leaders provide for their group’s pressing self-interests, transformational leaders uplift the ethical, inspiration, and principles of their followers. The distinction between transactional and transformational leadership does not mean that the two sets of behaviors are unrelated. The two leadership styles differ in relation to the process by which the leader motivates subordinates as well as in the types of goals set. Nonetheless, both sets of behaviors have been found to influence performance, except for laissez-faire leadership behaviors. While conceptually distinct, transformational and transactional leadership may both be utilized by the same manager in different amounts and intensities while also complementing each other. This stream of thought is known as the ‘full range of leadership’ perspective.

The school of thought that is the full range of leadership gives rise to the Full Range Leadership Theory. As pertaining to full range leadership theory, incidentally it is the current most dominant leadership theory (Verlage et al, 2012) although it has been further insinuated that in itself the full range leadership theory does not contain a construct of strategic leadership. This though has been rebutted by Elenkov et al (2005) who put forward the opinion that the full range leadership perspective does assert that strategic leadership behavior should have a systematic impact on strategic process and outcomes. Also McCleskey (2014) has pointed out that researchers today study transactional leadership within the continuum of the full range of leadership model, and in it there is what might be considered qualities appropriate for attaining strategic leadership: a thing like ensuring followers are directed to pursue goals of the organization as a way to personal gratification. These ideas are indirectly confirmed by Latham (2014) who state that, “the most researched leadership theories over the past 30 years have been the complementary transformational and transactional leadership theories”. It can be considered remarkable to make a note of and even question whether the full range leadership theory acknowledges strategic leadership as a concept without lending itself to it, or at least to understanding and probably covering it. If that be the case, what then is strategic leadership?

Strategic Leadership

The competitiveness at the business front like in other spheres of life has seen a tremendous positive leap. Businesses are today faced with an environment that is ever changing and highly demanding of adaptation at paces never witnessed before. Leadership has been at the fore of ensuring such demands are met though in itself has not been enough thus the need of not only leadership but that which is responsive and futuristic thus strategic leadership – such leadership put together with innovation stratagem are crucial for achieving and maintaining strategic competitiveness in this age (Elenkov et al, 2005).

Strategic leadership is identified as one that the leader has to be someone who is equally firm and flexible, unrelenting when being faced with difficulties while at the same time being in a position to respond strategically to environmental modifications enabling them to have become equipped to relate specific essential skills all at once (Schoemaker et al, 2013). Its importance can be understood because in the multifaceted large-scale business circumstances, strategic leadership presupposes a very significant, yet critical role. It is significant, for the reason that they formulate strategic business ideas and critical, as they have to formulate audacious and hard judgments to make them become visible in the actual world (Raza & Murad, 2014).

The essential skills for strategic leadership can be said to be varied and wide as the concerns of leadership itself is. The field though will be narrowed and six skills will be highlighted as identified by Schoemaker et al (2013). These are the abilities for anticipation, challenging the norm, interpreting information, deciding among alternatives, aligning the various and divergent interests, and finally maintain a learning attitude.

Anticipate – this resonates with the capacity to become aware of indistinct threats and opportunities that lurk in the shadows in every business environment. Strategic leaders will be always on alert and making sure, they raise their ability to anticipate as a result of having their eyes in the environment and the horizons, which gives them the ability to take notice of indicators of change. According to Schoemaker et al (2013), the skill of anticipating will be improved solely on the basis of a solid and wide ranging information network that ropes in stakeholders for continuous feedback and a further step involves undertaking simulations for case scenarios. All these will ensure being able to be strategic in leadership owing to anticipation.

Challenge – always tried and tested methods are most often predictable in the results that they may yield and it is here that being able to challenge things as they are becomes a strategic option. The way things are done should not be satisfactory for a strategic leader, the status quo has to be interrogated and divergent points of view entertained. Schoemaker et al (2013) advices that in order to be able to enjoy such a position, endurance, bravery, and an receptive mentality will be of want. In addition, since questioning is involved, answers will always come along enabling the taking of strategic decisive decision.

Interpret – having been able to have an information network and the ability to challenge the status quo, without a doubt a wide range of responses will surface. A strategic leader will therefore be the one who is able to see beyond the obvious and come up with the treasure hidden underneath. Schoemaker et al (2013) recommends that the strategic leader will therefore be required to identify outlines, move forward even in the course of uncertainty, and hunt for fresh insights. This can be through a process that allows the leaders at the same time connect the dots without losing sight of the big picture something only done by observations and validation of such observations no matter how fickle or outrageous it may seem at first.

