Human Resource Management & Leadership Phenomenon


A great amount of writing is available about leadership, its techniques, strategies, change management and competitive advantage by a variety of authors but it has been acknowledged that the central role in all these theories is that of a leader. In turn the leader has been described as one who leads from the front, has a vision and a plan, believes in teamwork and someone who is a great believer in the power of the people and has the ability to harness this power into generating a successful organization. A leader needs to have vision which he attempts to achieve through strategy. Environments have a great impact on both and the external forces often determine the course of action. It is the role of the leader to overcome the adversities in order to achieve his goals. For this he needs to be a team man first and charismatic second to take the organization to a different level of performance and results. There are different views on leadership and personal abilities of an individual to become a great leader.

Leadership Phenomenon

Leadership plays a crucial role in enabling and enhancing effective performance in modern organizations. At the highest level in the organization, the vision and strategic goals of leadership determine if the organization will actively nurture creativity, or tolerate it with indifference, or “search out and destroy” it. Only when the top leadership is enthusiastic about radically new developments and values creativity will it provide the needed challenges and opportunities for people to be creative. While the top leadership defines the overall cultural context for creativity, other levels of leadership that are closer to the day-to-day operations are likely to have a more immediate impact on creativity. Leadership that is effective for creativity satisfies the expectations of creative individuals, fulfills the demands of creative work, and integrates the creative effort with the goals and values of the organization (Armandi et al 2003).

In thinking about leadership, researchers may have to shift the focus of our search away from leadership as a quality or talent that is assumed to reside in a single individual in a given situation, and redirect it toward a vision of leadership as a vital stream of influences emanating from a constellation of people–some inside the organization occupying different hierarchical positions, others possibly outside–who individually fulfill some of the expectations of creative individuals, meet some of the demands of creative work, and satisfy some of the organizational imperatives that inevitably circumscribe creative endeavors (Charan et al 2001).

Personal Qualities of an Individual

Such HR researchers as Kilpatrick and Lock (1991), Northouse (1997) are right that a great leader needs inborn abilities and qualities to manage others. The modern organizational scene is replete with leadership problems. With unprecedented recession, downturns and loss of confidence the leadership at both high and mid-level in any kind of organization is facing a crisis of identity. The workforce in business needs direction but the direction givers themselves need re-orientation to offer it. Similarly in an educational institution the need is to train students who are able to meet the challenges of the present world that is technology oriented and becoming smaller because of vanishing borders, both economic and political. The new open and liberal economic climate has opened huge possibilities and opportunities that make it necessary for leaders in education to rethink their policies and revise their strategies in preparing their faculty and students for the new world order. Traditional Leadership unfortunately falls short of this target and is unable to face current challenges (Conger, 2002).

There are two extreme kinds of leadership. The first is the one that rules by force of personal beliefs and is found in private industries as well as older educational establishments that believe more in historical traditions. The other is the servant leadership that believes in collective effort and is usually found in public services run by bureaucrats. Traditionally the first kind of leadership has meant rule of diktat. The leader considers he is knowledgeable enough to lay down policy as well as the implementation process. This is not subject to questioning. Plain obedience is the order of the day. Under this system the subordinate is rewarded for compliance with the leader’s wishes (Conger, 2002).

In such scenario the Leader prefers Experience over Training and believes that the latter is waste of time and resources. For him only passage of time and exposure to the rigors of work will provide the skills required for effective and efficient results. This attitude breeds what is called The Upper Echelon Perspective. Taking cue from the Leader, the middle managers and top executives respond to situations based on their own interpretation and values. In such situations they compound the Leader’s ideas and ideologies and compose the interpretation of the circumstances through a mixture of their own experiences, personality type and personal beliefs that match with the Leader. The method is quite predictable. This involves their cognitive base, values, limited field of vision, selective perception, interpretation, managerial perception, and strategic choice. As a result this creates a sense of elitism surrounding leadership positions, and this serves the ego of the Leader (Hoyle and Wilmore, 2002).

