Leadership Styles and Functions

Abstract

The most recent debates on leadership concepts tend to stress on leadership and innovation. Innovation is one of the key matters facing businesses at the moment. Innovation and generation of new ideas are important for product development and overall productivity. Every leader knows that an organization really needs a change in order to sustain itself. The main drivers of change over the last two decades have been globalization, advancement in technology and fluctuations in the global economy.

This has led to distressed exploration of mechanisms for achieving competitive advantage through increased radical forms of change. Change management is, therefore, regarded as the backbone of any organization. Change is synonymous with strategy; hence, change management requires a strategic leader. Numerous scholars and researchers suggest seeing change as a process, not an item.

The change process is a way of transforming an organization and an approach to understanding the novel vision for the organization. It necessitates traveling through a number of phases and implementing distinctive assignments, including performing a hierarchical review, strategizing, planning the change methodology, corresponding, influencing others, and solidifying the change. It takes compelling transformational leadership to perform every one of these exercises.

This essay will explore the subject of leadership and its role in change management, as well as its usage in the current competitive business environment. This will be achieved through the exploration of different theories and concepts and key arguments between theorists and different theoretical positions. In addition, the essay also explores strategic leadership, change management processes, change resistance and how to manage change resistance.

Introduction

Leadership is the process of putting up a practice for people to throw in their efforts to make something happen or bring change (Abdow 2015). The kind of a leader that an organization has will determine the direction that the organization will take in terms of development. Visionary and exemplary leaders will steer an organization to prosperity and success, while inefficient leaders will drive the organization to disarray and disorder (Chen & Silverthorne 2005).

The overall definition of leadership is not easy to find. However, most definitions of leadership include elements found in the standard definition proposed by Stogdill. Stogdill defined leadership as a process of influencing the actions/operations of a structured group of people to establish or achieve a specific goal. Leadership as a process entail three fundamental aspects: first, influencing people to act in a given manner; second, working with individuals as a group; and last but not least, influencing the group towards goal setting or goal attainment (Piderit 2000).

The most recent debates on leadership concepts tend to stress on leadership and innovation (Denti 2012). Innovation is one of the key matters facing businesses at the moment. Innovation and generation of new ideas are important for product development and overall productivity. Every leader knows that an organization really needs innovation and creativity in order to sustain itself. Innovation is, therefore, regarded as the backbone of any organization.

Creativity brings about new ideas that are greatly beneficial to the survival and sustainability of the organization. It is imperative for any leader to focus on ideas or programs that supersede the current ones that the organization is based upon. Leaders, therefore, have various methods to employ in order to foster innovation in the organization. These methods vary from organization to organization due to the different nature of their needs (Weick & Quinn 1999).

Change is a widespread feature in the life of an organization and the capability to handle such changes is the core competence of success. The main drivers of change over the last two decades have been globalization, advancement in technology and fluctuations in the global economy. This has led to distressed exploration of mechanisms for achieving competitive advantage through increased radical forms of change (Denti 2012).

For that reason, it is important for leaders to cultivate creativity and innovation in the organization in order to counter the challenges that come with such changes. In addition, creativity and innovation will help to improve the level of production and also to maintain the identity and the existence of the organization (Ford, Ford & D’Amelio 2008). This essay will explore the subject of leadership and its role in change management, as well as its usage in the current competitive business environment. This will be achieved through the exploration of different theories and concepts and key arguments between theorists and different theoretical positions.

Leadership Styles

Over the last century numerous studies have been conducted on leadership. Among them are studies related to different styles of leadership (Sosik & Godshalk 2000). According to Weick & Quinn (1999), “leadership style is the prototype behavior of leaders and how they related to their juniors”. Weick and Quinn (1999) define leadership style as a pattern of relations between the executive/leaders and junior staffs/followers, which includes method and mode used by the executive/leader to inspire the followers/junior followers. The styles of leadership are influenced by a number of factors and these include: organizational environment, leadership traits and characteristics of the junior staff/followers (Weick & Quinn 1999).

As a result, leadership styles can be identified in accordance with the influence and behavior of the leaders. Some of the most common styles of leadership include autocratic leadership, egalitarian and laissez-faire (Sosik & Godshalk 2000). Weick and Quinn (1999) emphasize that different styles of leadership may be embraced due to the leader’s discernment of their followers’ preferred approach. Therefore, leadership style preference could be altered in accordance with the authority exercised by a leader over the followers

One of the most common styles of leadership style in the current competitive business environment is “hands-on” style, which offers stress intercession, management of operations and relations between followers at all levels (Sosik & Godshalk 2000). “Hands on” style is the most effective style in realizing the work satisfactorily, since most managers work closely with the junior staff and, therefore, are always more concerned about their welfare.

