Assessment: Leadership in Contemporary Organisations
Title: “Based on your study of leadership theory, discuss and justify the leader you aspire to become.”
There has been a noteworthy change in the organisational structures due to team-based work structures which has led to the emergence of cross-cultural teams. The cross –cultural trend is taken care by leaders who are deploying different leadership style like transformational, charismatic leadership or situational leadership to deal with change management and external and internal business challenges.
In addition, there are several leadership theories identified for the contemporary organizations over the early leadership theories like the Great man that explains the impact of leaders because of their personal traits like intelligence, and political skills and that charisma have an influential impact on other individuals (Hoffman et al., 2011).
However, it is also debated that an individual need to have natural intention to become leaders. There is also differentiation among the leader development and leadership development where the former focuses on developing individuals while the latter emphasises on the development process involving individual with followers and among individuals with similar status and abilities in a self-managed teams (Day et al., 2014).
In organisation, a leader is the controlling command for the organisation that at times acts as a change agent to lead the organizational members. It is the leader who represents the leadership approach and leading/commanding actions. Leaders need to have specific skills/ qualities to accomplish improved employee performance in the contemporary business landscape.
The focus of this essay is to provide a discussion and justification for a leader that I desire to become based on the leadership theory learning’s and existing understanding.
The essay points to question that what type of leader I desire to become, in relation to how and why aspects considering modern-day approach to leadership for today’s business environment.
To answer the essay question, the section beings with introduction to the admired leader, analysis and discussion of the leadership traits, skills and quality. This is followed by the development of leadership model of the chosen leader and justification for the chosen leader and my personal leadership model.
Accordingly, this essay identifies and defines my personal leadership model and self –analysis of the existing leadership capabilities for my development priorities in advancing towards the leader and the leadership style I seek to develop in my upcoming time.
The leader that I admire is Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson. Richard has been one of the founders of Virgin Group Ltd. In childhood years, Richard suffered from dyslexia which has been resulted in poor academic performance however, from an early age of 16,
Richard stepped into the business by publishing a magazine ‘student’ who continued the business journey to open a mail order record company which was later (in 1972) known as the Virgin records music label (Finkle, 2011).
Richard was able to lead the company to become a key business in the international music business industry. Thus, Richard with an inquisitive mind, creative thinking skills, and love for learning, ability to connect with different personalities and other leadership qualities has moved forward to achieve high qualification in areas of Doctor of Technology, commercial air transportation and as an entrepreneur which has facilitated him to become a billionaire.
To grow Virgin brand, Richards invested in opening Virgin Student, Virgin Atlantic Airway, Virgin Cars, Virgin Trains, Virgin Energy, Virgin Care, Virgin Wines, Virgin Mobiles, Virgin Money.com, Virgin Travelstore.com and other new businesses under the Virgin brand name.
Richard is known to be positioned as a leader having multiple leadership style which is used in managing the responsibilities, business projects, and employees under different circumstances (Oke et al., 2009).
Also, as a well respected employer, Richard has been able to manage thousands of employees with a rule breaking leadership approach that encourages innovative thinking in his followers.
I have a high regard for Richard Branson as a leader as the business leadership style matches with the charismatic personality that Richard posses (Buckingham, 2012) for running of the conglomerate business organisation.
Richard highlights the traits, qualities and behaviour of an outstanding, influential and successful business leader. Richard has a different approach towards the running the business, dealing with employees and making and controlling use of resources efficiently. The leadership style of Richard is interesting which is due to its personality/ leadership traits and style.
I analyse Richard Branson to be a natural born leader thus, the Trait theory can be used to describe the traits and qualities inherited by Richard that make him better suited to leadership.
Branson can be best described as a creative entrepreneur who is adventurous (has record for crossing (by boat) the Atlantic and crossing (by amphibious vehicle) the English Channel), fast, active, competitive yet friendly, confident, hard negotiators and risk taker (Boje and Smith, 2010).
The risk taking feature is highlighted from the decision taken by Richard towards Virgin Atlantic where this field of business was new and involved financial risk as there was no former experience/ expertise. Apart from these, over time new qualities has been witnessed in Richard that are considered to be required in today’s time where organisation environment is uncertain, technological development is taking at fast pace, need for high performance and need for faster decision making and its implementation.
