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Leadership Organization

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Leadership has always been considered as an important aspect that a person should invest upon and develop. It is the cornerstone of a great leader. But what really is leadership?

In actuality, the English language has recently acknowledged the term leadership. Although the words lead and leader have been in use way back in history, these terms were usually used to refer only to authority figures. However, the idea of leadership per se is much different. It is focused on an abstract and much more complex concept that is beyond just one single leader. This abstract concept is what people try to identify and understand and single out (Rost, 1993).

There are different definitions of leadership, each one different from another in some ways and each one depending on a person’s point of view and the context in which he/she develops his/her definition. No two people have the exact same definition or variation form describing and defining leadership. It is then safe to say that the aspiration to define, comprehend and explicate leadership has interested plenty of people, especially researcher and scholars. To gain a better understanding of leadership and to find an accurate, concise and precise definition of leadership, plenty of studies and writings have been published. Plenty of leadership definitions and explanations have focused on a single person and his/her personal talents, qualities and skills. Plenty of people such as social analysts and scientists have tried to point out what specific abilities, behaviours and traits of a person, as well as the circumstances and aspects of a situation will depict leadership and determine how effective a leader is (Burns 1978, 35).

Leadership definition has differed over time as well. Before, qualities such as appeal, charm and style were considered as traits essential for leaders (Glassman 2000, 32). Certain abilities and personalities of people were also considered as important in defining leadership. This is still somewhat applicable today. However, contemporary definitions by social scientists and scholars now reject these ideas. Scholars now explore the essential nature of leadership in stipulations of the interaction among the people involved in the process; these people are the leaders and followers. Leadership is now thought of as not just the work and trait of a single person but rather as a collaborative endeavour among group members. Simply put, the essence of leadership is not just the leader itself, but is in the relationship (Rost 1993, 71).

A definition of leadership directed towards only one person is that it is the combination of personality, skills and talents to direct and be able to work people for their purpose. One definition of leadership is that it is the art of a person’s capability in motivating a collaboration of people to work and strive towards a common purpose or goal. Another definition is that leadership is the process of directing the people towards action and inspiring people to do their best. Leadership is also closely defined and related to performance. Leadership is also defined as a quality that a person has that is infused with communicating, supervising and inspiring that enables that person to make decisions and allows workers to get to their purpose. It is also defined as the right combination of personal qualities and the right mix of ability and skill to think and act as a leader. Leadership is defined as imbibed in a person who aims and channels the activities of others for the good of all (Burns 1978, 42).

Recall however that the essence of leadership is not just in the leader itself, but is in the relationship. Thus, leadership is defined as the bond between the leader and the follower that allows the leader to lead and the follower to follow. It is also defined as the relation between two people that are interchangeable, that is a person can be leader but he/she can be a follower at another point in time. Leadership is also described as the combination of qualities and things such as communication, interaction, etc in a relationship between two or more people, allowing the people to unify their work towards a common goal (Rogers 1992, 253).

It is thus apparent that there are plenty of different definitions of leadership. In all the definitions of leadership, there are important key ideas. One is that good leadership results towards the fulfilment of the purpose or goal. It is also infused with several different ideas and concepts such as good communication and the ability to inspire and motivate the people or workers. But most importantly, it is usually described as only a quality, a characteristic. It is not a tangible object that can be totally and wholly depicted. It is abstract (Howe and Freeman 1997, 5).

With all the definitions of leadership, one can only reiterate that leadership is the cornerstone of a great leader. However, as mentioned earlier, leadership still remains a concept to people. As seen from the above definitions, no such definition completely embodies the perception and aspects of leadership and being a good leader. Its definition still shifts and changes and can never be completely defined uniformly. Leadership alone is a vague idea that people have (Howe and Freeman 1997, 7).

But despite leadership being a concept, people, more or less, have an idea on how to gauge leadership. Several facets, when present, give people the idea that great leadership is in action. These aspects include tangible results, clear strategy & mission, good organizational design, rewards including motivation and integration of culture & individual differences. These components have become critical and mandatory indicators of great leadership.

Results are the outcome of a specific project, event, conversation, etc. It is the consequence of a particular action, operation, or course (Heifetz 1994, 24). However, when great leadership is related to results, results are defined as the favourable and concrete outcome or effect. It implies that great leadership results to favourable outcomes. Leadership is present when there are actions and projects to do. The purpose of these projects is to bring out some specific outcomes. People think that if great leadership is present in the operation, great results can be expected. This is also the same for the reverse – people expect great results to indicate that great leadership was present throughout the entire project (Kouzes & Posner 2002, 112). However, results are not the only indicators of great leadership. Results may also result from great workers, even though the leadership present is not sufficient.

