What does leadership mean

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A. Matthew's 2 posts

1. What does leadership mean in the 21st century?

When the study of leadership began in the 16th Century with Machiavelli's 'The Prince' he believed that leaders could be taught, that maintaining order in any situation was the key. The idea of the 'great man' has much historical evidence to support it however it was later superseded by further studies by anthropologists and psychologists who asked questions about societies and culture, who looked at the science of motivating people as individuals combining to create teams that effectively advanced an organisation. A scientific study of leadership persisted throughout the twentieth century with three main phases: traits of the individual, behavior of key leaders and then finally a situational approach to how leaders respond in given circumstances. (Prentice 2013 p.2)

 Much of the recent studies of leadership have focused on an obsession for compiling a list of components that have been observed to be the key important traits from the perspective of those who follow. With the expectation that becoming self-aware and developing those traits the follower can assume the mantle. 360-degree performance appraisals are just one example of this obsession.

I believe, in coming from a HRM background, that in the future we need to focus our leadership attention on using the gift of workplace diversity, built on the back of globalisation, to implement the science of motivation to inspire the people we lead to aim higher in the pursuit of both success and happiness. Happy people make the best workforce, and that flows into the products we make and the customers we serve, and the success that comes as a result.  So good leaders need to understand the psychology of human interaction with the aim of group cohesion and motivation that has become so important in the 21st century, now that process management is so central to the organisational functionality of modern entities. With diversity comes the study of character.

"Diversity is surface; character is substance. Imagine how much more effectively people connected by character could resist the pressures of the workplace, and how much the quality of their judgement and decision-making would improve." (Crossan, Seljts&Gandz P. 40)

Prentice Anne E, 2013, Leadership for the 21st Century, Libraries Unlimited, Santa Barbra California.

Crossan, M, Seljts, G &Gandz, J 2016, Developing Leadership Character, Routledge, New York.

2. Are you a leader or a manager?

 The definition here is important I believe. In the readings for the past week we can be mistaken to understand leaders as visionaries and managers as task performers. I suspect good leadership requires good management skills but as we know managers are not always good leaders.

I believe I am a leader because I know how to motivate the people I work with. I believe that when you create an environment of trust, and a culture of happiness in the workplace, then results and profit will follow. In any business relationship the true value is in the relationship between the customer and the employee. By having engaged employees a company can achieve great success. And this engagement will only come when employees feel motivated by the tasks they undertake and have trust for the people who lead them. (Nayar p. 7.)

An important skill in leadership is change. Having the vision to see when it is needed, the creativity to decide what it should be and finally the skills in bringing people on the journey with you to make it successful. So much of the success of change management comes from trust that is built within an organisation by its leaders over time and the how that has impacted on its organisational culture.

Business has changed and organisations have become flat. Companies demand mastery from their employees and as such the vertical structure of leadership based on seniority or skill has become obsolete and the science of motivation has become leadership. Values and principals based collaboration has meant that trust in a business relationship now has great currency for any successful leader. Trust in this context is the act of taking calculated business risks, of acknowledging and rewarding effort, of creating a meaningful business culture that inspires commitment. (Green 2012.)

Nayar, V 2010, Employees First Customers Second, Turning conventional Management Upsidedown, Harvard Business Press, Boston Massachusetts.

Green, C 2014, 'Why trust is the new Core of Leadership', Forbes Finance Journal, Online April 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/trustedadvisor/2012/04/03/why-trust-is-the-new-core-of-leadership/#f5d6d335e122

B. Michelle's 2 posts

1. This is what Michelle has written. According to the marking guide, I have to acknowledge what she has written first before making my comments. This is as an etiquette in replying to other posts.

Schwarzkopf (1999) believes that leadership is a combination of many things, the primary ingredient in the 21st century will be character.  A sense of duty, having a value system, ethical behaviour and morality are important leadership characteristics (Schwarzkopf 1999).  He goes on to describe integrity as the linchpin leadership characteristic and that leaders lead people not things. When leadership fails it is generally not a failure in competence, it was character failure.  Examples of leadership failure include greed, lying, racism, intolerance, sexism, hate, immorality, etc (Schwarzkopf 1999). 

Encombe (2008) links the demographic, technological, environmental and social-economic dynamic global factors with today's need for leaders to have a unique outlook, attitude and skillset to influence business decisions that will positively impact their company, customers, stakeholders and markets. Contemporary leaders need to create invigorating cultures that attract empowered people to connect with customers and stakeholders in an authentic and positive way (Encombe,2008).  Twenty-first century leaders need to create authentic and trusting connections and meaningful engagements with people whilst leading a business that creates value to customers and sense of purpose to employees (Encombe, 2008).  According to Encombe (2008) great leaders create an invigorating sense of purpose, create a sense of continuity and values, are living a positive brand, understand clarity of impact, understand self-actualisation, know when to deliver an appropriate mix of rewards and work/life balance and create a sense of belonging.

I'd like to conclude with a quote from Verdisco (1999) about the rate of change that 21st century leaders must respond to: "We all know that leadership in the future will be a lot harder than it was in the past.  Marco Polo may have opened the supply chain to the Far East, but in his day competition wasn't nearly as fierce and changes didn't come quite so fast."

Enjoy your day Michele

Word Count:  299

 References: Encombe, J. 2008, "Equipping leaders for the 21st century", Strategic HR Review, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 23-27.

Schwarzkopf, N. 1999, "Leaders for the 21st Century", Vital speeches of the day, vol. 65, no. 17, pp. 519-521.

Verdisco, B. (1999). "Leadership in the 21st century: Is the past a prologue?",Discount Store News, 38(6), 17.

2. A manager's authority is defined to achieving the KPIs under his or her control, known as positional power.  To contrast a good leader uses his or her personal power to influence employees and stakeholders for positive outcomes (Fracaro, 2008).

Hill (1989) describes managers as well educated in their role, aware of the business and associated systems under their control, committed to meeting key performance measures, plan and organise employees under their control and tend to be busy in the day to day operations so generally are inaccessible or have little time to listen and engage.  To contrast, leaders continually challenge the existing environment, are innovative, provide stretch goals for the organisation and its people and see themselves as enablers rather than controllers (Hill,1989).  Whereas managers might be seen as a threat by employees, leaders are generally seen as people enablers motivating individuals and the collective to challenge the norm and reach new boundaries effectively increasing performance and creativity (Hill, 1989).

Managers may be viewed as administrators (or caretakers) whereas leaders inspire (Milios, 2011).

According to Milios (2011) managers:

  • Oversee the employees they are in charge of (have power over),
  • Plan and implement interim objectives that strive towards achieving overall goals delegated by the entity's leaders, and
  • Support their team members to implement delegated plans and objectives by providing direction, training, encouragement and feedback as needed.

Milios (2011) goes on to describe that leaders:

 1. Create and communicate the company vision

2. Establish strategic goals related to the vision and

3. Set a strategic direction for the company and use their power with people to influence employees to move in that direction.

So am I a leader or manager?  Whilst I aspire to be a good leader, there are times when I need to assume the manager role.

Reference no: EM131179193

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