The Leaders as a Social Architect

I once read that execution of plans, change leadership, and maintenance of focus on future are among the problems that leaders face when managing organisations. I was, therefore, curious to know what makes creative vision as well as strategic direction. In Chapter 13 (Daft 2015, p.392) I learned that a strategic leader should be future oriented, flexible, strategic thinker, and implement changes that promote the competitive advantage of the company. A successful leader is one that knows the direction taken by the organization, the current position, ways of achieving future objectives, and what should be done at present. Therefore, a hiring firm must ensure that the candidate assigned the strategic leadership role has the capability to execute the associated tasks effectively.

Based on the explanation offered in this chapter, a strategic leader can easily be identified during the interviews. What the human resource managers should remember are the features of a potential strategic manager. The four skills to check for include ability to predict opportunities and threats, challenge existing conditions, understand/explain trends, and organise tasks. I realised that while identifying opportunities available for the organisation, a strategic leader will go ahead to trace the associated risks or threats. Strategic leadership also has nothing to do with acceptance of status quo. Any person who expresses confidence in and unwavering support for the pre-established working condition lacks strategic leadership ability. It is as well a requirement that strategic leaders understanding the direction in which aspects of concern change.

I understood that vision is crucial in strategic leadership because it connects the current operations of organisation with the future goals. The vision offers a shared view of future activities, engages the involved parties, makes work meaningful, and aids the setting of excellent organisational standards. The objectives of an organisation are attained when the vision is developed into a strategy. I had heard that every organisation has a vision but I had never known the various ways in companies benefit from their visions. Now I acknowledge that vision is responsible for cooperation and collaboration among parties. It lays the foundation for formulation of rules and regulations that guide performance of a firm.

I was particularly excited when I learned the about the link between vision and strategy. I discovered the facts when learning the steps taken to formulate a strategy. The chapter explained that strategy formulation process blends the organisation’s mission and vision with its central competences. While these are the fundamental components, a strategy is not effective if left at this stage. I learned that the effectiveness of a strategy results from utilisation of feedback from people within and outside the organisation, assessment of trends or shortcomings in the environment, evaluation of past occurrences, prediction of future events, and hard analysis. Strategy formulation, thus, requires examination of strengths and failures of the past, present and future.

The chapter also aided my understanding of factors that allow for successful implementation of the designed strategy. A strategy is effectively executed if there is continuous communication, explanation of the stated actions, and ensure employees do not forget the strategy of the company. This is how the unification between strategic vision and action (Hitt 1988, p.7) is attained. These aspect are closely related and relevant to the unit I am taking in business strategy. The unit defines and explains the choices and activities that enable an organisation to achieve its goals and maintain a competitive advantage in the industry to which it belongs. Business strategy lessons define the actions which businesses should consider during the hiring and allocation of resources to attain its goals.

Chapter 14 of Draft (2015, p.426) enlightened me on various features of culture and how to apply them in organisational leadership. Culture defines the norms, values, beliefs, and meanings that organisational members share and teach new members. I realised that culture is the aspect that directs the relationship among group members. Also, it is culture that enables an organisation to familiarise with external environment. It was interesting to learn that culture sets the foundation for relationship among members of a group. In other words, culture establishes internal integration which then guides the development of shared identity, ensures effectiveness of collective work, and upholds the working connections day after day.

Culture also defines allocation of power in an organisation as well as defining the proper behaviour and identifying the appropriate communication channels. I, at first, had difficulty understanding how the strength of culture could encourage inappropriate or harmful values. This happened because the introductory sections of the chapter explained the advantages of culture and how it was essential for a group of people. I later understood this when I learned about the two categories of culture, that is responsive and resistant cultures (Kotter & Heskett 1992, p.51). I then knew that leaders cooperate with stakeholders and even take risks to serve the interest of employees, customers and involved parties in responsive culture. Leaders also acknowledge the importance of all procedures, processes and people in this category of culture. Service is offered to the organisation as a whole and leaders trust other people. Contrarily, preservation of status quo and self-promotion or meeting of personal needs are features of resistant cultures. Leaders also distrust stakeholders, employees and other parties.