Another indicator of great leadership is the strategy, vision and mission. Often, there is confusion among mission, vision and strategy. The mission is a brief description of the fundamental purpose. A good mission statement provides the description of the existence of the project or operation. It also articulates the project’s purpose both for those involved in the project and for the public. In contrast, vision is the framework of all the strategic planning. It is sometimes called as the picture of the project in the future. The vision statement provides the destination of the project and sets the direction of the planning and is set for the people involved in the project.

A good vision statement incorporates all those and hints at the passion and imagination of the people behind the project (Krantz 1990, 26). On the other hand, the strategy is a set of guiding principles that generates a desired pattern of decision making. This is communicated and adopted in the organization. Thus, a strategy is about how people involved in the project should make decisions and allocate resources in order accomplish key objectives. A good strategy provides a clear way, consisting of a set of guiding principles that should define the people’ actions in the project and the things the people should prioritize to achieve the desired results (Krantz 1990, 49).

Mission is about what should be achieved; the strategy is about how their resources should be allocated and what steps should they do to accomplish the mission that they have set; and the vision is about why people in the organization should feel motivated to perform at a high level. The three provide the what, how, and why necessary to powerfully align action in their project. Together, the mission, strategy, and vision define the strategic direction for their operation (Maxwell 2002, 67).

Many great leaders know that it’s important to have their mission, vision and strategies correct in order to align decision making in their projects. These people understand that they can’t observe and control everything in their projects. They honestly want to develop good strategies and instil in their co-workers the mission and vision of the project. In a great leadership, the people understand that a strategy is just one element of the overall strategic direction that they must define for the people they work with, as is the mission and the vision.

People also remember that a strategy is not a mission; that the missions are for setting what they want to accomplish and to get elaborated into specific goals and performance standards. They also take into heart that the vision is not a strategy. A vision is an inspiring picture of what it will be like to pursue and achieve the organization’s mission and goals. Simply put, in a great leadership, a strategy is built by first thinking through the mission and vision (Krantz 1990, 59).

Also another indicator is an organizational design. In a great leadership, the project workers have an organizational structure, which in turn, would have organizational teams. An organizational structure design with teams provides an innovative work environment relying on teams to achieve its objectives. A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are steadfast towards the same goals, common purpose, and approaches for which they are jointly responsible (Katzenbach and Smith 1993, 63). Having this kind of organizational design indicates that good leadership is present. This is because good leadership realizes that in this kind of design the following are being developed – communal trust between the workers, employee empowerment in planning and goal setting, shared responsibility for self- management and joint accountability.

Communal trust is necessary for the advancement of the organization. Without shared trust, the workers will not rely on other people to get the job done. Good leadership recognizes that this should not be the case. Shared trust results in faster results since work allocations are made and the necessary things are done by people simultaneously (Lewis-McClear and Taylor 1998, 91). It is also necessary to have trust in a co-worker, trust that the job he/she is doing will be of excellent quality.

Great leadership knows that employee empowerment is vital. Even though bosses would want to know about the happenings in an organization as much as possible, good leaders know that this is highly unlikely (Burns 1978, 81). Employee empowerment makes the workers feel that they have a necessary role in the organization. They are not simply there just because.

Shared responsibility and join accountability is also recognized by good leadership. If this is present in the organization, the people involved in the project or in the organization as a whole know that the action of one person is the action of all. Good leadership makes the employees see this reality in their work. This increases the sense of belongingness in an organization since the workers know that they are all inter-related and that the result of a person’s endeavour can be considered as the outcome of each and everyone’s hard work.

Remember that a team is a group in which members work together intensively to achieve a common group goal (Lewis-McClear & Taylor 1998, 77). A group would be composed of different individuals that have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, characteristics and personalities. This would mean also mean a different set of cultures.

Culture is difficult to define, especially in a working environment. But in general, culture is considered as the environment that envelops the workers, most if not all of the time. It is an influential element that moulds work enjoyment, work relationships, and work processes. However, culture is intangible. It cannot be seen; it can only be felt through its physical manifestations in the work place – either by the group’s language, decision making, stories and daily work practices.

