Leadership: Its Different Dimensions and Applications Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1613 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership: Its Different Dimensions and Applications in the Contemporary Organization

Leadership, as applied in the contemporary organization, has evolved both as a function and as a concept. As a function within the organization, leadership (or specifically, leaders) have become the focal point through which an organization's efficacy and performance is assessed. The leader has become the "gauge" that represented and embodied the organization: what it stands for and what it is.

As a concept, leadership has come to be known as comprising of two sub-concepts, when applied in the contemporary organization. The personal and business dimensions of leadership identify the individual as being both a leader and a manager, respectively. The distinction between a leader and a manager has been discussed in specific studies on effective leadership, wherein the former is discussed in relation to the individual's personality propensity to interact and communicate with other people, whether in groups or as an organization. Corderman elaborated on leadership and being a leader in the following terms (2006):

effective leadership necessarily involves some degree of acquired learning -- in most cases, a very substantial degree.

Leadership is more about behavior, skills, and competencies than simple innate traits. Leadership effectiveness is a lifetime pursuit necessarily dedicated to self-awareness and reflection, critical thinking, and action.

Leadership and its Role in the Contemporary Organization

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Given this definition and explication on effective leadership, this paper centers on the concept of effective leadership as defined in the contemporary organizational setting. The importance of applying this concept in the organizational setting is motivated by the fact that leadership becomes, as Corderman asserted, "multi-faceted" in its nature when organizational dynamics and culture come into play.

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The sections that follow look into three dimensions at which effective leadership is illustrated and given a new perspective. The first section centers onto leadership as a "personal endeavor" that requires more than just knowledge, skills, and expertise in a particular field. Leadership, more than anything else, will only be effective when the individual is able to surmount the emotional requirements necessary for an organization to operate smoothly, under the leader's management.

The second section looks into effective leadership as a form of strategic management, giving the concept (of effective leadership) its functional, business dimension. Lastly, effective leadership in the multicultural organization setting reflects the prevalence of different sub-cultures extant within the organizational culture, presenting a challenge to the individual, both as a leader and manager of the organization.

Leadership as a Personal Endeavor: Looking into emotional intelligence as an indicator of effective leadership

Dulewicz (2003), in his analysis of effective leadership, revealed that more than just functional capabilities, a leader must also possess high "emotional intelligence" qualities in order to become effective. The relationship between effective leadership and EQ qualities was found out to be an important linkage and measure in assessing an individual's ability to lead, specifically under the stress of managing people/members in the organizational setting.

Linkages between effective leadership and EQ qualities are found to be demonstrated in the following action standards: (1) creating the case for change; (2) creating structural change; (3) engaging others in building commitment; (4) implementing and sustaining changes; and (5) facilitating and developing capability (200). Evidently, these action standards are mainly concerned and are observed to be involved with organizational change and development, primarily because these dynamics are not only the most occurring, but also the most difficult type of "challenge" or 'undertaking' that an effective and highly-capable leader must be able to accomplish and deliver for the organization.

Through a survey of organizations and members of organizations and a comparison of individuals with high EQ (emotional intelligence) and MQ (managerial competencies) levels, Dulewicz assessed whether individuals with high EQ levels are considered more effective leaders than individuals with high MQ levels. Results demonstrated that more than functional and managerial skills, high EQ levels and qualities related to this measure have been more significantly related to effective leadership.

Among the EQ qualities found out to be relevant in determining effective leadership in the organizational setting are integrity, ability to motivate others, persuasiveness, resilience, high achievement motivation, intuitiveness/decisiveness, sensitivity, and lastly, energy (207). These qualities contributing to high EQ levels and corresponding effectiveness in one's leadership lies on the fact that these qualities are, if more than anything, prerequisites in managing individuals/members of the organization at a more personal level. The ability to go beyond professional relationships, and to "reach out" and be able to achieve the level of each member of the organization is an ability that requires a balance of these EQ qualities.

Although no ideal balance or 'combination' of these qualities are determined in Dulewicz's study, the determination of these EQ qualities will prepare the organizational leader to become effective by developing a multitude of these qualities. His study being exploratory in nature, Dulewicz only attempted to define and determine the linkage between EQ levels and perceived conceptions of effective leadership in organizations. The creation of quantitative measures of effective leadership based on EQ levels and qualities, as well as models developed out of this relationship, is still an unexplored are, which the author recognized as a limitation in his explication of effective leadership as a "personal endeavor" within the organizational setting.

Leadership as a Business Function: The effective leader as a strategic manager

Leadership when applied as a business function in the organization assumes a different perspective, wherein strategic management comes in. In Hughes' (2005) analysis of strategic management as an indicator of effective leadership, he argued that efficient 'management strategy' is effective leadership strategy. Developing this position in his article, he further explicated that effective leaders must have the "organizational and human capabilities...effective leadership strategy encompasses an organization's value and culture. It also addresses the role of systems in facilitating leadership and development" (46).

Hughes' definition of effective leaders within organizations is an extended analysis of Dulewicz's study. While the latter developed the notion of effective leadership from a purely "humanistic" approach -- that of EQ levels and qualities, Hughes' study combined both functional (organization) and human (emotional requirements and qualities) capabilities in assessing the level of effectiveness of a leader within the organizational setting.

For him, strategic management is vital in the development of an effective leader, since it is familiarity and expertise in business functions that will best equip the individual to motivate and lead his/her team members. Without the knowledge and expertise required to know the daily operations, processes, and activities that people engage in everyday within the organization, the individual as the manager cannot become an effective leader because s/he would not know how to relate his/her program or training in the context or culture of the member. Hughes' analysis pointed out that, more than anything, organizational culture and its sub-cultures ultimately determine the dynamics of the organization. Thus, being knowledgeable, tolerant, and even assimilating one's self in these sub-cultures are not only keys to effective leadership, but are pathways through which the individual can create a balance within himself/herself of being a strategic manager and effective leader. Thus, effective leadership is, in Hughes' terms, achieving an equilibrium between "making sure...values are understood and embraced" and having a "clear understanding of (the) organization's strategic drivers and business strategy" (46).

Leadership in the Multicultural Organization Setting

As discussed earlier, the prevalent occurrence among organizations nowadays is its multi-faceted nature, specifically on the issue of organizational culture and sub-cultures as predominant structures that determine the nature and dynamics of the organization.

In Liu's (2004) survey of assessed qualities of effective leaders in a multicultural organizational setting, it was found out that "open, supportive interaction can empower employees and also help managers gain the feedback to develop their leadership capabilities. This study confirms the value of managers and employees who recognize, combine and develop each other's abilities" (741).

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