Principles of Leadership
It is important for an organization to have a leader who could guide the employees and handle the business challenges successfully. It is because the leader is valuable for every organization to get the insights that are significant for the management to make better decisions and achieve high success. In addition, leadership is effective to address the challenges in the changing environment and develop a competitive advantage (Trivellas & Drimoussis, 2013). This report is also associated with the development of the understanding regarding the leadership in relation to the specific management level including lower, middle and senior management levels within hierarchical levels and situations.
For this, Auckland Transport, which is the council-controlled organization (CCO) of Auckland Council accountable for transport projects and services (roads, footpaths, cycling, parking, and public transport), is selected to assess the leadership aspects. It is accountable for routine activities that are crucial for maintaining Auckland’s transport systems. This company is also accountable for planning and funding the transport and promoting the different ways to maintain the local road network. It also designs, builds and maintains roads, ferry wharves, cycleways and walkways in Auckland and ensures the road safety and coordinate the community transport initiatives such as school travel (Auckland Transport, 2019). This report assesses the leadership approaches of Auckland Transport at senior management level. It focuses on the leadership concept and theories and analyzes the leadership approaches and styles of the organizations by considering this concept and theories. In relation to this, the undertaken report also incorporates the suggestions to enhance the leadership aspects of the senior management level of Auckland Transport. In addition, this report also focuses on the analysis of the cultural diversity issues in Auckland Transport influencing the leadership aspects and approaches. Based on this, it also proposes some ways to handle these cultural diversity issues within the organization.
Leadership approaches are crucial for an organization to provide proper directions to the employees and achieve the business objectives through better insights obtained from the leader. It is also important to adopt effective leadership approach to direct the efforts towards the objectives of the company and obtain high success. The leaders at Auckland Transport’s senior management level are using different types of leadership approaches including transformational, participative, task-oriented leadership, relationship-oriented leadership and situation based leadership (Yang et al., 2011). All these approaches of leadership are being used by the senior management level of the organization. Transformation leadership is quite effective for the company to introduce changes on the regular level as per the changes in the business environment. It is also significant for the senior management to create a vision for transforming the performance of the firm. So, the use of this leadership enables the senior management to communicate the vision and provide directions to the employees to incorporate any changes within the organization. At the same time, senior managers at Auckland Transport adopt relationship-oriented leadership to develop a good relationship with the employees and encourage them to perform better. This leadership style is used by the senior management to identify the needs and expectations of the employees and develop an employee-employer relationship to encourage them to do better and achieve the goals of the organization (Trivellas & Drimoussis, 2013). In addition, task-oriented leadership approach is effective for the senior manager to complete the allocated tasks on time and achieve the business objectives of the firm. With the help of this, the senior management allocates the tasks with the proper deadline that ensure the execution of the tasks on time.
Additionally, participative leadership approach is significant for the senior management to allow the employees to share their views and opinions and support to improvise the business decisions (Thamhain, 2013). It helps to encourage the employees and develop belongingness among them to perform effectively. Moreover, situation-based leadership approach is used by the senior management to handle different situations effectively. In this dynamic business environment, it is crucial for the organization to address the changes efficiently by adopting situation based leadership approach. Overall, it can be stated that all these leadership approaches are used by the senior managers with different purposes to achieve the business objectives.
It is an important role of the leadership approaches in the organization as it provides the direction to the employees to perform their roles and responsibilities. Auckland Transport adopts different leadership approaches including transformational, participative, task-oriented leadership, relationship-oriented leadership and situation based leadership at senior management level identified in the above part. The task-oriented leadership style allows the leader to be strict to the employees as they focus only on tasks completion to achieve the business objectives and goals (Trivellas & Drimoussis, 2013). For this, the leader develops a plan to guide the employees to fulfill all the task requirements within the given deadline. The employees at Auckland Transport also focus on the completion of their allocated tasks and activities on time as the priority of the leader is to perform operations and activities properly (Auckland Transport, 2017). For instance, the major focus of Auckland Transport is to serve the community through better transport services as its chairman Lester Levy considers that the organizations want to become more open and more focused on the community it serves to improve the customers’ experience and collect funds for key projects (Auckland Transport, 2019). However, sometimes, this type of leadership approach causes a negative impact on the performance of the employees because it creates pressure on employees and also affects the relationship between senior management and employees.
