Leadership, Innovation, and Change in Examples

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Introduction

Leadership can be described as the activity of leading people to achieve the same goals or purpose. Leadership can also be described as the process of influencing others to achieve a goal (Kurnic, 2010). Leadership comes in many styles depending on the organization’s setting or depending on a given leader’s way of doing things. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages, therefore; leading to the conclusion that not a single leadership style is perfect.

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Innovation can be described as new ideas or ways of doing things. Change can be described in a different way from the usual settings. Therefore, leadership, innovation, and change when applied in organizational management are three components that happen in a succession of one another with leadership needing innovativeness for its success while innovation is responsible for bringing about change. Moreover, to achieve both innovation and change, there is a need for a strong leader in an organization as this is the core foundation for the two.

The performance of an organization and its leadership are two intertwined factors that cannot be looked at independently because a leader provides the overall face of the apex of the organization and also is the face of the organization to the outside world. The success of an organization will always be credited to the leader, as much as they may have just played a passive role in achieving it, but it will be credited to them so much as a failure of the organization.

Leadership is believed to be the catalyst of organizational performance enhancement and the stronger the leadership the more stable the organization (Waldman et al, 2001).

However, different theories of leadership show that an organization’s success is always related to the leader and the leadership style adopted by the leader. Different theories also explain and categorize different leadership styles that can be adopted by a leader. One such style is the transformational leadership style.

Transformational leadership

The transformational leadership style works on the premise that people will follow a leader who inspires them. Such a leader is seen to be one that gives hope to it is subjected, as well as direction (Keller, 2006). The leader must be a person with a vision to achieve things and one who can inject energy and enthusiasm in their followers to have goals, as well as ambitions achieved (Bass, 1985). The leader starts off by developing a vision that will be bought in by followers. Then the leader sells the vision and finds a way forward to achieving the goal by leading the charge towards the target. In such an instance, the success of the organization will be difficult to divorce from the leader because, from the start, the leader is seen as the focal point of the whole process (Burns, 1978). An example of such a leader is Steve Jobs of the Apple computer company. Jobs founded the Apple Computer Company with a colleague named Steve Wozniack and with others, was responsible for developing and marketing the first successful personal computers on a commercial basis. Jobs are also credited as being an entrepreneur by being among the first to see a potential or create a potential from technological devices.

A good example of this is the invention of the Macintosh potential as a mouse. This put him ten years ahead of the industry thus a big credit to the innovativeness and change that he has brought about in the computer industry. The ejection of Steve Jobs from the Apple Company after boardroom struggles saw the fortunes of Apple nose dive leading to a loss of $ 1.7billion (Markoff, 1997). This eventually led to Jobs’s comeback as the CEO of Apple company in 2006. Jobs’ innovativeness and ability to lead the company into new pastures made him the heart and soul of Apple Company. Most of the employees at Apple Computer Company felt somber at Steve’s removal as it was almost impossible to imagine Apple without Steve at the helm (Herzfeld, 1985). The return of jobs saw the company return to profitability and also as a leader in the computer industry. Jobs’ innovativeness has seen him being credited with over one hundred inventions as a primary inventor, as well as a co-inventor and this has enabled him to provide able leadership in the Apple company (the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 2010).

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Generally, the success of Apple has been credited to Steve Jobs whose ideas and way of working have seen the company make great leaps in terms of technological advancement (Schriesheim, 2006). However, this is one clear case of how leadership combined with innovativeness leads to change. It also provides a clear picture of how the success of an organization cannot be seen independently from its leader. The failure of Apple when Jobs was away led to instability in the top management with a high turnover of CEOs over the period Jobs was away.

This is also an attribution to the fact that the failure of the organization, as much as its success is looked at from the leadership perspective. However, leadership tends to gel the organization’s effectiveness and people’s performance and is seen in some structures as the driving force between the people and performance, thus the engine to sustain competitive advantage and development of the organization (Zhu et al., 2005).

Visionary leadership

Visionary leadership brings about leaders who create a picture of some future state and share the same with the members of the organization. They then model the vision by acting consistently and building commitment towards the vision (Avolio, 1999). For example, a visionary leader is Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. Ford had a global vision with a belief that consumerism would be the key to peace in the world and thus came up with the concept known today as Fordism (Ulrich et al., 1991). He had the vision to produce cars that would be affordable to the masses while at the same time paying his workers a good salary (Meindl, 1998). With this vision, he was able to come up with the idea of assembly-line production which led to the present-day mass production technique in factories.

With the vision Ford had, he was able to lead the Ford Motor Company to great heights which though achieved by the help of others, were credited to Henry Ford (Henry Ford, 2010). However, one of the oldest theories of leadership is the classical leadership theory. It is a typical kind of leadership dominated by a dominant group of persons. This group leads through coercion or benevolence or both. This group manoeuvres or commands others to act towards certain goals and out of fear the members act so obediently without questioning (Avery, 2004). Classical leaders tend to be highly directive, and follower’s commitment is achieved out of fear or respect for the leader. In such an organisation, processes are mostly routine and predictable. The success of an organisation under this kind of leadership highly depends on the leader’s innovativeness and thus credited to the leader at the end of the day. Under such an instance, the success of the organisation cannot be looked at in isolation of the leadership.