Also, culture is made up of the different values, core assumptions, point of views and behaviours pooled by a group of people. It is made up of all of the life experiences each employee conveys to the organization and is often interpreted in different ways by diverse employees. Also, events in people’s lives impinge on how these people act and cooperate at work. Although an organization has a common culture, each worker may view the culture from a different perspective. Additionally, employees’ individual work experiences and teams may interpret the culture differently. It is also the outcome when a group arrives at a set of rules, which are generally unspoken and unwritten, for working together (Lewis-McClear and Taylor 1998, 83).

Culture is especially influenced by the organization’s executive officers, founder and other high-positioned staff members such as those in the managerial staff because of their highly important role in decision making and direction. Because of this influence, good leadership becomes apparent through the work culture in a working environment.

Good leadership can be seen by the strength of the culture. A culture may be strong or weak. When the work culture is weak, people do not agree on most things. The values, beliefs and assumptions of one worker are often not met by another worker. A weak organizational culture may be due to subcultures, lack of shared values, assumptions and behaviours of a faction of the organization. When the work culture is strong, people in the group agree on a lot of things and view each other’s perspectives (Katzenbach and Smith 1993, 79). A good leadership brings unity to the diversity in the work office. The individual differences are channelled towards a purpose that makes the same differences as a collective effort. Good leadership makes an effort to foster a strong culture.

Good leadership can also be seen by the aura that the culture fosters. Ideally, an organizational culture supports a constructive and dynamic environment. If good leadership is present, the ideal culture is fostered in the working area, or at the very least something akin to it. Content employees are not necessarily productive employees. Productive employees are not necessarily pleased employees (Lewis-McClear and Taylor 1998, 68). Good leaders know that t is important to find aspects of the culture that will support each of the qualities of the employees, those qualities that will make the employees both satisfied and productive.

Recall that a good vision is part of good leadership. The vision helps in motivating people involved in the project to engage and show exemplary effort. However, this is not the only factor that motivates workers to do a commendable job in work. Incentives and rewards also help in motivating people. Good incentives increase the chances of pleasing employees. They will see that their work has a purpose and that coming to work will be fruitful endeavour.

This is also the case for rewards. The workers know that if they do a good job, they will be acknowledged. There will be a tangible recompense for the hard work and intense effort that they put into their job. Thus, the workers will be more active towards their work. They will be compelled to do even better jobs, or at the very least, keep up the good job that they are presenting (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson 2008, 81). Good leadership would recognize these needs for the employees and workers. The leaders would see that doing this would keep their employee’s satisfaction level up. This could in turn raise the organization’s productivity and viability. This is the case in some companies, wherein their employees have access to health care, gym and message treatments, and other such tangible rewards (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson 2008, 63).

All those things make up the Round Table. This round table represents the necessary ideologies and concepts for an organization to succeed. Results, strategies, missions and visions are tangible important for an organization so that the organization will now its purpose and the steps to take towards those goals. The rewards remind those in the organization that their purpose corresponds to a fruitful job and that their hard work pays off. Organizational structure allows the people involved to work effectively and efficiently. The culture wherein the people work fosters an aura where the employees are satisfied and productive at the same time. And in the centre of it all is leadership. It is the one vital thing that connects all the other concepts that are necessary for success.

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Freeman, F.H., Knott, K.B., and Schwartz, M.K. 1996. Leadership Education: A Source Book 1996-1997 Volume 1 Courses and Programs. Greensboro, N.C.: Center for Creative Leadership.
Glassman, Ronald M.. 2000. Manufactured Charisma and Legitimacy in Leading and Leadership, ed. Timothy Fuller, The Ethics of Everyday Life. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre DamePress. 2000. 213-4.
Hersey, P., Blanchard, K., & Johnson, D. 2008. Management of Organizational Behavior: Leading Human Resources . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Heifetz, R. 1994. Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Howe, W. and Freeman, F. 1997. Leadership Education in American Colleges and Universities: An Overview. Concepts and Connections: 5-7.
Katzenbach, J.R. and Smith, D.K. 1993. The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization. Boston: Harvard Business School.
Krantz, James. 1990. Lessons from the Field: An Essay on the Crisis of Leadership in Contemporary Organizations in Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 26: 49-64
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Lewis-McClear, Kyle and Taylor, M.S. 1998 Psychological contract breach and the employment exchange: perceptions from employees and employers. in Paper Presented to the Academy of Management, San Diego
Maxwell, J. 2002. Leadership 101. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Rogers, J.L. 1992. Leadership Development for the 90’s: Incorporating Emergent Paradigm Perspectives. NASPA Journal: 243-251.
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Rost, J.C. (1991). Leadership in the 21st Century. New York: Praeger.

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