On the other hand, relationship-oriented leadership approach is also used by the senior management to develop a strong relationship with the employees and encourage them for performing better to achieve the individual as well as the organizational objectives. Under this leadership, chief stakeholder relationships officer, Wally Thomas focuses on the relationship development with the stakeholders including employees. He considers the needs and requirements of the employees through the integration of the HR department and offers an impressive choice of jobs and exceptional career opportunities for dedicated and hardworking employees. Even, the company offers a three-year graduate programme for the employees to develop their skills and provide them with better career opportunities in the future (Auckland Transport, 2019). Such concerns of the senior management towards the employees cause high commitment and engagement among the employees that leads to higher performance by the employees. At the same time, senior management of the firm ensures better and favorable working conditions for the employees that encourage them to perform better as well retain for the longer period. Even, the flexible working conditions are adopted by the company to enable the employees to make a proper balance between personal and professional life. It is effective for the employees to manage their works efficiently and accomplish the organizational objectives. However, this type of leadership causes some freedom among the employees and also creates pressure on the management to accomplish the works that are due because of the flexibility given to the employees for developing the good relationship (Trivellas & Drimoussis, 2013).
Along with this, transformational leadership is quite important for the firm to incorporate the changes on a continuous basis as the followers follow the guidelines and directions provided by the leader and focus on the innovation perspective through changes. CEO of the company namely Shane Ellison has an innovative mindset and a deep understanding of transformative change. He has immersed the transformative design-thinking approach in the organization by encouraging the employees through his leadership and focused on several transport projects with innovation (Auckland Transport, 2019). The employees consider the customer experience and involve the customers directly in the redesign process to save time and cost and resources to provide the best solutions to the customers. Transformational leadership allows the leaders of the firm to introduce the customer feedback on regular basis and make changes in the services to meet the requirements. However, this leadership stimulates the minds of their followers due to getting authority and confidence but it also causes failure of decision making due to the inclusion of emotions (Thamhain, 2013). In addition, participative leadership is also used by the senior managers of Auckland Transport that allows the employees to share their views and opinions and improve the decisions. But at the same time, it causes frustration and dissonance among the employees whose ideas and insights are not considered in the decision making. Moreover, the situation based leadership allows the firm to take actions as per the situation and handle the issues (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy, 2014). Among all these leadership approaches, relationship-oriented leadership; participative leadership and situation based leadership are quite effective.
On the basis of the above discussion, it can be found that Auckland Transport is facing issues regarding the task-oriented and transformational leadership approaches. It is because task-oriented leadership does not match with the consideration of the needs and requirements of the employees. Along with the task completion, it is also mandatory for the senior managers to develop the interpersonal relationship. For this, it is suggested to the senior management to develop a cooperative and friendly working environment that could encourage the employees to accomplish the tasks on time as well as enable the management to develop a good relationship with the employees (Jiang, 2014). Apart from this, training and development practices could be significant for the management to enhance the skills and capabilities of the employees as they could execute the tasks properly without any issue. At the same time, transformational leadership can be improved by avoiding the reliance too much on emotion and focusing on the truth and reality. It will be effective for senior management to make real decisions without the involvement of the emotions. Moreover, it can also be beneficial for the management to focus on proper research, study and logical reasoning to face the truth and situation of the company and make decisions to stimulate the change and stabilize the success in the company. In addition, Auckland Transport needs to focus on the feedback obtained from the employees regarding the leadership of the senior managers. It can be effective to determine the leadership attributes of the senior management and make changes accordingly to improve the leadership (Gagnon et al., 2012). In addition, it can also be effective for the company to focus on the individual needs as well as the organizational objectives to ensure the success of the company. It is because this will help the firm to meet the requirements of the employees and meet the goals and objectives of the firm (Taylor et al., 2014).
Due to globalization, the firms have expanded their business to global markets that have raised the cultural issues due to cultural differences among the countries. The cultural conflicts also influence the leadership decisions and styles adopted by the management. Cultural diversity is a significant issue for the firm in the current business environment due to the presence of cultural differences in the countries where the firm operates. The presence of cultural diversity causes problems related to a communication gap, gender equality, discrimination, bullying, respect, acceptance, etc. (Novo et al., 2017). The cultural differences cause issues for the management to make leadership decisions as the leaders favor some of the employees but ignore remaining ones. It means there is a biased behavior by the management towards the employees due to cultural conflicts and issues. It can be shown when the senior managers do not encourage the employees for participating in the decisions. The major focus of the senior managers is on the employees from the domestic country but the employees outside the country do not get favorable behavior from the management that causes dissonance and frustration among these employees (Eagly and Chin, 2010).
