Organisations Need Strong Leaders and Strong Culture

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“Organisations need strong leaders and a strong culture.” Discuss this statement in relation to how we understand and make sense of leadership and culture in the post-bureaucratic era.

“A company’s culture is often buried so deeply inside rituals, assumptions, attitudes, and values that it becomes transparent to an organisation’s members only when, for some reason, it changes.” (Rob Goffee, 1952). A company needs a strong culture, or it will not be successful. “The culture” dictates how people relate, how they feel in an organisation, and even how well they produce. To create such a unique culture a strong leaders’ presence is a must. There are different opinions in the meaning of the term “leader” or “leadership”. Most people would consider being a leader is a simple task. “Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organisation. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning” (Warren G. Bennis). This article will critically evaluate the understanding and meaning of leadership and culture, and also compare and contrast the bureaucratic and the post-bureaucratic era. What is post/bureaucracy?

Bureaucratic organisations are based upon rules and hierarchy of the structure where poor employee motivation, inertia are common. According to Max Weber, bureaucratic structures are the most efficient models. The structure is centralised with well-defined line of authority with clear rules and regulations. Only one way flow of decision making and communication is followed by the leaders. Only formal relations are present based on positions and not on personalities. Post bureaucracy is a very broad term. The model is based upon elements such as trust, shared responsibility, empowerment and personal treatment. It captures the range of organisational changes which have as their espoused aim the erosion or dismantling of bureaucracy. The principal features of post bureaucracy include the reduction of formal levels of hierarchy, and emphasis on flexibility rather than rule following and the creation of a more permeable boundary between the inside and the outside of organisations. It arose as the proposed answer for the bureaucratic system. Although both models search for efficiency, performance and control, from a critical view bureaucracy carries a dehumanising element and post bureaucracy is simply an extension of control. Post bureaucratic models are more commonly practiced in today’s dynamic business environment. Wells claimed that the corporate alumni networks of former employees are developing in industries (Economist, 2001; Wells, 2005). But is this step against the soft domination changing the culture and pushing the organisation towards post bureaucracy? The network – or the non- hierarchical coordination through cross-cutting links between actors of the organisation (Josserand, 2004) – is one of the core coordination mechanisms in the post bureaucratic organisation (Doz and Prahalad, 1991; Hedlund, 1994; Dess et al., 1995; Frost, 2001; Gooderham and Ulset,2002). This alumni network works as an arena where leaders could develop unique culture through professional freedom. An arena where all members of the network are simply members - not managers, supervisors or directors. This helps leaders not to control but to get people involved such as “the conformist selves”, “the resistant selves” and “the dramaturgical selves”. This collective behaviour of constructive confrontation creates goodwill for the organisation. Organisations are made up of people who interact in a social structure yet their emotions are secluded from the culture of the organisation. A leader should be able to share the plan or the vision through good communication, take charge and inspire through examples, should be able to influence and know the art of motivation to act towards achieving a common goal. The...
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