Richard is a creative and critical thinker, has mindfulness and emotional intelligence and the ability to lead change which makes him a contemporary leader. These features in Richard make up the traits of more than one leadership style.
Also, in the context of emotional intelligence, it can be analysed that as a leader, Richard has been successful in managing the emotional intelligence in his styles of leadership. Richard is a person who is self-aware of his emotions and the impact of its actions on others, and a leader who has been a self motivated leader.
It can be evaluated that Richard has a good awareness of his strengths and weak areas. Also, Richard is analysed to have good social skills which is evident from the fact that he has a good and influential communicating skills (Harms and Credé, 2010) which has been utilised to undertake new business ventures along with team support and collaboration. It is evaluated that the emotional intelligence in Richard highlights motivation, social skills and self-awareness.
On the other hand, relating to the trait theory of leadership, some of the qualities inherited by Richard like energy, open, self-confidence, charisma, and emotional maturity are indicative of successful and/ or effective leaders.
It can be analysed that Richard display the trait theory of leadership based on his characteristics that has helped in becoming an effective leader as these leadership traits has increased/ supported the chances of Richard in becoming a successful leader in running the business (Colbert et al., 2012). I am fond of the personality traits of Richard which has been supportive to provide the leadership potential to become a successful leader.
It is discovered that multiple leadership style are being deployed by Richard in the history of managing the Virgin brand and conglomerate business that involves around 400 companies (Niphadkar, 2017).
Richard has focused on developing strong employer-employee relationship by treating them with respect, fairly, appreciating new ideas and listening and acting to employee feedbacks and suggestions which has been useful for Richard to gain trust and respect from the employee’s end. In addition, the Virgin employees are given freedom and empowerment which has developed a culture of innovation and creative thinking across the organisation (Finkle, 2011).
This is also supported from the fact Virgin organisation follows a flat and less –hierarchical organisation structure that offer flexibility to work and innovate and has been an effectual structure to promote Virgin growth and expansion into new venture (Virgin, 2015).
The flat organisation structure has given leaders with a wide span of control and decentralization in decision making process to make it fast and efficient (Larsson and Vinberg, 2010). The focus on Richard is on getting task/ goals accomplished and at the same time focus on maintain relationship with organisational members.
These factors point towards a democratic and participative kind of leadership style as Richard takes the final decision. In democratic and participative leadership style, the leader is known to motivate the team members to involve in the process of decision making however, the power to take final decision lies with the leader (Nanjundeswaraswamy and Swamy, 2014).
Under this leadership style, the leader also provide guidance to the followers on what and how to execute and complete tasks and take feedback and suggestions from the employees which results in motivated and content employees. The democratic/ participative leadership style also leads to development of a positive work culture/ environment that supports creative thinking and innovation.
However, the core leadership style of Richard appeared to be of transformational leader as Richard as created a vision which is well known by the employee, and has developed a motivating team that has fill engagement with the organisation vision and employee have been efficient in achieving the long term goals (Niphadkar, 2017). In this leadership approach, the focus of Richard can be related to the elements of inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation.
This is because Richard has ability to motivate and develop a sense of purpose by clarifying goals and vision to followers. This is possible as this leader has influencing communication skills in conveying expectations and leading his followers to achieve the committed goals.
Also, Richard is known to empower followers/ employee to work freely and promote creativity and innovation to resolve business problems and supports ideas for growth of the Virgin business (Diaz-Saenz, 2011).
Apart from these, the leadership style of Richard also demonstrated team leadership focus on developing self managed and high performing teams and has also taken up role of an instrumental and charismatic leader in the Virgin business group which has put in place a proper system of control and rewards as well as given empower to their virgin employees and stimulate leader development in self managed teams.
This can also be analysed using the contingency theory, where the leadership style of Richards can be described to be relationship motivated as the high relevance is placed on building relationship.
Based on the above points, a leadership/ cocktail model is developed for Richard Branson is as follows where five different types of leadership styles can be extracted.