Decide – ordinary leadership entails the choosing among alternatives and following through but for strategic leadership decisions do have to be undertaken but they are informed from a much more broader perspective that allows for options from the beginning bringing the element of flexibility. And although we set out to achieve a-b-c, along the way option b will do better than option a. in the end, Schoemaker et al (2013) contends that strategic leaders follow through their decisions knowledgeable through a vigorous decision routine that having the end in mind, reflects on the pros and cons arising, and considers both short-range and long-range aspiration into consideration. Of concern will be actively seeking options and getting the best support to pursue what you want accomplished.

Align – leadership entails bringing divergent groups towards common goals. As simple as it may sound, rarely is it smooth sailing when among the stakeholders views and agendas do not conform. A strategic leader therefore must have the ability to make it possible that a common ground that covers the interests of the various parties is found. It calls for a proactive role from the leader and the power of proper communication being deployed. Schoemaker et al (2013) identifies communiqué, dependability, and recurrent interactions to be the pillars for the success of aligning. For success, stakeholders have to be identified and their concerns properly identified and addressed; evaluation, monitoring and feedback as part of the communication process and having a rewarding scheme that promotes alignment.

Learn – the dynamism and fluid nature of the contemporary business environment ensures that change is not only inevitable but rather too often sometimes. Organizations that fail to adopt quickly become vanquished at the market place and it is in strategic leadership that survival is ensured. Strategic leaders have a profound impact on organizational learning, helping endorse inquiry and lessons learned without which innovation is stifled and in time leading to demise. Schoemaker et al (2013) argues that a learning culture has to emanate from the top that allows for the adoption of new ways even when not understood or that has proven problematic. The best way to go about it would be a tolerance that seeks for positive criticisms, has regular audits and reviews to offer insights, rewarding of ingenuity regardless of outcomes and above all, encourage learning.

To be a strategic leader the fore mentioned skills have to be developed in balance as lack in one cannot be compensated by strength in the others (Schoemaker et al, 2013). The skills can be said to be complimentary and any effort in developing one will have the spillover effect of bringing the other to the limelight from where proper adjustments can be set up, so long is done right. Information gathering involves communication processes and if the data available is well analyzed and further insights sought, then decision making becomes easy something that helps cover the concerns of all involved. With new information as one learns, challenging old positions is well informed enabling the anticipation of changes wherever they may arise. Development and growth has to equally focus on all areas and their application is a matter of balance too and with that strategic leadership is guaranteed. Further emphasis will be laid on the importance of positive and enriching stakeholder relationships.

Finally, any successful venture today has stakeholders to contend with. To be able to cope well, the ever more difficult task of both recognizing and managing the range of potentially significant stakeholders has to be adeptly put into consideration: it is imperative that leaders come up with an approach to refocus the attention to those stakeholders whose dealings with the organization does truly matter. Premises of “strategic” leadership have as you would expect approved and encouraged the consideration of stakeholders, becoming cognizant of the part of leaders in taking into account all the related extent of their alternatives and strategic main concerns (Doh & Quigley, 2014). Other premises of leadership that have stressed the leader as “servant” likewise admit the responsibility, obligation, and responsibilities leaders have to their diverse constituencies (Doh & Quigley, 2014). In the same breadth, servant leadership, although having been inadequately explored, has its foundations deeply rooted in offering organizational stewardship that is recognizes the contribution of all stakeholders – these are to be understood as those who impact a business/ an organization or are impacted by it. It is imperative to know that servant leadership as a model or theory suggests a way of life rather than a skill that is to be learned or transferred. Parris & Peachey (2013) have captured the ideals of servant leadership in their choice of words by saying, “Servant leaders are distinguished by both their primary motivation to serve (what they do) and their self-construction (who they are), and from this conscious choice of ‘doing’ and ‘being’ they aspire to lead”. This style of leadership does not call for any specific trait rather than a deep commitment to values that are considered beneficial to others in a sustainable way.

It should not be thought that strategic leadership is the panacea to the global challenges experienced in volatile environments and is supposed to be looked at as the necessary leadership style mandatory to achieve strategic actual organization strategy and innovation. Elenkov et al (2005) have pointed out that a particular strategic leadership performance could, and should, be examined by itself and singly, as every instance it is exercised it has its own effects on organizational innovation procedures, and each may have diverse exchanges with contextual variables. Specifically, each strategic leadership action is to be expected to be connected with different organizational endings, in particular in terms of the enormity of the results, in different social cultures (Elenkov et al 2005). This approach represents a radical departure from prior leadership research approaches, which essentially ignored investigating actual individual leadership behaviors and the strategic effects of each of those behaviors.