At the same time, communication issue is the major issue related to cultural conflicts and diversity. It is because due to differences in cultural aspects, it becomes difficult for senior managers to communicate with the employees effectively. The language difference creates difficulty for the management to convey the directions to the employees and get the insights of the employees to make better decisions. Inability to understand the employees due to cultural differences also causes difficulty for the senior management to make effective HR decisions (Taylor et al., 2014). For example, some of the employees focus on the materialistic benefits on performance while some of them focus on the non-financial rewards. It also affects the performance of the employees and causes wrong decisions due to a communication gap between managers and employees (Auckland Transport, 2018).
Bullying is one of the cultural diversity issues, which reflects in the existence of the cultural differences at the places where the firm operates. It is because the verbal and physical aggression is shown by the workforce towards the employees from the region from different cultured region. In this, the people may misuse authority, make harassment, sabotage the job and relationship at workplace. Sometimes, managers in firm misuse their authority and scold the employees with cultural differences by using abusive languages (Williams, 2013). So overall, it reduces the effectiveness of the leadership due to causing dissonance and frustration among the employees.
Cultural differences also affect the leadership by causing issues related to acceptance and respect of employees. It is because some of the managers of the firm show disrespect and rejection of diverse culture at workplace causing conflicts at the workplace. It also affects the motivation and satisfaction level of the employees (Chin and Trimble, 2014).
Auckland Transport is one of the leading firms in New Zealand serving the community in the nation by providing better transport services. But at the same time, due to being a large company and working for outside projects too, cultural diversity issues exist within the organization due to the presence of the employees recruited from different countries across the world (Auckland Transport, 2018). In Auckland Transport, the bullying and harassment are common diversity issues due to the presence of cultural differences at the workplace. It negatively influences the leadership decisions as they show the partiality in their behavior towards the employees and reduces the motivation level and morale of the employees. Such types of diversity issues also encourage employees to make unfair and wrong decisions (Coleman, 2012). It can be shown in the leaders who focus on the task-oriented leadership as they show aggressive behavior at workplace towards the employees and even use harassing words to the people who are from different cultures than New Zealand.
On the other hand, communication is also a major issue that is faced by the leaders affecting their decisions in Auckland Transport. It is because due to cultural differences, it is difficult for the leaders to understand the needs and requirements of the employees and meet those needs and requirements. The differences in culture of the employees cause issues for the senior managers to handle the cultural conflicts among the employees and communicate properly. Even, senior managers are not able to provide instructions to the employees properly that causes wrong approaches in task completion and creates issue related to the deadline (Ng and Sears, 2012). Apart from this, the communication gap due to cultural differences also causes confusion among the employees regarding the task duties and responsibilities that reduces the effectiveness of the leaders. It is also difficult for the participative leaders to engage all employees in decision making due to communication gap resulting from the cultural differences (Thomas, 2012).
Apart from this, bias is another cultural diversity issue that affects the leadership styles and decisions in Auckland Transport. Due to cultural differences, senior managers show the biased behavior towards the employees from different cultures. It is because the cultural aspects of those employees do not match with the senior managers’ culture as it is difficult for them to adjust to these employees (Auckland Transport, 2018). It causes biased behavior by the senior managers towards these employees.
Apart from this, the cultural differences also cause stereotyped thinking among the senior managers for employees with a particular culture that also causes biased behavior in recruitment, promotion, and career growth opportunities. Overall, such biases cause dissatisfaction and de-motivation among employees and affect their performance (Chin and Trimble, 2014). Unfairness and partiality due to biases causes frustration among the hardworking and loyal employees causing issues related to the performance of the employees as well as the organization.
So, it can be depicted that all these three cultural diversity issues affect the leadership styles and decisions of the senior managers of Auckland Transport.
On the basis of the above analysis, it can be stated that Auckland Transport is facing cultural diversity issues related to a communication gap, bias, and bullying. For the employees’ satisfaction and motivation, it is important for the senior managers to avoid the cultural diversity issues as they need to solve these issues by adopting effective practices. For this, it is necessary for the organization to provide cross-cultural training programs to the employees so they could understand the cultural differences and develop coordination with each other to avoid any conflicts. Cross-cultural training programs can be effective for the management as well as the employees to understand the cultural differences and importance of inclusion of the diverse workforce within the firm (Coleman, 2012). At the same time, language training should be provided by the company to employees as they could understand the languages and communicate properly with each other.