It was exiting to learn the qualities to look out for when nurturing a high-performance-based culture. I noticed that a strong mission or organisational purpose and responsive values should inform business decisions and activities. The high-performance culture is also maintained when employees have a share in bottom-line outcomes and have a central role in promoting organisation’s culture. I would like a detailed description of how the management or owners of an organisation ensure that leaders do not interfere with positive norms and values upon which high-performance is built.

How does the organisation owners ensure that cultural leadership does not permit leaders to either initiate wrong values/norms or eliminate the values that promote productivity of the firm? I was happy to know that a process, socialisation, exists to enable a person fit within a group by teaching them the norms, behaviours and values that define it. However, given that globalisation and diversity in the place of work is a major characteristic of modern business, I wonder how organisations preserve their values. How do organisations preserve the beliefs, merits and important elements that determine their effectiveness today?

I also learned that the four forms of corporate culture (McDonald & Grandz 1992) are brought together by flexibility, stability, and internal/external focus. An organisation that prioritises collaboration, consideration, consensus, social equality and fairness works towards involvement culture. On the other hand, consistency culture is nurtured in a firm that cares about order, compliance, formality and the economy. Responsiveness, creativity, adventure and risks are taken in adaptability culture.

He forth category is achievement culture and here, individual initiative, aggressiveness, competition and perfection are crucial. I identified employee involvement as a common feature in these four corporate cultures. The cultures also focus on attainment of organisational goals. The topic of value-based leadership was very interesting. What impressed me most was how the process of advocating and acting upon values makes leaders undergo self-discovery and identification of values that will help others in attainment of organisational objectives.

After studying Chapter 15 (Draft 2015), I discovered that the modern business environment contains all the factors that create the need for change leadership. In other words, the current business environment is characterised by advancements in technology, changes in market forces, globalisation, revolution in information and socially, alterations in social attitude, and economic disturbances. This chapter also informed me that it is the duty of a leader to convince people that change is necessary. Given the high demand for change in the business world today, organisations need leaders that can serve as agents of change. It is, thus, important for hiring organisations to understand the qualities to look for in candidates.

I felt inspired when I read that a change agent should define themselves as change leaders. Other critical points I gained are that change leadership requires courage, promotion of employees’ accountability, enhancement of adaptability, learning from personal mistakes, working with vision, and possession of ability to address uncertainties. The lectures on this chapter enabled me to see organisational change as a planned process (Kotter 19996, p.21.  I understood that igniting the fire for transformation should be followed by involving the right people, making the change attractive, spreading change information broadly, elimination of barriers and equipping individuals to take proper actions. The next step is to recognise and rejoice over quick wins while moving ahead. It is essential to make the obtained change stick.

The theories on change leadership enabled me to see that change could be initiated through spreading of positive messages and concentration of learning success stories. This is called appreciative inquiry. The concept is part of daily operations and is particularly important in establishing followership, improving teamwork, determining solution to work-related challenges, and solving conflicts. I have often read that employees’ participation in organisational activities determine organisational performance, and that some organisations ignore employee contribution towards decision-making. I now know that companies can use idea incubator to safely harbour and develop ideas of employees from different departments.

This strategy can as well assist with nurturing of idea champions. The long-term outcome is a team of creative individuals that have passion for new ideas and utilisation of the same to reduce resistance and eliminate obstacles. Idea champions established through enhanced collaboration, engagement of (cross-functional and self-managed) teams, and speed storming. I learned that brainstorming plays a vital role in leading creative people. The technique enables gathering of numerous ideas to facilitate problem solution. Brainstorming is most effective in absence of criticism, with unlimited presentation and establishment of desirable quantity.

I also realised that a deeper focus on a topic or area of study can ignite personal creativity. The process of immersing creates newer experience and offer different viewpoint on popular topics. What I understood from this explanation is that individuals can rediscover fresh aspects of a situation if they engage in extensive study or look at the already presented ideas from a different perspective. I was surprised to hear that by allowing the mind to work freely, mental pauses enhance a person’s creativity.

If I hold a leadership position in my future career, I will ensure that employees have access to quiet spaces, participate in brainstorming and immersion. This is because data collection comes before the sharing of new ideas. When the change is initiated and developed, final stage is to implement it. I learned that change implementation works well in the presence of shared obligations and dedication that clarifies the manner in which employees relate with the organisation. There is as well a need to assess the assigned tasks performance demands, and compensation options.