Business organizations are in constant pursuit of transforming their managers into leaders and subordinates into followers. A manager operates from a power pedestal, while a leader creates a platform of influence in order to encourage and motivate (Vera &Crossan, 2004, p. 230). Nevertheless, organizations need to balance between managerial capabilities and leadership development. Although most organizations spend huge amounts of money to develop leaders, most of them take unfruitful approaches whose results are not quantifiable. According to Ladyshewsky (2007, p. 426), only between 10 to 15 percent of these programs result in increased efficiency and better work quality. This paper outlines the diverse challenges that firm face in leadership development and how to deal with them. The strategic alignment of an organization can also be an important factor in leadership development because it determines the culture of the organization and corresponding information filters. This paper outlines the positions of various scholars on these three management and leadership issues.
The balance between leadership and management
According to Bolden et al (2003), the understanding and theory of leadership has undergone evolution over the past 7 decades from the times of heroic leaders to today’s transformational leaders. Over the same period, it has been imperative to understand and distinguish leadership from management in order to find a balance to help in realizing organizational synergies. According to Tamkin, Hillage&Willison (2002, p. 56), the managers of an organization play the most crucial leadership roles that help in the delivery and maximization of the performance of individuals and organizations. The Tamkin, Hillage&Willison point out that in order for managers to be competent, they require set of management capabilities. According to Cristiana, &Anca (2013, p. 1573), management refers to the ability to attain joint performance by using common values, common goals, appropriate structures, and the development and training of personnel. The common frameworks of management include capabilities like problem solving, controlling, organizing, planning, and directing. Denis, Lamothe, & Langley (2001, p. 809) posit that organizations give managers the mandate of putting structures and processes in place and ensuring their functionality. Managing people involves living in the present and promoting stability.
On the other hand, leadership refers to the ability of a person to influence others to behave in a manner that leads to the realization of corporate objectives. According to Salleh, & Grunewald (2013, p. 9- 20), the main attributes of leaders are providing meaning and direction to followers, generating trust, taking risks, and inspiring hope. Leaders foster the assurance that all shall be well and success is achievable. Therefore, the focus of a leader is the people around him or her. The concern of a leader is how to motivate and encourage followers to take part in the activities of the organization. Leading people involves seeking innovation and analyzing the future.
According to Franken, Edwards& Lambert (2009, p. 49), most contemporary organizations are under-led and over-managed. The focus of most top managements is to ensure things are done in the right way while disregarding whether the things the organization is involved in are right. However, in order to become effective as a manager one has to develop the attitude and competence of a leader (Bongjin, Burns, & Prescott 2009, p. 728). Many organizations are about rules, structures, and strategies while forgetting people drive innovation and creativity, which are essential determinants of organizational performance. According to Raes et al (2011, p. 102- 126), poor organizational communication is indicative of the lack of leadership. The result is the creation of an arrogant organizational culture that disregards the contribution of junior employees.Nevertheless, organizational success also depends on various other non-people facets. When an organization is only concerned about leading and the future, it can easily lose focus of what needs to be done in the present (Capozzi, Kellen, &Smit, 2012, p. 8).
In order to attain organizational success and realize organizational goals, the top management of an organization should realize a balance between leadership and management.According to Mihalache et al (2012, p. 1480), this strategic change is top-bottom and sets in when managers become reflective of the impact of their actions on subordinates. This is an affective appreciation of the fact that people are not productive when they are treated like machines.
McNally (2014, p. 17)argues that the most productive employees are those who derive meaning from their daily engagements at work. Therefore, it is the task of the organizational senior leadership to inspire workers and create meaning in the job. However, in order to trigger intrinsic motivation, Johnson et al (2012, p. 555) point out that managers need to stand out as the most skilled and capable employees. This calls for continuous development and training of managers. Managers with innovative skills and affective abilities know how to lead people and manage things.
Organizations spend lots of money and time in their endeavors to improve the capabilities of their managers and nurture leaders. According to Galvin et al (2014, p. 35-60), companies in the United States spend approximately 14 billion USD each year on programs of leadership development. Universities and colleges offer leadership course for up to 150,000 USD per student.
The first mistake in leadership development is overlooking context. Hopkins, Mallette, & Hopkins (2013, p. 77) argue that even an intelligent leader will not perform well in all situations and varying contexts. Most of the training programs are a blanket that should fit all. Sanders &Davey (2011, p. 41) points out that these programs assume that the same leadership style and skills are appropriate regardless of the strategy and culture of the organization and the mandate of the CEO. The organization should precisely determine the needs of the company that the program aims at achieving. Keeping the context in perspective, the organization may have to equip its leaders with a few competencies and will significantly increase performance. However, what most programs offers are lists of standards of leaders, many competences to learn, and diverse organizational values statements. However, by identifying simple but effective goals such as providing better skills of coaching and high-quality decision-making, outcomes are much better (Pienaar, 2010, p. 280).
Secondly, leadership programs should foster reflection and give opportunity to gain experience from real work. According to Frisch (2011, p. 104), most off-site trainings offered in universities are not effective because students only memorize less than 10 percent of the content. Therefore, reflection becomes an integral part in leadership training that aims at accelerating the launch of products, designing marketing strategies, and providing opportunities for personal development among participants. Moreover, Nickerson, Yen & Mahoney (2012, p. 52) aver that trainees should have the opportunity to apply the results of their reflection at the place of work.
