Last Updated 19 May 2021

Organisational Types and Management Structures

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Leadership is not just a simple noun which one can learn its definition from a dictionary. There are about 350 definitions of the term "leadership". This is due to the fact that it is difficult concept to explain but can easily be recognised. Therefore if it is difficult to explain then logically it must be harder to learn, and harder to practice as a skill. However here is one definition that delineates the vital elements of the leadership process:

"Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their shared purposes." Daft (2002) suggests that there are few people who provide leadership in organisations, as well as fewer who have the integrated skills required to meet management and leadership challenges. A statement by Kotter (1990) that organisations are, "over-managed and under-led" is supported by the Management-Leadership mix  where there exists too many people with a combination of strong management skills and weak leadership skills The key challenge however is said to, obtain the correct combination of leadership and management, and use them both to balance each other. Also, with this in mind, in a broad perspective the term management is now automatically seen to encompass leadership. Hence the concepts of management and leadership are on the brim of merging. Overall although there may be few with the correct balance and/or integration of the two skills, it does not fully address whether leadership skills alone is scarce.

The leadership process is now recognised as a "soft" skill to clarify the distinction from the "hard" management concept. The crux of which is "human" centred, in that it is a people activity and occurs among people. Leadership is also said to come alive from and within the hearts of leaders, and is required in order to engage the hearts and minds of others (Daft, 2002:19). Thus leadership has a psychological stem, which tends to be innate and hard to master for those learning to be leaders. Therefore although many may possess the skill, it is not necessarily recognised by the individual themselves, by those around them or used in order to be recognised. This may explain why leadership is seen to be used by a minority.

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Looking at leadership in a broader context and the environment in which it operates can lead to an explanation. That environmental chaos may be growing sufficiently so that the skill of leaders becomes insufficient, contributing to the deficiency of leadership as a skill. It is of utmost importance to distinguish between successful and great leaders to leadership, as each has a different level of occurrence. According to Dr Daniel Goleman the gap between average and outstanding leaders' performances is attributed to Emotional Intelligence (E.I.), the ability to connect with people effectively.

It is a way to identify superior leaders, which as measurable should give an indication as to how rare superior leadership is. Hence the statement of leadership as a rare skill is more applicable in this context. Also Depree (1989) states leadership is an art. This adds further difficulty in underlining the mechanisms of leadership, thus difficulty in creating an effective leadership program or training to make leaders. Therefore fits the statement as to why great leadership is rare.

However it has been stated that leadership has zero association to art. But an art metaphor is used indicate intuitive, non-cognitive, often subconscious, non-rational, non-measurable process . These are associated with the affective domain of Bloom ; Krathwohl's (1956), and Bloom & Masia (1964) hierarchical taxonomy, which is concerned with feelings and attitudes resultant of a learning process. Hence leadership in part is classified in a level of intellectual learning, which can not be easily recognised and is tacit.

Examples and Illustrations

Everyone has leadership potential just as they have the potential to run faster or potential to be computer literate, one just needs to grasp the numerous opportunities that exist and are available . Many people have more than one role, although they may not have a formal leadership role at work, it is possible to practice leadership in a social context e.g. team captain of a netball team.

Ultimately one can see leadership in practice everyday, to different effectiveness's and in different situations. Therefore this statement is untrue. It is more applicable that great leadership is rare.  It is useful in realising that average leadership is not rare, thus provides a base on which to develop people to learn and practice great leadership.

Concepts and Analysis

This statement refers to an early universalistic theory on leadership, by which people were born with innate characteristics that make them leaders. Hence it is believed that leaders are naturally born and preordained, and not made or nurtured. Contradictory to this Bennis ; Nanus (1997) state, "whatever natural endowments we bring to the role of leadership, they can be enhanced; nurture is far more important than nature in determining who becomes a successful leader."

Kakabadse (2000) complements by saying, "Leadership requires the development of key aspects of character" . As development of character is attributable to nurture, thus discrediting this statement. Another view is that of Mr Paul Glover (2002) at The McLaren Partnership, who stated that in his experience leadership skills can be learnt but one is born with leadership personality e.g. charisma. Although this is further analysed by Arnold et al (1998) who add, "Personality characteristics in themselves do not make leaders effective. What matters is how those characteristics are expressed in their behaviour."

The theory is named the Great Man theory and was derived from examining those leaders who had achieved high levels of greatness; they were elevated as heroes . The approach sought to classify the charateristics which made leaders and distinguish them from their non leader counterparts. Research began by identifying the traits of successful leaders and measuring them in relation to how effective leadership.

Essential traits consistent with effective leadership were found by Stodgill (1948), after examining over 100 studies with a stem from the trait approach, and were: integrity, interpersonal skills, drive and confidence. However general research found only a weak relationship between traits and leader success. Stodgill (1948) did however at the same time spark the future of the contingency approach, by indicating that the importance of the trait was relative to the organisational situation.

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