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the organisation in terms of collective norms, helping teams cope with the environment, as well as coordinating collective action (Mehra et al., 2006). It comes with intangible assets such as leadership style, skill, culture and competence which are a key source of strength to those organisations that need to mix people, organisational performance and processes. Leadership paradigms have a direct effect on the performance of the different departments of the organisation and thus have a direct effect on the whole system of the organisation. Acceptance of new ideas into the organisation depends on the responsiveness of the leader of the organisation, therefore a precursor to change or new ideas.

Though leaders are most of the time credited with their organisations’ success, that is not meant to make believe that they are the hands on persons or that they were involved in the micro production to achieve the success. At times, leaders of the organisations only approve ideas brought in by the staff under them and sanction the funding of the same to achieve a certain objective that has been adopted by the organisation. Once the idea has been adopted and now owned by the organisation, the staff under the supervision of the leader will work on it to make sure the idea is achieved and at the end of the day, the leader will present it as the organisations invention. This does not take away any gloss from the leader as it will always be assumed that the organisation achieved the same with the leader’s leadership capabilities.

A good example of such a leader is Bill Gates. Bill Gates has been the founder, CEO and now the chairman of the Microsoft Software Company. He is credited with bringing a revolution to the software industry by coming up with one of the most popular computer software that is user friendly. Though he is credited for the production of the Windows Systems, he is said to have last worked on writing any programs so many years ago, and that all the work credited to him is the brains of mostly Microsoft employees who come up with the ideas. But through his leadership, he is able to adopt ideas that he feels are good for the company. His is an intimidating style at work, and during presentations he has a tactic that has forced staff to think further and thus come up with almost perfect ideas or presentations. This has made Microsoft a long time market leader in software engineering.

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In an effort to outperform others, most organisations may tend to concentrate their efforts on leadership. This is because of the belief that leadership is a package that should provide solutions to the organisation. This belief is what leads other staff to the leader when they get stuck for consultation on the way forward. The vested authority in leadership is also what makes leaders be credited with the success, as well as failures of their organisations’. It is believed that by the time someone is made a leader of the organisation, they are adjudged to have all the necessary technical skills, as well as judgment skills, to make crucial decisions. Thus any good fortunes of the organisation are believed to be part of the leader’s expected abilities.

Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership theory is one of the leadership styles that are used in management of the organisation for the purpose of achieving both innovativeness and change. Under this leadership theory, workers are rewarded by either punishment or reward which is contingent upon performance (Judge & Piccolo, 2004). The system works under a laid out chain of command with the purpose of the subordinate doing what the leader says (Straker, 1998). When a transactional leader allocates work, the leader is fully responsible for the outcomes which can either be a success or a failure, thus the overall performance of the organisation will automatically be credited to the leader. Transactional leadership is limited in terms of innovativeness and change. All the innovativeness will be depended on the ability of the leader to come up with new ideas as this form of leadership does not allow to a large extent emanation of ideas from junior staff. Limited innovativeness is a sure barrier of change thus all the expected changes must again originate from the leader (Howell & Avolio, 1993).

Conclusion

Therefore, the success of any organisation can never be looked at in isolation of the leadership as the leadership will always be responsible for the outcomes of the organisation. There is also not a single perfect leadership style that can stand alone and be successful, therefore to come up with the best leadership style that will bring significant change, one needs to come up with a compatible mix that will allow the leader to borrow from various leadership styles and combine them to achieve success.

Reference list

Avery, G. C. (2004). Understanding Leadership: Paradigms and Cases. London: Sage.

Avolio, B. J. (1999). Full Leadership Development: Building the Vital Forces in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

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Canella Jr., A. A. & Rowe, W. G. (1995). Leader capabilities, succession & competitive context: A baseball study. The Leadership Quarterly, 1, pp. 69-88.

Herzfeld, A. (1985). End of an Era. Web.

Howell, J. M. & Avolio, B. J. (1993). Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, locus of control & support for innovation: Key predictors of consolidated-business-unit performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(6), pp. 891-902.

John, M. (1997). An unknown co-founder leaves after 20 years of glory and turmoil. Web.

Judge, T. A. & Piccolo, R. F. (2004). Transformational & transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), pp. 755-768.

Keller, R. T. (2006). Transformational leadership, initiating structure & substitutes for leadership: A longitudinal study of research & development project team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1), pp. 202-210.

Kurnik, E. (2010). Leadership and organizational success. Web.

Mehra, A., Smith, B. R., Dixon, A. L. & Robertson, B. (2006). Distributed leadership in teams: The networks of leadership perceptions & team performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(3), pp. 232-245.

Meindl, J.R. (1998). Invited Reaction: Enabling visionary leadership. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 9(1), pp. 21-24.

Schriesheim, C. A., Castro, S.L., Zhou, X. & Dechurch, L. A. (2006). An investigation of path-goal & transformational leadership theory predications at the individual level of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(1), pp. 21-38.

Straker, D. (1998). Changing minds in detail. New York: Syque press.

Henry Ford. (2010). The life of Henry Ford. Web.

Ulrich, D., Halbrook, R., Meder, D., Stuchlik, M. & Thorpe, S. (1991). Employee & customer attachment: Synergies for competitive advantage. Human Resource Planning, 14, pp. 89-103.

United States Patent and Trademark Office. (2010). The Apple Computer Company. Web.

Waldman, D., Ramirez, G., House, R.J. & Puranam, P. (2001). Does leadership matter? CEO leadership attributes & profitability under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), pp. 134-143.

Zhu, W., Chew, I. K. H. & Spangler, W. D. (2005). CEO transformational leadership & organizational outcomes: The mediating role of human-capital-enhancing human resource management. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(1), pp. 39-52.

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