Leadership and Possibilities of Trainin

Following Blake and Mouton (1964) leadership behavior is based on concern of production and can be learned as a behavior. Like any other field of requiring action leadership too has undergone striking changes. Changing environments force changes in approaches, attitudes and strategies but the eventual goal is always to improve performance, output and competitive advantage. With greater enlightenment the subordinates also expect the leadership to be more pragmatic which puts more pressure on the leader to attain higher standards that continuously raise the bar. With globalization a greater diversity is taking place in the organizations; be it the leadership, the subordinates or the customers. This contrast in cultures, ethnicity, language and customs has to be factored in by the new leader in order to surmount several barriers and to achieve the objectives of the organization (Ibbotson, 2008).

This concept paper is aimed at discovering and determining of the leaders’ role in an educational set up and hence will concentrate on researching the subject with this view. However there are many commonalities in the leadership role irrespective of the environment, hence leadership in general will be studied to obtain a more balanced view. Leadership is normally associated with either business or politics as they appear to be highly dynamic situations hence are always in limelight. However leadership has a great role to play in the field of education as these institutions of learning are the foundations on which the careers of these business persons and those with political aspirations are built. In view of the fast changing developments in business and politics as well as the integration of communities world-wide there is a need to review the educational systems that is aimed to prepare a better product for its consumer; the student. The role of the leader assumes importance but poses problems of overburden and focus that needs to be resolved (Jackson and Parry, 2008).


It is evident that Blake and Mouton (1964) speak more about management functions and responsibilities that leadership itself. These researchers did not take into account such unique qualities and attributes of leadership as charisma and intuition which cannot be taught or learned. It is true that a modern leader is multi-skilled, willing to change and looks for opportunities. His motivation is career enhancement as opposed to rewards (Karaman, 2006). This is because he is more aware and better educated hence he is always looking to upgrade himself. In addition he is highly mobile and widely networked with similar workers across wide geographies. He is also willing to work odd hours. In a nutshell he holds attitudes to speak out to establish his identity as well as his aspirations in life. In view of the current diversity in organizations it has been commented that commitment by Leadership is necessary for the success of Diversity Initiatives. An appreciation of different cultures brings in richness to the organization and in turn offers the same to the student community. After all Leadership is the vital part of management. It is the leader who has to lead and guide the organization and all the stakeholders to wards modern and new objectives. This requires changes and it becomes clear that Leaders must also have the ability to deal with Transformations. There are several modern Leadership models that are in vogue and recommended for best results (Segriovanni and Glickman, 2005).

The four main characteristics of a Leader are ethical behavior, sharing a vision and goals, improving performance through charismatic leadership and Leading by example. A multicultural workforce has become a common feature across organizations whether they are domestic or global. This requires new training methodologies for such a diversified workforce and calls for new teaching methods, class practices, industrial training. Some success has been reported in industrial training and development efforts to prepare managers for overseas assignments. Common themes in these success stories include one or more of the following: (1) training is goal-oriented and based on a field assessment of need, (2) successful training experiences are either essentially experiential rather than cognitive, or are a combination of the two, (3) a variety of training methods are used, and (4) the training program is people-intensive (Segriovanni and Glickman, 2005).

To handle organization in a changing environment, an important requirement is to embrace paradox, or at least handle the anxiety that paradoxes create such as the struggle between the forces of wanting change and avoiding it (stability versus change); the forces of maintenance and the forces of transformation (managing versus leading); the forces of evolution and the forces of revolution; and the forces of caution and the forces of courage. Courage seems to be a requirement in creating and handling the future, particularly in large-scale bureaucracies. Each time we act, it is a living example of how we want things to be. The organization and the associated dilemmas are our own creations (Charan et al, 2001).

