Investigate Local Leadership and Change
OLB 7006, Assignment 5
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Marie Bakari
14 October 2018
There are a variety of documented leadership styles and characteristics (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014). With each leadership style, organizations will reap certain benefits as well as suffer from certain drawbacks. This paper examines three local leaders within the context of Southeastern North Carolina from a variety of organizational backgrounds. The leadership style of each is examined as well as how each leadership theory and style impacts the organizations which they lead. Furthermore, each leader has implemented organizational change within their respective contexts. These changes are also analyzed within the framework of the leadership theory and style displayed by each leader.
The first local leader under observation is Scott. Scott is a religious leader who serves simultaneously at multiple echelons of leadership. Scott serves as a local pastor of a church of approximately 500 congregants as well as the treasurer of his denomination’s district (three states and approximately one-hundred churches). Scott was a graduate of the Naval Academy and spent time as both a Marine Infantry Officer as well as an Army Chaplain. Consequently, he was thoroughly trained and well-versed in a variety of leadership styles. He always spoke very directly and easily commanded the room in which he was present. However, despite this training and presence, his leadership behavior and traits were consistent with two dominant leadership theories: spiritual leadership and servant leadership. He effortlessly combines these two theories to produce effective leadership.
Scott’s leadership style is the embodiment of servant leadership. Washington, Sutton, and Sauser (2014) define servant leadership as a distinct leadership style in which the leader values the good of the follower above their own self-interest. Followers in his organization noted that he routinely praises their accomplishments to the team, but notes that it would be self-serving of him not to acknowledge their strengths and the future potential available. He selflessly takes time to develop the skills and talents of others and routinely goes out of his way to expose them to greater opportunities for service and leadership.
The second local leader under observation is Phil. Phil owns a local produce company and delivers produce all over the eastern coast of the United States. Phil has served in this capacity for almost forty years. Phil has navigated his company through many technological changes, logistical challenges, and changes in governmental regulations. Phil is a strategic thinker, and constantly and routinely examines his company’s resources and aligns his people and products to further his company’s goals and objectives. Phil’s leadership style and philosophy aligns with the leadership theory of strategic leadership (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014).
Phil noted that, as a strategic leader, his first and best investment is in the people who work for him. He strategically and carefully selects people who already align with his organizational goals and addresses the importance of their role within the strategic objectives of the company. Phil’s employees noted that while Phil is a strong leader and strategic thinker, they also know and understand that he cares about their well-being. Thus, even as a strategic thinker and leader, Phil strategically and relationally invests in his employees as an intentional business strategy.
The third local leader under observation is George. Like Phil, George also owns and runs a local produce company. George’s operation is one of the largest employers in the county. George has a reputation of being an innovator in his field as many of his ideas have revolutionized his industry. In talking to George’s employees, they noted that they choose to work for George because he inspires and motivates them to be better people and employees. Multiple employees noted that George transforms the workplace environment by virtue of his charisma and personality. George fits the definition of a charismatic leader, as his enthusiasm and energy inspire his employees to reach their maximum potential while working for him (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014).
Like Phil, George has been leading his company for nearly forty years. He has spearheaded major organizational changes in technology utilization, organizational structure, business relationships, and sales and marketing. His charismatic leadership has allowed for his employees and company to grow from being a small, family farming operation to a nationwide company. His surrounding community has also benefited from his charismatic leadership as outside money and jobs have flowed into the area in their desire to work for and alongside George.
Each leadership style comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Servant leadership, as modeled by Scott, allows for employees to be empowered while also endearing them to both the leader and the organization (Dinh et al, 2014). Scott has led his congregation through local building projects as well as international projects to bring well water to remote African villages. This is the result of his servant leadership in which he actively sought to empower his followers to use their gifts in greater and more meaningful ways. However, it is also not uncommon for people to attempt to manipulate the compassion and relational aspect of servant leaders for personal gain (Dinh et al, 2014).
In this respect, Scott spends a large percentage of his time working with people who approach him with ideas for change initiatives which they hope will bring them personal gain. Compassionately, Scott willingly invests his time in these people until it becomes obvious that their motivations are impure. This did not seem to be an issue with Phil or George in their workforce. This would suggest that servant leaders, while having perhaps the greatest potential for positive organizational change, also possess the greatest potential for time spent with individuals which neither increases their potential or furthers the mission and vision of the organization.
Like servant leadership theory, strategic leadership carries with it the potential for tremendous organizational growth. In his forty years at the helm of his produce company, Phil has led his organization into sustained growth. This growth, he noted, is the direct result of successful and strategic change initiatives. Phil noted that he always precedes his change initiatives – which are typically adjusting to some new government regulation or implementing a new technology – by talking to each of his employees about the necessity of the change, how it will impact them, and how they are still as vitally needed as before the change took place. He credits his intentional relationships with his employees as the reason for his success. This is corroborated by current research on organizational change. In a study conducted by Battilana and Casciaro (2012), they discovered that successful change initiatives are often preceded by the development of relationship with the change agent. In other words, employees are more likely to change, and change initiatives are more likely to succeed – when employees have a relationship with the change agent.
Not all change initiatives have been successful, however. While excelling at big-picture planning and strategizing, strategic leaders can be more prone to overlooking the individuals impacted by the change (Landis, Hill, & Harvey, 2014). Phil gave as examples change initiatives that he knew were necessary, but that his workforce did not readily or willingly adopt. As a result, the implementation timeline was not only greatly extended, but it also created relational turmoil for Phil within his organization. This caused him to spend a great amount of time repairing such relationships, which may not have been necessary if individuals were initially given more consideration. Therefore, while strategic leaders can marshal people and resources for positive growth and change, they are at greater risk for losing the individuals in their strategic planning processes.
George is a dynamic charismatic leader who obviously inspires his employees to maximize their potential. The explosive growth his company has experienced is no doubt due to his indefatigable charisma and energy. His ideas are presented with such passion that everyone around him believes in their viability, and they adopt the idea as their own. His company has undergone so many significant changes in every organizational area that, over his period of leadership, the company would be unrecognizable to previous leaders.
However, George’s passion and charisma are accompanied by constant change and innovation. A tremendous amount of time and energy are given to an idea, and as soon as that idea becomes a reality, George is already planning how to change and improve the idea. This seems to bring with it an uncertainty and sense of organizational chaos. This fits with current research which noted that continuous innovation patterns are the most inherently unstable for organizations (Glor, 2014). George’s charisma and passion for his work does not allow for his employees to celebrate organizational achievements and victories but is constantly focused on more and greater innovation. While this has led to the tremendous growth noted earlier, it has also served to cause George to lose some of his most faithful and productive employees. They expressed a desire to feel more appreciated for the work they have accomplished, rather than constantly being driven to constant and greater innovation.
Battilana, J. & Casciara, T. (2012). Change agents, networks, and institutions: A contingency theory of organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), 381-398. doi: 10.5465/amj.2009.0891
Dinh et al. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 25, 36-62. Retrieved from https://www.journals.elsevier.com/the-leadership-quarterly
Glor, E.D. (2014). Building theory about evolution of organizational change patterns. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 30, 1-23. doi: 10.17357.f9e2f64daf515a2a63f6cb21541120
Landis, E. A., Hill, D., & Harvey, M. R. (2014). A synthesis of leadership theories and styles. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 15(2), 97-100. Retrieved from www.nabpress.com/management-policy-and-practice
Washington, R. R., Sutton, C. D., & Sauser, J. I. (2014). How distinct is servant leadership theory? Empirical comparisons with competing theories. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(1), 11-25. Retrieved from www.na-businesspress.com/JLAE/jlaescholar.html
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
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