Issues in Organizational Leadership – Reflective Journal
Leadership is a multifaceted concept in an organizational set up. As such, there are several aspects that constitute effective leadership in any organization. The success of an organization depends on the effectiveness of leadership in place. Aspects such as motivation and ethical business operations relate to effective leadership in many dimensions and have to be considered in order to plan and execute leadership responsibilities. The aspects of leadership are crucial in organizations due to the influence that organizational leaders have on their followers as well as on other stake holders of the organization.
Many studies have been carried out on the phenomenon of organizational leadership. Most of these studies focus on features of effective leadership while identifying and exploring the attributes of effective leadership. One of the most prominent authors on the subject of leadership is Donna Ladkin. Through her book on transformational leadership, Ladkin explores various issues in relation to leadership recognizing how each of the issues influences the performance of organizations. From her point of view, leadership entails an interplay of several factors, each of which constitutes a different feature of leadership. In this essay, a series of leadership issues are discussed intensively. The objective is to highlight how these issues affected organizational performance in various scenarios. Through personal experiences, the subject of leadership will be explored in various retrospectives such as motivation, delegation, management and honesty. In this series, honesty comes in as an organizational ethics issue as well as a quality of effective leadership. On the other hand, all the other aspects have been identified by various authors as essential features of effective leadership.
Honesty in Leadership – An Organizational Ethics Perspective
Besides being an instrumental quality for all the organizational members, honesty comes in as a very crucial feature for business success. There are several benefits that have been associated with honesty in carrying out business dealings and I can positively attest to the fact that I have experienced the role of honesty in ensuring business success. I once worked in an organization that was going through a change of leadership. There were many rumors that were doing rounds among the employees concerning the reasons behind changes in organizational leadership. While some of the employees claimed that the changes were due to the inefficiency of the immediate former leadership regime, others purported that the changes were as a result of the change in organizational ownership and subsequently preferred leadership style. In the process, the organization faced immense challenges in terms of employee instability and inability to clearly focus on the organizational objectives. It was necessary for the incoming leadership to explore the situation at hand and subsequently to find ways through which the organization’s employees could be tamed and directed. Most of the employees reduced their productivity and also became extremely skeptical about the organization’s future as a result of the changes in leadership positions.
I believe the step taken by the incoming management towards creation of change in the organization helped the company to achieve growth in very effective ways. As is reported by Kouzes and Posner (1995), honesty among organizational leaders can help in inspiring vision among the followers as well as in encouraging the discouraged among the employees. From the onset, the new leadership decided that the organization’s employees deserved to know the truth regarding the position of the organization. According to them, this would help to dispel any misconceptions held by the employees regarding the organization. I also concur with this belief as I am aware that the only way to dispel doubts is to provide the truth at all times. For the organization’s incoming leaders, this began with a provision of an interdepartmental memo which convened all to an organizational meeting. Through this meeting, the leaders communicated to the employees that the sole reason for leadership changes was that the organization intended to foster a new vision and culture of honesty in operations. The leaders assured the employees that through the desired changes, they intended to bring people more closely and to work towards achieving greater profitability in the future. To lead by example, the financial reports of the company were availed, which made people to realize that the company had performed poorly in the last two financial years. As such, the employees were made to realize the need for greater innovativeness towards profitability and future growth.
Although I still believe that the leaders only made the employees realize that the previous leadership regime had not been as transparent as they desired, I hold the opinion that the honesty showed through exposure of past records made it possible to direct the vision of the company. Furthermore, this honesty was essential in enhancing the reputation of the new leaders among the employees. Ladkin (2010) mentions honesty as one of the important traits of effective leadership. According to Ladkin, honesty fosters trust among the followers as well as preventing corruption. From the trust developed following the new information at our company, the employees began to incorporate greater levels of teamwork in their operations. As a result, a more cohesive work force ensued, leading to realization of greater profitability within the first quarter following the leadership regime changes at the organization.
In a way, I think that the honesty culture that the leaders began in the organization also encouraged some of the employees who had also given up on the organization. This is based on the observations I made during the months following these changes. For instance, Bass (1995) opines that through honesty, leaders can mobilize people through situations. I believe that the new leaders managed to do this effectively through the analysis and representation of organizational information as it was at the time. As more people trusted the leaders, there was no longer room for playing around with performance. Moreover, honesty among the leaders also helped in preventing corruption as people learned from their leaders to be trustworthy in their deliveries (Rakaeva, 2013). I can therefore conclude that the stance taken by the organization’s leaders in honesty helped to build the desired results in the company.
