Leadership: An argument for advances in its development

Civilization and its achievements, like the wheel, hinge on the hub of leadership. The ebb and tide of world empires point to the reins handled or pulled by individuals who exert power and influence. In this country, and even in the rest of the world, the assertions and importance of leadership is re-emphasized in many ways because of the rapidly evolving paradigms that assume a more pervasive role in the society.  This is the era of organizational revolution.
The time is marked with rapid shifts in the demography of our workforce, changing corporate culture, and changing organizations. Organizational forms have become more complex and new forms have been developed (Block, 1981). The management or leadership of people has never been as important and crucial than ever before. Today, it is considered a central figure and the key to productivity and quality especially in a very competitive society. In the light of the rapid shift in today’s organization, the skills required of human resource managers, beginners in the profession and even aspiring students in the discipline, rest on the foundation of knowledge on the whole gamut of human resources management, specifically management theories applied in the setting (Kline & Saunders, 1993).
The need for a more efficient, economical and equitable management of the people in the industry or organization has never been as pronounced as it is today. This need has never been brought about by factors which inevitably affect not only the established structures and ways of doing things within the personnel area but also by the more meaningful and substantial task of managing the organization’s most important asset – the human capital. Among these factors are: stiffer competition in business; rapid changes in technological, competitive and economic environments; the explosion of technical and managerial knowledge; spiraling wage and benefits cost and so many others. These factors have no doubt been responsible for the emergence of the personnel function as a vital area in the implementation of corporate strategy (Bruffee, 1993).

The arguments set forth in this paper spins around the theme of leadership: there have been continued major advancements in the developments of basic leadership theories in the past 200 years.  One of the evidences simply is the theory put forth by Dr. Elliot Jacques, the great Canadian psychologist. Theories abound regarding perspectives of leadership. When Elliot Jacques developed the concept of requisite organization; it served as a unified whole system model for what he deemed effective managerial leadership.
Some of the core beliefs in Jacques system, for instance, imply that people are supposed to be compensated on the basis of their individual aptitude or skills and foresight and how long it was before their judgment could be verified. Jacques also thought that where leadership gurus or external consultant like the ODs are concerned, these are only evaluated and equated with alchemy: as such these do not involve real concepts or precise or thorough definitions but rather are considered as rubbish and inauthentic to say the least. Jacques persuasion centers on much of what he calls as “maximum amount of personal responsibility” and encourages on every part of the organization, or team for that matter, to be stakeholders and thus have a say in the problems at hand.
In organizational behavior which is basic to the management of human resource, it points to the inquiry and application of learning about how people, individuals, and groups perform, operate, and work in organizations. It accomplishes this by means of adopting a system approach (Demick & Miller, 1993). Explicitly, it infers people-organization affairs in terms of the entire person, group totality, complete organization, and total social structure. Its intention is to put up enhance relations by attaining human goals, organizational purposes, and social goals (Kanter, 1999). In such a milieu, the goals to effect change are influenced by several significant factors which are crucial to the overall results. Hence, there are expected leadership behaviors that maintain momentum during the change process (Demick & Miller, 1993).
This strategic system model put forth by Jacques is a methodical approach to managing the human capital.  Those who study and make use of that data in exclusive contexts are rightly described as professionals; in them lies the heart and soul of the profession. Industrial-age institutions look for routine and habit accomplished through standardized measures. Complex responsibilities are split into simple steps that are assigned to organizational positions to guarantee that employees are both interchangeable and effortlessly replaced. Bureaucratic hierarchies are likely to esteem proven evaluation of specific aspects of complex managerial tasks. In view of this, the picture of leadership is in reality changing as the image of organizations changes. Analysis ascertains those who require training and what skills or performance improvements are designated. Aims and goals set the restriction for the instructional outline and help attain the appropriate learning outcomes (Kincheloe, 1991).
Peter Northouse, author of Leadership: Theory and Practice observed the revival of an all-encompassing skills-based model of leadership distinguished by a map for how to reach efficient leadership in organizations (Northouse, 2004). He recommended that the classification of specific skills which can be improved by training has an intuitive appeal: “When leadership is framed as a set of skills, it becomes a process that people can study and practice to become better at their jobs” (Northouse, 2004).
He also suggests that although the skills-based approach claims not to be a trait model, it includes individual attributes that look a great deal like traits. The act of leadership is also an exercise of moral reasoning. In their book Unmasking Administrative Evil, Guy Adams and Danny Balfour caution against elevating the scientific-analytical mindset higher than all other forms of rationality. Even as the rise of “technical rationality led inevitably to specialized, expert knowledge, the very life blood of the professional,” it also “spawned unintended consequences in the areas of morals and ethics as the science-based technical rationality undermined normative judgments and relegated ethical considerations to afterthoughts” (Adams & Balfour, 2004).
Distinguished scholar Ronald Heifetz on the other hand, developed a definition of leadership that takes values into account. He maintains that we should look at leadership as more than a means to organizational effectiveness. Efficiency means getting achievable decisions that execute the goals of the organization. “This definition has the benefit of being generally applicable, but it provides no real guide to determine the nature or formation of those goals.” (Heifetz, 1994).  Heifetz went on to say that values such as “liberty, equality, human welfare, justice, and community” are inculcated with first-rate leaders (Heifetz, 1994). It is a necessity then, the infusion of these principles into the leader and from the leader into the organization.
1. Adams, Guy B. & Danny L. Balfour, 2004.  Unmasking Administrative Evil (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, pp. 31-36.
Beckhard, R. 1969. Organization Development: Strategies and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Permissions Department, 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ07030 USA.
Block, Peter, Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, University         Associates, San Diego, CA 1981.
Bruffee, Kenneth A. Collaborative Learning: Higher Education, Interdependence, and    the Authority of Knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1993.
Demick, J. and Miller, P., Development in the Workplace, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,     Publishers, New Jersey, 1993.
Heifetz, Ronald A., 1994. Leadership Without Easy Answers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, pp. 21-22.
Northouse, Peter G. 2004. Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, pp. 35-52.

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