The philosophy is that employees know what they are supposed to do so they will do it with little direction. This affords subordinates a great deal of creativity in accomplishing their goals and may result in innovative products, production processes, or procedures that increase the unit’s efficiency. Business and human resource trends, along with the present and ideal future state of modern organizations, make the identification and discussion of human resource success requirements important, particularly in terms of followership. These boundaries will need to be permeable, so that roles are interchanged as needed. For instance, everyone in the organization, whether a part of the leadership or followership, may be required to get extraordinary results from people over whom they have no direct control. Power must be viewed as infinite and interchangeable, with the thought that there is enough for everyone, and that the exercise of power depends on project and purpose rather than where one sits in the organization. There must be a sense of self-control rather than control of others, with employees understanding that no matter where they sit in the organization they can make a difference. There also must be an understanding of the power of cooperation. Many times in large organizations, maintenance and linear thinking and acting have been the paradigm rather than creativity and innovation. Whole-brain thinking, therefore–operating comfortably from both analytical and creative bases–will be required. Also, both leadership and followership will need to understand both how things get done (process) and what things get done (content). In terms of values in large-scale bureaucracies of the future, the major requirement is truth. Employees in large organizations need to say in public what they many times say in private, thus bringing issues out into the open (Hoyle and Wilmore, 2002).

In between the two there are several variations but they all fail miserably today as the present workforce in commercial organizations and the faculty in educational ones is both more knowledgeable as well as diversified. Since this paper is devoted to the leadership role in educational organizations the concentration will hence be oriented towards this aspect. Enhanced and practical knowledge is the need of the hour. The faculty needs to be motivated to achieve targets. The earlier intrinsic/extrinsic motivation is not enough as educational institutions need to be more than knowledge dissemination centers. There is greater need of this awareness at the higher level and this suggests that the leadership should be aware and conscious of the aspirations of their students who will be the workers, managers and leaders of the future. The cultural effects of diversity due to globalization is a very important aspect as employment prospects have become global too and the modern student has to be equally prepared for this larger market. These factors would appear essential for developing “interaction” skills. There are two participants in any education program; the teachers and the taught. Transfer of knowledge takes place from the first to the second. However the first group needs to have a vision, provided by its leadership, on which an educational pyramid is built up.. A build-up of knowledge begins with first designing the modules of knowledge first as an introduction and then building it up towards advanced knowledge (Segriovanni and Glickman, 2006).


The analysis of leadership qualities allows to say that leadership abilities are born and can be improved only by training and learning process. In a rapidly changing, diverse workforce, the capacity to value differences is required. Also, the development of skills and favorable ways of behaving and interacting with people from different cultures and ethnic groups is required. Based on a business and human resource trends and the gap in present and desired future states of large-scale organizations, human resource success will depend on organizations’ ability to change/modify beliefs, values, and behaviors, establishing the context for their remaining competitive and creating desirable futures.


Armandi, B., Oppedisano, J., Sherman, H. (2003), Leadership theory and practice: a “case in point. Management Decision. 41 (10), 1076 – 1088.

Charan, R., Drotter, S., Noel, J., (2001). The Leadership Pipeline How to Build The Leadership-Powered Company, Jossey Bass: San Francisco.

Conger, S. (2002). Fostering a career development culture: reflections on the roles of managers, employees and supervisors. Career Development International 7 (6), 371 – 375.

Hoyle, J.R., Wilmore, E.L. (2002). Principal Leadership: Applying the New Educational Leadership Constituent Council (Elcc) Standards. Corwin Press.

Ibbotson, P. (2008). The illusion of leadership: Directing creativity in business and the arts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jackson, B., & Parry, K. W. (2008). A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying leadership. Los Angeles: Sage.

Karaman, M. S. (2006). Leadership and Productivity – Jack Welch’s Productivity Triumph.

Segriovanni, Th., Glickman, K. (2006). Rethinking Leadership: A Collection of Articles. Corwin Press; 2nd edition.

Topping, P. (2002). Managerial Leadership, McGraw-Hill: New York.

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