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MGT209 Managing Human Resources Essay Assignment, Southern Institute of Technology, New Zealand

Learning Outcomes -

  • Examine the importance of leadership style in managing people and dealing with problems in a team environment.
  • Consider various contemporary leadership concepts and how they can be implemented to manage teams effectively.
  • Evaluate the application of leadership concepts in business environments.

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Essay Question - Evaluate the application of two leadership concepts in a business environment of your choice.

Task -

A description of the leadership concept (the theory or model) and how it was applied in the particular business environment.

How did leadership style impact (positively or negatively) on applying the concept in the particular business environment?

Your assessment of how appropriate it was to apply the leadership concept in the particular business environment.

An evaluation of how well it was applied including any particular strengths or weaknesses in the application and any lessons that can be drawn from the experience.

Answer - Essay

1. Motivating and empowering people: Democratic leadership

Description of leadership theory and its application

Democratic leadership, also termed as participative leadership is a form of leadership where the team members within the organisation have an equal say within the decision-making processes (English, 2011). All the workers are usually given the opportunity to exchange their ideas freely, and discussions are always encouraged. Although the free flow of ideas and opinions is very much emphasised, the leader still retains the right and the power to control the decisions and offer their guidance. The leader in a democratic organisation reserves the right to decide, who gets to contribute to the different organisational processes (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy, 2014). This is among one of the most effective kinds of leadership, as it leads to high levels of productivity, and enables the group members to be able to contribute in a better manner, while also increasing the morale of the overall organisation.

This style of leadership is applicable in organisations where the situations tend to change very frequently. This is because being democratic allows room for the flexibility to adapt according to these situations, and be able to adapt to them in a better manner (Raelin, 2011). Although the decision-making process would be somewhat slower as well as all the workers would get involved, it would help empower and motivate the employees as they would feel included within the different processes (Bhatti, Maitlo, Shaikh, Hashmi, & Shaikh, 2012).

The organisation in question here is Twitter, whose leader, Jack Dorsey, follows a democratic leadership style and applies it to all the numerous processes of the business. The social media platform works largely through collaboration, and the leaders are quite proud of the participatory nature of the organisation. The employees work through forming cooperative partnerships, and they lead the company in the direction they wish to. They are free to participate in the numerous decision-making processes by spreading their suggestions and ideas, and they are also free to express any views or opinions they might have pertaining to the company.

At Twitter, the democratic leadership style is applied in the fact that the people are not just the employees - they are encouraged to become leaders as well. They are encouraged to make big decisions, because Jack Dorsey believes that if he takes any step and it fails, it would lead to an organisation-wide failure, which is more harmful. Thus, he encourages the people at Twitter to trust in themselves, which ensures that the organisational health remains in the hands of the employees. This is essentially important for motivating and empowering the employees within the organisation (Fiaz, Su, & Saqib, 2017).

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Impact of leadership style in the business environment

As far the impact of this leadership style is concerned, it can be said that there has been positivity associated with it on a greater scale. For instance, Dorsey had encouraged his employees to not use the names of others to get their projects and suggestions approved, as there was little or no merit associated with such an act. Instead, being upfront with their own ideas is more rewarding, as it encourages innovation and empowers them to be creative in their thought process. It also enables them to give in the effort required for producing quality work, which can then be taken seriously by the managers or leaders.

Furthermore, this leadership concept fosters transparency, and tells the Twitter workers that it is absolutely okay to fail and make mistakes. This is because when workers own up to their mistakes and admit to the shortcomings that their projects might have, it only encourages others to come on board with their ideas as they realise that the individual is well aware of the industry and the field they are venturing into. This can also be seen in the case of Square, which was launched by Dorsey himself, and was initially not supported by anybody. He had been aware that many people were only waiting for the venture to fail, and thus, he countered their ruminations by presenting a list of 140 reasons as to why he believed that this application would fail. This proved to the investors that he was aware of the field in detail, and they immediately came on board and helped Square become one of the leading mobile payment entities. Also, employees at Twitter are given the opportunity to have unprecedented access to the notes from engineering and other meetings, and they are also allowed to ask questions and provide with their subsequent feedback. This attempt at fostering inclusivity impacts the employees in a positive manner, as they feel that they are valued, thereby empowering and encouraging them to do better at their jobs.

Appropriateness of application of the leadership concept

It can be stated that the application of democratic leadership is quite appropriate for Twitter, since it is a social media platform and thereby is used by millions of people worldwide. This implies that the ultimate design of the platform should be such that it must be acceptable to a larger percentage of the masses. For this purpose, the designing as well as the maintenance of the platform cannot be centred around just one individual - it is important to consider the opinions of as many people as necessary to create a masterpiece that would be successful and sustainable in the long run (Murthy, 2011). Furthermore, the environment of the workplace at Twitter also undergoes frequent situational changes, and thus, it is important for the company to maintain a democratic leadership concept for its functioning.

