Powerful leadership & excellence in public enterprises.

AuthorSrivastava, V.N.
PositionBy Contribution - Abstract


Within the literature on leadership, generally, there is a clear recognition of the link between leadership and culture in the process of change (Schein, 1992; Afsanesh, 1993; both cited in Parry & Proctor-Thomson, 2003; Kotter, 1998). Only through leadership can one develop and nurture a culture that is adaptive to change (Kotter, 1998:166). According to Schein (1992, cited in Parry & Proctor-Thomson, 2003), transformational leadership behavior such as directing attention to critical incidents, reacting to crisis, role modeling, formal statements and telling stories, legends and myths influence culture. Kilmann (1985) believes that leadership is critical because, as organisational culture develops and change, they also need to be managed and controlled. According to Bass (1998), survival of the organisation depends upon the shaping of the culture initiated by effective leaders, particularly during change efforts. Kotter & Heskett (1992:84) state that the single most visible factor which distinguishes major cultural changes that succeed from those that fail is 'competent leadership at the top'. They inspire and help create adaptive culture.

Romig (2001) reports that today's organisational leaders required a new kind of person having great managerial leadership talents and who did not depend on top-down organisational superiority and subordination. Reference is to powerful leadership in dealing with normal human responses such as fears, insecurity, self-doubt, confusion, etc firmly and sensitively, give support where it is needed and stand firm in the face of strong resistance. They help to create enhanced capacity in their people and who, in turn, become the steward of all the organisation's stakeholders (McLagan & Nel, 1996). According to them, the new style of leadership requires changes throughout the organisation and culture by looking deep within and transforming themselves, creating direct relationships with employees, helping managers and front line to change, acting as focused visionary and increasing organisational strengths.

Excellence in Leadership

In achieving organisational development and excellence, the role of a successful entrepreneurial and/ or intrapreneurial leader is important and the leader has to be a powerful one who can communicate and inspire by appropriate means, the level of competence necessary to influence a group of individuals to become willing participants in the fulfillment of innovational goals (Darling & Beebe, 2007). They create new ideas, new products and services, new policies, new procedures and effective communication networks. According to Nurmi & Darling (1997) these leaders believe in "attention through vision", "meaning through communication", "trust through positioning" and "confidence through respect". Through the vision they take their organisations beyond the horizon and the established map.

In Kanji's Business Excellence Model (Kanji & Moura, 2001), leadership plays a prime role for the creation of excellence in organisations. According to them, leadership is prime and leadership excellence emerges from the core values of the organisation. Bennis & Nannu (1985, cited in Northhouse, 1997) state that "management controls, arranges, does things right; leadership unleashes energy, sets the vision, does the right thing". This view is shared by Kotter (1990) when he states that the overriding function of the management is to provide order and consistency in organisations, whereas the primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement (Kanji & Moura, 2001). Georgiades & Macdonell's (1998) model also puts leadership at the center of effective functioning of an organisation with three main leadership tasks: establishment of the vision, the alignment of the culture, and specification of management practices. According to Nadler & Tushman (1990), leaders need to provide a focal point for the energies, hopes and aspirations of people and serve as role models whose behaviors, actions and personal energies demonstrate the desired behavior for concrete outcomes.

Kanji's model of leadership (Fig. 1) incorporates critical success factors for leadership identified as vision, mission, strategy and key issues which are essential for achieving excellence in leadership. To emerge as a powerful leader, therefore, the major challenge is managing effectively the relationships among the globalization issues, the organisation's vision, mission and strategy, and leader's style dynamisms. The meaning of each of the model's constructs and relationships among them is explored in Fig. 1.

Global Leadership

The emergence of global leadership is the offshoot of what we call the management challenges of globalization issues, which need to develop executives to manage and lead from a global perspective (Mendenhall et al., 2003). Leadership began to be regarded as more complex and challenging to drive organisations towards excellence. Scholars came up with identical findings that developing global leadership and business competence in leaders was a high priority (Gregersen et al., 1998; Suutari, 2002; Mendenhall et al., 2003). Osland et al. (2006) identified challenges emanating from global contexts such as geographic reach in terms of business operations, cultural reach in terms of people and intellectual reach in terms of development of global mindsets. Lane et al. (2004) argued that, as a term, globalization attempts to describe a complexity of four different kinds--multiplicity, interdependence, ambiguity and cross-cultural differences. The field of global leadership development has started developing and scholars are undertaking continuous research and surveys to contribute to this field in the nascent stage of development.

Some scholars have conceded that most competencies associated with leadership from the domestic and traditional leadership literature are necessary to lead globally. The global context places high demands on the deployment of these competencies that for all intents and purposes render the phenomenon very differently (Mendenhall, 2008) and the study of global leadership therefore becomes necessary. Osland &Bird (2006) distinguish between global and domestic leadership in terms of issues related to connectedness, boundary spanning, complexity, ethical challenges, dealing with tensions and paradoxes, pattern recognition, and building learning environments, teams and community, and leading large-scale change efforts across diverse cultures. Living and working constantly in a global context, and experiencing the ongoing intensity of the dimensions of complexity (Lane et al., 2004) can trigger a transformational experience within managers (Osland, 1995). These powerful transformational or crucible experiences (Osland, 1995, Bennis & Thomas, 2002) have been found to produce new mental models in the individual--new worldviews, mindsets, perceptual acumen, and perspectives that simply do not exist within the people who have not gone through such a series of experiences in a global context.

Powerful Leadership

Combining the strong aspects of what can be had from the traditional leadership literature and those that are essential from the global leadership literature has produced something that can be called as powerful leadership to make domestic organisations not only successful, but also achieve high organic growth amidst the severe challenges thrown or likely to be thrown by global organisations in the domestic place. It is in this context that a review of global leadership literature will help develop an appropriate framework of 'powerful leadership' to have a distinct competitive advantage over global organisations. Domestic organisations, too, have to function together with global corporations as operating in isolation in the context of massive globalization phenomenon today is impossible. Tichy et al. (1992, cited in Mendenhall, 2008) wrote about "true globalists", as they called them, who have (i) a global mindset; (ii) a set of global leadership skills and behaviors; (iii) energy, skills, and talent for global networking; (iv) the ability to build effective teams; and (v) global change agents skills. These leaders develop people and organisations simultaneously. Kets de Vries & Mead (1992)...

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