Thirdly, most organizations fail in leadership development because they underestimate the mind-sets of the people involved. Organizations know that in order to develop leaders, a behavioral change is inevitable. However, they are not willing to go the extra mile to determine why managers behave in certain ways. This aspect may causes discomfort to trainers, trainees, and bosses alike. However, in cases where the discomfort is bearable and minimal, programs should endeavor to help participants and employers understand their managers’ underlying mind-sets. For example, it has been established that one’s ability to delegate determines how well they can lead. However, the person in question may be very controlling and does not want to lose grip. Assisting the person to realize himself or herself goes a long way in developing programs that work (Kanengieter&Rajagopal-Durbin, 2012; Nickerson, Yen & Mahoney, 2012).
Lastly, most organizations fail in leadership development because they are not able to quantify the benefits of their programs. In most cases, the programs end with the participant providing feedback to the organization. According to Hansen (2013, p. 14), trainers have perfected the art of providing trainees with exercises that are less challenging in order to receive positive reviews. Instead, companies should adopt an approach where they can monitor the behavioral changes of their leaders and how well they are progressing in their careers. Moreover, if a training program is related to one of the organization’s breakthrough projects the company should endeavor to determine how the training has influenced business (Senn, Thoma, & Yip 2013, p. 27).
Strategic alignment of organizations and improving management and leadership development
According to Hsieh &Yik (2005), organizations can grow the management’s absorptive capacity by reconfiguring the capabilities of their executives or offering continuous learning from the top executives. The strategic alignment of an organization determines its ability to identify, recruit, and bundle together managerial skills while taking into consideration existing tradeoffs. Some of the factors that affect the strategic alignment of an organization include the existing strategy, the special needs for managerial skills, experiential knowledge of the competition, and network access.
For instance, in one firm, the ability to form and manage development and research alliances determines its managerial human capital. In another firm, the main managerial asset may be experience in creating systems and infrastructure for supporting franchising networks. Although the human capital of the managements of these two teams are both valuable, they cannot exchange places because of the specialization in the firm’s strategic alignments (Vera &Crossan, 2004, p. 222- 240). Nevertheless, there are generic capabilities that are notable among most management teams (Kaufman, 2012, p. 12 -36). These include skills like team building, collaborating, and networking and entrepreneurial capabilities such as interpreting and scanning information and identifying new opportunities. These skills are a function of the analytical, creative, and cognitive skills of a manager as opposed to the firm’s strategic alignment. However, despite their value, generic abilities cannot substitute specialized capabilities.
According to Darling (2007, p. 77), the strategic direction of a firm determines its dominant logic. Therefore, during the process of hiring and combining mental models and managerial capital, chief executives use personal judgment and ingenuity in determining which changes they anticipate in the dominant logic of the firm. If the chief executive wants this logic to continue, he or she will hire a management that tightly fits into the needs of this logic in order to maximize the success of implementation (Schoemaker, Krupp, & Howland, 2013, p. 113). On the other hand, if the CEO wants a change in the prevailing organizational logic, he or she chooses a competency profile in a manner that will provide the firm with change and growth in its next phases. However, even in most cases when chief executives are expecting changes in the strategic direction of their organizations, they face challenges regarding the kind of shifts and their timing. Therefore, at such a point the organization may promote or hire on the basis of generic capabilities in order to leverage effectively (Hsieh &Yik, 2005, p. 67). In this case, the organizational alignment of the firm’s strategy is used to improve the new management.
Coping with the alignments and the problem of developing future leaders
Organizations have to balance between specialized and generic capabilities in order to develop future leaders. However, it is important to couple the strategic alignment of the firm with management capabilities (Festing, 2012, p. 37). At the inception of a business organization, the strategic alignment of the organization is reflected in the collective dominant logic of its management. However, as it progresses, managers make decisions on the basis of their expectations and underlying assumptions, hence expanding the scale and meaning of the organization’s managerial logic. Ultimately, the firm has procedures and routines that reflect its leadership and management. It can be quite challenging for such a firm to develop new leadership (Dries &Pepermans, 2012, p. 361). At this point, the strategic alignment of the firm has resulted in an information filter that rids the organization of unwanted and unneeded information, hence making it difficult for new entrants to cope with the level of specialization (Quigley, 2013, p. 579). Therefore, the firm should introduce new leadership to serve under the existing senior management for a while until they also evolve and create their own information filters and dominant logic.
Business organizations in different industries invest heavily towards leadership development. These efforts aim at improving efficiency and the quality of work in the organization. This literature review has determined that while high quality management gets things done, leadership keeps people motivated to work. Therefore, managers should seek to balance between their instructional and motivational capabilities when dealing with subordinates. In order to realize the benefit of management and leadership development, organizations should factor in their contexts, the mindsets of employees, and the outcomes of training initiatives. The strategic alignment of a firm plays a vital role in the acquisition and development of leaders and managers. Therefore, CEhave to factor in the dominant logic of their firms and choose between specialized and generic managerial skills when developing their senior management.