Nonetheless, there is no single ideal style of leadership (Weick & Quinn 1999). On the contrary, experts argue it is never easy to embrace the laissez-faire style of leadership. This does not imply that dictatorial style is favored. Most of the current managers base their leadership on classical management style which focuses on planning, management, and assessment. The outcome of this style of management is absolute adherence to laws and regulations with modest room for personal liberty, inventiveness and novelty. Sosik and Godshalk (2000) recommend transformational leadership which makes efficient use of human resources.

Transformational leader is able to develop a strong vision, which assists in clarifying and communicating organizational goals. In addition, transformational leadership creates an environment that cultivates enthusiasm, loyalty and steady improvement.

Strategic Leadership

The term ‘strategy’ is very common in the business world today. However, the word ‘strategy’ has been broadly used that it has lost a clear meaning. Despite the significance of strategy, there is astoundingly little consensus on what it really means. Nonetheless, the fact is that behind every success, there must be a strategy (Denti 2012). According to Denti (2012) “strategy is an ambiguous term that is normally linked to long-term planning, prearranged goals, and preferred system of creating a balance between the organizational resources and externalities”. The contemporary schools of thought in strategic management strongly suggest that strategy should be comprehended as the creation of the organization’s goals, which is realized through joint effort, regarded as a constant process and distinctive in its nature (Denti 2012).

Basically, strategic leadership is about changing an organization through its vision and qualities, traditions and environment, and arrangement and frameworks and also through its system (Sosik & Godshalk 2000). So how is strategic leadership different from other forms of leadership, which normally entail actual emphasis and organizing assets to achieve a specific objective? According to Ford, Ford and D’Amelio (2008) “strategic leaders require diverse aptitudes and viewpoints than other forms of leadership because of the following: first, they see the organization as interdependent and interlinked so that activities and operations of one department are taken seriously since it can affect other departments; second, they work with an expansive schedule, coordinating transient results and a long haul focus; lastly, they are usually the main initiators of organizational change”.

The impact of their work is felt all the way through the organization. For this reason, leading strategically entails finding the rare things an association needs to thrive and to expand. Just as essential is making the conditions expected to act all in all on the ramifications of that discovery. To do this, associations need to comprehend strategy as a process of learning. The motivation behind key initiative, then, is to drive associations to wind up persistent learning motors. Strategic leaders are the individuals who constantly create and find strategy and hold it in a continuous condition of plan, usage, reassessment and update (Abdow 2015).

Denti (2012) explains that strategic leadership encompasses strategic reasoning, acting and influence. Strategic reasoning takes into account organizational vision and new ways of overcoming challenges and grasping opportunities. Strategic acting, on the other hand, involves coordination of efforts needed for the implementation of visions derived from efficient strategic reasoning. Last but not least, strategic influencing is all about developing conditions of lucidity, obligation and concerted effort throughout the organization. While we recognize the three components of how to lead strategically, it is imperative to welcome the vibrant way that strategic reasoning, acting and influencing interface with one another.

Role of Strategic leaders in strategic Management process

Organizations are working in progressively intricate situations, in which an adjustment to external changes is a fundamental. The attempts by organizations to adjust their goals, objectives, and procedures with the outer environment are truly the quintessence of strategic management, which is the sphere of strategic leadership. Numerous researchers and specialists concur that the efficiency of organizations is affected by the level of fit between their interior qualities and external factors in the large scale environment.

This procedure of adjustment is emphatically affected by the elucidations strategic leaders make of the surrounding (Sosik & Godshalk 2000). Interpretation of internal and external surrounding has expansive impact on prospective actions that strategic leaders make in order to stay focused and to maintain sustainable competitive advantage.

One region in which change is definite is the international competitive environment. Nearly every organization, vast or small, confronts rivalry for basic assets and business sector opportunities from rivals in the domestic front, as well as from far off and regularly remote areas of the world. How fruitful an organization is at taking advantage of new prospects and managing related dangers depends essentially on leadership capability to develop a worldwide mentality among executives and subordinates (Sosik & Godshalk 2000).

According to Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015), “attaining success in the current business environment is neither an easy affair nor an accidental event. This is made possible by decisions made by strategic leaders”. It is the obligation of executives to follow up the organization’s interior and outside situations, build organization assets and abilities, monitor industry patterns, look for new opportunities, identify emerging threats, and develop vision and mission for the organization. All the above constitutes what is commonly referred to as strategic leadership. It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of strategic leadership in today’s vibrant and dubious business setting. It is one of the crucial elements considered basic to an organization’s capacity to adjust, develop, and succeed in the midst of turbulent environment.

Even though many writers have offered different versions of what a strategic leader is, they all appear to agree that a strategic leader must be capable of anticipating, envisioning and working with other stakeholders to initiate changes in an organization that will ensure sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic leadership must be all-encompassing, that is, it should involve everybody in the organization from top to bottom. However, the executive must be held responsible for the company’s short-term performances, as well as for developing an environment that guarantees organization’s survival (Dudin & Al-rbabah 2015).

