The Nature of Leadership in Organizations

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Overview of Leadership theories

Leadership can be defined as the process through which a person (leader) influences the actions of others (followers) to accomplish certain objectives, and/or set goals and also directs an organization in a manner that makes the firm have more cohesiveness and coherence (Day & Antonakis, 2012). Several leadership theories explain different types of leaders and leadership and ways in which leaders can be developed basing on the theories (Northouse, 2010). Leadership theories have transformed. The ancient theories of leadership concentrated on the traits that distinguished leaders from the followers. The focus of modern leadership theories has changed because they do not just focus on individual leaders but conceptualizes leadership (Spears and Lawrence, 2002).

Great Man theories are one of the theories of leadership. These theories based on the assumption that leadership capacity is inherent. It is among the old theories of leadership. Under these theories, great leaders are portrayed as being heroes since they are born and not made. The theories are more mythic. Leaders, according to the theory rise to lead when needed. These theories were developed at a time when male dominance was more prevalent in society, hence the name of the theory (Hendrick, 2010).

Trait theories have a similar theoretical inclination as Great man theories. The theories lean on the assumption that leadership traits are inherited. These theories sample out personalities or behavioral features that leaders share. The question that remains hanging concerning these theories is why people who possess the so-called leadership traits are not leaders (Manning & Curtis, 2003).

We also have contingency theories of leadership. These theories focus on specific variables that are likened to the environment which might determine a particular leadership style that suits a particular situation. The theory does not support any particular leadership style basing on the thesis that no leadership style can best suit all the situations. According to the theories, success in leadership is dependent on various variables that include the style of leadership, characteristics of the people who are being led as well as the nature of the situation (Miner, 2005).

Situational theories argue that leaders choose excellent steps of action by basing on situational variables. Different styles of leadership may best suit specific decision-making types (Bertocci, 2009). We also have behavioral theories, which have a strong foundation in behaviorism. The theory is based on the belief that successful leaders are made and not born as the ancient theories of leadership do suggest. The theory focuses on leaders’ actions and not on mental characteristics.

According to the theory, leadership can be learned through being taught and also by observing (Goethals & Sorenson, 2006). Also, participative theories provide leadership attributes and put into consideration the efforts of other people. Participative leaders give room for contributions from members of groups and make group members participate in the decision-making process, thus making them feel as being part of the leadership decisions that are made or reached. However, in these theories, the rights to allow input in the leadership process are only left with the leader (Lussier & Achua, 2010).

We also have management theories as part of the leadership theories. These theories are also known as transactional theories. The theories that fall under this category focus on the supervisory role and the performance of groups in the organization and the organization itself. The theories look at leadership in the context of rewards and punishments. They are commonly employed in business (Dzimbiri, 2009). Finally, we have relationship theories of leadership, also known as transformational theories. They base on connections that are formed between the leaders and the subjects (Jackson & Parry, 2007).

Leadership and Organizational Cultures

Organizational culture can be defined as ‘‘a system of knowledge, standards for perceiving, believing, evaluation, and acting; that serve to relate human beings to their environmental settings’’ (Maier, 2007 p. 34). One of the complicated aspects of organizational culture is how two companies that have similar tasks, and foundations of the same origin and which works using similar technologies do operate in very distinctive ways. The culture of an organization has three geneses. The first of these sources of culture is as well as the values and assumptions of those who start the organizations that are the founders.

The second source is the experiences that are learned by employees and or group members in the course of the operation of the organization (Malloch & Porter-O’Grady, 2009). The third is the newer values, beliefs, and assumptions that come from new members or employees and new leaders. Though all these factors play a role in shaping the culture of the organization, the most important of them all is the first one– the leaders and or founders of the organization. The organization leaders do choose the mission of the organization and the context of the environment in which the groups operate.

The leaders also choose members of these groups; thus shaping the responses that groups do make in the efforts to have success in their environment. Business firms are formed by people who have with them visions of how the collective efforts of groups of people can help in the creation of new products and services that can compete in the market. The leaders or funders impact on how groups’ initial definition and solving of external adaptation as well as internal integration problem goes (Schein, 2010).

For any organization, leadership is a critical factor in the codification and maintenance of the purpose of the organization, the values as well as the vision of the organization. Leaders in organizations must be the first ones to adopt and practice the culture of an organization as other stakeholders in the firm copy the examples of the leaders. If the leaders set the example and adopt the culture of the organization, attain loyalty of the employees; the confidence of customers in the organization will become an easy exercise. A lot of investment must be done in modeling the corporate culture of any given organization. Leaders must take actions as the norms and values of organizations cannot be achieved through mere words as in speeches (Kefela, 2010).