The first is transformational leadership as Richard has been successful in developing in-depth rapport, and trust with the followers with the care-based, influencing plan approach to enhance performance and change the attitude of followers to align with the common vision/ goals of the Virgin group.
It can be analysed that Richard has been good at demonstrating transformational leadership as he has been a role model in developing vision, gaining collaboration and aligning followers in same direction to implement organisational change and achieve common goals.
The second is participative leadership style which highlights Branson practices that encourages open communication with the followers, collaboration and cooperation, developing commitment to solve issues and achieve objectives. The leader involves the employees in decision making process and implementation of plan to achieve the long term goals (Nanjundeswaraswamy and Swamy, 2014).
The third is team leadership where the Richard works with different teams including self managed teams towards a common goal. The teams are involved by Richard in the decision making process towards allocation of resources, strategy formulation (Hoch and Kozlowski, 2014) and training and development along with frequents interaction that support information sharing practices to grow the Virgin business.
The fourth is instrumental style of leadership under which the concentration of Richard has been on achieving the strategic goals while maintaining high performance/ productivity (Larsson and Vinberg, 2010). This kind of leadership has helped Richard to achieve Virgin objectives and also encouraged the use of knowledge, monitoring of performance standards and development of a feedback mechanism to improve employee performance as well as their development.
The fifth is authentic leadership style analysed as this leader has shown honest behaviour in taking actions towards environmental and humanitarian causes which has inspired high moral values in his followers and many look to Richards as a role model owing to the responsible and moralistic behaviour.
I evaluate theses leadership style to be unique aspects of Richard personality. It can be evaluated that apart from these Richard display an informal style and modern attitude which has led to and holding the success of the Virgin brand till date despite the business challenges and tax evasion controversy.
The leadership style has evolved to focus on developing an innovative culture and motivating employees which has been contributing the progress of the Virgin group organisation.
Thus, I analyse that to follow Richard leadership styles and become like him I have to first develop leadership skills like critical thinking, decision making skills and customise my style of leadership as per the task requirements and the different team personalities I come across in my professional life.
I have also analysed that I need to move out my comfort zone to act like as an authentic/ transformational leader and give more consideration to moral development, ethical standards, act with integrity and encourage creativity. Moreover, I have analysed that I need to challenge my assumptions and take risk in order to focus on my creative and innovation dimension.
For this, I will not every time take charge of completing someone’s work on an independent basis instead inspire and motive other individuals to develop independent thinking and creative solutions. Thus, learning the art of delegation is also important for me to become an effective leader like Richard.
Richard transformation style of leadership has been effective to motivate the organisational members and peers of the self –managed teams in the Virgin group to work towards a common vision.
Thus, as a transformational leader, Richard has exhibited his intellectual, motivational, charismatic traits and consideration for employees, which is important for modern day organisation at both employee level and organisational level. There are several grounds where I seek to develop and become a transformational leader as Richard Branson.
First, transformational style leadership will be effectual in self-growth. According to Wang et al. (2011), transformational leader development helps an individual in its growth and development where an individual can realise its full potential as a leader and for development of one’s morale. It is also considered by García-Morales et al. (2012) that transformational leader has high commitment towards noble ideas that are for the sake or other individuals and group.
In addition to growth and development, the desire to become leader like Richard is also based on the grounds of performance improvements. According to Herman and Chiu (2014), many researchers has pointed that the advantage of transformational leadership is that it helped in improving the level of performance of the followers as desired by the leader or the management. In support of this, the research of Dvir et al. (2002)
Observed the impact of platoon leaders’ employing transformational leadership where it was found to be effective to increase the performance of the cadets’ in weapons testing and obstacle courses in a military training environment. In addition, Caillier (2014) considers that transformational style of leadership can be applicable in different situation/ environment like military, educational, hospital, business (marketing area) and construction industry.
Thus, in agreement to the researcher experiment, I consider that becoming a transformational leader can help me deliver increased performance of the followers. It can be said that developing transformational leadership is highly effectual at team level to inspire and motivate team to direct and lead their efforts towards a common goal and also question the current system to progress and move forward. On the other hand, in the opinion of Warrick (2011),
the transformational leaders are considered important for the organizational development and change. Similarly, Carter et al. (2013) viewed the role of transformational leader in the time of downsizing and change in business and reorganization.
