Leadership in Practice: Aspect of Organisations Success

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Executive Summary

The present report offers an overview of a critical incident in an organisation that is related to leadership. In the first part, a general discussion of the role of critical events within companies is given. Further, the connection between organisational failures and leaders’ decisions is provided. The next subdivision of this part focuses on the description of the incident and the outcomes to which it has led.

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When evaluating the leader’s approaches, both positive and negative aspects are analysed. A hypothesis about the appropriate leadership behaviour is suggested in the next chapter. Finally, my own leadership traits are analysed, together with the possible solutions of how I could have dealt with the critical incident in question. The conclusions and recommendations sections offer a brief overview of the paper and enumerate the ways of improving the situation.

Introduction

Organisations’ success depends on a variety of factors, including their financial resources, technical equipment, and human resources. However, there is one aspect that is common for all companies’ progress – their leadership. Without a good and effective leader, it is impossible to arrange work appropriately, control employees and resources, or mitigate risks. Critical incidents may happen in any firm, but it depends on the leader what aftermath such occasions will bring. A careful analysis of leadership theories and approaches makes it possible to reduce failures and increase achievements. Constant enhancement of one’s leadership skills promotes positive outcomes and enhances the working environment.

Discussion

Identifying a Critical Incident

Part A. Discussing the incident

Critical incidents in organisations may be stressful, but their overall impact on the companies’ functioning is rather beneficial. Such occurrences allow reviewing the existing leadership strategies and evaluating how successful or unsuitable they are. Furthermore, critical incidents enable leaders to appraise whether there exists a leadership gap in their company and whether they make sure that it is not underled (Mauri 2017).

The problem with leadership is frequently underestimated, the low productivity being more commonly related to employees’ underperformance or insufficient resources. However, it is mostly the leader who is responsible both for failures and achievements. Most importantly, the company’s leadership defines how promptly and effectively organisational goals will be met (Cashman 2013). Therefore, the analysis of critical incidents promotes a better understanding of the aforementioned issues.

The incident under question happened in one of the divisions of a large organisation. A new project management team was formed of the people who have worked for the company from five to ten years. Thus, the leader did not expect any complications; he trusted each of those team members and neglected the need to arrange at least one meeting for the whole new team together. Instead, he relied on each of the team members’ experience and only held brief conversations with each of them separately. The leader made sure each person knew their duties and was provided with the necessary resources to fulfil them.

Unfortunately, in two weeks, when the first report from the team was expected, the leader could not receive any plausible feedback from the newly formed team. Every member had different ideas which they wanted to express and discuss separately. There was no unanimity in the team’s opinions or decisions, which led to the project being postponed. The partners who were interested in the project refused to continue cooperation. The financial losses of the organisation were too great to neglect them.

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Part B. Evaluating the leadership approach

There were several good points about the leader’s initial decision. First of all, he enabled others to act by giving them the power to make their own decisions (Kouzes and Posner 2017). Also, the leader applied the premises of situational leadership, which is generally considered as a beneficial option enabling one to adapt to different situations (Northouse 2019). Thirdly, by creating a new team, which he expected to be efficient, the leader was pursuing organisational objectives (Lussier and Achua 2016). However, there were serious drawbacks in the leader’s choices since he missed out on some highly important factors.

The first major mistake was not explaining the vision of the new project to the whole team as a newly formed unit of an organisation. Indeed, all of the people included in the group were skilled and experienced. However, no matter how great one’s past achievements are, it is necessary to make sure that the person fully realises the future perspective of his or her work (Cashman 2013). Sharing the vision incorporates several significant components, the omission of which can lead to adverse outcomes (NHS Leadership Academy 2013). By sharing the vision, the leader arranges trusting and credible relationships with the team.

Moreover, a shared vision enables the leader to make clear directions and expect people to meet the goals set (NHS Leadership Academy 2013). Finally, this aspect allows encouraging employees’ confidence in the future. Hence, without bringing together the whole team and announcing clear goals and vision of the project, the leader failed to gain important insights.

Another problem was not paying proper attention to the team’s diversity. Even though the leader had chosen the most experienced employees to be included in the team, he had to think about their backgrounds and predict that their ideas might differ depending on their previous gains and losses. The leadership approach selected was laissez-faire, which meant that the leader’s intrusion in the working process was to be minimal (Lussier and Achua 2016). As the situation’s outcomes demonstrate, the approach was not successful. Democratic or transformational leadership method would have been much more successful. The leader should have inspired the team to do their best and, at the same time, control their actions and decisions by supervising their results regularly.