In setting a good culture in a firm, leaders exercise their leadership attributes that include beliefs, ethics, character, knowledge, skills, and values. Leaders perform an important executive process. The process involves identification of the problem(s), the definition of the problem, allocation of resources in solving the problem, mental representation of the problem, crafting of problem-solving strategies, monitoring the problem solving and evaluation of the devised solutions. This is a complex process and demands for creative intelligence from the leader because of the taunting nature of the tasks (Kefela, 2010).

Organizational cultures go far much beyond slogans and promises. Other organizations choose to lay off leaders who do not perform their managerial tasks in line with the values, and behaviors that are embraced by employees of the organization. More often than not, employees in any given organization do notice and validate the cultural elements of organizations. They make judgments on every managerial decision among them hiring new employees, promotion, rewarding and firing of employees (Kefela, 2010).

One of the major responsibilities that are bestowed upon strategic leaders in the setting up, and maintaining the features of the firm which rewards and encourages collective efforts. The most fundamental role of strategic leadership is perhaps setting up and shaping the culture of the organization. The success of leaders depends on their understanding of organizational cultures. It has been observed that the majority of constraints that confront leaders are related to the lack of ability of the leaders to analyze and or evaluate the cultures of firms they manage. More often than not, the new strategies that are set by the leaders have very minimal chances of succeeding when they are not consistent with the firm’s culture (Morrill, 2010).

Leaders do influence organizational culture. By doing this they determine individual and group levels and the effectiveness of organizations (Maxwell, 2010). Transformative leaders do not closely manage their subordinates and their organizations. These leaders prefer to assert their leadership influence by way of social architecture. Scholars and experts in organizational behavior have argued that leaders play a crucial role in the creation and upholding of organizational cultures.

According to them, leaders do create cultures in newly formed organizations and embodies and transmits the culture in existing firms. Leaders also can integrate cultures in firms that have a multiplicity of cultures through forcing consensus. For high profiled firms, leaders mostly strive for the improvement of the culture of the firm. This happens even when the organization is already performing well (Rainey, 2010).

Courageous Leadership and Organizational Culture Change

Leaders can play important roles in changing the culture of organizations. These leaders must have an inspirational vision. This describes what firms can become. The vision does communicate commercial success factors and the ethical commitments of the firm to the customers as well as the community in which the organization is located. Courageous leaders do enlist the labor force to go past individual concerns to achieve shared success (Malloch & Porter-O’Grady, 2009).

Leadership and Competitive Advantage: Leadership and Innovation in Firms

Innovation is an important tenet of corporate entrepreneurship. Leaders play an important part in making new inventions n the firms that they head. Innovation and competitive advantage can hardly be separated. Competitive advantage is raised by the magnitude and number of innovations that are made by a firm. More innovative firms have their gain a big share of the new customers in the market and thus become more competitive in the market.

Innovation can be defined as the wide tendency of a firm to bring about newness, and novelty by the use of experiment and research in the development of new goods, services, and or processes. It is a transformational process that entails the conversion of newer ideas into new goods and or products and services that have more commercial value when they are introduced to the market (Barney, 2007).

Innovation in organizations is influenced by many factors. However, the major factor which has been found to affect the innovativeness of firms is leadership. The top leadership of firms mostly influences the creativity of employees in the firm in different ways. The management defines and shapes working contexts in which workers interact to as they define the goals, the problems as well as solutions. Leaders also do articulate a vision that emphasizes long-term outcomes of the organization for instance growth and value as opposed to just quarterly profits.

Leaders direct the efforts of employees both at individual and collective or group levels towards innovative processes and outputs (Barney, 2007). Managers create and sustain the climate and culture which supports the growth of creativity therefore, facilitating the diffusion of learning. Lastly, leaders have the abilities to set up and sustaining of systems which values and rewards creativity by way of compensation and other policies related to human resource (Duygulu & Özeren, 2009).

Inclusive Leadership and Competitive Advantage

In the current world, diversity prevails in many industries and industrial sectors. This is because the world is becoming more flattened in terms of management and administration as globalization continues to dominate the world. This necessitates a lot of diversity in the workforce (Sadler, 2002). Many organizations that are global in terms of operations have the understanding that diverse labor force can be the main origin point of competitive advantage.

Successful organizations in the world do share the same qualities and or features. Such organizations have a deeper understanding of how to bring together the diversities to build an inclusive and unified global culture. This entails the development of deeper comprehension of culture as well as cultural differences just as they apply to individuals, functions, teams and or organizations (Spears & Lawrence, 2002).

The exercising of diversity, as well as inclusiveness at the global scale, gives room for more effective ways of managing talents–attracting and retaining of the talents, effectiveness in alignment and performance of teams, improvement in efficiency, and all other factors that work with these factors to create a high level of performance of the organization. Therefore, for organizations to become successful, they have to ensure that corporate leaders do embrace the differences presented by people. The leaders must show that they are inclusive and at the same time diverse (Sadler, 2002).

