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Organizational leaders are expected to create realistic visions for their companies and the employees that they guide; it is true that some of these leadership visions have conflicting characteristics. With that being said we know that there may not be one best leadership style that will push employees toward accomplishing organizational goals but one would like to think that there is an ideal leadership style. One where the leader demonstrates honesty and integrity, inspires their people with a shared vision for the future, sets clear and concise goals and additionally motivates their people towards these goals through clear delivery and effective communication. There are several different organizations in my past that had leaders that had a leadership style that starts with the idea that employees agree to obey their leader when they accept a job offer. This typically means that the organization would be paying its employees in return for their effort and compliance. Normally, the company heads/leaders would reprimand its employees if their work doesn’t meet an appropriate standard that has been set.
One of the supposed benefits of a leadership style of this nature is that it is supposed to clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities within the organization. Similarly, another benefit that this particular style of leadership has is that it judges employees on their performance, those who are ambitious or who are motivated by external rewards (most commonly compensation) often thrive under this leadership. The downside of this leadership in the organization that I am familiar with is that employees are not able to do much in order to improve their job satisfaction. Often times it can feel suffocating, and it leads to high staff turnover. The leadership that I’ve experienced in this particular organization is really a type of management, not a true leadership style, because the focus is on short-term tasks. It has serious limitations for knowledge-based or creative work. The organization that I would like to see myself working for in the near future would be one that has transformational leaders.
These types of leaders typically are very inspiring because they expect the best from, not only themselves but everyone on their team as well. This leads to high productivity and engagement from everyone in their team. However, there are some downsides of this type of organizational structure because while the leader’s enthusiasm is often times passed onto the team, he or she can need to be supported by others. It is more ideal for an organization to have some leaders (or managers) that ensure that routine work is done reliably, while the other leader(s) look after initiatives that add new value to the organization. I believe that this type of approach enhances team development because those on the team will “raise each other to higher levels of motivation and morality”. (Hacker & Roberts, 2004) Similarly, this approach helps to build relationships with others. Another important characteristic of an effective leader and organization is community building. Instead of promoting a culture of competition, organization strives for an environment of community building. With this approach, the leader and/or organization has a mindset that is inclusive to all of its employees including diverse and multicultural groups.
With this approach they listen to everyone and seek to create an atmosphere of empowerment that makes other people feel strong. By building relationships with others and fostering community building, the transformational leader/organization helps others to develop their skills and improves productivity within the organization. By helping its employees to believe that they have the ability to make a difference in their organization this enhances overall morale. (Hacker & Roberts, 2004) Leadership or leader performance can be measured by how an individual leads, governs and address social responsibilities. And all these should be taken in the context of the organizational challenges that the leadership team or individual is experiencing. The leader of the organization that I previously worked for, in my opinion as an individual, appeared to lack effective communications in some areas. An effective communicator can be described as one who explains strategic plan and other initiatives and messages to members of his organization.
One would communicate in an open, candid, clear, complete, consistent, interactive manner – initiates response/discussion. Similarly, one would listens effectively, demonstrates genuine interest in others. My selected leader demonstrated a false interest in the concerns of the members of the organization. This, in turn made him not very successful in motivating and empowering me to improve my work performance. An effective motivator would be on who motivates those around them to perform and behave at their highest potential. One who inspires through not only his words but through his actions. In order for one to empower, he has to be able to delegate important tasks, not just those things that he does not want to do. This leader did not promote thorough visibility of his employees and didn’t give credit where due. There are several different practices that organizational leaders can use to motivate employees. What is motivation? It’s defined as a predisposition to behave in a purposeful manner to achieve specific, unmet needs and the will to achieve. Motivation is also the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish not only personal but organizational goals.
Motivated employees are needed in our rapidly changing workplaces, and to be effective, leaders need to understand that and do something about it. Leaders can do something about it by utilizing different practices. The three best practices are: Involving employees at all levels, inspire/Strive for excellence and be flexible in the work-life balance. By involving employees it allows them to participate in the development of the performance program. Additionally, it establishes growth opportunities for employees and teaches them how to identify key performance indicators and in turn produce results. In order to inspire excellence one must continuously seek new ways to improve the work environment, set challenging standards and expectations for excellent performance while recognizing and rewarding achievement. Striving for excellence and improvement versus judging past performance. By striving for excellence it encourages improvement, establishes a base line and base success on continuous improvement. Be flexible in terms of work-life balance. More workers than ever value a balance between work and life.
