Organisational direction

Leadership should perhaps no longer be viewed in terms of the leader, but instead as the process of co-ordinating efforts and moving forward together as a group (Drath and Palus 1994). Organisational culture also impacts on the effectiveness of a leader – leaders need to understand an organisation’s culture, modifying it to meet organisational needs as it develops (Baron 1995).Kotter (1990) suggests successful leadership encompasses visionary strategic organisational direction, communicating this within the organisation, and motivating and aligning the workforce and the organisation to realise the vision.

Determining the key factors for effective leadership is further complicated by research suggesting that there are different types of leaders occupying different leadership positions within an organisation.These include local departmental leaders, executive leaders and networkers who may have no positional authority but who influence using their skills and accessibility to all levels of the organisation – each type of leader requires slightly different skills to be effective in their role (Senge 1996). Although there are numerous schools of thought as to what factors create successful and effective leadership there is general consensus that good leadership is essential for a successful organisation.Longenecker et al (1999) state that ineffective leadership is a key cause of organisational failure as poor leaders make poor decisions which places enormous stress on the workforce.

Traditional methods of leadership development tend to exist within management development programmes but there has recently been a re-emphasis from management development to leadership development (Cacioppe 1998). This largely occurs in business schools or colleges and as such there is the tendency to focus on issues out of context of an individual’s workplace.As Cohen and Tichy (1997) state “It has been too rote, too backward-looking and too theoretical. It has rarely been tied to a business’ needs nor prepared leaders for the challenges of the future” Cacioppe (1998) proposes an integrated model for leadership development, based on the work of Vicere (1997).

This focuses on developing leader competencies which directly contribute to the strategic imperatives of the business.Elements include changing mindsets, a global focus, personal development and improved business skills. This is brought together using self development and team building skills. Cohen and Tichy (1997) studied the most successful businesses and found that these companies used programs for leaders to develop leaders throughout all levels of the company using creative ways to teach from their own experiences and spending time on this outside of normal working hours.Cacioppe (1998) has devised a questionnaire to give organisations an idea of how ready they might be to involve leaders in leadership development. Handy (1993) suggests that individuals should be placed in situations that test for the leadership characteristics listed previously, then work on developing these using leadership learning situations and developing formal organisational coaching methods using current leaders.

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As a starting point then, organisations therefore need to – 1/ research and develop leadership programmes closely tailored to create leaders who can lead the business into the future. An effective programme should be based on organisational case studies, project work, presentations on current business issues, situational leadership skills, interactive computer simulations, 360 degree feedback and self knowledge.In summary it appears that despite masses of research it remains hard to define what is required for effective leadership – partly because any attempt appears to be aimed at a moving target. Each organisation is different and changes within itself at different rates to meet the different requirements of it’s purpose. The individual’s within each organisation are also different and will respond to leadership – both as leader and follower or partner – in different ways.

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