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Course BUSI1413: Ldrshp,Per Dev,Career Mnt(MBA) Course School/Level B/PG
Coursework Essay Assessment Weight 50.00%
Tutor PF Stoneman Submission Deadline 18/12/2017
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Contemporary leadership and its applicability in organizations.
Leadership is the ability to inspire and mentor others to produce best out of them. It is a skill of getting others willing follow them. A good leader is visionary who plans for future well in advance and also controls the present situation. Throughout the history there is no such specific definition to describe leadership however it could be perceived as a skill of influencing others to work towards common goal. As cited by (Anthony, Farag and McGuinness,2009) leadership style is practice or behaviour adopted by leaders and manager to direct their subordinates in achieving the ultimate goal. There are different model of leadership depending upon on the behaviour of leader like democratic, autocratic, laissez-faire etc also known as traditional style of leadership. In today’s fast paced business environment things are changing rapidly and competition is increasing constantly. This emphasizes on the importance of leaders for organization who can enable them to achieve desired goals and objectives. Such complex demands from corporate world has given rise to some very interesting theories of leadership known as contemporary leadership theories. Contemporary theories insist that effective leaders are those who have intellect to understand the complex environment and take appropriate decision according to situations. (Denison, Quinn and Hooijberg1995). Effective leadership creates a healthy work environment which helps an individual to give best of their potential. Like traditional form of leadership modern leadership can also be further segregated in different types. It mainly includes transformational, transactional, charismatic and servant leadership.
Transformational leadership has become quickly popular in modern leadership theories. It related to inspiring and motivating people to works toward a common objective. transformational leaders possess the ability to persuade their followers and change their outlook towards a particular situation which helps them in being constantly motivated to achieve the desired goals. They have a clear vision on which they are very confident and are able to convince their subordinates as well about their vision. Transformational leaders have charismatic personality and believe in empowering people to take essential decisions in benefit of business. They are strong team player who encourage active participation from all the team members. As described by Bass (1985). Transformational leader are those leaders who extract higher level of performance from those they lead. There are many examples of organizations who practice transformational leadership. One of the best example we have is of Virgin group. It was founded in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson and since then it has evolved as one the of the largest group. There are many different aspects in their success but Sir Richard Branson’s leadership has played an instrumental role in leading Virgin group to such heights. He is famous for his stylish personality and excellent interpersonal skills. Branson is always looking for best since he strongly believes it is achievable. (Branson,2006). The most important characteristic that has made him reach great milestones is his ability to influence and motivate his employees.
In his journey he seeks for people who are innovative and intend to expand. His quality of capacity building has made him an exceptional leader in modern world. He utilizes his resource effectively and is actively involved in day to day activities of business. Branson is also interested to work with people who is willing to take risk and intends to accomplish the group mission. Over the period of time he has drawn superior performance from his team which is one of the key aspects in transformational leadership. There is no doubt in the fact that the leadership style practiced in Virgin group is that of Transformational leadership as it reflects in how their management functions. There is no barrier between management and employees. In fact, employees of Virgin group approach management with innovative and creative ideas without following the fixed policies or rules of the organization. These ideologies are inculcated by Branson and shared by all the participants in organization. He has developed his own style of leadership and integrated his team to his thoughts and vision. Virgin groups management especially the human resource department take special efforts to provide an excellent and positive work environment by constantly motivating their employees by providing monetary benefit through incentives, bonus, profit sharing etc. Based on employee’s performance they also provide internal promotions which helps them to move ahead and take up new role in their career.
The management of virgin group follows a contingency approach. They take decisions and plan for a situation with having close reference to the problem which has helped them to gain outstanding profit in terms of revenues. They understand the dynamics of business environment and realize the fact that different situation should have different management approach. An Important element in Branson’s leadership is he not only control the situation but also at the same time can take high risk. (Dearlove,2007). He changes his strategy based on situation and adapts quickly to it which has proved to be one of the main characteristic in his leadership. (Durbin Dalglish Miller ,2006). An example of which is when he realized that he is not able to reap desired profit by competition with Coco-cola and Pepsi cola in cola business he completely changed his strategy, location and management of cola business with altogether a different theme of new age beverages like fruit juice and energy drinks. (Dearlove,2007).
Apart from Sir Branson’s contributions another important factor which has played a vital role in success of Virgin of group is its organizational culture which is very diverse. The group has more than 100 brands across the market and are not entirely related to each other but one common factor in each and every department is the brand image that the virgin group has developed over the years. This image puts high responsibility on its employees to firmly represent the brand. Managers encourage their subordinates to be innovative and come up with new ideas rather than sitting back waiting for instructions. They have in faith in their employees that they can produce cutting edge product which the organization can launch and deliver in the market. Management is always open to suggestion which creates a positive attitude amongst the workers towards the organization and builds a desire to see their company succeed. Virgin group promotes healthy competition and also expects its co-workers to be competitive which will not only enable them improve their efficiency but also recognised as major contributors to new business models. Such contributions from workers eventually leads to overall company’s growth.