A Hypothesis about the Appropriate Leadership Behaviour

To deal with the critical incident that occurred in the organisation, democratic or transformational leadership approach should be used. When employing the democratic method, the leader encourages each team member’s participation in the process (Lussier and Achua 2016). This leadership style does not presuppose close supervision over employees’ work. One might assume that the leader was governed by this approach when he formed the team and let it do everything by itself.

However, there is a considerable difference between what the leader did and what a democratic leader would have done. Before letting the new team work on their own, a democratic leader would have ensured that each staff member realised the mutual goals and shared the vision for the project. Only then could the leader rely on the employees and let them do their work independently.

Another possible option, though probably more complicated one in this situation, would have been the use of transformational leadership. A transformational leader is the one who intends to change people as a result of their work (Northouse 2019). It is possible to assume that the leader aimed to apply the transformational method since he wanted his team to make decisions by themselves.

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However, it appeared that by giving the employees too much freedom from the beginning, the leader lost the opportunity to gain positive results. Instead of receiving beneficial outcomes of their mutual work, the leader saw that the people could not even manage to cooperate and come to a mutual conclusion in regard to their project decisions. Meanwhile, if he took into consideration these mistakes after the critical incident occurred, he could use transformational leadership with a positive effect. However, first of all, he would need to unite the team and explain the roles of each member clearly, as well as the overall goals of the project.

Finally, an important element that could help the leader deal with the critical incident would be considering the team’s diversity. Research indicates that divergences between people’s personal and professional characteristics have a negative impact on the work’s success (Kaufmann and Wagner 2017). Therefore, the leader should understand each employee’s experience and preferences before including these people in a single team. Additionally, it is necessary to arrange the emotional intelligence of the people since this factor has a positive influence on the diversity-cohesion relationship (Kaufmann and Wagner 2017). The hypothesised leadership behaviours are believed to have a positive influence on the mitigation of the critical incident.

Assessing My Own Leadership Behaviour

Part A. Evaluating my leadership behaviour

I would describe my leadership behaviour as democratic with some elements of strategic and transformational styles. According to an assessment tool suggested by Binney, Wilke, and Williams (n.d.), I feel more or less comfortable in such zones of choice as loyalties, timing, control, understanding, and relationships. At the same time, I have some difficulty with self-belief and direction. I am willing to learn if I do not feel confident in my current knowledge. What concerns the vision of the future, I prefer it to the revival of part achievements. Although I realise the need to wait in some situations, I prefer to seize the moment whenever possible and use time to my advantage (Binney, Wilke and Williams n.d.). However, I am frequently too vulnerable and unable to acknowledge the limits, which sometimes results in the loss of productivity.

The democratic approach to leadership is reflected in my willingness and readiness to trust the subordinates in making their own decisions. Still, I never lose touch with the team members, especially when it is a new project or when there are new people on the team. I allow a certain degree of freedom, but I am always aware of the situation so that I could make necessary alterations if I notice any adverse outcomes.

As for me, strategic and transformational approaches are inseparable components of successful leadership. When one wants to make strategic decisions, such a leader attempts to combine the organisation’s current operations and its opportunities for future growth. Hence, I tend to look few steps ahead, but I never implement any changes without making sure that their advantages will outnumber disadvantages for the company. Being ambitious is good, but being risky can lead to severe problems in the organisation.

Meanwhile, transformational leadership aims at changing employees’ achievements by giving them new barriers and goals to overcome. Transformational leaders strive for bringing up the best qualities in their team members. However, one must keep in mind that too much pressure can result in resistance to do anything. Thus, I am never too assertive until I can be sure that my subordinates can cope with the goals set for them.

A crucial element of any successful leader’s character is the understanding and ability to apply the principles of emotional intelligence. The principal constituents of emotional intelligence are the regulation of one’s own emotions and the ability to regulate other’s emotions (Kaufmann and Wagner 2017). Emotional intelligence constitutes one of the main habits of reflective practice, which is crucial for any leader (CIPD n.d.). Reflecting on one’s achievements provides the opportunity to evaluate risks and systemic impacts, express compassion toward others, and demonstrate trust to the employees (CIPD n.d.).

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Research indicates that the leader’s emotional intelligence has a profound effect on his or her leadership style (Maamari and Majdalani 2017). Being an emotion-inducing phenomenon, leadership is guided by one’s emotional intelligence to a great extent (Li et al. 2016). Therefore, I strive to regulate my emotions at work and to understand what others are feeling in order not to hurt anyone and arrange a beneficial atmosphere in the workplace.