Apart from this, the official bullying policy should be adopted by the management for all employees and managers as they follow all the guidelines and regulations in their behavior towards other employees. It will give the idea to the employees what processes and behavior they need to follow and what the consequences will be there on bullying. If anyone does the bullying, the management should give a written warning or terminate the culprit after proper investigation (Ng and Sears, 2012). Such type of behavior should not be accepted by the management as it needs to be totally prohibited to show bullying at workplace.
Along with this, the management of the firm needs to regulate a diversity policy at the workplace that could ensure the diverse workforce and eliminate the diversity-related issues. It will also encourage the management and employees to integrate diversity in human resource activities of the company. In addition, there should be an anti-discrimination policy within the organization to ensure the avoidance of any discriminative practices at the workplace (Williams, 2013). There should not be any discrimination based on cultural differences in recruitment or promotion. Equal opportunities in relation to job allocation, responsibilities, recruitment, and promotion should be provided to employees from different cultures. In addition, it is also mandatory for the organization to create a workplace which could facilitate the value and respect for all employees at the workplace.
The working culture needs to improve communication and foster diversity in the workplace to develop good relationships (Chin and Trimble, 2014).
From the above analysis, it can be summarized that the leader plays an important role in the organizations to achieve the business objectives. Different leadership approaches including participative, task-oriented, relationship-based, situation-based leadership and transformation leadership are used by the firm to lead the organizational people in different ways.
From the analysis of the leadership approaches used in Auckland Transport, it can be concluded that participative, situation-based leadership and relationship-based leadership approaches are quite effective for the company but task oriented and transformational leadership cause issues related to emotions and avoidance of employees’ expectations.
For this, it is required to focus on the development of cooperative and friendly working environment, and decision making with the exclusion of emotions and inclusion of logical reasoning. In addition, cultural diversity issues including bias, respect, acceptance, communication gap, bullying, and harassment are also faced by the senior managers that affect their leadership decisions.
For this, it is mandatory for the organization to provide cross-cultural training, and adopt diversity and anti-discrimination policy and official bullying policy to avoid the cultural diversity issues and develop a dynamic working environment.
Auckland Transport (2017). Auckland Transport appoints new Chief Executive. Retrieved from: https://at.govt.nz/about-us/news-events/auckland-transport-appoints-new-chief-executive/
Auckland Transport (2018). Emerging Diversity and Inclusion. Retrieved from: https://diversityworksnz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Auckland-Transport-1.pdf
Auckland Transport (2019). Retrieved from: https://at.govt.nz/about-us/careers/
Chin, J.L. & Trimble, J.E., (2014). Diversity and leadership. Sage Publications.
Coleman, M., (2012). Leadership and diversity. Educational management administration & leadership, 40(5), 592-609.
Eagly, A.H. & Chin, J.L., (2010). Diversity and leadership in a changing world. American psychologist, 65(3), 216.
Gagnon, S., Vough, H. C., & Nickerson, R. (2012). Learning to lead, unscripted: Developing affiliative leadership through improvisational theatre. Human Resource Development Review, 11(3), 299-325.
Jiang, J. (2014). The study of the relationship between leadership style and project success. American Journal of Trade and Policy, 1(1), 51-55.
Nanjundeswaraswamy, T. S., & Swamy, D. R. (2014). Leadership styles. Advances in management, 7(2), 57.
Ng, E.S. and Sears, G.J., (2012). CEO leadership styles and the implementation of organizational diversity practices: Moderating effects of social values and age. Journal of Business Ethics, 105(1), 41-52.
Novo, B., Landis, E. A., & Haley, M. L. (2017). Leadership and its role in the success of project management. Journal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics, 14(1), 73-78.
Taylor, M., C., J. Cornelius, C., & Colvin, K. (2014). Visionary leadership and its relationship to organizational effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 35(6), 566-583.
Thamhain, H. J. (2013). Changing the dynamics of team leadership in global project environments. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 3(2), 146.
Thomas, K.M. ed., (2012). Diversity resistance in organizations. Psychology Press.
Trivellas, P., & Drimoussis, C. (2013). Investigating leadership styles, behavioural and managerial competency profiles of successful project managers in Greece. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 73, 692-700.
Williams, D.A., (2013). Strategic diversity leadership: Activating change and transformation in higher education. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Yang, L. R., Huang, C. F., & Wu, K. S. (2011). The association among project manager’s leadership style, teamwork and project success. International journal of project management, 29(3), 258-267.