How Evolving Business Practices has
Impacted Organizational Leadership.
Cell: 081 382 4609
22 October 2018
Mrs. R. Joseph
The University of Johannesburg
How evolving business practices has impacted organizational leadership.
Modern day developments, including those pertaining to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, have brought about the undeniable need for change in the way business is conducted. The directional shift from traditional business practices has resulted in the simultaneous need for adaptation in organizational leadership. Yet reconstructing business practices do not allow for the seamless dissolution of dated leadership actions. Jaques coined the term ‘Requisite Organization’ which entails doing business effectively and with a competitive nature. Jaques beliefs also encapsulates the cruciality of human creativity and trust in the effective leadership of a free-enterprise democratic society in the 21st century (Jaques, 2016). Whilst Buchner believes that a shift of focus on the individual leader and organizational performance to the focus of developing individuals and organizations has become a prerequisite to surviving evolving business practices (Buchner, 2018).
This paper will further explore what effects evolving business practices in the 21st century have on organizational leadership.
THE ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION OF LEADERSHIP
Leadership has existed throughout time but has been altered to accommodate the times in which it existed. Leadership is dominant in all hierarchical structures throughout history. However, the interest in leadership only peaked in the early 20th century which saw the rise of multiple theories that explained traits and behaviours in leaders thus understanding the role of a leader better. Scholars such as Kurt Lewin and colleagues proposed three leadership styles to explain the behaviour of leaders, Lewin et al. contribution is one that is still valued in leadership evaluation today (Northouse & Yukl, 2016).
Various definitions of leadership exist yet the fundamental quality of leadership can be demonstrated by a few concepts. The first of these concepts describes leadership as the act of influencing a people to recourse their efforts towards obtaining specified goals and group objectives. Leaders provide collectives with support in decision making, ensuring that group decisions are aligned within the strategic direction of the organization. The organization requires leaders to deliver the understanding of the organizations purpose, values and visions to their employees in order to improve staff engagement. All leaders in an organization are responsible for ensuring employees are committed to organizational goals as well as creating an environment in which said goals can easily be mastered (Grobler et al., 2017).
The 21st century saw a modification in interests from the traits of effective leaders to theories about follower-centered leadership (Northouse & Yukl, 2016). Follower-centered leadership, as explained by Lena Maslennikova, focuses on “treating employees as the most valuable organizational assets and investing available resources in them.” With the use of this leadership style, firms adopt a linear chain of command where leaders and followers are treated equally, emphasising the importance of employee contribution in decision making (“Follower Centric Leadership”, 2011).
CURRENT TRENDS IN BUSINESS PRACTICES
Noticeable adaptations in the way firms conduct business exist purely because of the rapid developments of infrastructure, specifically technology. The current trends in business practices include unprecedented levels of globalization and the partaking of international business by both developed and developing nations.
Firms have chosen to strengthen their position in the market by use of artificial intelligence (Marsland, 2018). The incorporation of artificial intelligence in business practices has allowed firms to make quicker and more informed decisions. Artificial intelligence broadens profit margins by allowing organizations to expand their innovative capabilities. In a survey done by EY at the emTech Digital Conference, 54% of participants disclosed that their main objective for implementing artificial intelligence in the workplace was to develop and improve new products and services (“The Growing Impact of AI on Business”, 2018).
Businesses have begun to embrace purpose-driven marketing, which aims to satisfy the existing generations attentiveness to organizational values (Marsland, 2018). Customers have become increasingly concerned with socio economic issues and organizational contributions to eradicate them. In response, firms are now more enthusiastic about corporate social responsibility and charitable initiatives.
Corporations are also paying close attention to detail when it comes to managing their organizational culture. Other trends in business practices include capitalizing on youth potential and reputation management (Marsland, 2018).
THE ROLE OF LEADERS IN CHANGING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENTS
Dan Buchner argued that in order to transform leadership in the 21st century, the curation of a new leadership skills is necessary to be fruitful. His list included the use of new processes and complex thinking to help leaders gain an in depth understanding of new demands (Buchner, 2018). Along with a new set of skills, new leadership styles will need to be encouraged for leadership to maintain effectiveness in the contemporary organization.
As a reaction to changing business practices leadership has moved away from the traditional autocratic customs which in the past highlighted the importance of the leader’s sole capabilities and did not allow for employee contribution. Organizations are now encouraging leadership to be tailormade instead of rigid. Firms are more results centered rather than focusing on the type of style leaders choose to use. Leaders in an organization are currently prompted to manipulate their leadership style to embody multiple styles and use the combination to appeal to employees is special ways that yield results.
Leaders are currently gaining awareness about the individual characteristics within employees and developing their skills and leadership style accordingly. Thus allowing the corporation to benefit fully from the previously left out staff contribution. An employee centered leadership strategy has become company cornerstone in corporations of the 21st century. The individualism of the workforce and its proven impact on the outcome of company performance formulates the most part of why leadership in the current day and age needs a makeover. The engagement of individualistic leadership skills and styles in conjunction with the unique talents of employees is now preferred, over delegation by leaders.
Progress in technology has made it ever more efficient to manage their work teams. However, some in authority have used these innovations to avoid direct communication. The high usage of technology in leadership has become a catalyst for increased productivity in addition to employee satisfaction via more flexible work arrangements.
The requirement for transparency by leaders during remodeled business practices have become an absolute. Transparency is used as a tool to improve employee engagement and productivity. The need for transparency has spread far beyond office walls and as mentioned before, firms are enforcing translucency with not only their staff but their customers too. The effect of increased transparency now means that leaders are forced to make conscious decisions throughout their reign.
Whilst leadership has moved away from its autocratic origins, current day leaders still have the responsibility of giving their task team direction for the duration of their projects. How this responsibility differs from its past role is that leaders now encourage their staff to think creatively and prefer to inspire them therefore boosting the team’s internal motivation. A primal quality well sought after in leaders is a high emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is now deemed one of the key components needed for effective leadership. The use of emotional intelligence to bond with and better understand employees have proven to be more effective in team work. Emotional intelligence proves to be a tool that aids in the coherent prediction of needs, wants and expectations of the individuals they pilot. Aspects of Emotional intelligence include relationship management, empathy and compassion and constructive communication (Gleeson, 2015).