Several trends in the world affect the labor force in the world today. These trends are inclusive of the advancement of workforces that is in the wake of the development and maturing of industrialized economies. There is the likelihood of an increase in the number of immigrants as well as minorities in the labor force of the industrialized states. Also, the proportion and ratio of women in the labor force and positions of influence – decision-making positions is expected to rise (Lussier & Achua, 2010).

The number of lesbians and gays and that style of life is becoming more common and is being accepted and recognized. The representation of people who have special needs in the labor force is increasing. Cross-border influences are increasing. Different generations that have different needs and styles of learning are emerging and are being represented in the job market (Janakiraman, 2011).

Diversity and Inclusion

Leaders need to understand these diversities and inclusions. Diversity can be defined as the visible and invisible distinctions, styles of thinking, and styles of leadership, religious backgrounds, age, sexual makeups, experience, and culture among other attributes. Inclusiveness, on the other hand, is defined as the feature of organizational environments that maximize and leverage diverse talents as well as backgrounds and perspectives about all laborers (Janakiraman, 2011).

Many firms focus their efforts on enticing diverse groups of workers. In this attempt, the organizations end up struggling a lot in retaining the right talents. Organizations that have a highly diverse labor force that does not heed to inclusive environments have a high likelihood of becoming dysfunctional as compared to firms that do not have a diverse staff. Firms that put to practice diversity and inclusiveness do experience high collaboration levels, engagement and retention of workforce thus giving them a competitive advantage (Janakiraman, 2011).

Leadership is very crucial in propelling the performance of organizations in the current world which has global diversities and inclusive environments. Traditionally modeled teams that are created by having no basis on a particular emphasis on diversity only perform at mean and or average levels. On the other hand, teams that have a global inclination and are culturally diverse do experience heightened risks as well as opportunities though this is accompanied by high team performances. This is when the team leaders drive performance f the teams by way of inclusion (Janakiraman, 2011).

Strategic leadership can be a good source of competitive advantage. Strategic leadership is defined as the process of formulating and articulating a vision that depicts social reality and incorporates the objectives to achieve the objectives. The leadership of any organization determines the way the organization performs. Executive functions that are performed by leaders in the organization can sometimes conflict thence in turn affecting the strategic leadership of the organization. Strategic leadership has the potential of adding value to the sustainable competitive advantage of an organization. Strategic leadership is in itself an intangible main competency that can bring about the capability differential that involves reputation thus leading to sustainable competitive advantage (Janakiraman, 2011).

Strategic leadership can more often than not be viewed as having a qualified dual structure which is mediated by integrity that has the power to draw away the seemingly inherent internal tensions in organizations. Integrity in most cases does relate strategic planning which orients itself in a manner in which it resists pressure that leads to financial gain for the organization. Strategic leaders do define reality. Leading stars from the interpretation of experience and the communication of resultant social reality by using vision as the driving force (Sadler, 2002).

Strategic leadership involves the whole organization and its facets with its environment, the leading executive leaders of organizations must exercise strategic leadership that puts the vision of the organization at the center. The vision has to be responsive and sensitive to the environment and this has to be factored in the strategic plan to realize the aims and or objectives of the organization. Strategic leadership facets the differentiated competencies of the organization and patterns them into ideologies, and identities and mission (Sadler, 2002).

The strategic element in strategic leadership orients itself to furthering the interests of the organization. This leadership considers big questions that concern the definition of the organization in terms of its uniqueness and distinctiveness as it relates to the competitors of the organization and the strategic plans which are inclined towards maximizing tangible gains of the firm as a way of competition (Sadler, 2002).

Technological and Social Problem with BP, Oil Spill and Media

The current economic world has very many challenges. The challenges range from economic to social as well as technological problems. The leadership of organizations must be always alert and aware of all the possible challenges that face their firms and put in place mechanisms of countering the challenges whenever they face their organizations.

Whenever organizations are faced with crises of either economic, social or technological nature, the actions of the leadership of such organizations are playing a very important role in salvaging the image and the performance of the organization in the aftermath of the crisis. The other which compounds these problems is the media. The media can either salvage or taint the image of organizations depending on the kinds of reports that they do carry concerning crises facing organizations (Remmé, 2008).

The British Petroleum Corporation commonly known as BP was faced with a technological problem in the year 2010. The oil spill happened in April 2010. The oil spill received extensive media coverage. The local US media and the international media covered their news with differing headlines concerning the spill (Philips, 2010). The New York Times newspaper said that the oil disaster went beyond the disaster had put the Tony Hayward in a quagmire. The paper further carried information which implied that the CEO did not pay attention to the dangers that were posed drilling of the well from where the spill happened (Philips, 2010).

