Role of Leadership

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Lisa Smith, Troy University
Current post-downturn business environment demands more production and service from the organizations at less cost, which in turn requires more production and service from the employees at less cost. However, the age-old dominance of extrinsic rewards makes it difficult for the organizations to get more production from the employees at less cost, which in turn sets the leadership task to achieve the same by employing appropriate leadership behavior. This study explores the literature on leadership and motivation and reward systems to ascertain what could be the ideal role of the leaders under the context and circumstance and how they can fulfill the same, before coming to the conclusion that leaders can adopt servant leadership style to achieve the desired organizational outcome.


Rapid advancement in communication technology in the recent years has eliminated the continental boundaries and accelerated the globalization process, which in turn spread much faster than the anticipation of the business community and resulted into a far more dynamic and fiercely competitive global business environment. Where the organizations are now functioning much like complex, constantly changing and organic pinball machines, and the decisions, actors, plans, and issues are constantly rebounding through an elastic and dynamic labyrinth of cushions, barriers, and traps (Bolman and Deal (2003). Therefore, under the changed context of business, the role of organizational leaders has become extremely important, as they are not only the captain of the ship, but also the rudder of it. This essay thus explores the role of leadership in optimizing organizational performance through appropriate literature review, before coming into its own conclusion regarding what could be the ideal role of the leaders to optimize the organizational performance.


There can be no debate on the fact that the role of leaders in optimizing the organizational performance remains the same, i.e., to bring out the best in the employees to achieve the desired organizational outcome. However, the strategy of achieving the same has to be aligned with the order of the time. For example, in the early period, when the leadership position belonged only to the people of the royal family, it was their charisma and the aura contributed greatly to their success. Thereafter, the initiation of the democratic process prompted the researchers to search for leadership traits in common man, which culminated into the trait theory and reigned for some time, before situational leadership theory took over, as the trait theory could not match with the demand of the situation. However, situation theory too proved inadequate with time, since the evolution of the business environment brought in newer situations that required in-depth knowledge and aptitude to provide instant solution. It was around this time the excellence theory started gaining ground all across the globe. Such changes in leadership theory only show that it is the changed context that creates the demand for newer strategies to optimize the organizational performance. Such proposition is consolidated by the fact that since the 1990s, the wave of "Resource-Based View" (Barney, 1991) backed by the findings of Greenleaf (1977), Covey (1992), Northouse (1997), and many researchers, has even replaced the traditional financial and asset capital with human capital as the principal business capital. Therefore, much like in the earlier times, the leaders' job still remains the same, i.e., to develop the business capital of the organization. However, it now has to deal with a capital that is far more dynamic than asset or financial capital. It is here the significance of leaders' own preparation comes to the front, as it takes a different kind of competency...
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