At the beginning of the 21st century, leadership had a great impact on organizational performance and effective strategic solutions applied to everyday situations. The task of effective leaders and managers is to follow objectives held by the top management. Thus, the main focus of leadership is on human communication. Effective leaders have the talent for inspiring and motivating employees; they have strategic aims and lift the spirit of employees to accomplish great ends. The release of employees’ possibilities is a crucial leadership goal. Thus, leadership duty is to make certain that there is a goal. The second task is to ensure that the strategic policies are clear. At the beginning of the 21stc century, leadership has to confirm that the employees understand the goal. Different theories of leadership propose different interpretations of leadership styles and leaders’ relations with subordinates. But, the task of leadership is not one of motivating people, for they are already motivated. The new millennium requires innovative and creative approaches to leadership and management demanded by the new social and political landscape.
Definitions of Leadership
In order to describe the model of leadership appropriate for the new millennium, it is important to define and explain the definitions of leadership and the nature of leadership itself. Effective leaders put the goal first, subordinating themselves to it. If not leaders act for individual aggrandizement, in the belief that this furthers the cause, and risk becoming self-centered and ineffective. Modern leadership states that the goal must come first. I suppose that the task of the new leader is to develop the capabilities and talents of each employee. It is the ability to meld the strengths of each employee so that he or she can contribute to the organization’s goal. That means building on what employees are–not changing them, but starting with their strong points. Using an individual’s strengths translates energy into job performance. The task of the leaders is to inspire each talent and direct the energy to the task to be done. “Leadership processes are directed at defining, establishing, identifying, or translating this direction for their followers and facilitating or enabling the organizational processes that should result in the achievement of this purpose” (Zaccaro and Klimoski, 2001: 6-7). The leadership task combines employee’s contributions into a composite that becomes a whole staff effort. On an effective staff, the leadership function progresses according to the logic of the strategic policies and the work to be done. Fulton and Maddock (1998) state: “’The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of other people, for motivating and energizing ourselves and others and for managing emotions effectively, in ourselves and in our relationships” (p.2). The leadership function is not so much one of leading but rather of deciding which staff member has the relevant information and, thereby, the authority for critical-thinking.
Deciding who has the information may be obvious, or the top manager may need to discuss the subject. Leadership moves to the subordinates who have the most relevant information or the particular skill and professional competence. Hoyle and Wilmore (2002) explain that a person leads the subordinates through that issue or phase of the project. In other words, the formal leader is not necessarily in charge all the time or on every task. They define leadership as: “interpersonal influence, exercised in situations and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of a specified goal or goals” (Hoyle and Wilmore 2002, p. 54). Performance problem solving focuses independently on substantive factors, identifies them, defines them, deals with them and solves them; critical thinking is not a process of smoothing over or avoiding conflict but rather involves looking for practical solutions. It is a time for positive forward-looking decisions, not backward-looking fault finding (Barker 2001).
Future of Leadership
In the article, “The Future of Leadership in Learning Organizations” Bass (2000) describes leadership as the issues of personality and unique personal qualities of a person. The author describes the main characteristics of transformational leadership and its practical application in learning organizations. “Transformational leaders raise the awareness of their constituencies about what is important, increase concerns for achievement, self-actualization and ideals” (Bass 2000, p. 18). Bass notes that leaders do not create motivation out of thin air. Rather, they unlock or channel existing motives. In the 21st century, effective leaders tap those motives that serve the purposes of collective action in the pursuit of shared goals. In this way, they align individual and group goals. Leadership should confront circumstances that lead staff members to withhold their best efforts. Effective transformational leaders direct the effort, restraint, drive, and discipline that result in optimal staff performance. New leaders create a climate in which members take pride in making significant contributions to shared goals.
