IBM Company: Leadership Development Approach


Leadership development has become the option for organisations to adopt and integrate into the management framework because of its benefits. However, in this study, an investigation of leadership development was based on the leadership development challenges facing organisations, the leadership styles that organisations should adopt for a leader to be effective, leadership development theories, IBM leadership development dimensions, and efficiencies of leadership within companies. The results showed that effective leadership development requires a leader a leadership development program that enables a leader to develop and effectively implement organisational vision and mission statements, develop effective relationship management capabilities, and the leader-member exchange leadership approach. Here, the leader-member approach enables employees to establish efficient working relationships. The case for IBM shows that the company developed a leadership development approach that responds to the leadership needs of the organisation and not relying on single theories of leadership management.


The ubiquitous demand for better quality leadership among many organizations today to address the dynamic changes and operational issues that happen has been on the rise as organisations keep on changing (Avolio 2010). The need to develop sustained leadership qualities further adds to the need for better quality leadership. In theory and practice, leadership can only become successful if leadership development becomes consistent with the leadership needs that target the organizational needs that keep on changing (Ahrens & Chapman 2007). However, because of the many challenges leaders go through that are caused by the increasing complexity brought about by the rapid technological advances, increase in employee empowerment, organisational ‘delaying’, and the proliferation of team-based approaches to organisational leadership, it has been established that there is a need for the people in leadership positions to revise their leadership development approaches to provide better quality leadership, to enhance the leadership without making it a difficult task. According to Kelloway and Barling (2010), better quality leadership is touted as a tool that can be used by those in the leadership positions to lead the people to effectively pursue business goals and objectives, which lead to better quality services and operational efficiencies (Avolio 2010).

However, Dalakoura (2010) maintains that many companies fall short of implementing the best business practices to optimize employee skills and knowledge because of the leadership vacuum that arises because of the existence of inadequate leadership provided by those in the leadership positions. For instance, IBM has been one of the most successful global companies in the provision of computer hardware and software products and related services. However, the company is in serious need to reform its leadership style by enhancing or strengthening the leadership style by cultivating the leadership competencies, wisdom, and insight to successfully execute the organizational business strategies (Brungardt 1997). Here, the key areas of leadership development, which include experience, competence, and relationship taxonomies have not been given serious focus by the company, which all organisations use to assess their leadership capabilities and identify what they need to do to develop their leadership competencies (Solansky 2010). On the other hand, leadership experience is based on the leadership competencies, relationships, and skills necessary for the leader to become efficient in their leadership skills.

Typically, leadership development must revolve around the key elements of experience that are driven by teaching leaders the leadership skills by providing the required support and teaching them the real-life lessons that build excellent leadership capabilities, providing an environment for the leaders to develop the strong relationship in the breadth and depth of the leadership needs, and providing the leaders with the skills and competencies required to provide competent leadership. Here, the leader is taught the competencies required to provide effective leadership, which are the elements that form the foundation of better leadership capabilities (Scott DeRue & Ashford 2010). However, because many organizations suffer the problem of effective leadership, there is a need for organizational managers to develop their leadership skills to establish strong leadership foundations.

A typical example is a case for IBM. IBM’s management failed to be responsible following inadequate appreciation of past mistakes. Transformational leaders are good at learning from the past. To solve the challenges sufficiently, the company should employ transformational leaders. The frequent rate at which suits are filed against IBM demonstrates the inability of the current leaders to take charge of the company’s operations. According to prominent leadership theories, and effective leadership must have control over its followers and develop proper communication channels (Gray & Larson 2008). The leader must be able to share his/her vision with the entire team efficiently. Moreover, effective managers need to have the ability to switch flexibly from one model of management to another, depending on the needs of different people and the situation. Besides, effective leadership requires an understanding of exceptional methods of influencing employees to operate according to laid-down policies and regulations. The leader should earn the respect of other employees because of the effective ways of performing tasks (Haberberg & Rieple 2007).

Statement of the problem

Today, because leadership is a highly contextual construct, many organizations have started to experience leadership problems to address the dynamically emerging leadership challenges that are caused by rapid changes and adoption of new technologies, team-based organizations, and the empowerment of employees among other issues. The result has been leading that does not measure up to the challenges that organisations are facing, leading to the question on, what action do organizations take to reform the leadership styles to meet today’s leadership challenges? To address the research question, the following objectives provide the research framework.


  1. Investigate the leadership styles for organisations to adopt
  2. To investigate the leadership development challenges facing organisations
  3. Investigate the leadership development theories
  4. Find out the organizational leadership dimension of IBM Company
  5. Establish the efficiency of the organizational leadership of the company

Explain the research rationale

The rationale for conducting the research is to address the increasing gap between organisational leadership that has failed to provide the leadership required to enable the leaders to lead the people to effectively pursue.

Literature review

The literature review is a summary of the findings by different authors on the implications of leadership development among different organisations, the leadership challenges that leaders face, the leadership techniques and theories that are brought into play to address the challenges and the gaps in knowledge on leadership development that this study intends of fill.

The leadership development challenges facing organisations

Many organisations today are experiencing different leadership development challenges that are brought about by the increasing changes in leadership because of the major transitional changes that organisations are going through. Typically, because the core tasks of a leader are to model, inspire vision, encourage and persuade others to act in the desired ways, challenge certain processes, and direct them to achieve the desired results (Castells 2011). However, to lead, leaders must develop and model the way leadership should be done, create the vision, clarify the values, energise and mobilise the people, and set the examples for the followers to pursue organisational goals and objectives. On the other hand, it is important for leaders to accept the leadership challenges because it is the antidote to stagnation and disintegration. However, studies indicate that what is said is not what is done by the leaders, even though most organisations agree that leaders are necessary to lead the people in transforming an organisation from what it is to a new. However, the majority of leadership approaches focus more on the leader instead of leadership development. One of the challenges in developing the right leadership is to develop the relationship skills of the leader.

According to Chapman, Hopwood and Shields (2006), the rationale for developing a strong relationship between the employees and the leader is that most organisations agree that interpersonal relationship has long been held as the key to successful leadership. However, not many organisations have focused on the relationship aspect of leadership. However, different authors agree that relational perspective is important because it is crucial for leaders who want to improve their leadership approaches in leading the people to effectively pursue and achieve organisational goals.

The relational challenge

Researchers in academia agree that the relational approach recognises leadership when the leader moves beyond the unidirectional nature of leadership or even the reciprocal nature of leadership to one that is very important and never limited to the formal way leaders operate or are seen (Chase & Aquilano 2006). For instance, some leaders use a certain leadership style such as the servant leadership to lead by acting with examples. On the other hand, the relational approach provides a very powerful leadership approach that functions as a dynamic form of leadership that allows for a broader view of leadership. It is possible for those leaders who use the relational approach to experience a wealth of opportunities on leadership development because of the social capital that is generated in good relationships. Here the relationship approach enables the development of the formal leader using the tools such as training to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for the leader to execute the leadership roles effectively. Here, a good relationship is based on the interpersonal competence that is developed through the training one undergoes.

Interpersonal relationships enable the complex interaction between leaders and the environment including the employees and other organisational environment elements to interact effectively and lead to better performance and positive work-related results (Dalakoura 2010). Leadership Development in the context of the organisation and the leader includes the ability to create a community of people who practise together to build a system that enhances the capabilities of the people under the given leadership.

Despite many researchers agreeing that leadership development is best based on the relationship approach, the factors that lead to a higher and lower quality relationship still need to be established (Dalakoura 2010). Higher quality relationship is seen as the basis for a better relationship at the place of work and lays the groundwork for better ideas on how leadership can best be developed to enable leaders to effectively deal with the challenges in modern organisations. Here, the authors argue that leadership should be considered beyond the hierarchical relationship that dominates the traditional leadership approaches and styles that is dominated by the manager-subordinate relationship to a more people-based approach (Davenport & Brooks 2004).

Here, a high-quality leader should engage the leader and the led in a leader-led relationship that allows for the variability of what is considered to be a high-quality relationship. A typical example is the application of leadership within an organisation such as IBM by demonstrating the value of social capital to enable the leader to effectively lead an organisation to be able to address the challenges and demands that arise from the internal and external environments. Here, it is evident that most authors agree that effective leadership stems from a perfect relationship among organisational members (Davila & Foster 2005). The relational challenge creates new avenues of thought where the leader is required to develop a new way of thinking to exploit new opportunities to experiment and practise new attitudes, skills, and leadership behaviour.

Researchers have made a wide range of suggestions in what a leader should do to become an effective leader to defeat the challenges that leaders face in their leadership duties. Among the suggested elements include the building collaborative relationships with the workers and other people in the management hierarchy. Also, the other approach is to institute employee development programs that provide various support initiatives for the employees to make them feel that they are part of the organisation. Also, it has been suggested that inspiring confidence and commitment by the employees and the management provides employees with the feeling of motivation and change in attitude. Also, leading employees is an underbelly to the success in leadership development because employees with a vision become more productive than employees who do not have a specific direction to follow.

