Power and the discretion to bring major revolutions is a crucial determinant of a leader’s potential influence on the performance of an organization. Managers face many internal and external constraints as they execute their duties. About the internal constraints, the CEO’s discretion can be limited by several internal organizational factors and one type of constraint involves powerful inside forces or coalitions in the organization. The other type of internal constraint is a strong organizational culture that is resistant to change. Organizations with strong bureaucracy and standardized methods of doing things have inertia that is hard to overcome.
The nature of the organization’s primary products and services and the type of marketers in which the organization operates constitutes the external constraints to a CEO’s discretion (Dimmock & Walker, 2005). If an organization is in a growing industry whereby demand for products is rapidly increasing as opposed to flat or decreasing demand, or if the products/ services can be differentiated from those of the competitors, then managerial discretion is greater.
Both the internal and external constraints are interrelated and are also linked to the leader’s personality and skills, and this helps in influencing the behavior of the leader. The daily behavior of low-level leaders can be observed by subordinates, superiors, and peers, and most of the time, the actions of the leaders have immediate consequences on the team’s/group’s performance. On the other hand, few members of the organization have a chance to observe the actions of the top executive directly. Most of the actions affect the performance of an organization indirectly and the effects may be delayed for long thus making it difficult to see the relationship between the actions of the leader and the consequences.
Leaders who make slow intentional changes while trying to avoid potential problems earns less credit than the one who allows problems to occur and then act directly to solve them in a very visible way (Heifetz, 1994). Ascriptions regarding competence and perceptions of a leader about the importance of change have implications for his/her capacity to influence the organization’s future performance. The effectiveness of a top-level leader relies on their discretion to make innovative, major changes in key areas of the organization’s strategy that will affect its performance within 5 to 20 years in the future. Power struggles among different factions or coalition also determine the amount of change that occurs in an organization.
Developing leadership skills
In the twenty-first century, a leader will require a higher level of skill and some new competencies as well due to the increasing rate of change in the external environment of organizations, and the many challenges leaders are faced with. Competency in leadership can be enhanced in several ways including; self-help activities, developmental activities, and formal training. Formal training takes place during a defined period and is conducted away from the manager’s immediate site of work by the training professionals.
Usually, the developmental activities are conducted with operational assignments or embedded within operational job assignments. Learning theory, the specific learning objectives, characteristics of trainees, and practical considerations should be taken into account in the design of training. The training content should build on the trainee’s prior knowledge and also focus on the important things.
Many methods have been successfully used for leadership training and these include; videotapes, equipment simulators, lectures, demonstrations, procedural manuals, and interactive computer tutorials used in learning technical skills. To learn conceptual and administrative skills, exercises, cases, business games, simulations, and videotapes are used. Also to learn interpersonal skills, lectures, case discussions, videotapes, role-playing, and group exercises are used. Behavioral role-modeling, cases, and large-scale simulation are the three widely used techniques for leadership training.
For effective leadership, much of the essential skills are learned from experience as opposed to formal training programs. An opportunity to develop and refine leadership skills during the performance of regular job-related duties is provided by the special assignments. Managers can be helped to interpret their experiences and learn new skills through coaching and mentoring.
Ethical leadership and diversity
Dimmock and Walker (2005) assert that ethical leadership is the kind of leadership that helps individuals to achieve their full potential as human beings. This is done by having the freedom to strive, dream, and to relate with one another in authentic ways. Diversity is how we differ in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, and physical appearance; as well as religion, nationality, value systems, thought process, sexual orientation, family status, skills, perspectives, beliefs, heritage, interests, and education.
To demonstrate ethical leadership on diversity several things should be put into consideration as discussed herein. One, we should challenge the discourse in us on diversity, heterosexism, inclusion, and homophobia. Also, we should publicly recognize the framework or the guiding values that influence our personal and institutional practices of diversity, and publicly acknowledging the stumbling blocks to our acceptance of certain differences diversity will be manifested.
Heifetz (1994) asserts that the gap between rhetoric and reality should be addressed since it is not advisable to have a policy that is inconsistent with the institutional practice than to have no policy at all. Also, we should demonstrate an understanding of the human rights values in general, and the rights of GLBT in particular, as also our responsibility to uphold those rights. Furthermore, responsibility should be taken for the repercussions of how we publicly speak about GLBT rights, and also about those rights’ protection, and understand how the behaviors of others may be affected by our words. Finally, prejudice within the GLBT community towards GLBT people who also experience in terms of ability, religion, age, race, expression, and sexual orientation should be addressed.
Embracing diversity entails a change in our values, actions, and perceptions. It also requires more of each of us than only showing sensitivity to groups of people identified in some manner as falling outside of the dominant culture. Respect for all along with heightened awareness of our prejudices and re-evaluation of our beliefs and actions is required for true diversity. A fundamental change to societal structures and institutions and the creation of an environment that is accepting and welcoming of all are brought by true diversity since it is inclusive.
Overview and integration
Those in leadership face relentless and conflicting demands on their time. Always there are inquiries, reports, problems, and requests from different people interacting with a leader. Aspects of situations such as the nature of work determine the pattern of necessary interactions with subordinates, peers, superiors, and outsiders. Also, the importance of leadership and what type of leadership is needed, are determined by aspect of the situation.
Effective leaders develop a mental agenda of short-term and long-term objectives and strategies. Agenda is used in guiding their actions, managing their time, and helping them in becoming more proactive. It is the role of an effective leader to monitor the external environment and obtain information concerning the trends and events that require adaptive changes.
Most leadership roles and functions need interpersonal, technical, and conceptual skills. To analyze problems, develop creative solutions, identify patterns and trends, differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information, and understand complex relationships, requires cognitive skills. Influencing people, understanding individuals, facilitating teamwork, establishing and maintaining networks, and resolving conflicts constructively requires interpersonal skills. Technical skills are applied where an understanding of activities, operational processes, products and services, and technology is required.
Dimmock, C., & Walker, A. (2005). Educational leadership: culture and diversity. London: Sage.
Heifetz, R. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. London: Harvard University Press.