Transformational leadership flows throughout the Virgin group right from the entry level executives to senior management. Holistic goals are set by Sir Branson along with management and are communicated to everyone. Goals are mainly related to expansion, use of advance technology, customer loyalty etc. All the division from various companies work to attain it. Every sector has their own specific targets which aims at increasing product services and market share. It the responsibility of manager to assign specific task to their employees and make it evident to the entire company. This helps in keeping the organization on track in pursuit of success. However, at the same time the managers need to ensure that they set challenging goals to their workers so that no employ is underutilised, more over challenging goals makes employees aware that they are involved in meaningful task. As the targets are specific it is easily achievable. Even managers need to prove their capabilities by ensuring that day to day activities of business are running smoothly which is very essential in expansion of business. So, the entire idea behind all these efforts are to propagate the thinking that the benefit of the company will eventually lead to the benefit of every individual
involved in the process in terms of shareholder, managers, stakeholders etc ultimately advancing the overall growth of the organization. Today Virgin group is a global company with having more then 200 companies in different sectors and nearly 50000 people working for them across the globe for which a significant amount credit goes to Sir Richard Branson and his exceptional blend of transformational and charismatic leadership.
Another important concept in contemporary leadership is of servant leadership. According to (Patterson,2003) Servant leader are those pays emphasis on their followers. They intend to lead while serving their followers keeping them on priority. The key elements in this type of leadership is that leaders are trustworthy, open minded, selfless and emphasize on their employee’s well-being. They believe in less of directing and more of serving. One such classic example of organization in aviation sector which practices servant leadership is of South west airlines of U.S.A. Herb Kelleher the CEO and founder of South west airlines has done a fundamental job in leading their organization and has been recognised as one of the most admirable CEO in the USA by it employees. However, he gives credit for his success to his employees. Kelleher and his employees share a healthy relation which has resulted in southwest airlines having lowest turnover in U.S airline industry in terms of employees.
An important constituent in their business strategy is that they believe in keeping things simple. They follow simple ticketing and reservation system which allows them to move plane 25% faster as compared to other airlines leading to more planes is air at lower cost. All employees work together as team and help each other to clean planes so that they can get off the gate quickly even Kelleher many a times is found with maintenance crew helping them to clean or handle baggage’s. This effort has helped Southwest to not only attain higher efficiency but also reduce its maintenance and training cost. In the end one of the most important ingredient in Southwest’s approach is retaining quality work force. Their CEO takes special efforts to personally meet every employee so that he his able to create awareness and share his vision amongst his employees. Such attempts made by Kelleher has developed trust in his workforce eventually which has played a key role in their success. (Avolio and Bass ,2002)
Thus, from the above examples of Virgin Group and Southwest airlines it is quite evident that contemporary leadership theories can be effective in today’s business environment. In current hypercompetitive business world, the demand of the organisation and customer are rapidly changing in order to meet such pace it visible that leaders need to adapt to modern concept of leadership which can be beneficial for them to achieve desired organisational goals. If we look at the concept of contemporary leadership it mainly revolves around motivating employees and being innovative. Some researcher has even pointed out few flaws in modern theories for example according to (Stephens et al., 1995). Transformational leadership tends to be bias in motivating people and also if the employees are influenced by different leaders it gives rise to conflict in vision eventually resulting in decline of results. (Porter and Bigley, 1998). However, there is not enough identification of negative impacts or loss to business due to transformational leadership (1999 Yukl).
From my point of view a great leader is the one who is always willing to lead from front and not follow. He must be a self-confident visionary with clear objectives and must possess the skill of having a proper balance in present and future. A good leader should have excellent personality because followers tend to imitate their leader and gain motivation from him. They have faith in their leader and continuously seek feedback from them so a good leader should also be good mentor. He should be open-minded and constantly learn from real world experiences because leadership is journey of continuous development. To sum up for any organisation to succeed their leader must have blend of different leadership style which he or she can execute based on demand of situation and take effective decision which ultimately lead to overall success of the organisation.
Bass, B.M. (1985) Leadership and performance beyond expectation.
Des Dearlove, D. (2007) Business the Richard Branson Way,
Branson, R. (2007). The Virgin way: Everything I know about leadership.
Amany A Farag, Susan Tullaimcguinness and Mark K Anthony, Journal of nursing management, (2009) Nurses perception of their managers leadership style and unit climate: Are there general differences, Kent state university
Durbin, A. Dalglish, C ; Miller, P (2006) Leadership, 2nd Asia-Pacific edition, John Wiley ; Sons, Australia.