To develop a high degree of emotional intelligence, one has to possess such features as self-awareness, emotion management, motivation, empathy, and social skills. This classification was suggested by David Goleman, who coined the term ‘emotional intelligence’ (Leadership toolkit n.d.). According to the leadership toolkit designed by Goleman, my strongest features are empathy, managing emotions, and self-awareness (Leadership toolkit n.d.). Motivating myself and social skills are the dimensions to which I should pay more attention. However, in general, my level of emotional intelligence enables me to be on good terms with my colleagues and to arrange work in the team in an effective way.

Part A1. Reflecting on how I would have behaved in the same situation

In the critical incident described in the first part, I would apply several methods which, hopefully, would help to mitigate the negative outcomes of the initial leader’s actions. First of all, I would apply the skills of emotional intelligence. To do so, I would arrange a meeting with all team members where I would inquire about their apprehensions and expectations of the project. It is quite possible that those employees who have been at the company for a long time are afraid lest some of their duties could be performed by technologies in the nearest future (PwC 2018). These people should be explained that even if advancing development affects the organisation, it will not influence their positions.

Secondly, I would add some less experienced but more tech-savvy people to the team. Millennials are known to be open to change and easy to adapt to new challenges (Pew Research Center 2010). Thus, a more versatile team would allow for more productive ideas. Thirdly, I would arrange regular team meetings, probably with elements of recreational activities, such as meditation (Carlock 2014). Spending some time in a relaxed atmosphere promotes people’s creativity and takes away their fears and tensions. By following these approaches, I think I would be able to improve the situation and take away the status ‘critical’ from it.

Part B. Designing a plan for behaviour modification

My current approaches What I need to change Leadership behaviours I aspire to Resources available Measuring achievement Plan implementation
Emotional intelligence,
Empathy,
Relaxation techniques,
Empowering employees
Need to improve self-belief,
Should work on direction
Transformational leadership,
Democratic leadership
Experience,
Toolkits,
Desire and ability to learn
Self-assessment tests Evaluate strengths and weaknesses (1-2 days);
Draft a plan of action (2-3 days);
Schedule learning activities and perform them (2-3 weeks);
Evaluate achievement (the last week)

Conclusions

Based on the analysis of the critical incident, it is possible to make the following conclusions. First of all, irrespective of the leader’s experience and the level of trust to employees, one should not neglect the opportunity to make the newly formed team feel comfortable. It is necessary to inform all of the team members together, rather than each of them separately, about the vision of the project and the significance it holds for the organisation. Furthermore, it is crucial to engage in continuous learning and self-analysis in order to improve one’s leadership skills. Finally, it is necessary to learn from mistakes but not focus on them. An effective leader should not be afraid of new failures but should set new goals and find the best ways to achieve them instead.

Recommendations

The first recommendation is not to employ the laissez-faire approach to leadership since it is highly ineffective. The second suggestion is to maintain control over every team’s work, especially if it is a newly-formed one. The third recommendation is to arrange continuous work on one’s leadership approaches with the aim of receiving the best results for both oneself and the organisation in which one works.

Reference List

Binney, G., Wilke, G. and Williams, C. (n.d.) Living leadership. Web.

Carlock, R. S. (2014) ‘How meditation can make you a better leader’, Forbes. Web.

Cashman, K. (2013) Six questions to elevate leadership in 2013. Forbes. Web.

CIPD. (n.d.) Reflective practice guide. Web.

Kaufmann, L. and Wagner, C. M. (2017) ‘Affective diversity and emotional intelligence in cross-functional sourcing teams’, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 23(1), pp. 5-16.

Kouzes, J. M. and Posner, B. Z. (2017) The leadership challenge: how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. 6th edn. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Leadership toolkit. (n.d.) Web.

Li, Z. et al. (2016) ‘Combinative aspects of leadership style and emotional intelligence’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37(1), pp. 107-125.

Lussier, R. N. and Achua, C. F. (2016) Leadership: theory, application, & skill development. 6th edn. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Maamari, B. E. and Majdalani, J. F. (2017) ‘Emotional intelligence, leadership style and organizational climate’, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 25(2), pp. 327-345.

Mauri, T. (2017) ‘Why leadership styles matter’, Strategic Direction, 33(1), pp. 1-4.

NHS Leadership Academy. (2013) Healthcare leadership model: the nine dimensions of leadership behaviour. Web.

Northouse, P. G. (2019) Leadership: theory and practice. 8th edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pew Research Center. (2010) Millennials: a portrait of generation next. Web.

PwC. (2018) Workforce of the future: the competing forces shaping 2030. Web.

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