Reflective Learning Journal
Leadership in the 21st3 Century
LEADERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Leadership in the 21st Century
In this course, I learned about the differences between leadership and management as well as the difference between leaders and managers. From the onset, it became increasingly clear that the scholars and business leaders have unique perspectives when it comes to leadership in an organization. In addition to this, there are limited studies that have been conducted in the Australian setting with regards to leadership in organizations. Leadership and management are terms that tend to be used interchangeably, but there are clear distinctions, especially in relation to change and adaptation (Zalenik, 2004). Another important lesson from the course is the leadership theories used to describe the existence of various leaders in multiple organizations. Modern forms of leadership theories are well analysed in addition to the conventional leadership theories.
Leadership and management are crucial to any organization, and it is important that these concepts are well understood (Goffee and Jones 2006, p. 32). Leadership is about influence and the way employees are influenced can create a sustainable competitive advantage for a firm. I believe leadership theories should be well understood as it is important to grasp the roles of individuals in an organization fully. Leadership theories can also help organizations to tailor talent in a way that enhances the execution of goals and their projected outcomes (Goffee and Jones, 2006, p. 33). Conventional theories of leadership include behavioural theories and situational theories. Behavioural theory of leadership is responsible for some of the most common leadership styles in the organization (Zalenik, 2004). Some of these leadership styles include autocratic and democratic leadership styles. The course is also relevant as it provides contemporary approaches to leadership. Some of these concepts include transactional and transformational leadership theories. Other critical issues in leadership are well addressed and include concepts such as emotional intelligence, gender and cultural diversity, followership, and so forth. However, the approach with these leadership theories and concepts should not just be placed on the people at the top. All organizational levels should be well represented in studies in order to achieve a greater level of understanding between leadership and management (Zalenik 2004). I find the lack of a consensus on what constitutes leadership a hindrance towards a full understanding of the concept.
In the field of networking, leadership theories are critical, but are dependent on the organization that a network engineer works in. Leadership requires a specific environment for it to be truly expressed. A leader determines the way an organization will pursue its strategic objectives and thus attain competitive advantage. In networking, it is critical for management functions to be well defined as it is a highly demanding sector. The ability to be on top of things and to generate trust with colleagues is absolutely crucial if results are to be attained. These leadership theories are important for understanding the right mixture of things needed to motivate workers towards optimum performance. I may use these concepts whenever I feel my organization or department is in need of change and adaptation.
Goffee, R. and Jones, G., 2006. Getting personal on the topic of leadership. Human Resource Management International Digest, 14(4), pp.32-34.
Zalenik, A., 2004. Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2004/01/managers-and-leaders-are-they-different [Accessed 17 May 2016].
Metaphors for Organizations
The learning process involving metaphors for organizations has revealed important issues regarding the perceptions various people and stakeholders may have towards organizations. The course framework was comprised of lectures, tutorials and assigned journal readings. Metaphors are useful in shaping the perceptions of people involved in organizations and basically determine the way an organization performs. A metaphor is influential as it shapes the cultures of employees and their approaches towards problems. Some of the most common metaphors used to describe organizations include such terms as machines, organisms, and brains. These are words that can elicit different attitudes and policy towards the management of strategic objectives.
Human beings have always used metaphors to relate between various phenomena in their surroundings. Metaphors always provide distinct ways of perceiving problems, and each of these can result in different paths altogether (Taber 2007, p. 548). To communicate with employees, employers must always position themselves in a way that best communicate the inherent values and principles most important to the organization (Morgan 2006, p. 23). As such, I find this a relevant aspect of leadership and management. Various periods in history have always provided specific ways of interpreting the role of organizations in society. During the early 20th century, there was a distinct focus on effectiveness and efficiency as organizations positioned themselves in the market (Morgan 2006, p. 12). The prevalent and dominant thought pattern was that organizations are like machines. Those organizations went ahead to attain a competitive advantage as they had streamlined their operations.
However, metaphors can also serve to limit organizational effectiveness. While they may assist in communicating the most important values of an organization, they can also create blind spots in perspective (Taber 2007, 541). Metaphors are by nature limited to a specific way of things (Morgan 2006, p. 34). They can be biased and potentially misleading. For example, linking organizations with machines can limit the nature of responses to changes in the environment. Such organizations lack flexibility and may encourage groupthink mentalities (Taber 2007, p. 542). These factors make this course relevant to understanding the nature of modern organizations. It provides leaders with knowledge that can assist in providing intuitive policies and accurate descriptors of their organizations (Taber 2007, p. 550). It also enables leaders and managers to know when a metaphor is no longer applicable especially in a period of change (Morgan 2006, p. 56).
When it comes to operations in the networking industry, organizational metaphors are absolutely critical in channelling efforts towards the achievement of business objectives. The networking business environment is always evolving, and this requires network engineers to be at their optimal performance. The metaphor of organizations as organisms is applicable in this particular context. As technologies continue to improve, network engineers have to position themselves in a way that means their customers get the best services available in the market. In the future, it may mean positions in the organization are not as important as the ability to perform pressing tasks. If I were placed in a leadership position, I will ensure communication structures are well established so as to guarantee an organic movement in the structures of the organization.
Morgan, G., 2006. Images of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Taber, T.D., 2007. Using metaphors to teach organization theory. Journal of Management Education.