Delegation in Organizational Leadership – A Teamwork Perspective
Another concept that has been greatly applauded in leadership is the act of delegation. According to various studies, delegation has been shown as a prerequisite to employee empowerment and growth. For example, Kuhnert et al (1994) assert that delegation helps in the development of people in the organizational set up. I cannot refute this statement to any degree since I have personally been in an organization where delegation played an essential role in enhancing skills and strengthening teamwork. In an organization where I worked as I trainee, I personally felt the need to be assigned roles that would measure up to my future responsibilities. I was supposed to be in a training position for three months followed by specific role placement. To achieve this placement, I had to indicate that I possessed the potential to work in the proposed role without unnecessary supervision. This could only be achieved through training and delegation of responsibilities. I am grateful to the organization for having planned for by delegation in advance. I worked as a trainee in the quality control department. The key objectives of the department included monitoring operational parameters at various levels of operations and making recommendations on the potential changes to improve performance in the key areas of interest.
I believe being assigned to roles that I was still under training to perform had a great impact on my development as an instrumental employee to the organization. Yukl (2001), in his study on delegation and leadership suggested that delegation has to go hand in hand with coaching. As such, it was impossible to achieve growth without coaching. I can confirm that this is true since I experienced tremendous professional growth through this procedure. During the delegated assignments, I had to work closely with my immediate supervisor who offered directions and instructions to be followed. Being a learner, I did my best to grasp everything and I can positively confirm that it helped be grow in terms of knowledge. Apart from this, the combination of delegation and coaching helped to sharpen my skills in decision making. Gallo (2012) asserts that delegation by leaders teaches the subordinates how to think on their own as well as how to ask questions where necessary. I believe that delegation really helped me to develop these skills. This is more so because during the times when I had been assigned higher roles and my supervisor was not around, I had to really think since failure could impact my prospects for employment negatively. In situations that I could not hack on my own, I asked questions and then learned from there. I can say the experience was tough but also very educative.
Hollander and Offerman (1990) clearly describe delegation as an act through which employees are empowered to perform their roles effectively. However, the authors also claim that organizational leaders are bound to face certain challenges as a result of employee empowerment. Some of the challenges that can be faced include: competition among employees as well as the probability of being blamed in case the assigned role fails to be achieved. In my case, I can remember that the key challenge that the leaders could go through was that of competition. In other departments, the level of delegation was relatively low as compared to mine. This, I believe is due to the lack of initiative among the particular trainees. I had personally requested my supervisor to place me on roles as frequently as possible in order to enhance learning. Based on my assertiveness and pressing need to learn, the supervisor eventually agreed to help by assigning me more serious roles. I can say that this helped me grow tremendously.
Growth through delegation was however not only showed through knowledge. I can confirm that my growth supposed the technical and practical knowledge acquired to include even greater soft skills and attitude changes. Chen and Aryee (n.d) and Ladkin (2010) describe the benefits associated with delegation in the organizational set up. According to these authors, delegation also influences organizational commitment, innovative behavior and task performance among others. Organizational commitment in my case increased as a result of being aware of the benefits reaped from the delegation and associated coaching process. Similarly, innovative behavior improved due to the frequent need to make decisions that can bring value to the organization. I can also conclude that the delegation worked even more effectively as a result of constant positive communication and accepting criticism positively. The approach taken by my supervisor was also productive.
Management in Leadership – An organizational perspective
There are many studies that have focused on the subject of leadership and management. What is funny though is that most of the studies strive to explain the differences between management and leadership, especially in an organizational set up. In my case, I tend to purport that organizational management is inseparable from organizational leadership. This also happens to be the stance held by Murray (2015) who argues that in an organization, leadership has to go hand in hand with management. This is also the opinion of Ladkin (2010) who says that leadership and management are two perspectives of a single view. Organizational management is a crucial aspect of leadership in any company, since it helps in the achievement of vision and leadership goals. Kotter asserts that organizational management entails planning, staffing and budgeting among others (2013). On the other hand, he says that leadership entails vision. I argue that it is the vision that guides the operations associated with the management of an organization. It would also be impossible to achieve the leadership vision without the management roles being played effectively since the concepts of staffing, budgeting as well as operational planning provide the basis for measuring vision achievement.
A typical example of how management plays a crucial role in leadership was observed in an organization in which I am currently doing my part time work. In this organization, the management roles were initially separated from the leadership roles of the organization. This was through the provision of contradicting vision and plans for the organization. While the vision clearly indicated that the organization aimed at being the most desirable employer in the country, the budgets associated with addressing employee issues were minimal. Similarly, the staffing practices did not match this vision of being the most desirable employer in the country. The company was seriously under staffed, leading to workers putting in more than 10 hours of work per day. In addition to this, the remuneration for the employees and the associated benefits were way below industry conditions. As such, most of the employees in the organization were de-motivated and the company experienced a high employee turnover. The productivity was also low, a factor that was mentioned by the management as an antecedent for the poor remuneration. In the organization, the leadership was doing its work of providing a vision to the company. On the other hand, the management was performing poorly in providing resources and managing operations towards the achievement of the vision. This affected other aspects of leadership since the leaders could not motivate the employees nor influence them to put in greater initiative.