A Model for New Leadership
It is difficult to single out an ideal and appropriate model of leadership. The 21st century demands creative and innovative managers able to meet changing conditions and react accordingly. Transformational leadership is one of the models used as a framework for new leadership. Transformational leadership is influenced by motivational factors and intellectual abilities. Wofford and Whittington (2001) suggest that changing leadership function can often lead to bewilderment, which should be avoided with the effective management of staff interaction. Effective communication ensures that the staff will know who is in charge and glues the staff together. It is the support for objective achievement. One would think that with all the interaction necessary for effective staff work interpersonal skills would be at a premium, but such is not the case. Effective interpersonal skills are not a key requirement for effective staff work. That is, staff members do not have to like each other socially. “Good personal chemistry is an exceptional phenomenon among any group of people” ( Katzenbach and Smith, 1993, p. 230). Rapport and empathy are not an effective staff’s central issues, nor are personalities a key issue. The ability to focus on goals and the issues surrounding them is the main concern. If staff members respect each other’s knowledge, most personality conflicts will work themselves out. Also, the more time a staff spends on interpersonal communication, the less effective it becomes. There is an inverse correlation between the time spent on “people problems” and staff effectiveness. Effective and successful staff focus on issues pertaining to the staff aims and culture.
Combining personal strengths means influencing rather than directing. Employees Influencing requires a different ability than managing in a hierarchical structure, where direction is more regular. One of the most potent methods in which the leader can exercise influence is by example. Although staff attach importance to what leaders say, they are more impressed by what they do. At the beginning of the 21st century, leaders should set an example through their behavior (Kouzes and Posner, 1987, p. 198). One of the best examples a leader can set is that of being a good staff member. Inspiring by example means being involved in doing “real work” instead of delegating.
In spite of great changes in organizational behavior and structure, such notions as developing, encouraging, facilitating, integrating, stimulating, resolving, listening, coaching, sensing, monitoring, meshing, guiding, refereeing, and deciding are still important. At last, the staff must decide, the employees must be in control, and the staff must be the hero and get the credit. Clearly, the leadership aim is multidimensional, requiring extraordinarily diverse personal skills. Leaders come in many forms, with many styles and diverse traits, and with each developing the right personal direction. Their sole common attribute is their knowledge and professional skills to make sure the goal is clearly defined and high-performance expectations are set. How aims and expectations are established is a matter of style, but setting them is a matter of performance and positive results (Robbins and Judge 2009).
Leadership and Organizational Goals
The leader’s task is to ensure that the subordinates sets and maintains explicit high-performance expectations. With high-performance standards, the team is committed to achieving challenging goals (Boyce and Herd 2003). Clear goals and high-performance expectations are at the heart of the leader’s task–independent of his or her style. If the leader sets high performance standards, chances are that the goal will be reached (Baruch 1998). Employees that constantly expect more of themselves perform at higher levels. While actions such as refereeing, resolving, and even monitoring the staff are within bounds, a leadership task that the team leader must not perform is to evaluate ideas. The leader can help resolve conflicts, but evaluating–including rejecting or promoting ideas–is out of bounds. When evaluation becomes necessary, the entire team should participate. The team possesses more information than any one individual so the whole team is in a better position to evaluate ideas than is the leader (Bass 2000).
Transactional is based on the principle that employees are motivated by rewards and punishments. Bad times are a time to focus on the issue at hand, but once the issue has been resolved, the focus is on lessons learned and how the team can perform better in the future. Once the team has worked through the bad times, the team process should be directed to problems that will otherwise fester and become destructive. There are conflict resolution skills for teams that involve civilized disagreement without denial, smoothing over, or the arbitrary use of power by the leader. As Parker noted, effective teams are confident and secure enough to want to express differences. The advantage of this theory is that it allows leaders to control the behavior of people and improve the situations at a short period of time. The weakness of this theory is low motivation of employees and lack of initiatives (Zaccaro and Klimoski 2001; Robbins and Judge 2009).
The theories mentioned above allow to say that for the new leader it is crucial to take into account social and organizational changes and be creative. The 21st century requires unity but not unanimity or concurrence. Agreement may or may not represent the majority. In the final analysis, staff agree to support the decision even though employees may still disagree with some aspects of it. Many times, agreement represents cooperation. Cooperation may come after working through conflicting ideas. Individuals should not be forced to compromise their ideas just because they are tired of talking about the subject. Leaders should defend minority opinions and viewpoints and support and stimulate creative solutions. A continuing leadership task challenges the team to work through conflicting ideas. Compromises should be avoided until all alternatives have been completely explored (Bass 2000).