However, good quality leadership development is based on learning good leadership skills and applying them to lead the people. In that context, one can only become successful if the leader is well trained in taking initiatives, composed and confident, has good career management strategies, culturally adaptable, and self-aware (De Wit & Meyer 2004). Besides, leadership challenges become more addressed if the leader becomes knowledgeable about how to effectively use technical knowledge and skills that arise with changes in organisational operations.

Leader-member exchange approach

One of the approaches academicians have suggested to counter the problem of leadership development that many organisations such as IBM are facing today is the leader-member exchange approach. The leader-member exchange method has been applied in many organisations has proved to be highly successful. An investigation into the use of the approach showed that the members within the organisation where the approach was used developed a lot of positive interest with the management because the level of interaction was on a personal level (Eeden, Cilliers & Deventer 2008).

Each of the employees was able to experience a dynamic relationship between the leader and themselves, leading to the observation of better traits and behaviours that enhance employee productivity and performance in general. Also, the study indicated that the situational variables such as the need to take action and make decisions that affected the employees’ working environment. It was deemed necessary to adopt a leadership style that could enable the leader to provide leadership to successfully guide the people in different situations to pursue organisational goals and objectives successfully. One of the approaches that were suggested was the transformational leadership style (Gray & Larson 2008). In leadership development, it is crucial to note that the work of a leader is to persuade people to work and transform the organisation. Here, the leadership style showed a significant effect on the quality of the relationship between the employee and the leader. Also, the relationship between the leader and led to provide a better working environment that is supportive of the efficacy of the working abilities of employees. Typically, the job consequences of the approach show that when leaders engage in-group embers, there is the likelihood of increasing the performance of employees and job satisfaction. Besides, it has been established that it leads to increased intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, better citizenship, behaviour, and better performance. A researcher established that for a leader to show good leadership qualities based on the leader-member exchange approach, it is crucial to develop an in-group approach to leadership to be efficient in the leadership practises.

Value of social capital

Researchers regard social capital to be one of the tools that the organisations intending to develop the qualities of the organisational managers to be important. Social capital is important in leadership development because it enables those in the leadership positions to face and solve the problems and challenges that come with the changes rapid changes in the business environment (Gerhard Huber 2004). More specifically, leaders face unending challenges from the internal and external environments that demand good leadership skills to solve the problems. Here it has been argued that the option to develop good quality leadership by the use of social capital is a critical resource that increases organisational competitive advantages. It has been arguing that social capital is a tool that generates good relationship among organisational employees, which leads to higher employee involvement with the organisational tasks (Graen & Uhl-Bien 1995). Besides, it has been established that good social capital leads to good relationships between the organisational leadership agents, actor within the organisation, communities that interact with the organisation, groups of individuals, and other groups to increase the productivity of employees. Here, the people are enabled to work towards the shared objectives and based on a network of norms, values, and beliefs that are based on trust.

Here, the quality of individuals such as knowledge, skills, and other abilities can best be used if the relationship between the organisation and its members are positive. A study that investigated the relationship between social capital and economic performance of an organisation showed that social capital was the basis for the success of the organisation (Haberberg & Rieple 2007). In the study, social capital was defined as “the ability of people to work together for common purposes in groups and organization” (Solansky 2010, p.4). Here the values and norms that were created because of the good relationship existing among the workers added the effectiveness with which most of the work was done (Solansky 2010).

Researchers who wanted to know how social capital could be created in the context of an organisation to enable the leader to develop better quality; leadership pointed out several suggestions. Among the key suggestions include an assessment of the internal connections of the company among the critical job functions and agents. Here, the quality of information flowing among the members of the organisation, the level at which employees share knowledge, and the strategic approaches used to share information with external entities was identified to be the critical leadership factors for the success of the organisation (Yukl 2002). Other approaches that have been researched on and established to be significant contributors to the success of the organisation is the ability of the organisation to monitor its performance, identify the connection among the entities that operate within and outside of the organisation, how the company conducts its benchmarking processes, the people who need to be trained to increase the performance of the organisation, and the areas of training necessary to improve the organisational leadership quality.

It has been established that social capital is important to good leadership qualities that enable enhanced employee retention. Gaining knowledge on the employees who need to be trained and the areas of training has been identified as a tool for the leadership to know who is in danger of leaving the organisation. Researchers have suggested the use of technology to track and build social capital.

Leadership styles

Companies today find the need for better leaders and the best leadership development approaches a significant problem to solve. The rationale is that most leaders provide the environment that meets the organisational leadership quest for excellence by instilling a sense of purpose and pride in the employees. It has been argued in the academic literature that leadership can only be successful if the leader is defined by the core characteristics and values of a leader, which include integrity, the desire to lead others, self-confidence, job-relevant skills, and managerial skills. Other salient features of good leadership include the ability to coordinate, control and execute leadership activities, inspire the people by setting the direction for the development, align the employees with the vision and mission statements, build new relationship structures and work within the existing structure by providing excellent leadership (Sher & Lee 2004). Typically, a leader is demonstrating a high degree of leadership qualities including the drive to achieve through those who are leading the organisational goals and objectives, have the energy to lead, be persistent and show initiative in the leadership tasks. Also, modern organisations need leaders who demonstrate the desire and willingness to lead and transform organisations from to new level of employee productivity and organisational performance. On the other hand, leaders who are honest and show consistency with other people they are dealing with inspire greater confidence in those whom they lead. Other areas that have been identified as critical for an effective leader include the leader’s ability to acquire knowledge and skills that are necessary and reflective of the changing and rising needs of the organisation.

However, effective leadership development must be approached with a lot of commitment by the organisation and the leaders themselves. For instance, a study on how IBM does its leadership development approaches shows a significant gap that needs to be filled. Research, on the other hand, established companies such as Oracle uses a system approach for leadership development. Here, the system-wide approach provides the best framework for selecting the best leaders, executing the best leadership development strategies, and measuring the success of the leadership program (Scott-Halsell, Shumate & Blum 2008)

However, the challenges to overcome in developing the best leadership for organisations still lurk. For instance, a survey conducted to determine the attitude of people towards the leadership when AIG and Enron leadership scandals surfaced shows that a lot of confidence was eroded among the people. Over 76% of the people said they were not confident in the leadership of the companies in the US and 51% had diminished confidence in business leaders. Researchers argue that leaders need to develop both the leadership and managerial skills to enable them to inspire, direct, and coordinate employees in pursuing organisational goals. Several areas of study have identified different approaches to the development of leadership. A study of Oracle, one of the most successful companies suggests key areas that could be used on leadership development, which include:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Leadership approaches
  3. Assessment
  4. Performance management
  5. Career planning
  6. Development

Leadership approaches

Different organisations embrace different leadership styles depending on the operations of that organisation and its core goals and objectives. In the context of determining the best leadership style, it is important as suggested by academicians that organisation selected from the leadership theories that best explain the type of leadership for the organisation (Scott DeRue & Ashford 2010). For instance, the situational leadership style requires that a leader provide direction for employees by coaching them directing, supporting, and delegating responsibilities depending on the leadership needs. The leadership approach is based on identifying the most important tasks and assigning those tasks priorities for execution. Also, once the tasks have been identified and prioritised, it is necessary to ensure that the followers are made aware of the need to be compliant. On the other hand, the leadership approach enables a good leader to be able to direct the people who have a low willingness and high resistance to change. Here, close supervision is required because the tasks can be done without the required competence and effectiveness. On the other hand, the leadership role is to ensure that people under the leader get clearly communicated instructions and communication is usually one way (Schreyögg & Busse 2006). One the other hand, the leader must maintain a directive role especially when the situation that requires attention is serious.

Situational leadership style

On the other hand, studies have shown that it is not in all situations that followers or workers want to fail the leadership, but are highly willing to work and achieve the required results. In such a case, the leader embraces a two-way communication approach because the employees are usually coached on how to achieve organisational; efficiency. Such cases arise when the employees have little experience and that makes supervision important. The role of the leader is to supervise, listen, advise, encourage, and direct the employees on how to achieve the best results. The overall expectations form such a leader is to develop the competence of the people and enhance their commitment to the pursuit of organisational goals and objectives. It is possible for the employees who are well guided to be self-motivated and work without the need of waiting for directions from the management. Based on the situational leadership style, it has been argued that the leadership model is evolutionary and provides support for the people to act by engaging tasks from the perspective of individuals rather than waiting for commands to be communicated. Also, the situational leadership style is appropriate for leadership development because most people start with little skills, knowledge, and abilities and progressively develop to become excellent leaders, ending up with a lot of commitment, enthusiasm, and motivation.

Transformational and transactional leadership

Seminal books and material have been written on transactional and transformational leadership because of the much attention attracted to the leadership approaches. Typically, each leadership style comes with certain qualities that can help a leader to develop the desired leadership qualities (Sarros & Santora 2001). For instance, transformational leadership is critical in enabling the leader to become effective by adding the attributes of a transactional leader to the transformational leadership attributes. Typically, transactional leaders offer rewards such as financial incentives to motivate people and encourage them to work hard in pursuit of organisational goals. On the other hand, transformational leadership has been seen as a leadership style that enables the leader to inspire confidence and motivate the workers to pursue organisational goals using extraordinary abilities to produce excellent outcomes and in the process develop their leadership capabilities (Ragin 2005). A follower under the leadership style can seize upon the opportunities presented by the leader to become effective in working for the organisation and be able to align the organisational goals and objectives with their leadership skills. Such an objective-based leadership approach is highly regarded as a tool for effective leadership development because it gives the leader and those who are led to equal learning opportunities in the pursuit of organisational goals. Evidence has been developed to show that transformational leadership can enable a leader to transform the subjects to achieve extraordinary performance goals.

