Assignment Sample On The Topic Quality of Leadership
Task Question –
You are required to write an essay. Choose one of the two topics provided. The essay is not merely a review of articles but extends on the research skills you have developed in earlier assignments. You require at least 10 sources of information, not including your textbook and websites. Make sure that you include peer reviewed academic journal articles and specialised texts in your reference list. You must use a minimum of ten academic references including at least five journal articles.
Essay topics (Choose one topic only.)
1. The business context for managing diversity
What are the benefits and costs of diversity management programs? Research the theoretical literature and empirical findings related to management of a diverse workforce in the IT industry. Discuss the extent to which they are supported and substantiated by concrete evidence.
2. The qualities of leadership
Research the literature and outline what you would consider to be the fundamental nature of leadership. Discuss how different styles of leadership and management can impact organisations and the decision making process. Provide some examples of how leadership is manifested in leading IT companies.
The aim of this assignment is to enable and encourage you to:
· read widely in the theoretical and empirical management literature;
· demonstrate your understanding of a key management issue;
· develop your skills in relating theoretical materials to practical organisational situations;
· develop your critical skills in analysing situations and actions that management take in
· response to changing situations; and
· develop your skills in academic essay writing.
Task Solution –
With the belief that leadership is critical and crucial to the effectiveness and success of the organization, many scholars and practitioners have put forward many different perspectives in the context of leadership theory. Leadership is the quality of the behavior of individuals through which they guide other people or their activities in an organized way. It can be observed that the fundamental nature of leadership, which is found through leadership theories, can be categorized into three perspectives: firstly, those that focus solely on the traits and attributes of leaders; secondly, those that focus on exchange relations between the leader and the team; and thirdly, those that consider leadership as varying and depending on the situation. Leaders use various leadership and management styles that have an impact on organizations and their decision-making processes (Hamedoglu, Kantor, & Gulay, 2012).
Every leadership style corresponds to a specific set of behavior exhibited by an individual. Different leadership styles include authoritative, participative, democratic, and autocratic and so on. The essay discusses the fundamental nature of leadership along-with the discussion of various leadership styles and their impact on the decision-making in organizations. IT industry is the one of the significant industries in the world of globalization and internet. Manifestation of leadership in this industry is also discussed.
Fundamental nature of leadership
Various authors and scholars have put forward the concept of fundamental nature of leadership. When leaders do their best work, they do not copy any other individual and draw on their own fundamental capabilities and values. Thus, leaders operate in a state of mind that is actually true to them but it is not their normal state of being. However, even those who get wide admiration and recognition for their leadership skills that look seemingly easy and natural, such as CEOs, prime ministers, presidents, etc. are not always functioning in the their respective fundamental state of leadership. In most of the times, these leaders are in their normal state of being, which is actually an essential as well as healthy condition in many situations (Northouse, 2010, p.5).
Attaining the fundamental state of leadership requires a significant shift along the four dimensions- firstly moving from the comfort zone to the state of being result centered; secondly moving from external direction to the internal direction; thirdly becoming less self-focused and focusing more on others, and fourthly putting the collective good first (Burke & Cooper, 2006, p.77).
The above-mentioned concept of collective good in leadership is also supported by the other important quality of leadership i.e. getting along well with people. In today’s times, the quality of leadership is not just associated with analysis of how much an individual is good in exhibiting command and control over his or her followers. Instead, the concept of inspiration now drives the qualities and fundamental nature of leadership. According to Adair, the leadership is a combination of compulsion and persuasion that actually results in making people do certain actions and things, which they might not actually do in normal states (Lussier & Achua, 2009, p.132).
Therefore, the process of leadership cannot be put on a separate ladder than the activities of the team or the group and the effective team building. On the individual level, the fundamental nature of leadership rests on the leadership skill requirements. There are four types of leadership skill requirements in the organization for leadership- cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, business skills and strategic skills. Cognitive skills are the fundamental skills and are required for a major portion of activities in which leaders are engaged. Interpersonal skills are related to interaction with and influencing the team members and other individuals in the organization. It includes social perceptiveness, negotiating skills, persuasion skills and coordination of oneself and of others. Business skills form a basic part of the qualities of leadership as they involve management of organizational material resources. Strategic skill requirements influence the organization at the conceptual and strategic level (Mumford, Campion, & Morgison, 2007).