The study of Dong et al. (2017) viewed the influence of transformational leaders in setting organisation vision and strategic direction which impacts the business operations and working of the organisation.
Thus, based on the research outcome and above opinion it can be stated that becoming a transformational leader has consequences for both team and organisational level to prepare and lead the organisational members to face new challenge in the events of company restructuring, re-organisation of employees and during change in the company’s strategic direction.
Yasir and Mohamad (2016) opine that transformational leaders are attached to ethics, other individual feelings, values and work standards and strategic goals. In agreement to the view of Yasir and Mohamad (2016), I also consider emotions and ethics as a focal point in leadership.
Hence, I aim to develop a transformational style of leadership that has a broad application in various business environments that concerns the leaders with ethics and individuals emotions.
I also believe that developing into transformational leader will be help in focusing the growth and develop of individual and organisation which is required in the modern organisation where the emphasis is on developing trust and relationship in develop a warn employee environment which also stimulates and promotes teamwork, innovation and creativity.
According to Tepper et al. (2018), transformational leadership style is required for today’s workforce that demands empowerment and a motivating work culture to perform successfully in the uncertain business environment. Considering this, it is believed that the development of a person into a transformational leader can be effective to handle uncertain situations and deal with the issue of employee dissatisfaction and employee motivation which are common workplace challenges.
Apart from this, becoming a leader like Richard also reflects on team leadership and authentic leadership which are important and much required in leaders in the contemporary organisation. With the creation of the team work structure there is a need to accomplish daily tasks in groups with more than two individual who may have different background/ culture.
Thus, team leadership is important considering this scenario to motivate team members to get the work done, resolving team conflicts and making team members more adaptable to changes and achieving team goals utilising the team strength and capabilities. According to Sommer et al. (2016),
the team leadership style is most effective form of leadership in area of monitoring and improving team effectiveness. This is important as I want to pursue my career in project management field most likely as a project leader where working in terms and managing team performance are essential for success of a project.
In addition, the book of Northouse (2018) refers to the Hill model of team leadership which is helpful for the leader in forming leadership decision based on the internal and external actions to improve the team effectiveness. Thus, developing team leadership will be effective for me where I utilise my team skills in handling the team performance and can also improve my decision making skills as a leader.
Also, team leadership is important for me as it relates to my values such as teamwork, collaboration and cooperation.
In the context of both team and authentic leadership, it is stated by Sommer et al. (2016) that these leadership styles are most trusted in time of business uncertainty and organisational change to gain employee confidence and keep the followers motivated.
The research of Bakari et al. (2017) found that authentic leaders have a positive and less hindering effect on the employees during organisational change. Thus, I like to develop leader like Richard that come across as genuine leader by his self awareness, and honesty towards moral value and principles and has shown ability to gain trust of the followers in times of change and controversies.
Thus, I want to develop traits to help in becoming developing authentic leadership style which can promote feeling of honestly and develop trust in the followers.
In my personal leadership model, I include the three key elements that are useful to evaluate me as a leader and my leadership skills/ qualities/ behaviour for developing into the leader I consider as my role model. These elements are technical knowledge and skilfulness, emotional command and control and moral development.
I have good practical knowledge related to team dynamics and management and individual work but I need to improve on my technical skills related to time management in the area of goals setting, problem planning and decision making. In relation to emotional mastery, my focus is on self-awareness, motivation, and social skills which allow the leader to increase flexibility in leading followers, and connect with their emotions and values.
The element of mental/emotional mastery as a psychological process is also related to authentic leadership in leading the followers genuinely. In context of moral development, the efforts to become leader are in direction of developing a correct attitude which includes care, positive reception, mutual respect and trust toward other individuals who can be followers.
In my personal leadership cocktail, I include transformational leadership style, authentic leadership and team leadership style. This is because transformational leadership is adequate in today’s changing and competitive business landscape as it will develop me as an effective leader that can take charge of organizational change, developing vision for change and implementing change with support of others (Herman and Chiu, 2014).
