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Overview of Leadership Theories - Context Contingent Content

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The role of leadership in an organisation is essentially about building and nurturing a culture that can yield 'core competencies', and of shaping the future strategic direction. Leadership is the platform on which organisational development is structured and communicated (Hamel and Prahalad, 1990; Bass et al, 1987; Bass, 1990, 1997). This attribute has a complex set of sometimes competing demands that are shaped in light of externalities and internalities that come to the fore during the course of organisational life. The need to preserve core facilitating factors of organisational performance has to be balanced with demands of reshaping and modifying - that age, competition and situations impose. Furthermore, leadership needs to decide when to engage in questioning fundamental assumptions and when to just keep a 'good a thing going' with some minor adjustments akin to the idea of double and single loop learning (Argyris and Schon, 1978; Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006).

The 'leadership role' itself is a capability premise that works at contextual choices for development. These choices stem from the basic personality and behaviour based leadership to the perceived -transmitted image nature of leadership, its situational orientation, and middle level managerial leadership responsibilities, to name a few.

Effective leadership is thus a complex and highly contextual capability in many ways and organisations that are blessed with, or manage to infuse such effectiveness in leadership capacities, are usually found to flourish and set new standards of performance for the industry. This paper thus examines the central question of: "How might organisations develop effective leaders?" In doing so it uses some key conceptualisation from extant literature and also provides industry examples that have been a favourite with business and academic analysts.

The paper provides a critical review of leadership to choose three aligned perspectives that it posits as defining a 'context contingent content' of effective leadership. It then discusses the example of leadership in Lufthansa and AmBev to validate and 'processual examine' effective leadership development. The paper concludes by providing some generic recommendations and asserting the validation of the selected frameworks as guiding maps for use in developing effective leadership.

Effective Leadership - Content, Context and Development

The approaches that contextualise leadership roles are numerous. These could stem from leader traits, situational aspects, and/or focus on organisational levels, roles, images and change, among others.

Trait theories of leadership tend to emphasise personality preferences in shaping leadership but have been taken forward in recent times to deliver important aspects that specify key psychological leadership orientations (e.g. McCall and Lombardo, 1983). The importance of situation to hand has been well established in theories that are labelled contingency theories (e.g. Fiedler, 1997; Hersey and Blanchard, 1999; Adair, 2004). The interface between leadership and motivation has been brought to the fore in still other frameworks (e.g. Blake and Mouton Grid, 1964).

Organisation seeking to develop leadership capabilities and nurture managerial upstream movement into leadership roles has also been subject to extensive debate in recent times led by works like that of Huy (2001). For roles of a middle manager, Huy prescribes the following key tenets can be distilled across the classification he provides

- Should originate value-added entrepreneurial ideas

- Should be good at facilitating change by leveraging informal networks

- Should be attuned to employees' moods and needs

- Should manage tension between continuity and change

This is probably a key debate that interfaces extensively with another perspective that of top leadership-imaging (Senge, 1990) of leadership - an interface this paper uses in to evaluate development of effective leadership- where effectiveness is validated using examples that emphasise the situational and generic aspects of leadership practice. In terms of suitability, this typology of leadership is contingent on the needs of the business environment and the organisation and can align with what Huy mentions as middle level managerial roles (Yukl, 1989).

Leader as Characteristics

A Hero - Leader endowed with extraordinary foresight; Leader endowed with superior intelligence; Leader endowed with extraordinary energy; Leader endowed with the ability to inspire devotion; Leader can mobilize devotion for greater good

A Steward - Sees organisation as trusted to his/her care; Sees his/her duty as serving the organisation; Works to build and share vision; Communicates and asks for support

A Commander - Power is centralised in the hands of the Chief Executive; The Chief Executive makes the important decisions; Leader takes advice but is ultimate decision maker; The Chief Executive communicates the decisions downward

A Designer - Provides ideas that govern organisation; Crafts purpose; Develops vision; Forms core values

A Teacher - Helps the organisation achieve deeper view of reality; Pays explicit attention to mental models that shape organisational life; Works to reveal hidden assumptions behind thinking and decisions; Helps people to restructure their view of reality

(Senge, 1990)

While the aforesaid provide a frame to evaluate the content aspect to do with effective leadership, what is also central to the objective of this paper is a process perspective on development. In this light Selznick's (1957) work on character as distinctive competence and of how commitments define the character of the organisation needs to be put in context. The comments on interdependence of policy and administration and sensitivity to policy changes are used to argue a case for a creative leader. Selznick looks at the different levels of leadership including the group leadership levels and emphasises the need for self-appraisal by leaders. This is in terms of how they are positioned, what they need to deliver



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