They include identification of downstream consequences, planning relates skills, and so on. These skills decide the future effectiveness of the organization. The literature on leadership sheds light on a number of different of traits of character practiced by the leader, such as inspiration, vision, trustworthiness and empathy. Most of the literature and scholarly researches include the implicit assumption that the positive characteristics as mentioned above should always be encouraged and practiced by leaders.
The concept of servant leadership supports the argument that leadership cannot be separated from the actions of others and it always involves others to demonstrate the quality of leadership. Servant leadership always seeks to involve others in the process of decision-making. It forms its strong basis on the ethical as well as caring attitude and behavior of the leader towards his workers with focus on enhancement of growth of workers along-with bringing in improvement in the quality and caring of the organizational life (Spears, 2010).
Today, there is rapid shift in many businesses and as well as not-for-profit organizations from traditional hierarchical models and autocratic rules in leadership towards servant leadership, that is the way for members of the organization to be in a relationship with the leader of the organization. Characteristics of a servant leader that demonstrates the relationship being the superior quality and fundamental nature of leadership are listening, empathy, awareness, healing, conceptualization, persuasion and foresight, stewardship, building community and commitment to the growth of people. People including both the leader as well as followers play a significant role in the success of the organization although the relationship between the leader and the follower is usually neglected in the study of the concept and qualities of leadership (Spears, 2010).
The traditional approach of leadership includes trait theories that solely focus on the characteristics and attributes of leaders for determining the effectiveness of leadership. But, there is lack of strong empirical support for trait theories as they are based in the US culture studies and it is assumed that same is applied to other cultures. The transformational and transactional forms of leadership shed light on the role of followers. However, they also assume that followers always show willingness to take part in the process of decision making which is not always the case. Theories, such as leader-member exchange theory involve the importance of relationship between the leader and the follower and the fact that both cannot be seen through separate observation lens. Thus, the fundamental state of leadership is the positive transformation of self as well as others (Rockstuhl, Dulebohn, Ang, & Shore, 2012).
Different styles of leadership and their impact on organizations
Various leadership styles have the particular characteristic attributes that make them distinct. Every leader has his own leadership style or one can say the fundamental state of leadership. However, the most common leadership styles found among leaders in an organization are autocratic, authoritative, democratic, participative, coaching, etc. These different leadership styles affect the organizations in their decision-making process (Burke & Cooper, 2006, p.159). In regard to the impact of leadership styles on the organization, one can observe the effect on organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Considering the effects of the autocratic leadership style, there is a clear division of leaders and followers. Such leaders do not involve their workers or team members in the decision making process. Considering the decision-making responsibility for the organization, these leaders are highly confident. It works well when quick decisions are to be made without any involvement of the employees. For instance, the crisis demands the leader to take fast and effective decisions as employees look forward to getting directions from the leader in such emergencies and crises (Lok & Crawford, 2004).
The participative leadership style has the most positive effects on organizations. The management offers support and guidance to the teams and departments while accepting the leadership of the individual contribution from the members of the staff. Although the leaders and the management reserve all the right to take final decisions, they keep on encouraging feedback, ideas, and suggestions from the employees (Lussier & Achua, 2009, p.70).
Google Inc. is a perfect example of a participatory style of leadership and management as the leaders of the company Larry Page and Sergey Brin have created an inclusive atmosphere for the decision making process. Employees provide their suggestions and ideas in the decision-making process. Features such as ‘TGIF- Thank God it’s Friday’ facilitate communication and building relationships between the leaders of the company and the employees (Leadership Lesson: The Difference between Google and Apple, 2013).
The next style of leadership- delegate leadership style is the laissez-faire leadership under which organizational leaders rarely make decisions and leave this activity entirely to the group or the team. There is no offering of guidance to the team and the trusted team members get all the authority to make decisions. It affects the workforce in a negative manner as there is a lack of motivation. Furthermore, the lack of positivity builds on to the confusion of team members. It results in the blurring of job descriptions and lines of authority (Northouse, 2010, p.265).
Another impact of all the leadership styles on organizations can be seen in the organizational culture. There are strong effects of leadership styles on organizational culture because employees always tend to mirror their leaders in their actions. Over time, both the leader and the followers become comfortable with each other. When there is a change in the leadership, the comfort zone is shaken, thus causing some friction that can be seen in the operations of the company. For instance, Yahoo Inc. saw a series of changes in its organizational leadership position in the past ten years that affected the market position results of the company activities (Burke & Cooper, 2006, p.305).
