Management and Leadership
Management and leadership in general has been an area of great interest to many for a long time. This is more so lately. The reason behind this is the huge failure that has been witnessed in corporations. Since the onset of the financial crisis there has been an increase in the number of people who are questioning management and leadership in general. There is a general feeling that the leadership at the very top should have seen this coming. This has triggered a rethink of what especially management should be about. There has been a growing chorus of consultants and experts in general who have questioned the current crop of talent leading companies. This has in turn led to a proliferation of management – related publications. All of these have sought to solve the question of what management is and how it should be conducted. One of the most authoritative is the article “A Political Perspective on Leadership Emergence, Stability, and Change in Organizational Networks” written jointly by John Bryson and George Kelley (1978). This article shall form the basis of this paper. This paper shall seek to address the topic above more broadly but guided by the main principles and the thinking carried in the aforementioned article.
This article seems to make a marked departure from the literature already available on the same topic. From the very onset, there is the appreciation that there is a lot of literature on the market already addressing the topic above. However, the writers seem to curve a niche for themselves when they state categorically, and even move to make it part of their title, that management is a more political process than it is currently credited for (Blackard, 2007).
The writers make it their business to address the political dimension to management and leadership in general that has all along been missing. There has been an effort, either conscious of unconscious, to oversimplify leadership. The authors note this deficiency and swiftly move to state that the solution lies in some of the political science and public administration literatures that are already gathering dust on the shelves (McKenzie, 1999).
Politics is also defined the “structure and process of the use of authority and power to affect definitions of goals, directions, and other major parameters of the organization”. At first sight this appears to be what management has been about all along. However, 9in several other texts there has been a tendency to romanticize management. It has been made to seem as a consultative and all-inclusive approach. That is fine. However, at times decisions have to be made that not all the people in the organization have signed up to. According to this article, this is where true leadership is either demonstrated, or not demonstrated. The leader at the end of the day has to make decision however inclusive the process is. The only caveat is that he has to ensure that the decisions made are for the good of the company and not merely to please a few (MacKenzie, 1999).
The article moves further to identify four key variables that affect the emergence, stability and change in organizations. These are individual variables, processual variables, structural variables and environmental variables.
Individual variables deal with the personality and beliefs of the leader or manager, whichever the case may be. Individually the leader should be a person who is able to command the authority or respect of workmates even at more junior positions. This is likened to the fact that in politics, political leaders stand out even among their peers early enough and long before they gain m0re popular appeal (Paton & McCalman, 2004).
Processual variables deal with how a person has risen up the ranks to eventually be at the top. In politics, good leaders slowly make their way up the ladder. The same case should apply for management. Te idea that there are born leaders who are upstarts is discouraged. Basically, leadership should be practiced not merely handed down (Camall, 2007).
Structural variables deal with the hierarchy in an organization. The nature and complexity of the roles to be performed should determine the number of leadership roles created. The more the number of roles, the greater the chance the leader has to benefit fr9om the collective wisdom of the organization and therefore the greater the likelihood that the decisions made are correct (Paton & McCalman, 2004).
Finally, the environment in which leadership is dispensed has a great effect on its emergence, stability and change. The leader should be able to accurately read the environment and respond accordingly. This is the case both in politics and should be the case in management. A leader should be able to read the vital signs and make decisions that enable the organization to continue with minimum interference (Harigopal, 2006).
Generally, the picture painted of management is that it is in many ways like politics. As a result there is an effort to make management as inclusive as politics is. There is also an effort to make those who are in managerial positions or those generally interested in management to realize that it is just as complicated as politics. There should also be an all rounded awareness of the external or environmental factors that have a huge bearing on management. Last but not least is the synonymy of networks built in politics to those used in management. In a nutshell, management is politics but in a more civilized fashion (Mackenzie, 1999).
Blackard, K. (2007). Managing Change in a Unionized Workplace: Countervailing Collaboration.London: Greenwood Publishing Group
Bryson, J. and Kelley, G. (1978). A Political Perspective on Leadership Emergence, Stability, and Change in Organization Networks. Retrieved From, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/257927?uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102950045757
Camall, C. (2007). Managing Change in Organizations. New York: Financial Times Prentice Hall
Harigopal, K. (2006). Management of Organizational Change: Leveraging Transformation. New York, Penguin
Mackenzie, M. (1999). Senior Leaderships Role in the Change Process. Oakdale, New York: Dowling University Press
Paton, R. & McCalman, J. (2004).Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation. New York: SAGE
Management and Leadership