In order to improve leadership skills, an individual should take into account situational variables and consequences of his decisions. Other leadership tasks include ensuring that the team is staying on the topics at hand and not wasting time. A danger to staff is that it may become a social forum. This is because people generally try to get along in teams. They can drift off track, and it is the leadership’s task is to keep them focused on the task (Harvey, 2001). The leadership task may also require the leader to act as a “quarterback” and signal caller–assigning tasks and ensuring that everyone has the right information. The traditional view of the leader as someone out in front or the charismatic individual with the strong personality, directing the team and receiving credit for the results, is not what is inferred by the term signal caller. The team leader may not be out in front, nor should the team leader get all the credit for positive results. In a team environment, the team gets credit–all members contribute and all members share in the success. The team leader is primarily the signal caller, who resolves conflicts, inspires motivation, and contributes to goal attainment (Boyce and Herd 2003).
The Skills and Knowledge of the Leader
The 21st century leadership should have both personal and organizational dimensions, the former concerned with the leader’s influence over individuals and groups and the latter with the leadership of organizations. The two are interrelated, for leadership influences the activities and effectiveness of organizations through setting goals and providing direction and motivation. Also, a leader must know the psychological needs of his people as well as the organizational requirements and technical aspects of marketing. He needs “the ability to understand and appraise situations involving areas in which he is not an expert and he must have the ability to get things done through people who usually know more than he does in their own field. The new social environment facilitates getting things done through others. The success of a leader will be measured by the performance of the organization under his authority. It has been said that an organization is merely the lengthened shadow of its leader and that the top executive, in fact, personifies the business. Leadership suggests vision. It grows out of the ability to innovate and overcome the limitations of traditional patterns and methods (Read 2001).
Good leadership requires the acceptance of risk, the adjustment to new situations, and the recognition of opportunity. In the 21st century, leadership is concerned with the grit of basic and fundamental company values and is reflected in the kinds of marketing strategies chosen and decisions made. Top managers can only be effective through other people, for decisions are valueless until someone does something about them. Through good leadership, organization should help human corporate resources reach high levels of accomplishment. Baruch (1998) and Boyce and Herd (2003) underline that the leader’s task is to ensure that the team sets and maintains explicit high-performance expectations. With high-performance standards, the team is committed to achieving challenging goals. Clear goals and high-performance expectations are at the heart of the leader’s task–independent of his or her style. Gender stereotypes influence the perception of leaders and their impact on other people. If the leader sets high performance standards, chances are that the goal will be reached. This phenomenon is known as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Teams that constantly expect more of themselves perform at higher levels. Baruch (1998) states that while actions such as refereeing, resolving, and even monitoring the team are within bounds, a leadership task that the team leader must not perform is to evaluate ideas. The leader can help resolve conflicts, but evaluating–including rejecting or promoting ideas–is out of bounds. When evaluation becomes necessary, the entire team should participate. The team possesses more information than any one individual so the whole team is in a better position to evaluate ideas than is the leader (Robbins and Judge 2009).
The leader of the 21st century should be flexible and creative in order ot meet new social and organizational challenges. The leadership task is different than the leadership task. The leadership task concerns influencing and the leadership function, team process. The leadership function has more to do with who is in charge or leading the team at a particular point and time. Objectivity is also important. The thoughts and feelings of others cannot be accurately predicted–even in closely mixed groups. In other words, we are not good at judging what other people think of us. Rather than worrying, team members are more productive if they concentrate objectively on the issues at hand. Objectivity is another of the ground rules for team membership, and is a topic in which team members should be schooled. People can be taught to act more objectively and to sort out personality issues from substantive issues. Teams that can objectively concentrate on issues are more effective.
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Boyce, L. A., Herd, A. M. 2003, The Relationship between Gender Role Stereotypes and Requisite Military Leadership Characteristics. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 49 (1), 365.
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