Managing Change

Change management is basically execution of a new strategy. Change is always part and parcel of leadership that is why it is incorporated in the definition of leadership. Remember we defined leadership the process of putting up a practice for people to throw in their efforts to make something happen or bring change. Other authors have defined leadership as the process of swaying leaders and supporters to accomplish certain targets through change.

The main emphasis of different leadership styles has always been on change and not status quo. In the current stormy and competitive environment, where change is part and parcel of life, organizations must continually adapt to new events or circumstances so as to survive and remain focused. Companies and state establishments invest huge amount of resources on change efforts. Example of change efforts include process enhancement, streamlining operations, acquiring or merging companies or institutions, adoption of new technologies, embracing new culture, change in leadership and many more.Change can be transformational or progressive, and once in a while a progressive change can develop into a much greater and drastic change than was expected.

Why do we need change? In the last 20 years, many authors have provided more information on processes that bring about institutional stability than those that explicate institutional change. However, speedy environmental changes are bringing on major changes that are dramatically affecting organizations and bringing in new threats and prospects for leaders. Therefore, writings on organizational change are progressively being seen as adjustment of structures, frameworks, and procedures, as well as change in leadership style. Leaders must acknowledge the need to impart novel mission when conditions merit such initiatives.

The first step to change management involves identifying and analyzing the need for change prior to execution plan. A thorough analysis that provides a lucid and meticulous evaluation of the existing conditions in the interior and exterior environment should be a precondition before initiating any change management process.

Pretty much every sort of organization is confronting an exterior environment typified by swift socioeconomic and technological changes, as well as stiff local and global competition. These changes have opened new business prospects, for example, less trade barriers and new markets in developing economies. On the other hand, it has created new threats in the form of local and global rivalry, technological obsolescence, rapid pace in innovation, and short product life cycle.

Some scholars are of the view that threats are what bring about real change. They argue that real change cannot take place without some form of external threat that exposes the organization’s internal flaws. Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015) emphasizes on the need to develop a sense of urgency, which he refers to as survival anxiety. Survival anxiety basically means having a feeling that unless changes are effected in an organization, there is a risk of running out of business.

According to Dudin and Al-rbabah (2015), survival anxiety is a necessary condition, but not sufficient condition for influencing change. This is due to the fact that there is always a possibility of change resistance as a result of learning anxiety. It is because of this reason that several scholars believe that real change cannot be effected until the followers are bought or convinced. Awareness of the need for change, leader’s capability to persuade followers to rise above their own interest for the sake of the institutional goal, underlines the significance of competent leadership in executing change.

From an organization’s context, resistance can be said to mean the subsequent reaction of the follower in regards to his/her disapproval of the proposed change. Follower resistance has been identified as the main reason why many organizations lag behind in regards to the implementation of their strategy. The resistance of the followers to change has consequences in regards to the management because of the significant role that the followers play to contribute to the success of any organization; therefore, follower resistance to organization’s change is a very vital element that needs to be given keen attention in the course of the development of the organization (Ford, Ford & D’Amelio 2008).

The leadership always wants to keep the resistance level to a bare minimum so as to adopt the change that the organization really needs. Before the initiation of the change process, the top management should know in advance the level of the anticipated change for the sake of preparation in advance. This will guide them on the parameters to use in the process of implementation. In addition, the nature of the resistance should be evaluated pre-emptively in order to find out the pros and cons of the resistance. Follower resistance can also be managed by constant communication with the followers (Abdow 2015).

Conclusion

Leadership has evolved continuously throughout the years, passing through various stages. The evolution of leadership can be traced from the pre-industrialization period to the modern internet era. Leadership is basically the capacity to put in order a group of people to accomplish a common objective or bring change. Strategic leadership, on the other hand, is about changing an organization through its vision and qualities, traditions and environment, and arrangement and frameworks and also through its system. Since strategy is synonymous to change, strategic leadership essentially involves managing change in an organization or institution.

Numerous scholars and researchers suggest seeing change as a process, not an item. The change process is a way of transforming an organization and an approach to understanding the novel vision for the organization. It necessitates traveling through a number of phases and implementing distinctive assignments, including performing a hierarchical review, strategizing, planning the change methodology, corresponding, influencing others, and solidifying the change.

It takes compelling transformational leadership to perform every one of these exercises. There are instances where followers may resist change; hence it is the responsibility of the strategic leader to make sure that this does not happen. Change resistance can be avoided by incorporating followers in the strategic management process, and through constant communication and motivation. The followers need to know about the proposed change in advance and the followers should be given time to fully understand the nature of the change and the likely benefits that the change will have on their role as followers

References

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