Leadership

Leadership

          
Article image

Leadership

1968
  • Add To Interests
  • SAVE CONTENT
  • PRINT
  • PDF

    • BruceHenderson
    more about Bruce

    • The initial test of leadership is in the compromise between speed of change and security of the leader’s ability to lead.

    • Good leadership will rapidly obtain organization acceptance and motivation toward clearly defined goals and objectives.

    • The leader leads only with respect to the group that will accept him first as a member and then as first among them.

     

    There are three fundamentally different executive functions. The first is preservation of the organization. The second is control of organization response to deviations from expectations. The third is planning future expectations. All of these are made possible by the personal qualities of leadership.

    The essence of leadership is the ability to change the organization’s conception of ideal performance. The strength of leadership can be measured by the rate at which these ideals are changed. The quality of leadership is reflected by the wisdom used in choosing the new ideals. The initial test of leadership skill is in the choice of the inescapable compromise between speed of change and security of the leader’s ability to lead.

    Management can be distinguished from leadership. The management function deals with what the organization ought to do. The leadership function deals with motivation of the organization to do that which it ought to do. Normally, the two functions are so interrelated that the differences are not recognized even by the leader-manager himself. However, in very strong manager-leader combinations, the difference may become clearly apparent to the manager-leader because of the obvious compromise required between what good management dictates and what continued leadership will permit.

    Both good management and strong leadership require clearly defined goals and objectives. Good management will produce worthy goals, and good leadership will rapidly obtain organization acceptance and motivation towards these goals.

    In a business organization, good and strong leaders will do these things:

    1.Gain complete and willing acceptance of their leadership.

    2.Determine the business goals, objectives and standards of behavior which are as ambitious as the potential abilities of the organization will permit.

    3.Introduce and motivate the organization to accept as its own these privately established objectives. The rate of introduction will be the maximum consistent with maintenance of the acceptance of the leadership. This need for acceptance is why the new manager must always go slowly except in emergencies. In emergencies the boss must not go slowly if he is to maintain leadership.

    4.Change the organization relationships internally as necessary to facilitate both the acceptance and accomplishment of the new objectives.

    The strengths and weaknesses of different types of managers can be observed with reference to these things.

    Some managers never make the first hurdle and get themselves accepted as the leader of their organization. They may be managers in title but not leaders. Their organization fights them on every change. They are told only that which they ask. Their followers feel “the boss doesn’t understand.”

    Before a leader can lead he must first belong. He, more than anyone else, must live up to the ideals and standards the group has already previously accepted. If he cannot do this, he cannot lead, no matter what his ability or power. For these reasons, leaders are strong or weak only with reference to specific groups. The leader leads only with respect to the group that will accept him first as a member and then as first among them.

    Other managers fail even though they are fully and willingly accepted as the leader. They fail because they do not lead anywhere. They conform to the group’s norms and standards; in fact, they defend and preserve the status quo. Their leadership can remain secure provided the group standards do not call for the leader to promote or initiate change. With such a manager the leadership survives but the organization eventually dies because of its failure to adapt to a changing world.

    Some managers fail who are accepted as leaders and who actively lead their organizations. These fail because of faulty or inadequate goals and objectives. This is an intellectual failure, not a spiritual one. This is lack of managerial vision, not lack of courage or willingness, and is one of the most difficult of all managerial failures to detect because the strength of leadership hides its own weakness.

    Partial failure is still common where leadership is accepted, where goals are wisely chosen and where leadership is vigorous. These fail because of less than optimum choice between rate of progress and leadership security. This failure is not absolute; it is a comparative failure. It is a failure to do as well as it is possible to do. The leader who leads too rapidly loses his leadership, the one who leads too slowly just does not get there as fast. Like driving on a mountain road, the penalty is extreme for loss of control. As in racing, the stress on the driver is very great at maximum speeds. Most leaders just do not take the risks required for maximum results. Many do not attempt anything like maximum performance because of the stress and strain they experience.

    Even when a leader has done everything else he may fall short of the best possible performance by failure to adapt his organization relationships to the current objectives, needs, and resources. This again is a technical handicap in a comparative sense rather than an absolute failure. It is a removable limitation on performance. However, the correct decision is a highly intuitive and subjective decision. The ideal organization, even in a static situation with idealized people, would be difficult enough to formulate; with flesh and blood people in a dynamic situation, the optimum organization relationships are virtually unknowable. The inevitable cost of change and the temporary loss in effectiveness must be balanced against the hoped for benefits. The disturbance in the informal relationships will certainly reduce the leader’s acceptance and control, at least temporarily. The hoped for benefits are based upon projected behavior of people who can never be fully predictable. The benefits will be effective at a time in the future when the situation may be quite different from that now visualized. The net advantage of organization change is most difficult to determine and the known costs are usually great. Therefore, many leaders cling to the known versus the unknown at the risk of their potential performance.

    Being an effective leader and manager has some of the same requirements as being a winning poker player. A knowledge of the odds is indispensable. Ability to intuitively sense others’ attitudes is also indispensable. Adequate working capital must first be acquired before any major risks can be taken. Properly choosing balance in calculating risk versus reward is essential.

    Good management sees the opportunity and what must be done to grasp it. Good leadership chooses the right timing and speed of implementation while developing an organization that not only can but wants to achieve those objectives.

  • Add To Interests
  • SAVE CONTENT
  • PRINT
  • PDF