Leadership, Strategic Leadership and Network marketing

Growth of the network in network marketing is pegged on more members or distributors coming on board. Since the independence of these distributors is part of the process, for more members to join is solely based on individual initiatives and effort of those already on the network. Over time, there are distributors who will become stronger and more important within and to the network as a result of recruiting a larger quantity of downline distributors (Cruz & Olaya, 2008). Their success will be further hinged on the efficiency of these downlines as they are to earn a commission off the activities of the distributors. Therefore, a way towards achieving this has the hallmarks of leadership that not only motivates action on their part but also capital expenditure and it requires strategy and developed leadership prowess.

As noted in their highly illuminating article that borrows from military science knowledge on strategy, Franken & Thomsett (2013) have developed a very unique tactical approach to the challenges that organizational structures that characterize network marketing may bring along: they portend that “rational, analytical, directed approaches for strategy creation and execution may work for creating value by conventional, hierarchically structured organizations operating in stable environments. However, “when the basis of competition shifts from product features to an experience delivered by a network of independently acting participants in a complex and fast-evolving market environment, approaches based on command and control do not work” add Franken & Thomsett (2013). For order to emerge from such chaos and to gain more control over success, strategy based on reason alone is not enough to inspire action in others.”

Network marketing operates in an environment that can be at best being defined as volatile and quite uncertain. The leadership style that is require to run enterprises in such an environment has to come prepared and it is this that the study sought to identify as strategic  leadership. Every environment to a business has its opportunities but it has been understood that the further unpredictable the environment, the bigger the opportunity – if one has the leadership skills to get the most out of the circumstances (Schoemaker et al, 2013).

The value of strategic leadership cannot be overvalued as nothing comes next to it if it were to be determined the usefulness that a strategic leader was to be required. According to Elenkov et al, (2005), strategic leaders have been repeatedly acknowledged for their significant part in recognizing breakthroughs and executing resolutions that affect innovation processes and their knack for opportunity recognition and exploitation add considerable business value to any kind of business as is the case with network marketing.

Are organizations influential on leadership, more so strategic leadership?

An organization as it has been shown has a considerable influence on the development and execution of strategy, be it as part of the organizations culture or resulting from its top leadership initiative. This is as a result of organizational structures that are part and parcel of the organization. But then, here comes network marketing although a business/enterprise/company, it is not the organization of yester years. It fundamentally does not have formal structure and operates from loosely agreements and its membership is not cognizant of the top management per se. nevertheless, these ‘organization’ that is network marketing has been able to achieve goals as much as other organizations do in their areas of interest/operations sometimes rendering ‘the organization’ out of business. Of importance and the way this is achieved, it has to be attributed to a certain kind of leadership that sits at the helm of network marketing.

Strategic leadership is being touted as the differentiating factor that has seen network marketing defy the odds and have its place and be counted at the podium of winners. This though has a similar resemblance to what Hitt et al (2011) describe as strategic entrepreneurship. In their seminal work “Strategic Entrepreneurship: Creating Value for Individuals, Organizations, and Society”, they underline the part of strategic management to entrepreneurship to bring about success in out of the ordinary businesses. It is the opinion of this author that the strategic management spoken off here is the end product of strategic leadership. Perhaps looking at strategic entrepreneurship will lend credence to this claim and help shed a light to our concern of strategic leadership and its combination with network marketing to achieve the kind of results that are being witnessed in the domain.

Strategic entrepreneurship

In itself, entrepreneurship entails risk taking to exploit new and sometimes unique opportunities that yield rewards. Hitt et al (2011) define entrepreneurship as “a context-specific social process through which individuals and teams create wealth by bringing together unique packages of resources to exploit marketplace opportunities.” It is obvious with this definition network marketing has the hallmarks of entrepreneurial markings.

Of importance though is how this wealth creation comes about and as succinctly noted, to generate wealth has to be preceded by value creation and this entrepreneurs’ do by leveraging on innovations that exploit new opportunities and create new product-market domains (Hitt et al (2011). Perhaps it would be better to point out that, network marketing has been able to demolish the traditional organization by removing what I will term as its most cost intensive attributes – structures and human resources that are financial burdens and in the same breadth cut out the supply chain that is also controlling of the production (value creation) process. Network marketing – a small group of people (with strategic management/leadership) can come together and create a product that is carried directly to the market (independent distributors cum consumers/customers).

On the other hand, Hitt et al (2011) hold that the purview of strategic management as creating competitive advantages’ which is the foundation of value creation and describe it as a confluence of activities that is supposed to end up strategic competitiveness and enable earnings of above average returns.

It can be thus summed that since entrepreneurship and strategic management are concerned with value creation and competitive advantages, strategic entrepreneurship make it possible for an organization to address opportunity exploitation and forming of competitive advantages, which should result in successful ventures. However, it should be noted that remaining fixed on either strategy or entrepreneurship while leaving out of the other increases the likelihood of organization incompetence or even failure (Hitt et al, 2011). So how does this augur with strategic leadership?

