Leadership and Management: Challenges

Abstract

Leadership is a very important skill that is not possessed by all; hardly very few people are blessed with this skill. Being a leader is not easy; it poses many challenges and the person who overcomes these challenges makes a successful leader. A leader instills confidence and provides motivation to the employees, motivation is an extremely important factor and motivation can easily transform an employee within no time, once the transformation of the employee takes place, the goals of the company would become much easier to achieve.

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This is why motivation is considered to be one of the most important factors and all most all companies look for new methods to motivate the employees and to bring the best out of them. This paper will focus upon the three most difficult challenges which the leaders have to face in order to be called successful leaders and how successful leaders face those challenges.

“Nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field. Differentiation helps you do that.” (Welch Way, 18 September 2008). One of the biggest challenges faced by leaders these days is getting the right people for the job, any job can be completed by anybody but the point is how efficiently a person can do a job? Leadership is all about perfection and any wrong decisions taken can prove very fatal.

For instance, a leader hires a person, who he believes is the right man/woman for the organization but the work of that employee proves otherwise, the organization can suffer because of the same and the loss occurred because of that wrong decision of the leader will always remain irrecoverable. It is very difficult these days to find the right people, who can commit their future to the organization but leaders are expected to have the quality of differentiation, a leader who possesses this quality can never go wrong in the process of selecting the right people for the organization.

The quality of differentiation is very difficult to instill in a leader, this is something which should come naturally to the leader, no educational institution teaches this quality and it cannot be learned anywhere and it is purely dependent on instincts. A leader should always differentiate the right people from the wrong people in order to succeed in his/her endeavors. This is one of the biggest challenges which leaders these days face, if a leader is born with this quality then major pitfalls in leadership can be avoided without facing many difficulties.

“To meet the many demands of performing their functions, managers assume multiple roles. A role is an organized set of behaviors. Henry Mintzberg has identified ten roles common to the work of all managers. The ten roles are divided into three groups: interpersonal, informational, and decisional. The informational roles link all managerial work together.” (Henry Mintzberg, 18 September 2008). Another big challenge that the leaders of today face are the daunting task of decision making.

Decision-making is the most challenging task for any leader. One wrong decision can change many things around in an organization and those changes will surely be for the worse of the organization on the other hand one good decision can help the organization in more ways than one. Decision making is a very delicate process, numerous things have to be kept in mind, a leader just cannot go on making wrong decisions because that would result in disaster, even one wrong decision can be disastrous for any organization so considering all these things it becomes imperative that leaders analyze the situation and make their decisions wisely, if a leader analyzes a situation, naturally he/she will be able to make right decisions so analyzing the situation is a must for any leader to avoid taking hasty decisions.

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“Many executives and business thinkers believe that ethical leadership is simply a matter of leaders having good character. By having “the right values” or being a person of “strong character,” the ethical leader can set the example for others and withstand any temptations that may occur along the way.” (Darden, September 18, 2008).

There are ethical problems that the leaders face; these problems arise when the employees forget the ethics which should never be forgotten, ethics in other words are values that an employee is expected to stick to in any circumstance. In financial institutions, ethical problems arise because the employees may involve themselves in various scams and other undesirable activities, solely done for the purpose of money. Such problems can be treated by having a code of ethics, one ethical standard should be followed by everyone and there should not be double standards, meaning that the code of ethics should not treat employees of different positions unequally, all the people working under the leader should be treated equally and the code of ethics should be followed.

All these things can be done by a leader if he/she consciously involves reflection, in the sense that looking back at ethical issues and keenly finding a way out to deal with the same. It is highly important that the people stick to their morals in order to avoid any ethical problems, a leader can make sure that this happens by reflecting upon the ethical issues and also by talking to the employees. Ethical problems are also one of the biggest challenges which leaders face these days. Employees tend to forget their ethics and start acting in an unruly manner, so a leader should make sure that no such unruly activities take place in the organization. He/she must make sure that the employees stick to their ethics and work only for the betterment of the organization.