Earlier researcher maintained that transformational leadership was effective for the military and ineffective for other organisations, but recent research refutes those claims and demonstrates that transformational leadership is appropriate for different organisations.

The leadership style looks into levels high in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which are associated with a basic outlook on life. A strategic plan involves various components that are significant to an organization. The two critical components since stipulate the purposes of the firm both in the immediate short period and in the long term. The two components indicate the objectives of the firm. With these components, the firm can review them regarding their achievements continuously (Sarros & Santora 2001).

It is worth noting that the leadership style is charismatic and enables the followers to pursue organisational goals and objectives by enabling the leader to stimulate their intellectual abilities. Besides, transformational leadership is based on different components that enable the leader to transform those who are led. The first component is idealised influence (Radón 2012). Typically, a transformational leader is admired and respected by those who he leads because the followers see the leaders as people with extraordinary abilities and experience that they could like to emulate. On the other hand, the leader offers inspirational motivation to arouse the spirit of teamwork. It is important to note here that the leader provides or articulates the vision that the organisation would like to be and how far it takes or develops the employees. On the other hand, the intellectual side of the story is that the leader stimulates interest in the followers or the organisational employees to become innovative, creative, problem solvers, and excellent workers. On the other hand, a leader who develops intellectual consideration is highly esteemed by the followers because of their belief that the leader can develop them to a higher level of potential. Also, the leader can create an environment where individual differences are accommodated, making each employee develop the feeling that they are highly regarded.

The transactional leadership style pays attention to rewards and punishments in the realization of organizational goals. Different researchers present varying definitions of a leader’s value. However, ultimately it can be summarized as a combination of evaluative and unwavering beliefs that act as guidance in personal preferences for courses of action in everyday situations. Hence, values are a moral compass that informs an individual on what is right or wrong. Most individuals develop these values early and this makes them stable and true in their life. Although values are hard at forming typologies, researchers have made harried attempts at this, which has arrived at two broad categorizations. The categorizations are the Rokeach Value Classification and the Schwartz Values Circumplex. There is a direct link between values and personal behaviour. However, their application is based upon the situation. For example, there must be a reason for us to apply values to situations that present a case or remind us of our values hence leading to a compelling need for application (Manzoor 2012).

The case study presents a situation where the two CEOs have to apply the values they believe in. The former CEO comes out as a person whose values are motivated by impressing her superiors. Hence, the club amasses huge profits but leaves huge lacunas in the management of human resources. This leads to hospitalization of a number of them because of accidents at work and stress-related absenteeism. However, the other CEO takes on an empathetic route. He takes an active role in ensuring that employees get the best from their work and are adequately motivated. However, he believes that employees are not only motivated by money hence he does not take that route. Rather, he embarks on reconstructing the structures of the company as relates to employees. For example, he develops procedures, which demarcates various job positions, puts in place job descriptions, and sets up worker protection policies (Hansen, Mowen & Guan 2007).

However, studies on the transactional leadership style have shown some fundamental differences between the transactional and transformational leadership styles. Transformational leadership goes beyond the economic gains an organisation is bound to make by providing effective leadership and extends to the provision of an environment that fosters the growth and development of employees who work for the organisation. Here, employee needs and values are accounted for and for being part of the organisation increases the motivation to work effectively. Here, the core values, beliefs, and attitudes of the employees are factored by the leader. Transactional leadership deviates significantly from the transformational leadership style because transactional leadership is based on the provision of services that are paid for, without regard for the development of the employee. In other words, employees are compensated for what has worked for and depend on the feedback provided by the leadership. While little debate is done on this paper on transactional leadership, it is commonly argued that transactional leaders usually set goals with clearly articulated expectations from the employees, focus on the outcomes and how to increase efficiency by establishing standards to follow. However, elements such as contingency rewards that are part of the transactional leadership style have proved to be very effective in motivating employees to pursue higher organisational goals and objectives. On the other hand, transactional leaders govern using management by objective strategies. In the management by objective leadership style, corrective transactions are used to lead the people, despite the approach not being effective. However, the leadership style is important for those leaders interested in leading large organisations (Mintzberg & Ghoshal 2003).

It has been suggested that the transformation leadership style is more appropriate compared with the transactional leadership style. Some meta-analytical results have shown evidence that positions the leadership style above the transactional leadership. Evidence shows that transformational leadership is appropriate for improving the performance of the organisation because it allows the managers to lead by management by exception, contingency rewards, and being directive.

Functional Theory

The functional leadership theory predicts and identifies the behaviours of the leaders that contribute to organizational success. The theory provides an explanation of the leadership elements that were necessary for the leader to be effective and for the groups being led to ensure effectiveness and cohesion. Here, the key attributes of the leadership approach such as team leadership are important because the leadership attributes enable effective implementation of leadership abilities to ensure successful organisational performance (Masdoor 2011). In this case, the leadership development approach underpins that is used to train leaders is an effective organisational development approach that enables leaders to be effective in implementing key leadership responsibilities such as ensuring effective environmental scanning.

The theory suggests that a leader’s primary aim is to observe that which is necessary for the success of the group. The necessary elements to drive an organisation to success includes organising employees who work towards the motivating others to pursue the organisational goals and objectives, teach and encourage subordinates to perform the tasks required for the success of the organisation, intervene for the cooperative achievement of organisational tasks (Manzoor 2012). Functional leadership is often used for the study and improvement of team leadership. Organizations have also applied the theory in a broader and more inclusive concept. A leader, according to the theory, performs vital functions. Some of them include environmental monitoring, secondary activities, and coaching. On the other hand, it is important to note that the functional leadership approach is important in ensuring that the leader can initiate team development and structure to encourage subordinates to act in such ways to support the operations of the organisation (Ragin 2005). Also, the functional approach enables the leader to model the required employee behaviours by clarifying employee roles and responsibilities, setting the required performance standard to encourage employees and motivate them to pursue the goals and objectives, and creating an environment where employees are directly responsible for achieving the required standards (Luthans & Avolio 2003).

Researchers recommend the use of functional the leadership as an appropriate tool for leadership development because no single person is regarded as a leader or the leadership is not the right of one person as opposed to the traits approach to leadership. Typically, all members within the organisation are taken through the leadership training and acquire the right skills that enable them to make decisions even when the leader is not around. Here, autonomy is guaranteed and any input that comes from different sources such as informal or formal can be accepted in decision making. The organisation can make descriptions about job positions that require an individual to take the leadership responsibilities without the need for referring to the leader of the organisation. Here, it is also possible for the individual leader to provide leadership directions for teams without necessarily referring to organisational management. Here, the advantage with this approach of functional leadership is to ensure that each team member is enabled to make decisions that take the organisation to a new level of performance when working as sub-units or whole units. However, most of the members who work on the responsibility of leading smaller teams within the organisation can demonstrate their capabilities in leading the teams in the capacity of leaders by exerting their authorities on them (Kirkpatrick & Locke 1991). Here, the leaders play their roles in different areas, which include teaching and coaching employees, monitoring the organisational environment, motivating employees to work and perform as expected, and making the right interventions to lead the teams to work and move the organisation towards its goals and vision and mission statements.

Positive Reinforcement

Researchers and behaviourists have dwelt on the concept reinforcing certain characters into a person to achieve certain outcomes. The studies have shown that reinforcement provides the organisation with the ability to develop the right character her to lead. However, it has been demonstrated that the behavioural requirements can only be met if certain antecedents are made available to reinforce the desired behaviour. Further studies on the reinforcements of behaviour show that such a task could produce what is referred to as pulling a lever more frequently to have the desired character imbued in an individual. Here, the pulling effects occur for longer or shorter times depending on the desired outcomes.

Modification of behaviour produces a positive reinforcement to people’s ideas and performance, which occurs because of the positive effect of leadership. Reinforcements provide a suitable stimulus to evoke the best performances of people. For example, when an employer decides to praise and appreciate an employee whenever he comes on time, it will have a positive effect on him. The employee, in return for this stimulus, will show up on time regularly to gain this praise. Positive reinforcement is now a significantly successful practice in influencing behaviours of subordinates. It motivates people to deliver their best (Kelloway & Barling 2010). Many large and successful companies have used positive reinforcement successfully to gain advantages.