The Chicago Tribune magazine carried information implying that it was not enough to boycott BP gas stations as that did not hurt the firm enough as the firm was not the owner of 11,000 BP branded gas stations in the United States (Philips, 2010). On the other hand, photographers belonging to different media complained that they were being prevented from documenting the effect of the deep-water horizon of the oil disaster by BP officers and government officials. The media implicated that they were being blocked by the Company officers and the federal and local government officials from gaining access to the areas where the impact of the spill was more visible (Jackson & Parry, 2007).

The media claimed that the only pictures and or images of the disaster that reached the media came from government officials and the firm itself. They claimed that this was being done as a way of preventing the company from being more exposed by the media. In the early days of the crisis, the media claimed that the company was making no progress in its response to the disaster that is sealing the leaking well. The media compared the disaster to the oil spill of 1989by the Exxon Valdez Company. In the Exxon Valdez disaster, the media gave coverage that led to rejection and boycott of the services of the company (Biagi, 2012).

Both the print and audio-visual media made a lot of financial gain from the BP oil disaster. The media continues to benefit from the disaster. The Firm has been forced to pump a lot of money in an advertisement to save the image of the company that was tainted by the crisis which was termed by the media as the worst environmental crisis in the history of the United States. The company has been forced to spend a lot of money on advertisements. Between April and July 2010, the company spent 93.4 million dollars on advertisements. In any developments that take place in organizations, the media plays a very big role in shaping the response to the crisis as is in this case of the BP oil disaster (Biagi, 2012).

The strategic leadership of the company had to come up with a strategic plan at the end of 2010 which addressed the sustainability plan of the organization. The sustainability plan features on the adaptations of the firm concerning mitigating the effects caused by the oil spills. From this, we can note that strategic leadership is one of the important elements that are needed in modern leadership (Biagi, 2012).

The Chief Executive Officer of BP noted that the oil spill had affected many people who inhabited, and those who run businesses in the Mexican Gulf Coast as well as the customers, partners, and shareholders of the firm around the world. The CEO further said that the firm owned all the responsibility to all people who were affected by the spill (Landau, 2011). The oil spill disaster caused a public relations nightmare on BP. However, it is argued that the firm failed to capitalize on social media, for instance, Twitter and Facebook as communication tools for making communication to people in the affected regions. The company failed to exercise great public relations which are an essential tool of organizational leadership and management. It is easy to do crisis communication using social media (Landau, 2011).

Economic Problem with Change of Leadership Style: Jobs and Apple

Steve Jobs is one of the most successful leaders of modern times. He was able to lead the apple company to greater heights as in making the company come up with innovations that have revolutionized information and communication technologies in the world. Jobs was a leader of a kind leading by example. Jobs was at the center of every innovation of the company being an expert in information technology and combining this with other attributes like determination.

He was the main icon of the company therefore his death in October last year was a big blow to the Apple Company. One of the most crucial factors that led to the success of Apple Incorporated Company was the leadership of Steve Jobs. The leadership of apple under Jobs was very committed and focused on an aspect that is not present in many corporations today. Jobs was a risk-taker in that he always had the will to make long-term and risky investments. This is an attribute that is essential more so in the modern business environment that has a lot of uncertainties (Gupta and Chan, 2011).

Change of the style of leadership in any organization is very hard. This is more so when the outgoing leadership has a record of great achievements and build a lot of confidence in the customers and stakeholders of the company. Owing to the achievements that Jobs had made with apple, his death has detrimental impacts on the general company.

The death of Steve Jobs has had negative impacts on the economy of America. Apple has been one of the best innovators in the country as well as an entrepreneur. Being the brain behind the innovations in apple, the organization, his death has impacted on consumer confidence and the performance of the company. After the announcement of his death, the stock of the company dropped on almost all the stocks of the US and in other major stock markets around the world (Gupta and Chan, 2011).

The company competed with other companies, for instance, Google, Samsung, and Amazon. Could the death of this innovator be of advantage to these competitors? This is a challenge to the organization and its leadership under the new leader. The company products – the iPad and iPhones have been receiving stiff competition from Android products which offers the same model. Steve had put forward hic complaints concerning the products. He claimed that the products were being developed by ideas stolen from Apple. The leadership of the organization is aware of this and it should take steps to protect the organization (Gupta and Chan, 2011).

Transformative leadership has been seen in Apple since the takeover of the company by the new CEO Mr. Tim Cook. The new CEO has been getting lots of confidence in him from both the employers and investors in the firm. It has been argued that the new CEO is a worthy replacement for the late Jobs. The organization has a long way to go with its new leadership and the time will have to tell this. If the leader follows the footsteps of Steve, the company will succeed as it forges into the seemingly more competitive future (Gupta and Chan, 2011).

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