It is also found to be effective in dealing with pressure of high performing employees and the dimension of intellectual stimulation can be positive for the follower to motivate them and encouraging them to be innovative. In my leadership model, I also include authentic leadership style as it closely relates with transformational leadership.
Authentic leaders regard behavior dimensions related to inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation along with ethical considerations. This is because ethics place high importance in leadership where today’s followers prefer leaders that are genuine with high moral standards so that mutual exchange and respect is developed and maintained among the leader and follower.
In the opinion of Bakari et al. (2017), authentic leaders are and honest regarding their purpose, balance their intrinsic –extrinsic level of motivation, establish meaningful relations, support team and empower other individuals to achieve the shared purpose.
Similarly, team leadership is required in modern time due to popularity of team based work structures in the technology advancement era. Thus, developing team leadership is required to deal with team conflicts, promote team building and collaboration to maintain market competitiveness.
This is considering my personal traits and qualities, I have self assessed my strength and weakness related to the leadership. For this, the leadership model of Blake and Mouton managerial grid was referred and used for self-assessment.
From that, it was analysed from my behavioural aspects that I have high concern for individuals but low concern towards the results thus; I belonged to the country club management leadership grip.
This also evaluates that the leadership style is accommodating where the leader place high importance to followers’ needs and emotions but productivity is low due to lack of control. In contrast, Richard has behavioural dimensions that have high concern for both employee and task which put him in the leadership grid of Team management which reflects a leader who takes care in building relations and at the same time gets the work done.
I have also analysed about my current capabilities that I am friendly, believe in fairness, punctual, honest, and straightforward while at the same time, I have concern about other individuals, provide support to others to perform well and complete their tasks.
Other than these, I have analyses my qualities as a problem solver, team player, and in team building. Moreover, I am open to learning new things and gaining new knowledge. On the other hand, I consider myself to have moderate emotional intelligences in areas of motivation and social skills, less risk taking ability and an average critical and creative thinking which are the weak areas with scope of improvements.
Thus, in order to become an effective leader like Richard in managing teams few development priorities are indentified and considered for improvement. Thus, it is recognised that I need to develop my scheduling skills and organising skills by improving my time management with the help of to-do list and prioritising my work.
I will also start participating in decision making activity/ process to develop focus towards tasks. In addition, to develop attributes like Richard I consider developing my creative thinking skills, risk taking, and emotional intelligence are required to become a leader like him. Oke et al. (2009) underlines inquiry based learning and risk opportunities can develop a person from a non-risk taker to a risk taker. Thus, in agreement with Oke et al. (2009),
I will develop risk taking skills by undertaking opportunities that have risk for failure, and pursuing inquiry based knowledge development. The action process to develop my creative skills will be to develop new ideas and new solution for day-to-problems, play creative games and solve puzzles and interact with creative persons that I know in my social circle. In support of this, Proctor (2010) found that associating with creative individuals help non-creative individual to spark new ideas and provide different perspective and ways of analysing things/ situations.
It can be summarised from the analysis of the chosen leader, Richard Branson has deployment of multiple leadership style in the history of running its business which includes democratic/ participative, authentic, team leadership, instrumental and transformational styles of leadership. However, the transformation style is realized to be the core leadership style of Richard.
The effectiveness of Richard as a transformational leader is witnessed in different business operations/ new ventures and in maintaining employer-employee relations, motivating their followers/employees, team management and building, and in developing a culture of innovation that supports/ encourages creative thinking.
The personal leadership model includes leadership development as transformational, authentic and team leader which is required in the modern leader to handle workforce and for my career development. It can be concluded that his different leadership styles has been a reason for the growth and success of Virgin brand and his personality traits has motivated other individual like me to develop into a transformational leader.
Thus, I aspire to be an effective leader like Sir Richard Branson who in present time is considered to have relationship orientation and a contemporary leader capable of managing teams’ performance, while supporting creativity and innovation culture.
To follow and become a leader like Richard, my action process is concentrated on improving my scheduling skills, decision making skills, risk taking skills, and creative skills. Thus, based on the analysis, justification, self –awareness and my personal leadership model I desire to become like Sir Richard Branson who is analysed to have skill, qualities and abilities of a contemporary leader for today’s uncertain and competitive business environment.
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