In theory, there are different approaches to reinforcing the behaviour. The first approach is positive reinforcement and the second approach is negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement, the consequence of behaviour leads to the increase of the desired outcomes and the negative reinforcement leads to negative outcomes. In an organisation, the desired outcomes include the positive effects of the work done by the employees such as when introducing motivation or intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Here, it is important to mention that there are primary and secondary enforcers that an organisation uses in leadership development. In theory, the primary rein-forcer, which contributes to the development of the leadership skills of a person includes the unconditioned reinforce. Here, the reinforcement is usually natural and evolves with time. Here, the evolution of the leadership goes through different development stages because of the changes that occur with time. Examples include the knowledge and skills required for the development of leadership character. On the other hand, the negative reinforcement is based on the application of punishment such as taking or reducing the pay to be given to a person when a mistake has been done at the workstation (Kay 1993). Also, the employees can be penalized and sometimes demoted if they do not measure up to the required organizational performance index. However, reinforcement is one of the tools that are accepted to improve employee productivity and performance. Besides, it is evident from different studies that reinforcement cannot be done effectively if leaders concentrate on using one reinforcement type over the other. On the other hand, it has been demonstrated that any type of reinforcement is necessary to ensure effective leadership development without discriminating on the type to use. Here, reinforcement leads to an increase in behaviour, which is particularly good for leadership development.

Operant Conditioning
Operant Conditioning

It is important to note that reinforcement is essential to ensuring that leaders work hard towards enhancing employees abilities to exploit their talents and activities. Also, reinforcement can be done using different methods such as scheduling. Scheduling can be simple or complex and that depends on the organisation and the leadership needs of the organisation.


Any organisation understands well that the position taken by a leader is very sensitive because of the leadership style provided can either lead to the success or failure of the company. One approach to a discipline recruitment method is evaluating the person applying for the leadership position for the excellence of character based on a predetermined list of organisational leadership needs. Here, the leadership needs are identified and aligned with the organisational objectives and strategies (Drury 2007). Key to successful recruitment includes efficiency and predictability in the person of the leader, process-driven leadership, and ability to provide the command and control of the leadership activities. Excellence in the recruitment style ensures that the best person is given leadership tasks. For instance, an evaluation of organisational leaders shows that Google is one of the companies that have attracted the best leadership talent (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes 2011). Recruiters at Google argue that passion and intelligence are some of the key characteristics to look for a person. Typically, the company has set a test that people willing to take the leadership position. Some of the leadership elements that are searched for based on the behaviour of the leader include someone supportive, achievement-oriented, and actively participative. Researchers who based their studies ion the contingency leadership model argue that the recruitment of the leader depends on the performance outcomes of the organisations. In that case, the model shows that a reliable leader must have the ability to work on the employee contingency factors such as locus of controls, experience, and the perceived ability to lead.


Researchers on good leadership development approaches argue that an organisation should first give priority to the employees within the organisation when looking for a leader (Holliday 2007). However, to find a good leader, it has been suggested that a leadership competence model that consists of eight competency leadership elements must be factored and include interacting and presenting oneself as a leader, organising and executing leadership tasks, being entrepreneurial and performing, ability to lead and make decisions, ability to support organisational employees and cooperate with them, and ability to adapt and cope with the changing needs of the organisation. However, different competence models exist in which to assess the suitability of a candidate for a leadership position. One of the models that can be used to identify a leader is to use performance management. Here, the model depends on a critical appraisal process by evaluating the goals and development plans that a candidate can achieve and has achieved so far and the progress report of the candidate. For instance, some organisations have adopted the 360-degree feedback to solicit feedback from employees on the performance of the leadership and employees. It has been demonstrated by a continuum of research studies that 360-degree feedback is highly effective. Also, the managers can collect data on their weaknesses and strengths and identify the strategies to address the weaknesses. Typically, some of the benefits include enabling the leader to create a shared vision and mission o of the organization, creating an effective communication framework, improving organizational skills, driving adaptability, enabling employees to get a wider perspective of the perceptions of others, enables the leader to be aware of their leadership competencies, and the leadership can collect objective data about the performance of the organization (Hitt & Hoslisson 2008).

Performance management

Performance management and leadership development are two core elements that merge because the goal to achieve good leadership development to improve employee competence. Typically, for an organisation to be successful in leadership development, academicians agree that employees and the leader must be in constant communication to ensure effective constant interactions based on the framework of a conversation that consists of five key elements. Here, the organisation sets the performance standard upon which the leader will be evaluated to identify the key areas of improvement. Also, the standards provide a framework and measures on which performance objectives are established that provide a framework for the leader to follow in directing employees.

Here, there should be a mutual agreement by the organisational members and stakeholders on the objectives to be followed, how the objectives are defined, and the key characteristics of the performance objectives. In theory, it is agreed that performance objectives should be specific, measurable, actionable, timely and relevant. Merging performance objectives with the already established standards provides a good framework for the leader to focus on the job duties by aligning the employee jobs with the organisational objectives. Here, the need for a leadership development program is critical because of the need for a skilled person to provide leadership and direction in merging performance standards with organisational goals and objectives. Here, it is possible to see that objectives are necessary because they are flexible and allow the standards that do not job specific to be merged with the objectives. Here, it is worth noting that a good leader knows how to set the short term and long term goals, use resources effectively, and can identify the critical points to evaluate in the performance of an organisation (Hansen, Mowen & Guan 2007).

It has been demonstrated in a continuum of research findings that leadership development is unique because a good leader can relate employee performance standards to the job specification and requirements. Besides, one characteristic of a good leader is that they can communicate in a language that every employee understands and when setting standards, communication becomes a vital component in the development and communication of the standards. Here, a leader should be trained and skilled in the development of performance standards such as happens in an organisation such as Google. Here, the leader provides direction and can relate performance standards to the hierarchical structure of the organisation. For instance, an effective leader provides task description with the expected outcomes with different details depending on where the task is to be applied (Harris & Bromiley 2007).

Academic paper and research articles show that leadership development does not end at specifying objectives and aligning them with organisational performance expectations, but goes further to provide the checklist in which the performance of the leader should be evaluated against. Here, leadership development can be pegged on the elements of the performance standards that point to the expectations of the organisation. Companies such as Oracle use challenging, clear and unambiguous, measurable and verifiable, and dynamic performance checklist elements when evaluating a leader. Also, the leader must have the abilities to lead the people to achieve performance standards.

Researchers have questioned the need for performance management as a tool for leadership development. In answer to such questions, theory and practice demonstrate that a leader who has been trained well based on the tenets and principles of performance management have the skills and knowledge required to align key organisational objectives with the organisational strategies. The alignment enables organisational managers to clarify the goals and objectives and provide the direction required to the fulfilment of the gaols. It has also been established that performance management does not benefit the manager only, but is a component that benefits employees to develop self-motivation by getting the right picture son their roles and responsibilities. The performance management framework when integrated as a competence tool enables the organisation to monitor the development and progress of the employees, enables the management to fulfil their commitment to stakeholders, enables the organisation to stay ahead of others, and enables organisations to make strategic designs’ about their human resource management. Here, the main domains of focus include the individual, critical performance subsystems, processes, and the organisational mission. In summary, performance management is one of the crucial tools for leadership development because implementing the key performance management elements provides the leader with better knowledge and skills to direct employees and organisational functions appropriately.

Career planning

Career planning provides the career goals that are necessary because it provides the leader with the ability to focus the development on the goals and competencies required of an effective leader. Organisations need to identify the career goals based on the type of leadership required and where to lead. Leadership here falls into different categories, some of which include the transformational leadership and transactional l leadership styles. Besides, career planning is crucial because the leader can identify the area of competence to develop.

It has been argued that leaders are born and not made. However, many researchers argue that leaders can be made based on many examples existing today. Here, career planning becomes important because people can be given opportunities to exploit their inner potential to map out a leadership career. Most academic articles suggest taking action by one thoroughly learning, taking action based on one’s knowledge, making the right decisions, and taking the right action. Here, career planning is a continuous process of self-evaluation and re-evaluation.

Despite career planning considered as the responsibility of an individual, and a company that supports career planning gains in the context of making employees feeling valued is set to make the best gains from them. The rationale is that the company engages workers because they need more than a job.

Leadership development theories

Many theories have been suggested for providing explanations for leadership development approaches.

Personality theories

Personality is the constant realignment of the psychological systems within an individual that determines his adaptations to the immediate environment. It is reflected by external traits or internal manifestations demonstrable by external acts. The extensive studies on personality have led to the concept of personality theory. This concept states that an individual’s inherent characteristics are consistently demonstrated through their behaviour over time. However, the consistency thereof is sometimes affected by structures, cultures, beliefs, norms, and environments within which the individual is operating. The typology of personality traits has resulted in five major personalities of individuals (Hay 2010). They include a continuum of factors ranging from creativity, hard work, anxiety, and goal orientation. Conspicuousness is one type of characteristics that defines the leader’s ability to be organized, dependable, be thorough in their leadership chores, able to make decisions without fear or favour, and work decisively. While extraversion is seen as a leadership component that defines strong leadership, other attributes such as nurturing, agreeableness, ability to conform to situations and tendency of an individual to be trusting are elements that define a weak leader. However, the factors that define moderate leadership include depression, hostility, anxiety, insecurity, and vulnerability. A leader who falls under the second category of factors can be described as one with weak leadership capabilities. The factors, however, are crucial in evaluating the leadership qualities to ensure good leadership development. Other typologies are quite specific or unreliably broad. They include a four-factor rating that breeds sixteen personalities and a broad measure that arrives at Type A and Type B personalities respectively.

