The provided research paper is devoted to the topic of leadership and strategy. The current management science recognizes the critical role of leadership in modern organizations and its ability to promote better outcomes. Existing leadership styles also influence the choice of strategy and its successful implementation. For this reason, the offered literature review investigates the scope of project management regarding leadership and strategy, their impact on the work of organizations, results, and further evolution. At the same time, using the results of the review outline the knowledge gap related to how to adapt leadership styles to new or fast-changing demands or global crises affecting the functioning of numerous companies. For this reason, the article contains the background, literature review, and problem statement sections needed to discuss the selected problem and create the basis for further improvement and elimination of the knowledge gap.
Modern organizations’ functioning depends on numerous factors affecting their results and ability to compete with the main rivals. It means that effective project management acquires the top priority as one of the success factors. The ability to generate a competitive advantage by effectively resolving problems and supporting beneficial incentives is vital for the further evolution of organizations. It also means that the correct choice of strategy is viewed as another critically important factor influencing units and their states. However, the implementation of new approaches, methods, or visions can be complicated because of poor understanding among staff members or their resistance (Price, 2018). Under these conditions, leadership acquires the top priority as a vital function of management, enhancing the productivity of workers and promoting better goal achievement (Ford et al., 2017). Moreover, it is considered an integral component of all management systems that should be addressed to ensure the correct functioning of teams, their cooperation, and the ability to make decisions contributing to improving the current situation (Auvinen et al., 2019). Leaders also act as motivators and ensure high employees’ engagement in processes fundamental for the work of diverse organizations.
Furthermore, the ideas of leadership and strategy come together. The current view on effective project management emphasizes the necessity to align the choice of practical approaches with a leadership style to ensure that they go together and contribute to achieving existing goals. In such a way, the acknowledgment of the critical importance of leadership for the functioning of modern organizations promoted the emergence of numerous models on how to integrate it into the work of organizations and attain the best possible results (Auvinen et al., 2019). At the same time, there can be a lack of knowledge about particular situations or specific challenges. Under these conditions, there is a need to investigate the existing body of literature to create the theoretical framework for discussing leadership and strategy and distinguishing a problem linked to the gap.
Leadership can be defined in various ways. Auvinen et al. (2019) say that leadership is the art of motivating and managing a group of individuals to achieve current goals through aligning their actions with strategy. In such a way, it assumes the ability to work with people in ways that can guarantee their contribution to current processes and the attainment of results required at the moment (Coetzer, Bussin and Geldenhuys, 2017; Dixon et al., 2017). The acknowledgment of the critical importance of this aspect is one of the important steps toward the establishment of an environment favorable for the work of companies and their rise in terms of highly competitive markets.
Strategy and Leadership
Strategy is another broad term with multiple meanings because of its applicability to various settings and differences in perspectives regarding the sphere and existing goals. Luria et al. (2019) define it as the plan of action required to achieve long-term goals vital for the evolution of a unit. The modern approach to planning presupposes evaluation of all risks that might arise during the functioning, resources available for organizations, and teams’ capabilities essential for moving towards the existing goals. Under these conditions, Mukherjee (2019) assumes that the concept of strategy is closely related to the majority of other notions associated with project management, including leadership. The choice of the strategy is possible only if it can be supported by leaders, and their resources and experiences are sufficient enough to guarantee the observation of the plan and moving from one stage to another.
The relationship between leadership and strategy has always been a topic of discussion and attracted the interest of researchers. The necessity to consider the existing leadership style when planning future steps is acknowledged by multiple authors (Auvinen et al., 2019; Collinson et al., 2018). Moreover, there is a concept of strategic leadership referring to managers’ potential to outline the strategic vision of units and inspire others to follow it and share it with others (Simsek, Heavey and Fox, 2018). From another perspective, it means the utilization of existing strategies when managing employees through different leadership styles. The existence of the field combining these two notions proves their critical importance for project management today.
Speaking about the power of leadership and its critical role in project management, researchers admit its ability to promote better conflict resolution. Garavan et al. (2016) say that the application of a specific leadership style meeting the current demands of an organization can help to minimize the number of problematic issues and misunderstandings between employees and align their improved cooperation. Moreover, accepting conflicts as an inevitable part of any process with human beings, Price (2018) says that they can be better resolved and mitigated when project managers have the appropriate skills and experiences helping them to make a compromise and ensure that all parties remain satisfied with proposed solutions. It remains one of the major functions of leadership, guaranteeing that the company will continue its evolution.