Hersey et al (2012) reported that leadership involves the application of different strategies to inspire and motivate employees. This could not be achieved with the then management in place. However, I believe that the actions taken following a survey carried out among the employees by the organization’s leadership can help in the achievement of the intended vision. The employees reported their challenges in the company, which led to action on the part of the organization’s leadership. While carrying out the survey, the organization’s leaders’ intended to understand the reason behind the low productivity among the employees. After receiving the results of the survey, the organization’s leaders recalled a meeting of the employees to give them the new perspectives under which the organization would be run. Since it was almost at the end of the financial year, the employees were requested to be patient for implementations until the beginning of the new financial year. The objective was to enable the management to budget for the implementations effectively. The leaders promised that from the new financial year, the employees will be paid for the extra time put in as a result of understaffing. As such, each employee would be entitled to overtime payments for two – four hours depending on the additional time they spent working at the organization. The leadership agreed to recruit more employees in the understaffed departments after three months. Apart from this, the organization’s leaders also promised to increase the benefits package according to the wage classes in the country. This was to be implemented after the first six months of the new financial years based on observed profit increments.
I believe the actions taken by the organization’s leadership worked as there was clear improvement in the organization’s performance. It has been more than one year since the company made these promises to the employees and I can confirm that the attitudes of the employees towards the company have improved significantly. Similarly, the organization has continued to experience growth in profits as evidenced by the financial reports for the last financial year. It is therefore true as Ratcliffe says that management is an essential aspect in the achievement of leadership roles of motivation, inspiration and provision of organizational vision (2013).
Motivation as a symbol of Leadership – Inspiration of Followers
I managed to learn through experience that motivation is a symbol of true leadership. The measure of leadership lies in the ability of the leader to influence the followers towards the achievement of the organization’s vision. This can only happen if a leader can truly motivate the followers towards the highlighted objectives of the company. According to a study by Miner (2005), organizational behavior is influenced by employee motivation to a large extent. It is therefore important for organizational leaders to direct organizational behaviors through motivation. In the organization I presently work at, the concept of motivation has and continues to occur through various ways. I can proudly confirm that this has helped the organization to work in unity towards the achievement of objectives and working towards a common vision. Transformational leadership is described by Ladkin as an instrumental way of improving employee motivation (2010). I can report that this is indeed true as experienced through the change in employee attitude as a result of motivation.
In this company, as highlighted previously, there was great reduction in productivity due to lack of motivation among the employees. One of the ways through which employee motivation can be improved is through satisfaction of employee needs. This implies that identification of those needs is an essential step towards the provision of these needs to employees. I can say that the leadership at my company carried out satisfactory analysis of the employee situations and understood their needs through a survey carried out among the employees. From the survey, it was ascertained that the key needs that the employees had at that particular time included the need for favorable work hours, satisfactory remuneration and sufficient planning. From this point, it was possible for the organization to plan for the satisfaction of these needs. Pillai and Williams (2004) hold the opinion that employee motivation is the key to achieving greater cohesiveness in the company. From the results realized from my company, I can confirm that greater cohesiveness was truly achieved through motivation. Following the identification of the employee needs, the organizational leadership put in place measures to better address the employee needs while also attaining greater profitability.
Initially, the promises made to the employees seemed like hog wash. This however turned out to be contrary to the case in that the company managed to fulfill the promises albeit doing so in stages. The first stage involved provision of additional remuneration for work done overtime. This was followed by hiring additional employees to cater for the staffing shortage followed by increase in the benefits package. The employees understood the rationale behind satisfying these needs in stages and appreciated the efforts of the leadership to address their needs. According to Gill (2013) motivation is derived from the satisfaction of pressing needs. New needs only emerge following the satisfaction of the most pressing needs of the employees. I can thus say that the organization did exemplarily in terms of satisfying employee needs and subsequently motivating the employees.
From the research carried out by Miner (2005), motivation of employees in an organization results in increased commitment as well as performance. While initially, the organization’s employees cared less about the profitability of the company, it can be confirmed that the employees have continued to increase their commitment to the company. Initially, the employee turnover rates were high, with most of the employees only staying due to the lack of other employment opportunities. This has since changed as employees work towards the achievement of organizational objectives and towards growing with the organization. Ladkin (2010) also supports the argument that employee motivation enhances cohesiveness among employees. From the perspective of Ladkin, motivation comes in through satisfaction of needs and results in greater desire to learn more as well as to improve in terms of performance. This is in line with the observations at the organization where it can be said that the efforts of the leaders have led to greater motivation as well as to greater desire to perform exceptionally.
Motivation, delegation and management are crucial and inseparable aspects of organizational leadership. Similarly, no effectiveness can be achieved without honesty in dealings. Each of these aspects has its own benefits as observed in my past and present experiences as well as through the support of various academic writings. Through the incorporation of these features in the organizational settings, it is possible for leadership goals of influence and provision of vision to be achieved. Management cannot be separated from leadership in any way since both are collaborative as well as inclusive of the interchangeable concepts. On the other hand, delegation helps to grow the employees in terms of professional performance, skill building as well as decision making capabilities. Motivation drives employees towards better commitment, greater self- efficacy and better performance. Honesty, as an ethical concept enhances reputations while also inspiring vision, which is an instrumental goal of leadership.
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