Examples of IT companies demonstrating leadership
IT companies demonstrate leadership at various levels of the organization and in their own unique way so that they can build a quality and long-lasting relationship with the human resource of the company. Google Inc. has created the organizational culture of empowering and facilitating the work of employees. It has led to a large number of innovations and, consequently, to the huge and explosive growth of the company. It follows the distributed leadership culture and management. Eric Schmidt, the current CEO of the company believes in giving freedom to the employees (Leadership Lesson: The Difference between Google and Apple, 2013).
As corporate hierarchies can create obstructions in the work of employees, Schmidt led to a reinforcement of existing systems of allowing the employees a certain amount of freedom so that they can become able to create their own projects and giving them the authority to choose their own teams. Personal interaction with the best employees along-with the giving proper and good incentives to the best employees through systems such as stock option plans, financial incentives, dinner with the CEO, and so on are other reflections of the distributed leadership culture.
There are various systems in place that aim at involving employees in the decision-making process and also encourages employees to give suggestions, feedback and ideas for the betterment of the company. It this leadership culture and decision making facilitation that Google has come up with a range of innovations since its inception, and the recent android platform that has put it firm in the mobile operating systems platform and in direct competition with Apple iOS and Windows OS. In Google Inc., there is focus on diversity in teams and decisions are made in a fast way by taking into consideration opinions of all members of the team through systems such as Google moderators (Leadership Lesson: The Difference between Google and Apple, 2013).
The influence of leadership on decision-making process on Apple Inc. can be seen in the leadership of Steve Jobs under which the company excelled in its field with cutting-edge innovation. Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. became the leader in innovation. In 15 short years from 1997, it reached its pinnacle of success. After Steve Jobs, the company is taking on the bits of the personality of Tim Cook, the new leader of Apple Inc. There is gradual and subtle makeover of brand under Cook. Jobs showed brilliance in product design but showed very little interest in the handling the relationship with partners and investors of the company. In contrast to this, under the leadership of Tim Cook, the company is seen as more open with focus on relationship building with various stakeholders of the organization (Leadership Lesson: The Difference between Google and Apple, 2013).
Another IT company- Cisco Systems manifests collaborative leadership. There is focus on building collaboration between the various teams and at various organizational levels. Amazon is the e-commerce giant that demonstrates the leadership skills at the strategic level. its CEO Jeff Bezos won the award of Businessperson of the Year owing to the stellar growth of Amazon. He aims at building the long-term view of the company. The viewpoint of Jeff is reflected in the organizational operations of the company, for instance, obsessing over customers and determining what the need of customers is and then working backwards (Jeff Bezos’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons, 2012).
For example, the specifications for the projects of the company like e-book readers and Kindle tablets have been defined by desires of customers of the company and not by tastes or preferences of engineers. The company believes that if the customer does not want something, then it is always gone no matter how innovative or big the product is. Gaining humility and empathy for the customer is another view of the leader of Amazon and owing to this view is the compulsory attending of two days training at the call center by a number of managers of the company including himself (Jeff Bezos’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons, 2012).
Thus, different IT companies demonstrate the leadership and its qualities in their own way with the huge impact of the philosophy of the leader on the working of the organization and the way it is perceived outside.
Leadership is an important phenomenon for any organization. There are various leadership theories that discuss the fundamental nature of leadership, such as trait theories, contingency and situation theories, etc. The fundamental nature of leadership lies in its effectiveness in getting along with others. There is no way that the leadership can be seen as isolated from the followers. Relationship building and how effective one is in getting along with others and taking care of them is the fundamental nature of leadership. Various qualities of the leader that make him the leader include empathy, persuasion, visioning and planning skills, and so on. Leadership style affects the organization through organizational culture and also influences the decision making process of organizations.
Various IT companies and their work are influenced by the philosophy and characteristics of the leaders under which they work. For instance, the participatory leadership style in Google Inc. with the element of distributed leadership makes it grow and expand into areas that are different from its core search engine operations. Apple Inc. has seen subtle changes in its brand while organizational leadership position occupied by Tim Cook. Thus, leadership is shown in different forms in these IT companies.
Burke, R.J.. & Cooper, C.L. (2006). Inspiring Leaders. London: Routledge.
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Jeff Bezos’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons. (2012). Retrieved January 09, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/04/04/bezos-tips/
Leadership Lesson: The Difference between Google and Apple. (2013). Retrieved January 09, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/05/16/leadership-lesson-the-difference-between-google-and-apple/
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Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and Practice. London: SAGE.
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Spears, L.C. (2010). Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 1(1), 25-30.