Here, the leader who likes to pursue and achieve goals based on consistent efforts in working hard towards the goals defines the personality of type A. Most organisations want leaders or people who work hard to achieve organizational goals even when the business environment is hostile. Here, the defining characteristics of the personality of type ‘A’ fit well into a leadership development program where organizations need able leaders who respond to the pressure resulting from the demand workplaces on an individual. Also, such leaders work hard towards the success of organizational goals and objectives by working hard to avoid failure. Here, organization operate in a dynamic environment and customers demand that the services offered to meet their expectation, reiterating the need for a leader who focuses employees towards effectively pursuing organizational goals. It is important to note that type ‘A’ leaders strive to remain relevant and effective in the pursuit of organizational goals and objectives by improving their skills through knowledge and skills acquisition procedures.

Such leaders hate failure and put a lot of effort to avoid it. On the other hand, type ‘B’ personalities are people who work hard to achieve the desire goals and objectives and any signs of failure do not discourage them to work hard, but they easily acknowledge failure without much stress. Sometimes, such a leader can back down when the competition is stiff, making the leader runnable to persistently keep struggling to achieve the goals. However, such leaders enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts and risk implementing them to position an organisation into a competitive advantage than rivals. Such a leader is highly esteemed within an organization because they embrace highly reflective thinking on how to drive the organisation to success. So, in conclusion, both personality types are important in leadership development to develop a self-confident leader, having the positive ability to lead and influence others towards the mission and vision statements of the organisation. However, the leader needs to ensure effective communication exists between the leader and the employees.

It has been established that the two personality traits provide a balance between the traits required for the leader. Here, the key elements that define the balance between the two leadership personalities include intelligence, determination, self-confidence, integrity, and the ability to socialize with the employees. However, it has been argued that the intelligence of leaders should be consistent with the intelligence of the people being led to ensure that no disparity occurs; otherwise, it could lead to conflicts and leadership failures. Researchers to determine for certain the factors that should be focused on in leadership development with particular attention paid to the intelligence of a leader of the development of leadership intelligence examined the realm of emotional intelligence. Here, emotional intelligence has received a lot of interest from organizational leaders and psychologist’s on how affects the conduct of leaders in directing the people they lead. The researchers defined emotional intelligence as the ability to express one’s feelings and emotion about an issue and be able to understand and reason with others while on the emotions. However, emotional intelligence was touted as a critical component or element to the success of any leadership. Here, one’s leadership always encounters situations that require balanced emotional capabilities and intelligence to address day to day leadership challenges that arise because of the behaviour of the people being led.

However, in summary, the traits approach to leadership has been criticized by authorities who argue that people can inherit the leadership traits that make them good leaders. The leadership trait has been criticised for the inability to discriminate the type of leaders and the leadership abilities inherent in such leaders. Using the trait approach, it is not possible to identify the leader or leaders who are traits driven and those who have acquired the leadership skills through training and development programs. How do those people who do not have leadership traits work as leaders? How can a person with no leadership traits influence others to follow them? Such questions pose a lot of challenges for psychologists studying leadership traits and wanting to develop leadership development programs.

Scholars investigating leadership development have shown a lot of interest in charismatic leadership because it is a tool that enables the leader to charm and influence others by emphasizing personal characteristics. Also, the criticisms against trait-based approach show that those who embrace the idea of the traits approach is that it discourages individuals from taking on leadership because they feel they do not have the leadership traits necessary for a good leader. Here, most individuals get discouraged to apply for the leadership positions because they lack the traits necessary for a leader and competencies required for a leader. Besides, the right experience, training, and optimism to become a good leader cannot be achieved if the person intending to become a good leader. However, other authorizes in leadership research argue that a leader can be trained to become effective irrespective of not having the leadership traits as per the traits theory of leadership.

In conclusion, “one can have the leadership traits to become a successful leader or lack the traits that are necessary for a good leader” (Yukl 2002, p.1). However, researchers argue that leadership development programs are necessary because they provide opportunities for people to develop the skills that enable them to work towards the accomplishment of their work. Also, leadership development programs enable people to develop their skills to enable them to acquire the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to lead. Besides, well-trained leaders provide emotional abilities to motivate the employees to work towards organisational goals, vision and mission statements, and the ability to assert their leadership abilities.

Great Man Theory

The great man leadership provides the framework for leadership development based on the belief that any person who has a leadership position is exceptional and have the inborn qualities that make them leaders. The proponents of the theory argue that leadership was all about the biography of great men who showed great leadership skills. However, the problem with the researchers who wrote about the leadership approaches only focused on those leaders who were already in leadership positions. However, modern psychologists disagree with the notion that leaders are born because they argue that leaders are shaped by society and not innate qualities.

Trait Theory

The logical conclusion of those who support the traits theory is that a leader is born with the innate qualities of leadership. Pioneer researchers on the trait leadership approach concluded their studies by formalizing the perception that some generalities on leadership are inherent in certain people who are grouped under the trait leadership theory. The common disposition of the people can be described by common traits, which include being industrious, wise, intelligent, meticulous, tenderhearted, compassionate, brainy, knowledgeable, and mild. On the other hand, other researchers identified the necessary traits to include honesty, understanding, truthfulness, impulsiveness, understanding, and sincerity as being important to the traits approach. However, some traits are not useful while others are useful because they hold some scientific meaning. The rationale is that some behaviours relate to personality and some do not. Also, the theory is questionable because it is not possible to determine the causal status of a trait. Here, behaviour cannot be completely explained by the use of traits, which discounts the trait theory as fit for leadership development.

For instance, a leader should be decisive, persistent, assertive, dependable, clever intelligent, socially skilled, knowledgeable, dominant, energetic, tolerant to stress, cooperative, aggressive, and willing to assume responsibility. However, there is a need for the leader to be diplomatic and tactful, persuasive, and ambitious. The traits theory does not explicitly explain how the traits can be applied in situations of leadership development. However, the trait leadership theories provide the ground for asserting that the greatest leadership challenge is honesty. People who have worked in various organizations at different levels often state that honesty is the best policy. The important qualification to the statement is that behaviour is a construct with no independent casual status. However, modern researchers drawing from empirical evidence and organizational behaviour have developed different elements for factor analysis that factor the personal traits of a person. The approach has led to the wide acceptance of the new approaches to the traits theory and formed the basis for leadership development. Factors such as intelligence, agreeableness, low neuroticism, will, extroversion and introversion constitute the traits necessary for a leadership development program.

Leader-Member Exchange Theory

The Leader-Member Exchange theory is based on the dyadic interactions between the leader and the follower. The LMX theory dictates that a leader is the one with the responsibility to initiate dialogue between different group members depending on whether they belong to an in-group or out-group category. The defining relationship between the two groups is how well the employees have established a relationship with the leader. However, it is the members who work towards establishing their loyalty to a particular group, which define their loyalties to the membership. Typically, the defining relationship that provides people with belonging to a specific group depends on the membership roles and responsibilities. However, the leader needs to develop a high-quality relationship with the groups to ensure success for the embers in working as a group towards the mission and vision statement of the organization. Here the leader provides the required support to put their potential into the pursuit of organisational goals and to ensure that each member gets motivated to work for the organisation.

Here, the legitimate authority of the leader is embedded in the leadership style and the leadership qualities by practising the contractual relationship between the member and the group members. Outgroup, in this case, work under a contract within the organization and practice a lot of self-efficacy in their tasks and duties. Also, it is important to note that the leader-member exchange theory dictates that the leader and the group members have to show similarities in leadership skills and abilities to relate well among themselves. However, critics of the leader-member exchange theory argue that it is not desirable for a great distinction between the in-group and the out-group to be pronounced because a strong distinction between the groups can be detrimental to the leadership effectiveness. Here, such distinction might lead to feelings of inferiority and that leads to lower quality leadership making the people less active in taking up their job responsibilities. Also, such distinction leads to lower motivation, less effectiveness in organizational performance, and the inability for the members to feel part of the organisation and to make feel that they are left outside of the loop.

IBM and Leadership Styles

IBM is a global company with a presence in many countries. In some of the countries, the company has regional operations. Global penetration has been the model of operations, which had helped the company to trounce major players in the tech industry such as Dell, Lenovo, and Apple Inc. However, since the global economic downturn, the company has experienced major reshuffles in its operations strategy to remain relevant and competitive. The company has developed two business groups with different focuses. One focuses on the developed market while the other focuses on the emerging markets (Masdoor 2011). The two market groups are christened the mature market group and the emergent market group respectively. The former covers traditional markets such as the United States and Australia. The latter covers emerging markets such as Brazil, Africa and a huge part of Asia. Using this two-pronged strategy, the company has continued to localize its operations. The localizations have gone a notch higher whereby the company is producing some of its products in certain nontraditional countries such as Russia and Brazil. According to the company’s strategy, this is to cater to localized markets and to retain local jobs, which is what immediate governments need. This ultimately creates loyalty and drives sales levels of IBM’s products (Kay 1993).