They want more flexible ways to engage with their employer. To attract and retain workers with different work and career expectations, leaders and organizations have to be more flexible in structuring work and its expectations. It calls for a different managerial mindset and practices that involve letting go of old ways of controlling workers’ time and attendance in favor of result criteria such as output, productivity and quality. (Claus, 2007) Barbara Walker stated “People and their differences make up the foundation of an organization’s ability to develop broad perspectives and to approach business problems in new and creative ways.” Today’s organizational environment is characterized by a variety of variables people bring to the organization such as: race, gender, religion, age, socioeconomic backgrounds, and national or regional origin. Valuing and managing diversity touches people’s emotions, values, and beliefs. It asks people to question and makes changes in their behavior. It asks organizations to change policies, systems, and practices—many of which no one questioned for years-and many of which have contributed not only to the organization’s traditions and values, but also to its success. Despite the legitimate criticisms of a broad diversity definition, inclusiveness remains politically useful.
To make it organizationally useful, HR directors and managers must define the motive(s) behind their interest in diversity and identify the specific ways diversity will benefit their organizations. Management must first “articulate, clearly and simply, what is meant by diversity and then decide what approach to take. Does the organization want to “tolerate, value, celebrate, manage, harness or leverage diversity?” (Bennis, 2001) In the current age of globalization, an important consideration that organizations need to consider is the widening need for diversity in their leadership. This will enable organizations to cope with the twin aspect of an ever-changing standards demanded by the global market place and consumers from an assorted variety of ethnic groups and because organizations, are also beginning to recognize the importance of having a widely diverse workforce and leadership teams to deal with the increased pressures they face today in the global market place for talent.
Finding ways to maximize benefits of an increasingly diverse workforce and client base is a continuing concern for organizational leadership (Bennis, 2001). While policies promoting diversity are an integral part of many organizations today, they are still not enough to effectively guarantee positive results in the existing organizational environments. Diversity in both culture and leadership benefits organizations economically in such a way that they are able to get the best out of their workforce. This benefit enables organizations to hire even a small number of employees with the most potential of leading the business to success. In the global marketplace, organizations can no longer afford to pass over talented people merely because their gender or ethnic backgrounds do not fit traditional managerial profiles. Managing diversity is defined as “planning and implementing organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimized,” according to Taylor Cox in “Cultural Diversity in Organizations.” Managing diversity well provides a distinct advantage in an era when flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness. An organization needs to be flexible and adaptable to meet new customer needs. (“Managing diversity in”)
To address diversity issues, consider these questions: what policies, practices, and ways of thinking and within our organizational culture have differential impact on different groups? What organizational changes should be made to meet the needs of a diverse workforce as well as to maximize the potential of all workers, so that the organization can be well positioned for the demands of the 21st century? Most people believe in the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. The implicit assumption is that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. (“Managing diversity in”)But when you look at this proverb through a diversity perspective, you begin to ask the question: what does respect look like; does it look the same for everyone? Does it mean saying hello in the morning, or leaving someone alone, or making eye contact when you speak? It depends on the individual.
We may share similar values, such as respect or need for recognition, but how we show those values through behavior may be different for different groups or individuals. How do we know what different groups or individuals need? Perhaps instead of using the golden rule, we could use the platinum rule which states: “treat others as they want to be treated.” Moving our frame of reference from what may be our default view (“our way is the best way”) to a diversity-sensitive perspective (“let’s take the best of a variety of ways”) will help us to manage more effectively in a diverse work environment. The challenges both leaders and organizations face when developing diversity initiatives they should approach managing diversity with patience, optimism, creativity, persistence, a bias for input and assessment, an aversion to perfection, a willingness to learn from failure, a responsiveness in the face of discomfort and disagreement, a willingness to present and pursue multiple options and rationales to advance diversity, a willingness to pursue multiple starting points for action, and a willingness to rethink organizational structures in order to advance the organization’s diversity program.(Johnson, 2003)
Bennis, W., Spreitzer, G.M. & Cummings, T.G. (Eds.) (2001). The Future of Leadership: Today’s Top Leadership Thinkers Speak to Tomorrow’s Leaders. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Claus, L. (2007, March). Employee Retention: Best Practices in Keeping and Motivating Employees. Retrieved from http://www.willamette.edu/mba/faculty/B2B_Claus.pdf
Hacker, S., Roberts, T. (2004). Transformational Leadership: Creating Organization of Meaning. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: ASQ Quality Press Johnson, J.P., III. (2003). Creating a diverse workforce. Retrieved from http://www.shrm.org/hrresources/whitepapers_published/CMS_005379.asp#P-4_0
Managing diversity in the workplace. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ucsfhr.ucsf.edu/index.php/pubs/hrguidearticle/chapter-12-managing-diversity-in-the-workplace/