It also means that for strategic planning, leadership acquires the top priority. Price (2018) says that it is impossible to plan conflicts or problems, reducing innovation or transformation speed. These unpredictable factors should be resolved by applying the existing resources and problem-solving patterns unusual to teams. Under these conditions, leadership remains a critically important tool vital for the evolution of any unit as it helps to form strong and continuously evolving groups with the correct vision of current problems and the ability to resolve them.
Leadership, Planning, and Crises
The concepts of leadership and strategy can also be analyzed regarding methods to improve the current state. Keeton (2018) assumes that the effectiveness of approaches depends on how they correlated with the leadership style and existing plans. Under these conditions, planning and strategic alignment are viewed as interrelated aspects fundamental for project management (Schweiger, Müller and Güttel, 2020). The ability to organize teams by using relevant methods is a key to generating a competitive advantage and moving forward towards achieving current goals.
Furthermore, the discussed concepts are closely linked to the principles of crisis management. Forster, Patlas and Lexa (2020) assume that the hard times might demand the essential modification of the employed strategy and methods to work with teams. It might serve as an additional factor to stimulate workers, motivate them, and guarantee they are engaged in new processes (Cady, 2016; Gupta and Misangyi, 2018). At the same time, inappropriate or poor leadership might precondition organizations’ failure and their inability to remain competitive.
One of the strengths of leadership allowing specialists to manage teams effectively is the ability to understand the teams’ current needs and satisfy them. For instance, the idea of emphatic leadership presupposes that leaders have skills helping them to cooperate with employees better by viewing their moods and motivating factors (Jian, 2021). It becomes necessary regarding crisis management as turbulent times might promote a serious decline in morale and the inability to demonstrate high-performance levels (Crawford et al., 2020). From this respective, emphatic leadership practice becomes a vital construct in helping CEOs to attain existing goals.
Emphatic leadership is also associated with the inclusive one. Chen and Guo (2020) say that psychological safety, especially during hard times, is one of the central employees’ needs that should be considered. The inclusive model presupposes that all team members are treated equally and feel a sense of belonging. Wang and Shi (2020) state that it has a significant positive impact on employees’ satisfaction and the ability to work hard to overcome current challenges and attain success. The idea of inclusion is also linked to strategy as it helps to employ all resources available at the moment and use them to achieve existing goals.
Finally, crisis periods and turbulent times might demand the employment of the ideas of shared leadership. It presupposes the distribution of roles, responsibilities, and authorities to achieve a certain goal and ensure the existing strategy can be executed by all members of the team who possess the desired vision and the current understanding of the demanded change (Barnett and Weidenfeller, 2016). Shared leadership can be an effective measure to avoid weak decision-making or abuse of power in the collective. In such a way, researchers might view it as another possible method to manage significant projects and create the basis for their evolution.
In such a way, the existing literature acknowledges the critical importance of leadership and strategy for project management. Multiple authors outline the concepts’ importance for crisis management and helping organizations during crisis periods. At the same time, along with the description of the advantages of some models and their positive effects, little attention is devoted to the problem of the correct choice of leadership style and strategy regarding the existing internal and external issues.
The critical review section demonstrates that today much attention is given to the ideas of leadership and strategy. Investigators are focused on analyzing how these aspects affect the work of organizations, the nature of relations between them, and what factors should be considered when thinking about the ways to generate a competitive advantage by employing these ideas. The ideas of inclusive and shared leadership, empathy, and the necessity to meet employees’ needs are linked to crisis and project management because of their ability to resolve emerging challenges. At the same time, the review demonstrates a gap in knowledge. Most research papers focus on analyzing how a particular idea or strategy can affect the work of a unit and promote positive change. Little attention is given to how to adapt existing leadership styles and strategies to new and continuously evolving problems unusual to the modern world. Moreover, there is a lack of models or guidelines on how to improve crisis management by using specific leadership tools that might help to change the strategy and use new methods of working with teams. It means that there is a necessity to explore the given aspect to collect information and fill in this gap.
Crisis management can also be linked to diversity issues. It has already been stated in the literature review section that inclusion is vital for organizing the work of teams and the creation of a positive climate (Schweiger, Müller and Güttel, 2020). However, there is a lack of understanding of how enhanced leadership regarding diversity issues might help to resolve existing problems and overcome challenges. Most works focus on the idea that variety in teams serves as the source of inspiration and new concepts necessary for generating competitive advantage and further evolution. At the same time, data about crisis management, leadership, and diversity is sparing, meaning that there is a need for additional research in the given sphere to attain a better understanding. The importance and scope of diversity justify its applicability to complex situations. That is why it is vital to research the concept of crisis diversity leadership as the method to avoid deterioration of the condition and attain better outcomes.