Entrepreneurial leaders create visionary scenarios that can be used to assemble and mobilize a supporting group in the organization that is committed to opportunity discovery and exploitation while undertaking leveraging actions that move the organization from the potential to create value to realizing value by deploying the capabilities to achieve competitive advantages. That is leadership that is strategic in all of its endeavors. But how the leveraging entirely works out in strategic leadership does is still open to debate.

Leveraging

Leverage always creates a position of advantage in whatever purpose. Strategic leadership has the capacity to harness resources and capabilities in an organization so that leveraging actions can tap into a leadership’s abilities. Theses abilities are in mobilization, coordination, and deployment of specific capabilities in particular market contexts by choosing and implementing a particular strategy. Leveraging is becoming of concern owing to the fact that in any business, regardless of prior positions and advantages, successfully exploiting an opportunity will open up the space for competition. As a matter of fact, enduring and continued existence is improbable for an organization that is not capable to attain the smallest amount of competitive parity with rivals, with safety only available in never ending innovation, which then turns into the foundation of sustained value and wealth creation over time. (Hitt et al, 2011).

It now becomes necessary that leveraging lends itself to strategic leadership and strategic entrepreneurship something that allows the organizations to appropriate its understanding and capabilities in the contemporary environmental milieu while looking at opportunities to exploit in the future as pertaining to new knowledge and new and/or enhanced capabilities (Hitt et al, 2011).

Discussion/Conclusion

In the ordinary ways of life, it is new innovations like network marketing that shows us a transformative way of doing things. Innovations will always overtake any entity that rests on its laurels. What is especially important is that these innovations be carried on leadership that is equally innovative and progressive for it become of any significance. Strategic leadership is the best bet for these altering innovations. Strategic leadership is now trending on the aspect of it having a significant impact on having strategic objectives in organizations performance.

Management has always had an influence on how goals are met and an organization is able to deploy its resources to enjoy success by exploiting opportunities while it remains relevant in the products it gives to its consumers. To exploit opportunities, remain responsive to changing demands strategy is a must have. It is therefore without a doubt that leadership that can yield strategy be identified and developed.

Leadership development initiatives aiming at improving areas of skills deficiency should not rely on one aspect. The present leaders should not be just enabled to acquire skills without knowing how exactly it is to prove useful. It is being advised that they receive skills and competency training that makes them strategic leaders, able to lead the coming organization and the new employee. Aspects like leveraging and servant leadership can all be embraced and understood in the same leaders who are also engaging and do not lose sight of goals no matter how demanding as a result of strategic leadership.

Although it can be said that modern leadership is in need of a new focus on developing leadership expertise, new perspectives on the role of leader identity and the development of adaptive leadership capacity, as opposed to the challenge that is being experienced today in the circles of leadership which lies in the misguided notion that leadership develops mainly in leadership development programs moving from the historical perspective that advocated for targeted specific skills and competencies, while focusing on diffusion of best practices (McCleskey, 2014). Leadership development has to move beyond having to get stick in what can be defined, understood and covered by a particular theory as distinct to the other. And although the author has become enthralled with full range leadership theory, it will be better to point out this has been reached at with reservations. The part that the full range leadership model embraces the other theories on leadership is laudable but knowing scholars and human nature, they will be soon zoning it and to standardize it, and will be throwing out and bringing on board matters of concern that will distort the novel idea of inclusion.

Strategic leadership as it has been discussed and the lengths at which the study went to indentify various angles to understand it including the case study, was all to make out that it is a highly dynamic leadership style. To remain dynamic, it is richly adaptive heavily borrowing from the best of all that comes to its aid irrespective from which other leadership style or leadership theory it is borrowing from. If that be maintained, the author will flow with the full range leadership theory.

Strategic leadership has fashioned itself to have become a useful tool that companies, enterprises and organizations will need to adopt to chart new grounds, create competitive advantages in familiar grounds and exploit opportunities while remaining viable, profitable and relevant in spheres of interest/operations. This it can and will achieve by becoming as changing as the environment in business and other such competitive environments keep on having new changes and challenges to match up to.

It will be prudent to close off the discussion on strategic leadership with McCleskey (2014) who invokes a leadership studies expert, Bass, who had predicted the unrelenting significance of both personal traits and situations to leadership: ultimately shaping the field of leadership that would result to large, purely transactional organizations giving way to transformational ones as modern leaders become more innovative, responsive, flexible, and adaptive. To this statement I will lend credence to a pioneer of strategic leadership and if I were to factor in network marketing and the success organizations like World Ventures Incorporated have achieved, then the prediction has already seen the light of day at the hands of the leadership that is strategic.

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