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Evaluation: Strengths and weaknesses

The manner in which the democratic leadership style was applied can be said to have the strength of having the capacity to empower and motivate the employees, which ultimately increases the productivity at Twitter and helps the organisation maintain profitability. However, a weakness associated with this approach is that the entire procedure is quite time consuming. For instance, sending copies of the notes from all the meetings, and waiting for the feedback and opinions of all the employees is rather tedious and entails the use of a lot of time, which can often hinder the execution of other business operations. However, an overall evaluation reveals that a democratic leadership style on part of Jack Dorsey has been quite beneficial to Twitter, as the company continues to grow at a steady pace in the social media industry.

2. Change management: Transformational leadership

Description of leadership theory and its application

Transformational leadership encourages and inspires employees to indulge in innovation and create change, that will ultimately help in the growth of the company as well as in its future success. This is usually established by setting a strong sense of culture on the corporate level, coupled with workplace independence and employee ownership. These leaders are extremely skilled at inspiring and motivating their workforce without having to indulge in micromanaging the affairs. They have their own set of trusted employees who are vested with the authority to make decisions pertaining to their specifically assigned jobs (García-Morales, Jiménez-Barrionuevo, & Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez, 2012). This style of management allows the workers to have more room in terms of creativity, and is also a model of fairness and integrity in terms of managing the organisation. Transformational leaders have absolutely clear goals in mind, and they also have very high expectations from their employees (McCleskey, 2014). They not only encourage the employees but also provide the much-needed support and recognition, especially during times of change management.

Transformational leaders are experts at communication, and therefore are able to build a climate where everything is mutual and highly flexible. This conducive to making employees feel at ease when it comes to accepting the organisational culture and also in case of change management. These leaders also build teams and foster positivity within the organisation by helping them complete the tasks in a collaborative manner (Pieterse, Van Knippenberg, Schippers, & Stam, 2010).

The organisation chosen for exploring this leadership style in the context of change management is that of Facebook. The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is responsible for providing the overall product strategies as well as the organisational direction for the company. The service development as well as the design is led by him, and they form the core of the technological infrastructure of the company. In terms of change management, Zuckerberg has derailed the traditional hierarchies and removed all the barriers within the organisation. He has ensured that it is useless to allocate tasks to his people on the basis of their age or experience, and thus everybody's opinions are considered valuable and necessary. His vision to create a world that is more open and connected has contributed to this massive commitment that he has been able to invest when it comes to Facebook.

When it comes to change management, the transformational business environment is particularly useful. This is because he works to empower the employees and instead of confining them within the shackles of bureaucracy, unlike other major companies. This is indeed a difficult thing to do, given the fact that there are thousands of employees that have to adapt to the organisational change when it goes underway. Zuckerberg is deeply involved with operations of Facebook, which instils the belief among the employees, that he genuinely cares and does not do it just for the money. Although he does have the habit of not consulting the board members before making some of the decisions, he is otherwise a good communicator, and effectively indulges in regular engagement with the workers.

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Impact of leadership style in the business environment

When it comes to change management, transformational leadership is the style or concept that is best-suited for the business environment. The impacts this leadership style has are positive in nature, although there are few drawbacks to the approach that Zuckerberg adopts.

Transformational leadership focuses more on building teams and taking the organisation to the next best level of performance, and the focus is not on just completing the everyday tasks at the organisation. Similarly, Zuckerberg is able to inspire his workers to emphasise on the vision he has for his company, instead of planning for the short term. The code of conduct that he has set works to benefit the organisation to a great extent, and provides a standard that is followed by the workers for fulfilling the goals through an approach that is collaborative in nature. Change management is something that relies heavily on communication and negotiation, as there might be resistance that could be faced from the workers (Hechanova & Cementina-Olpoc, 2013). These can be mitigated through the aspects of transformational leadership as observed in Mark Zuckerberg, as keeping them together through organisational change is a major responsibility that is no cakewalk for a leader.

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Appropriateness of application of the leadership concept

The transformational leadership as exhibited by Zuckerberg is rather apt for change management, as managing organisational change requires the leader to be admirable and able to inspire awe among the workers. In other words, charisma is a major factor that works for positive change management, and thus helps in building trust in the minds of the followers (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013). Zuckerberg's behaviour is a reflection of these ideals, as he is able to motivate his workers, thereby enabling them to accept the organisational change as part and parcel of being involved with such a major business entity.

Evaluation: Strengths and weaknesses

Zuckerberg's application of his transformational leadership style has both strengths and weaknesses of its own. For instance, his charisma and ability to inspire the workers works towards managing organisational change in a harmonious manner. When workers are satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to be receptive to change and have little or no resistance towards it (Jackson & Parry, 2011). Also, the fact that the company's leader has a definite vision in his mind gives them the much-needed reassurance, thereby making it imperative for the employees to put their trust in their leader. Since there is no particular hierarchy, they are also free to pitch in with their suggestions any time. However, Zuckerberg's habit of making a few decisions without consulting the board members might be detrimental to the functioning of the organisation, as a business runs only on mutual trust and respect. It is only when the people trust their leader can they be willing to accept change.

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