The magnitude of IBM’s operations requires a coordinated and focused supply chain. The company is decentralizing operations with the view that this will strengthen the supply chain even further (Schreyögg & Busse 2006). The company’s long-term focus is to be the best producer of a range of technology products in terms of sophistication of design and engineering. Hence, the company taps into innovative resources such as research and personnel. In recognition of the ever-growing interest in other gadgets, apart from PCs, and the declining nature of appeal of personal computers in traditional and emerging markets, the company has intensified its productivity and creativity to create relevant products (Mintzberg & Ghoshal 2003). The company’s tablets and smartphones are featuring second in the global market with a notable appreciation outside the traditional markets (Radón 2012). Hence, the company needs to continue its steadfast adherence to operational efficiency to understand the performance of all these products in the various markets (Davenport & Brooks 2004).

IBM has recorded a continued rise in sales for the past five years. In the 2012/2013 financial year, the company recorded a 12% increase in total sales bolstered by the exemplary performance of the tablet and smartphone markets. Although the company’s destination of sales cannot be singled out, tremendous growth in the market for tablets in China is notable. The company came in second in tablet sales in China after Apple. The company also recorded a steady performance in PC sales. Although there was no significant growth in traditional markets, the sales of PCs in emerging markets was quite notable (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes 2011). For example, shipments in Asia, the Middle East and to some extent Africa increased. The trend is likely to continue as more governmental effort is directed towards improvement in digital penetration across those nations. In future, IBM will likely record more and more sales of PCs in these emerging markets (Barney 2002).

Regarding the sales of tablets, smartphones and other technology leaning gadgets that replace PCs, traditional markets are the main attractions. However, in emerging markets, IBM is excelling in the sales of its new gadgets (Chapman, Hopwood & Shields 2006). First movers such as Apple and IBM have entrenched themselves in these markets with notable authority. Hence, it is incumbent upon IBM to continue its two-pronged approach towards market penetration to tap into these markets exhaustively with its new products (Ahrens & Chapman 2007).

Establishing the efficiency of the organizational leadership

Efficiency in leadership or high-performance leadership is a leadership approach that is highly desirable by most organisations because it provides the ability for the leader to move the organisation from its current position to a new operational level. However, in leadership development, it is important to identify the strategies necessary and the underlying elements that are necessary for leadership development to achieve organizational efficiency. Among the tools that have been suggested to use for organizational development include communication.


Typically, and effective leadership is always important to ensure that the leaders can manage and solve conflicts that arise within members and organizational teams. Effective communication is a tool that enables effective leadership development to make efficient leaders. Here each leader is taught to become effective in any organization’s leadership development strategies. However, research conducted to determine the effectiveness of communication shows that leadership is the problem number one for most American cooperates. Also, human interaction through effective communication enables employees to work effectively by putting all their skills and knowledge in executing their duties.

In theory, it is argued that different perceptions exist in the type of communication methods that are necessary for a good leader and what an organisation must factor to ensure effective leadership development to improve the communication skills of a leader. Here, perceptions include economic status, life experiences, culture, religion, and education. On the other hand, the perceptions of the people in general and when applied in the context of leadership development include inputs that can be acted on by a person. Here, inputs and communication are about the experience a leader goes through depending on the field of experience the leader has been exposed to. Besides, communication is important for the organisational manager to communicate the performance messages to the employees because each message is received at different levels, which include the cognitive and the affective and cognitive levels. Typically, that is defined in the context of the emotional and intellectual levels. Also, the message being transmitted should not be ambiguous or incomplete to ensure that the intended information is transmitted. Here, the interpersonal communication becomes important at the organisational level where members communicate in groups. Here, the formal or informal communication mechanisms are important to ensure that the intended information reaches the audience at the right time with the right meaning.

To be an effective leader, the leader needs to be aware of the two types of communication paradigms, which include formal and informal communication. Here, researchers argue that to accept one type of leadership style and to reject the other can be fatal. In other instances, the formal and informal communications offered within an organisation provide the framework for leaders to communicate with stakeholders, press releases, marketing strategies which are critical in the performance of an organization on creating profits, presiding over task force meetings, and other instances of cooperating communication.

External communication provides the leader or the manager to communicate effectively with stakeholders, the management, and the owners of the organization. Here, effective communication becomes part of the organizational leadership for effective leadership development and performance. On the other hand, the performance of the leadership needs to be effective when communicating with the external environments that include the government, competitors, and the media. Effective leadership is concerned about a company or an organization provides the leadership with the abilities to communicate employee attitude, a manifestation of various instances such as conflicts and how to resolve such conflicts. Here how the messages are communicated and the content of the messages helps to determine the effectiveness of the messages and the responses of the messages.

For a leader to be effective and for an organization to develop effective leadership, the salient features of an effective communication paradigm need to be embraced. Also, a manager or a leader should be trained to work and propagate an image of a coach, consultant, sensitive communicator, facilitator, and coordinator. Here, a good leader with good and sensitive communication capabilities can stimulate interest in the employees to develop positive attitudes towards the messages being transmitted. Here, interview conducted with people who have been on the management hierarchy and who have been successful contends that for one to be successful, it is important to ensure that certain assumptions should be made on the communication landscape, which includes removal of communication overload, avoiding to make bias messages, making the communication process dynamically active and avoiding being passive, avoiding to make assumptions and to communicate suspicious messages.

On the other hand, it is noted that successful people in the management positions do not impose personal ideas but tend to communicate ideas the way they are, try to create attention in the people for whom the messages are meant, ensuring good timing for the messages.


The behaviour has been established to be one of the tools of efficient leadership development. Here, the behaviour of the employees can be modified to increase the performance of employees under the leadership of the manager. Besides, researchers agree that the barriers to effective leadership can be overcome based on the persistent behaviours that enable the leader and the employees to strive to meet the goals and objectives of the organization. Also, an employee can be frustrated at the occurrence of a barrier towards executing a task. In the context of barriers and frustrations, the employee enters into a frustrated mode. However, such frustration can be overcome if the person provides a healthy response to frustrations by engaging in constructive repression of frustrations and constructive development of behavioural skills that lead to positive development. A good leader avoids deviant behaviour, which can be caused by a leader ignoring an employee, even though some people are predisposed to crime.

To cultivate high performance, a leader needs to be sure of the type of people they are dealing with. Research studies conducted by a professor of psychology to understand human achievement, the high-performance achieving model was developed to address the elements. Here, the leader has to understand the there categories of people, who include the direct class of achievers, who include direct-intrinsic, competitive direct, and power-direct who always take challenges despite the competition and other factors notwithstanding.

Team relationships

Team relationship is a well-known component of the success or failure of people working within organizations. Good team leadership is one of the qualities of a good leader and the developmental requirements of a good leader. Establishing good leadership depends on teamwork and how the team members interact among themselves.


In statistical research, we use sampling on many occasions. It would be hard to engage a whole population in a study because of the costs and time associated with such a census. However, in many a sample, there is the possibility of errors. Statistically, these errors result in bias. We also infer results by using methods such as hypothesis testing and estimation, which may not be entirely true in the entire population. In this case, IBM was an all-inclusive sample that helped the researcher to conclude. To collect data, the researcher used interviews. Interviewing is a method of collecting data from human beings by asking them questions for which they answer verbally (Creswell 2003). It is a systematized way of talking and listening to people to get information regarding a particular topic or phenomena. In interviews, the respondent provides the primary data for the study and the views of the researcher are not as important as most of the information comes from the respondent. The respondents can give their conceptualizations and interpretations regarding the topic under study.

Interviews have the following advantages.

More Information

They allow for probing, follow up, and it is possible to get in-depth information on a topic. They also have many disadvantages, which include the consumption of time and expensive administration. They cannot be used with a large number of people as they are quite taxing and take time to complete. Chances of interviewer bias are also high especially in close-ended interviews. Analysis of data may take time. In a situation where data from open-ended interviews is involved, respondents may not remember key information. In this study, the sample of the study will be workers.

Equal Chance of Selection

There is a random selection of people to involve in the study. This ensures that every member of the population under study has an equal opportunity for selection. Hence, a well representative sample. Issuance of questionnaires to the participants will follow. Each questionnaire will have five questions each seeking to get different information related to the study. Four questionnaires will be issued to the participants. Each questionnaire will take approximately ten minutes to complete.


Throughout this study, the utmost confidentiality of the participants will be ensured. All information gathered during this study will also be treated with the utmost confidentiality. No names or any other information that can be used for identification will appear on any of the materials that will be used during the interview. Each respondent will be given an identification number that will be used in all interview materials. Researchers will use tape recorders to record conversations. They will be destroyed after they have been transcribed and analyzed to ensure that nobody else, apart from the research team, accesses the information in them (Ragin 2005).

Research Design

The research is a qualitative study that uses semi-structured interviews to study an organization’s work in their natural settings. The idea is to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning these people bring to them. The qualitative approach allows researchers to understand the point of view of the research participants. Qualitative research makes the study contextual and reflective. The main benefit to be obtained from this qualitative study is gaining knowledge about an organization from workers’ roles in their workplace (Holliday 2007).

