What Is Leadership?
What makes someone an effective leader? This question has challenged great thinkers for most of written history, and it is the focus of this chapter. The opening vignette, which described the leadership of Anne Sweeney, cochair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, offers a few clues. Sweeney’s leadership is viewed from several perspectives, all of which are important. The opening vignette also reveals that leadership is no longer yesteryear’s image of the command-and-control boss. Although Sweeney steps in when the situation requires, followers say her success as a leader comes, in part, from trusting them to do their jobs without micromanagement. Also notice that Sweeney’s leadership is a contrast to the heroic leadership model; she routinely directs the spotlight of success toward her staff rather than herself. A few years ago, 54 leadership experts from 38 countries reached a consensus that leadership is about influencing, motivating, and enabling others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members. 2 Leaders apply various forms of influence—particularly persuasion and related tactics that build commitment—to ensure that followers have the motivation and role clarity to achieve specified goals. Leaders also arrange the work environment—such as allocating resources and altering communication patterns—so that employees can achieve organizational objectives more easily.
Leadership isn’t restricted to the executive suite. Anyone in the organization may be a leader in various ways and at various times. 3 This view is known as shared leadership or the leaderful organization . From this emerging view, leadership is plural, not singular. It doesn’t operate out of one formally assigned position or role. Instead, a team or work unit may have several leaders at the same time. One team member might champion the introduction of new technology, while a co-worker keeps the work unit focused on key performance indicators. Some organizations, such as SEMCO SA and W. L. Gore & Associates, depend on shared leadership because there are no formal leaders. 4 Anyone can be a leader, if he or she has an idea or vision that other employees are eager to follow.
Shared leadership flourishes in organizations where the formal leaders are willing to delegate power and encourage employees to take initiative and risks without fear of failure (i.e., a learning orientation culture). Shared leadership also calls for a collaborative rather than internally competitive culture because employees take on shared leadership roles when co-workers support them for their initiative. Furthermore, shared leadership lacks formal authority, so it operates best when employees learn to influence others through their enthusiasm, logical analysis, and involvement of co-workers in their idea or vision.
Consider, for example, the emergence of shared leadership at Rolls-Royce Engine Services in Oakland, California. As part of its employee engagement initiative, the Learning
After reading the next two sections, you should be able to:
1. Define leadership and shared leadership.
2. List the main competencies of effective leaders and discuss the limitations of the competency perspective of leadership.
and enabling others
to contribute toward
and success of the
organizations of which
they are members.
The view that leadership
is broadly distributed,
rather than assigned to
one person, such that
people within the team
and organization lead
Chapter 12 Leadership in Organizational Settings 361
Shared Leadership at W. L. Gore & Associates W. L. Gore &
Associates has no formal (called vertical ) leaders. Instead, the company’s 7,000 associates work with champions of projects and other initiatives because they are willing to follow them....
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