“The challenge of creating a multicultural, diverse organization is becoming an increasingly prominent concern for the chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies in Australia and around the world. Top executives such as IBM’s Lou Gerstner and his successor Sam Palmisano have expended considerable energy and company resources on achieving diversity (Thomas, 2004). Many of Their competitors have followed suit, seeking to replicate what they perceive to be best practices in diversity management. By the end of the 1990s, three out of four Fortune 500 companies had launched diversity programs (Caudron, 1998).”

Diversity management is also one of the biggest challenges which leaders face these days. Many a time the minorities in a company face discrimination and end up putting the company into legal trouble but they are not to be blamed for this, this situation arises because the company ignores the minorities and never focuses upon diverse management. Diversity management focuses upon actively recruiting different kinds of people, to be very precise different in ethnicity, age, race, and other attributes, the company does so, to make the most of these diverse individuals.

The ultimate benefit of these people working together goes to the company because all will have their unique way of working and the company can utilize their talents in more ways than one. The sole aim of recruiting diverse individuals is to get the maximum out of these individuals and research goes to show that, an organization with diverse people is more innovative and has more ability when compared to an organization with people who are not so diverse in their makeup. A leader who is looking to make the most out of diversity should do research in order to accomplish his/her aim, a good research is very essential in order to make sure that the mindset of diverse individuals is read.

Leaders should rely upon facts rather than beliefs simply because general beliefs can be wrong at times but facts speak for themselves and no company can ever go wrong in diverse management if facts are stuck to by a leader. There are numerous benefits of being diverse, for instance, if there are leaders who are from diverse backgrounds, they will surely bring new methods of leadership and the company will have more options to choose from. Another major advantage of going diverse is that diverse individuals will understand consumers differently and the company will again have options and ultimately this will result in the expansion of consumers and which company would not want to have a firm and reliable consumer base.

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“The company’s leadership should cultivate a mindset that acknowledges that diversity requires long-term cultural change, views diversity as good for people, and interprets diversity to include all people.” (Loden, 1996).

Diversity Management is very good for a business; this is proved by the advantages of diversity management provides to a business. Diversity management, if done properly can turn around the fortunes of a company within no time. The benefits provided by diversity management are inexhaustible and hence it is advisable for every business to follow diversity management and to reap the rewards of the same. If leaders make the most use of diverse management, they will easily be able to achieve the goals set by the organization. Hence it is highly recommended that modern-day leaders apply diversity management in their leadership.

“Groups made up of diverse personnel do a better job of analyzing and attacking problems (Cox, 2001). More than one source suggests that to be competitive today, businesses must maintain a cadre of personnel who are both highly qualified and highly diverse (Hubbard, 2004). Generally, however, studies of diversity outcomes in the business world have shown that “the positive impact of diversity was dependent on explicit and effective diversity practices,” whereas unmanaged growth in diversity tended to reduce corporate performance (Kochan et al., 2003; Riche et al., 2005, pp. 2–3).” Diversity is one of the most important things on which a leader should focus, a born leader always makes the most of the diverse employees and this is exactly what separates an effective leader from a not-so-effective leader.

“About the third conception – there is – or there should be – only one right way for managing people P.Drucker is definite that “nowhere in the management are the traditional basic notions so deeply rooted as in the sphere of managing staff”. This is “the most frozen model of thinking” in comparison with whichever other sphere of management, which is in a great contradiction with reality [3, p. 34]. Managing the people at the workplace is another big challenge that managers face day in and day out. Proper utilization of their abilities should be made sure by the leaders or managers. Handling people is very tough and much tougher is to make the most of their ability.