Analysis and Findings

In the context of the study to investigate leadership development, the study focused on four objectives. The goal was to determine the leadership development approaches that organisations can adopt to develop responsible leaders with the qualities that can enable them to lead the people to ensure productivity and efficient organisational performance. Each objective was addressed in the literature review and the results of the findings of the other researchers in academic literature were noted for content analysis. Also, the study consisted of an interview schedule to collect the responses from the people on their perceptions about leadership development. The first question was to probe the employee on the leadership challenges organisations face. The responses were varied and one of the challenges was how best to develop the leadership qualities that could enable the leader to effective in n directing, planning, and controlling employees to put every effort towards achieving organisational goals and objectives. The core challenges here include developing the skills necessary to clarify the values, beliefs, and other elements necessary for the development of a good leader. Leadership, according to the respondents include the ability to persuade and not to coerce others into becoming followers. A good quality leader should have the capabilities to persuade employees to feel to be part of the organisation.

Some respondents argued that leadership development challenges stem from the inability of the organisation to have in place a leadership development plan that can be used as a framework for the development of the type and quality of leaders needed by the organisation. Analytically a leadership development plan is necessary for help both the leader and those people who are under the leadership to work towards achieving higher performance results by improving on their productivity for the organisation. Also, a leadership development plan enables the leader to develop the necessary skills to be able to set strategic goals and objectives for the employees to pursue.

When asked to explain the role of leadership development the results showed that lead most of the respondents argue that leadership is a necessity to enable the leader to steer the organization and maintain the competitive capabilities of the organization because of the dynamic changes in organization and the need for a competent person to lead the organization successfully through the dynamic changes that occur in the organization. Here, most of the people view leadership development as a dynamic process that can respond to the demographic changes in the workplace, the technology changes and advances that are being experienced globally so that a leader has the right skills to able to use technology collaboratively to accelerate the development of the organization. Also, technology provides the ability for the organisation to be competitive and to be able to accommodate new employees who join organizations with different skills. Also, the respondents argued that organizations have long since changed the structures in which many of them operated such as departing from the top down and now have adopted a flat structure where each employee is empowered to work.

In a nutshell, the efficient operation of the organization and its activities depend on the effectiveness of the leadership. Here, the organization needs to put in place a framework to meet the continuous learning needs of the managers is one of the key success factors that lead to organizational competitive advantage. Also, it has been demonstrated in the responses that poor leadership development programs and lack of succession plans lead to a high turnover of the managers. On the other hand, those organisations that do not invest in leadership development programs find it difficult task retaining high-quality managers because such organisations conduct a series of events as leadership management programs without focusing on other programs that could be essential for the development leadership development such as succession planning, job rotation, and performance management.

When asked to identify the type of leadership qualities for a leader to be effective, the following points were identified, namely:

  1. Being proactive
  2. Empowerment
  3. Listening
  4. Coaching
  5. And getting work done

Here, empowerment is about a leader who creates an environment that provides employees with the autonomy to make decisions without the leader’s intervention. Here, people get encouraged to take responsibility and ownership of the results. On the other hand, being proactive is a requirement for a leader because one must have the critical thinking skills and to be innovative, and to be able to define the consequences of long term and short term decisions. A good leader should be able to predict future trends on the performance of the organization and be able to make good decisions to cushion the organization from any adverse consequences of organizational incompetencies. Here, a good leader is not reactive but is active in responding to organizational challenges. Analytically, the listening component was established to be one of the leadership development elements that are used to create good leaders. A good leader should ask questions and take the time to listen to others and actively solicit ideas from the employees to find new approaches and strategies for solving problems. Also, leadership development should embrace the idea of enabling the leader to develop coaching skills instead of directing employees. Coaching enables the leaders to improve their performance and bridge the performance gaps that arise within the organization.

Leadership styles

Leadership development techniques are important tools to achieve the desired competencies of leaders because most of the respondents argued that organizations can use different strategies that are consistent with organizational needs for effective leadership development can be achieved in various ways. When developing good leaders, it is important to come up with the appropriate leadership in the context of the organization to ensure the leadership provides the required guidance for the people to pursue organisational goals and objectives.

When asked which leadership style they could recommend for leadership development, the respondents were conversant with and the most preferred leadership style, the responses were varied. However, a critical analytic lead to the conclusion that different organizations prefer different leadership styles depending on the context of the leadership. The most preferred leadership style was the transformational leadership style because the attributes of a leader who uses the transformational leadership style can influence the people to follow and transform the organisation to the desired levels. Here, the learning attributes are crucial for the success of a leader and the organization because the transformational leadership style enables the leader to transform the people through intrinsic motivation.

After all, the leader can emphasize the positive development of employees. Besides, the leader can raise the awareness of the desired characteristic for a leader. On the other hand, the transformational approach to leadership development enables the leader to develop the ethical climate of the share values and beliefs that are necessary for an effective organization. The respondents also argue that the leader style enables the leader to make their own choices and gives them the authority to make decisions without the intervention of the leader. Here, an organization that provides leadership development and embraces the transformational leadership style provides the leader with the skills necessary to promote cooperation and harmony, enables the leader to acquire the skill necessary to use authentic and consistent means to develop others, and encourages the people to become effective followers of the organization.

Another question was posed to the leader’s relationship. In this case, high-quality leadership can only be achieved by developing the abilities in a leader to be able to relate well with others. In that context, the leader must learn how to interact with the employees effectively and the leadership development program in place must emphasize the issue of interpersonal interactions. Here, the respondents noted verbal and non-verbal communication, good listening skills, and good problem-solving skills, and being an effective decision maker as providing the framework for effective leadership development. Here, the responses showed that effective leadership development must result in a leader with a wide range of competencies, which include the ability to establish motivating teams, ability to build good relationships, competency in the use of emotional intelligence, the right skills to share the vision statements of the organization and coach the workers to pursue the organisational goals. Also, the requirements include the ability to coach employees to focus their efforts on the needs of the customers, motivate employees, communicate influence, manage change, and be able to adapt to changing circumstances. The core elements of a leader include integrity, honesty, and ethics.

When asked about the leader-member exchange approach, the respondents were clear about focusing on the organizational context. Here, the critical component was to focus on establishing a good relationship among the employees.

The leadership development theories

Most organisations embrace leadership development theories that provide a good framework for leadership development and that which explain the effective ways of developing leadership. Questions asked the respondents on the leadership development theories that explain the leadership approaches that can be appropriate for good leadership development approaches include the personality theories, the great man theory and the traits theories. Most of the respondents did not have good knowledge of leadership development theories but asserted that a good leadership development theory was appropriate to establish good leadership. Here, the traits theory explains the necessary traits that an organisation should develop in a leader and the desirable leadership traits that a person should adopt to become a good leader. Here, the leader should be decisive, persuasive, and the leadership behaviours necessary to create a good leader. Some of the leadership traits include intelligence, emotional stability, social boldness, compulsiveness, enthusiasm, dominance, tough-minded, social boldness, and self-assurance.

IBM like any other organisation has a lot of interest in developing the leadership of the people to provide competent leadership to lead others. IBM’s leadership approach primarily concentrates in the development of leadership approaches that enable the leadership to focus on the performance of the employees. Besides, the leadership lacks the leadership development programs that could enable a leader to develop the core competencies required for the leader to structure the behaviours that lead to effective task accomplishments. The responses on the leadership development within the IBM framework shows that the need for the consideration or behaviours that enable the development of the right leaders with the right characters to lead depends on the program that enables the ability to influence the leaders to accomplish the leadership tasks effectively.

IBM lacks a single leadership development theory that explains its leadership approaches but embraces a dynamic approach that factors different leadership traits. However, not all leadership approaches and elements are lacking in IBM’s leadership development programs. That is because the company endeavours to recruit people with leadership capabilities that are inline and consistent with the image management of the company. Also, the responses showed that the company’s leadership development program provides the framework for the development of leadership that leads to better relationship development among the employees. Here, the program endeavours to build capacity by developing leaders who can understand the follower needs and goals that can overcome the element of ego-defensiveness to overcome the problem of failure to administer fairness and justice among the employees. On the other hand, the leaders are trained to use the available leadership development programs to that enable them to mobilize resources and build skilled teams that are highly motivated to work towards the development of the organization and in achieving organizational goals and objectives. The success of the teams heavily relies on the skills and capabilities of the leader and the company emphasizes on high-level development of the leadership. Here, the leadership development program embraced by the company enables the organization to focus on giving energy to the functions of the organization and the abilities of the workers to work towards the effective implementation of the company’s business strategies.

Another approach to leadership development within IBM is affected by training leaders to understand the status of the company by providing the leadership with the skill necessary to assert their leadership abilities, status and authority in decision making. The implementation is regarding the use and implementation of new technologies to match the rapid changes in technologies advances and constant demand for innovation in the market. The core factors in which the company places its leadership development programs include the pace of change where leaders need the skills necessary to provide leadership in an environment that embraces accelerated changes in technology, economic and political diversification and change, and increase in information equivocality. Globalization and workforce diversity also have contributed to the approach the organization uses in leadership development. The leadership development approaches factor globalization the use of electronics to communicate effectively.