Furthermore, speaking about leadership tools, there is still a certain gap in visions on how to employ the newest technologies to empower leaders and provide them with new ways to interact, affect, inspire, and educate employees. Most authors emphasize the importance of technologies and devices in terms of strategic management and inclusion. Although, there are no guidelines that might help specialists to create new frameworks beneficial for leaders. Under these conditions, there is also a need for an in-depth analysis of this issue to ensure that there is a correct vision of the role technologies might play in promoting diversity, inclusion, and better leadership styles in various organizations.
The ideas of leadership and strategy have critical importance for project management as they ensure that companies use their resources effectively and have plans for achieving current goals. Moreover, they can help to overcome complex situations and establish a new environment characterized by better performance and effectiveness. For this reason, the outlined gaps in knowledge should be considered and eliminated to provide specialists with tools to attain better results and ensure they remain effective leaders in turbulent times, which is vital for companies.
Auvinen, T., Sajasalo, P., Sintonen, T., Pekkala, K., Takala, T. and Luoma-aho, V. (2019) Evolution of strategy narration and leadership work in the digital era. Leadership, 15 (2), 205-225.
Barnett, R.C. and Weidenfeller, N.K. (2016) Shared leadership and team performance. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 18 (3), 334-351.
Cady, P. (2016) A system of system lenses for leadership decision-making. Healthcare Management Forum, 29 (1), 8-11.
Chen, J. and Guo, W. (2020) Emotional intelligence can make a difference: The impact of principals’ emotional intelligence on teaching strategy mediated by instructional leadership. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 48 (1), 82-105.
Collinson, D., Smolović Jones, O. and Grint, K. (2018) No more heroes’: Critical perspectives on leadership romanticism. Organization Studies, 39 (11), 1625-1647.
Crawford, J.A., Dawkins, S., Martin, A. and Lewis, G. (2020) Putting the leader back into authentic leadership: reconceptualizing and rethinking leaders. Australian Journal of Management, 45 (1), 114-133.
Coetzer, M.F., Bussin, M. and Geldenhuys, M. (2017) The functions of a servant leader. Administrative Sciences, 7 (1), 1-32.
Dixon, D.P., Weeks, M., Boland, R. and Perelli, S. (2017) Making sense when it matters most: An exploratory study of leadership in extremis. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 24 (3), 294-317.
Garavan, T., Watson, S., Carbery, R. and O’Brien, F. (2016) The antecedents of leadership development practices in SMEs: the influence of HRM strategy and practice. International Small Business Journal, 34 (6), 870-890.
Gupta, A. and Misangyi, V.F. (2018) Follow the leader (or not): The influence of peer CEOs’ characteristics on inter-organizational imitation. Strategic Management Journal, 39 (5), 1437-1472.
Ford, J., Harding, N.H., Gilmore, S., and Richardson, S. (2017) Becoming the leader: Leadership as material presence. Organization Studies, 38(11), 1553-1571.
Forster, B.B., Patlas, M.N. and Lexa, F.J. (2020) Crisis leadership during and following COVID-19. Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal, 71 (4), 421-422.
Jian, G. (2021) EXPRESS: from empathic leader to empathic leadership practice: an extension to relational leadership theory’, Human Relations. Web.
Keeton, W. (2018) Command, leadership, intelligence and management (CLIM): A proposed theory for improved strategic leadership, FIIB Business Review, 7 (2), 146-151.
Luria, G., Kahana, A., Goldenberg, J., and Noam, Y. (2019) Leadership development: leadership emergence to leadership effectiveness. Small-Group Research, 50 (5), 571-592.
Mukherjee, I. (2019) Strategy and strategic alignment. NHRD Network Journal, 12 (3), 201-213.
Price, T.L. (2018) A “critical leadership ethics” approach to the ethical leadership construct, Leadership, 14 (6), 687-706.
Schweiger, S., Müller, B. and Güttel, W.H. (2020) Barriers to leadership development: Why is it so difficult to abandon the hero? Leadership, 16 (4), 411-433.
Simsek, Z., Heavey, C. and Fox, B.C. (2018) Interfaces of strategic leaders: A conceptual framework, review, and research agenda. Journal of Management, 44 (1), 280-324.
Wang, F. and Shi, W. (2020) Inclusive leadership and pro-social rulebreaking: The role of psychological safety, leadership identification and leader-member Exchange. Psychological Reports. Web.