Leaders should have the adequate skills to recognize the skills and abilities of the employees, this is the first task because unless the leaders know what skills their employees possess, they can never be able to make the most of it. So it becomes imperative for any leader to do some research and study some facts about their employees. The same is a very challenging job because a leader can easily overestimate an employee and this mistake can lead to a lot of trouble, like the employee who is being overestimated can underperform and the same can have a negative impression on the mind of a leader about the employee. Considering all these things it becomes very important to get to know the employees inside out, so as to avoid any mistakes in the future.

How to meet the above challenges

Motivation is one key term that can overcome all the challenges. Motivation is a very wonderful tool that can turn around anything which is perceived to be as difficult. Motivating the employees is a very tough job that every leader should undertake and complete successfully.

Motivation can be of many types but the one type which works out the best is rewards. Rewarding the employees for their hard work gives them the confidence to achieve more than what they have achieved and for achieving some target; the most important thing is confidence. Without confidence, no employee can ever perform for the organization and the confidence is boosted by rewarding the efforts of the employees. Rewards can often change the thinking of the employee for good, in the sense that rewards can provide the employees with enough motivation to achieve the goals of the company, and if all the employees in an organization work towards the target only then the target can be achieved. So all the employees should be rewarded at some stage or the other for their efforts.

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If all the efforts of the employees go unnoticed by the leaders then they will surely tend to think that there is no use in working so hard and this will ultimately result in demotivating the employees and from then on their contribution will reduce by a great extent. So to make sure that this does not happen a leader should make sure that the efforts of the employees should never go unnoticed.

Another way of dealing with the challenges is by having self-control. By self-control, a leader can experience stronger motivation and this will help further in meeting the goals of the company. A leader should control his/ her own performance and set high standards for himself/ herself. A leader should be a role model in front of the employees, all the employees should admire the leader and only then the employees will listen and follow the instructions of the leader.

Self-control provides extra awareness in the sense that the leader becomes more aware of his/her goal and he/she starts working towards it along with the others in the organization. Another important thing is the analysis, which a manager is expected to have as a skill, he/she should be able to analyze the objectives of the organization and work accordingly. A clear plan of all this comes with self-control, there are many other advantages of the same.

Some of them are, if a manager has self-control he/she will be able to maintain a good work environment in the organization, this is extremely important because in order to work in an organization it is extremely important to maintain a good and healthy atmosphere. This is related to the self-control of the manager and self-control is also significant in decision making. A leader with self-control will always make better decisions when compared to a leader with much less self-control. The paper has already thrown light upon decision making and it would be redundant to elucidate upon how important is decision making for a leader.

Conclusion

When all the above things are considered, a conclusion is drawn that leadership is a very big challenge but the leaders have to be equipped with the suitable skills to handle the problems, and the leaders who succeed in handling an organization efficiently have all the needed ingredients in them. These are just not a handful of ingredients, it takes a lot to be a successful leader and only people of the highest caliber can lake it at the top.

References

Caudron, Shari, “Diversity Watch,” Black Enterprise, Vol. 29, 1998, p. 91.

Cox, Taylor, Creating the Multicultural Organization, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Developing Ethical leadership, In Darden. Virginia. Org. Web.

Drucker, P., “Management challenges for 21 century, Classic and style”.

Henry Mintzberg, The Nature of Managerial Work, Harper & Row, 1973.

Hubbard, Edward, The Diversity Scorecard: Evaluating the Impact of Diversity on Organizational Performance, San Francisco: Elsevier, 2004.

Kochan, Thomas, Katrina Bezrukova, Robin Ely, Susan Jackson, Aparna Joshi, Karen Jehn, Jonathan.

Leonard, David Levine, and David Thomas, “The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network,” Human Resource Management, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2003, pp. 3–22.

Loden, Marilyn, Implementing Diversity, San Francisco: McGraw Hill, 1996.

Managing Diversity. In Rand. Web.

Straight from the Gut. In Welsh Way. Web.

Thomas, David, “The Truth About Mentoring: Race Matters,” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79, No. 4, 2001, pp. 98–107.

______, “Diversity as Strategy.” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 82, No. 9, 2004, pp. 98–108.

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