Questions were asked on the strategic approaches that an organization need to adopt to establish efficient leadership development programs. Different responses were obtained and analysis is discussed here. The first response was to implement the right leadership program that consists of a strategic leadership development plan, which constitutes of the objectives, goals, and other necessary procedures to carry out the mission and vision statements of the organization. A leader must coach the members though effective teamwork and collaboration by defining the values and beliefs that are necessary for a successful organization. Besides, other responses suggested communication to be the key component necessary for a successful leadership development program. Here, communication enables the leader to make others aware of the meaning of what has been passed as a resolution or what they are required to do and clarifies other issues that might arise. Here, the critical success factors that an organization can look at as indicators of a successful leadership development program include the effective financial performance of the organization, better quality programs for the development of the organization, establishment of specific, measurable, and attainable goals and objectives, a strong corporate image propagated from the organization, and compliance with the regulation of the operating environment. A good leader can focus the organization on good performance criteria and objectives.

However, the responses also showed that a good leader must possess the leadership competencies that are necessary to lead the organisation into a higher level of productivity, which include behaviour, knowledge and skills, and better leadership skills.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Leadership development is a wide topic that is informed by different disciplines such as leadership development theories and concepts. However, it is also evident from the study that leadership is a difficult task especially because of the dynamic changes in the global environment where companies operate with an intense rivalry, changing customer needs and expectations, intense requirements for core competencies, and strategic abilities to lead employees to work as a team towards the efficacious execution of assigned roles and responsibilities. Most of the challenges fall under the leader and the abilities to innovatively provide leadership solutions to the business environment challenges. Because of the demanding needs of the leaders, most organisations have developed leadership development programs that can be used to address the leadership gaps and challenges that are encountered by organisational leaders. The rationale is that a leader is not born but can be trained to become an effective leader. However, the organisation experience several leadership development challenges that need to be addressed to address using different leadership development theories, styles, and approaches to fill the skills requirements for the leaders.

One of the strategic challenges includes the ability to relate well with the people. Relationship development is an area of research that has attracted many researchers in academia on how people in the leadership positions are supposed to interact with others to achieve higher organisational operational efficiencies. However, several solutions have been suggested to address the leadership skills gap by incorporating the leadership development approaches to leadership development programs. One such approach is the use of social capital as a tool for leadership development. Social capital entails establishing effective working relationships both within the internal and external environments because the approach has become an effective source of critical competitive advantages. Several leadership development approaches have been suggested that provide leadership skills for the leader and include the transformational leadership approach, which most respondents agreed to be the most appropriate. However, some of the leadership approaches that have been suggested include the situational leadership approach that some other respondents did not agree with.

The situational approach is based on the leadership skills that enable a leader or an organisational manager to lead by refection of the currently existing situations. Besides, the leadership style becomes effective only when the employees have little or no experience in their assigned task roles. However, as earlier mentioned, the transformational and transactional leadership provide the framework that organisations should use ion the development of organisational leadership. Other theories such as the functional approach, but mots organisation such as IBM have developed leadership development programs that suit the needs and expectations of the organisations. However, it is recommended that further studies be conducted to determine how best leadership development methods can be implemented to increase the operational efficiencies of organisations. The rationale is issued such as communication, communication methods and channels, leadership behaviour, and team development and relationships need more research to establish positive effects of leadership.

Learning Statement

I have learnt a lot about leadership development. The first point is that leadership is not a simple thing and leaders go through extensive experiences and challenges that require constant learning to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology, dynamic business environment, and changes technology and customer behaviour, rapid demands for innovation, and employee productivity. Here, many leadership challenges arise and the skill of a leader can be greatly overwhelmed and sometimes remain out of pace with the changing leadership needs of an organisation. However, organizations such as IBM have leadership development programs that provide a framework for the development of leaders to keep their skills and capabilities in tandem with the rapid changes in leadership needs. I have learnt that for an organization to be successful, it is important to develop leaders so that they gain the competencies required for them to lead the organisation into success. However, the effectiveness of the leadership development programs includes addressing the challenges that organization face in the quest to develop effective leadership development programs, the leadership styles to use, the theories to explain good leadership development, how IBM implements its leadership development programs, and the approaches to establish efficient leadership within companies.

Leadership development challenges arise because of dynamic changes in the business environment, customer behaviour, innovations, competition, and the need to increase profitability based on the operations of the company. Among the leadership, challenges include the ability of the organization to develop the relationship skills of the leader. Here, the relational challenge becomes an important challenge because if the leader does not relate well with the employees, it is possible to get negative feedback and behaviour of the employees, who may also become uncooperative and rebellious.

However, the relationship skills provide the leader with the abilities to communicate effectively and persuade the people to follow the directions, roles, and responsibilities effectively. Relationship development enables the leader to interact positively with the environment that provides formal direction in dealing with organisational leadership challenges.

Another challenge that arises is based on the leader-member exchange problem because a leader must be able to exchange between the leader and the led positively. Also, better leader-member exchange leadership approach enables the leader to develop a strong relationship between in-groups and out-groups that work within the organization. Out-groups, however, have to be made to feel to be part of the organisation because they are not formal groups. On the other hand, in-groups have to be made to feel recognized so that they contribute positively to the organizational growth and development. I established that leadership can only be addressed appropriately social capital is factored as one of the tools for effective leadership development. Social capital provides the organization with the abilities to develop a network of skilled people and organisation that can contribute to the positive development of the leader and the organization in general. Besides, social capital enables the leader to build confidence, trust, and the ability to influence others to follow them. Also, strong social capital enables a smooth flow of information to the organisation and it enables the key stakeholders to actively participate in decision making.

Leadership styles form the backbone of a successful organization because it is through the leadership of the manager that the organization can move from one level to the other. For instance, leadership situational leadership is not appropriate for a leader who has been leading an organization for some time. However, the best leadership approach that is recommended is the transformational leadership style. Transformational leadership is characterized by attributes such as being charismatic and enables the leader to lead the people and inspires them to develop commitment, loyalty, and satisfaction. An organisation with a good leadership development program enables the leader to inspire others to work as teams in developing the right values and beliefs necessary for employees working within the organization. Commitment is not only the backbone of organization efficiency but a significant factor for a successful organization, employees, and the leader. Commitment, I have learnt is a powerful motivation for workers, leads to the initiation of obedience, fear and punishment, and sometimes inspires confidence in those who are led. Besides, the leadership style enables obedience, moral commitment, personal growth, career development, psychological development, and positive behaviours. Also, if the leader develops the right skills, they can induce social influence among the followers leading to effective leadership.

I also learnt that a leader provides the framework for the establishment of trust among the followers because of the self-sacrifice the leader shows, and the level of treatment of the followers. Besides, a good leadership development program enables the leader to develop the capabilities to gain the competencies required for a leader. Among the core competencies include behavioural change. Behavioural change not only positively affects the leader because of the ability to lead and influence change within an organization. Also, the competencies required can be taught a leader based on the leadership development program of the organization by creating a good talent pool who can work towards organizational goals and objectives. It is important to note that good quality leadership must be achieved if the organization make some sacrifices such as investing time and money, identifying those who can lead from an organization, cultivating the leadership skills within the jobs of the employees, able to support feedback and development, and the ability to lead people and persuade them to develop teams and not to work as individuals.

Other leadership development practices that I have learnt that are critical for the organization to adopt include developing the abilities of the leader to inspire others so that they can learn from others, develop positive attitudes in the leaders so that they can differentiate between commitment and compliance, and the ability to influence the behaviour of employees to show a genuine commitment to their roles and responsibilities. Besides, the need to make leadership development as one of the management tools is important for organizational development.

On the other hand, leadership development depends on many theories that are critical to the success of the organisation. One of the approaches is reinforcement. A leadership development program must have the right leadership reinforcement tools to ensure the different personalities are made appropriate for the leadership position. Here, the two types of personalities that have to be evaluated include type A and type B. the study shows that both personality types are necessary for a good leader and not just one type alone of personality. Once the personality type has been identified, the organisation can develop a framework for leadership development to enable the leader to develop the skills necessary for an excellent leader. Here, personality types provide the elements that define a good leader such as being sensitive, conscious, ambitious, and a rigidly organised person that need to be integrated into the development program.

On the other hand, establishing leadership development programs is another important component that enables effective leadership. Here, communication is one of the tools that can be implemented in the leadership development program to enable the organization is communication. Communication is an enabler for the success of the organization because it is a tool for effective delivery of meaning to the employees. Also, effective communication leads to the development of positive perceptions about economic status, culture, religion, life experiences, and education among the people being led. On the other hand, the perceptions of the people in general and when applied in the context of leadership development include inputs that can be acted on by a person to enhance the productivity of people within the organization. Communication as an important tool can either be internal or external. External communication is important because it enables the leader to share information with the stakeholders to become effective in decision making. Besides, team relationship forms a very important component for the success of the organisation because a good leader must develop the abilities to create and develop teams within an organization.

One of the key areas where leadership development has been applied based on different constructs that reflect the needs and expectation of an organization is IBM. IBM’s does not use a single leadership development approach, but the leadership development approach is defined by factors that differentiate the leadership style with other leadership development practices. It is important to note that the leadership development strategies developed by the IBM Company heavily relies on the abilities of the members to work towards the success of the organization. In conclusion, leadership development is a tool that organizations no longer assume the role of leadership development because it has become a critical component for the success of an organization. Also, leadership development about developing skills necessary for a leader working for an organization to effectively lead employees towards the achievement of organisational objectives for companies operating in a competitive business environment.


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