Importance of Top Level Leadership in Organizations
Leaders are critical assets in all areas and aspects businesses, politics and social organizations. Leaders envision the future of firms or organizations and ensure that all employees’ efforts are concerted towards the attaining the goals of the firm or organization. Leaders can simplify long discussions and come to amicable conclusions from such discussion (Zaccaro, 2002). The ability of leaders to simplify complex arguments to simple, manageable discussions makes them crucial in many organizations. Leaders also make and execute decisions that are important for the success of the organizations that they head (Yukl, 2012). The decision-making process is painstaking and requires skills that are well-honed. In addition, leaders bear the burden of making crucial decisions after long analyses or investigation of possible outcomes. It is worth noting that leadership is a dynamic process because challenges keep emerging in varying dimensions. Therefore, leadership roles require total commitment and dedication.
Leaders are influential and tactful in combining the resources of an organization. They help in ensuring that the realization of the vision of the organization is achievable by all means possible. Consequently, leaders act as the glue that holds and maintains all resources with the aim of reaching desired goals. This role makes leaders indispensable to organizations. Another vital function of top-level leadership in organizations is to set organizational standards that other employees need to emulate and strive to achieve (Richard, 2011). The ability of leaders to create standards creates a desire in employees to live by these standards especially if they yield outstanding results.
However, leaders are aware that they cannot achieve much without the effort of all workers in an organization. Therefore, they go out of their way to win the confidence and willpower of the human resources to attain exemplary performance. According to Yukl, leaders must ensure that their human resources participate in all aspects especially in decision-making (2010). Organizations often face different challenges at different times. Nevertheless, the way in which the top leaders tackle the challenges determines the success of the organizations. The effectiveness of leadership at the top level is measured by its ability to survive in the midst of challenges and still maintain the organization’s course of action.
Similarities between Top Level Leadership and Leadership in Groups and Teams
There are certain traits that are common to leaders in all levels of leadership. For example, leaders need to strategize ways of achieving the desired goals. Strategizing involves seeking support from workers by influencing their actions. The influence that leaders exhibit compels workers to direct their efforts towards on the desired direction. Therefore, one common feature between top-level leadership and group leaders is that both leaders need to influence action to achieve given goals. In addition, top-level leaders and team leaders influence action through their conduct (the manner in which they carry out their leadership roles (Zaccaro, 2002).
The leadership process involves instilling sense in staff members to enable them to perform particular tasks (Yukl, 2012). The importance of instilling sense is to ensure that staff effort is in alignment with the organization’s course of success. The top level and team leadership ensure that problems are identified, and measures to rectify or solve the problems are found before they become detrimental to the success of their organizations and groups (Yukl, 2012).
Planning is another compulsory requirement for all leaders. Planning ensures that desired outputs are achieved within stipulated time frames. Therefore, team and top-level leaders are charged with the responsibility of planning the activities of their teams or groups and organizations respectively. Another similarity between the two forms of leadership is the delegation of duties because both leaders cannot handle all tasks on their own. Motivation of workers is also similar between the two types of leaders and is achieved by giving rewards or verbal recognition of good work (Richard, 2011).
Overall, top and team/group leadership are similar in many ways because they complement each other in the formulation and implementation of decisions.
Differences between Top Level Leadership and Leadership in Groups and Teams
Top leaders are mainly in charge of entire organizations, divisions or regions. Therefore, their scope of leadership is broad. Conversely, group or team leaders are in charge of smaller units or sections of the organization. Group and team leaders often report to top leaders who delegate duties and responsibilities to them.
Top leaders are tasked with formulating long-term goals for use by the team and group leaders. On the other hand, team leaders break the long-term goals into team-based objectives. Therefore, it is the role of the top leadership to have goals for the group and team leaders to develop. Team leaders are in charge of ensuring that the allocation of tasks to team members is according to competencies and abilities. The top leaders ensure that the most competent staff member works objectively on the goals set by following up the progress from the team manager (Yukl, 2012).
The top leadership has the role of promoting the image of the organization. Unlike team and group leaders, top leaders are recognized outside the confines of their organizations. Therefore, besides leading an organization, the top leadership portrays its image. Top leaders delegate duties and follow up the progress of the organization by receiving updates from team leaders. Team and group leaders, conversely, have close working relationships with the workers in their teams, which gives the team leaders more information on specific issues pertinent to the organizations’ success. Team leaders also ensure the processing of information takes place thereby allowing designated activities to progress as scheduled (Yukl, 2010).
How Group Decisions are Affected by the Size and Composition of the Group
There are diverse groups in working environments. The diversity of the groups is a result of differences in backgrounds, culture, education, and social life. Diversity is important in the development and growth of the organization.
Groups are formed by different people wishing to accomplish a common task. Therefore, the number of workers in a group determines the size of the group. Consequently, the tasks at hand influence the size and composition of the group. Complex tasks require large groups with different skills to solve the tasks. Groups consisting of workers with major differences often have difficulties during decision-making because of varied opinions.
Ways in Which Change Poses Special Challenges for Organizational Leaders
Most changes are permanent in nature. Consequently, the process of bringing change in organizations is always difficult, and leaders need to be prepared for predictable and unpredictable changes (Richard, 2011). The extent to which one can predict the outcomes of change is limited due to the inherent nature of change. This aspect poses numerous challenges to organizational leaders when making changes.
In addition, change is not always within a leader’s plan hence obstructing an organization’s course of action. The disruption arises because change brings new information into existence or causes information to shift from the normal order (Yukl, 2012). Changes in information may cause speculation among employees, which may be harmful to organizations (Beverly, 1992). Communication is crucial for the progress of any firm. However, when information regarding the intention to introduce change delays, it causes speculations among employees. The speculation may incite employees to plan measures of resisting change (Yukl, 2010).
After a change has occurred, leaders often encounter challenges in finding the right employees to effect the changes (Beverly, 1992). Deciding the right approach to use in implementing the change is sometimes difficult. The two main approaches that can be used are the top-bottom and bottom-up systems, which have different limitations and advantages (Richard, 2011). The method used to implement change determines the expected resistance. For example, training of staff to acquire new skills always poses a challenge to the leaders and the workers because some resist new information. Additionally, change can be counterproductive if it distracts or stresses the employees. However, sometimes training may be necessary to ensure that the productivity of employees does not decline.
Guidelines for Organizational Leaders to Use While Implementing Change
The implementation of change is tedious and requires patience. It is natural for change to encounter resistance even when its outcomes are desirable. However, the positive outcomes motivate leaders to implement change at all costs. During the implementation of change, issues such as clarity of the change, engagement of the workers, gathering the required resources, aligning the systems, leading, and communication need to be considered (Richard, 2011).
Clarity of the purpose of the change helps workers to know the direction to take in order to attain the desired goal (Zaccaro, 2002). Ambiguous directions during the implementation of change are detrimental and time-consuming because efforts are not concerted towards one objective. Clarity helps workers to engage in pulling efforts together in teams. Consequently, the engagement created by the workers helps in collaboration thus creating commitment and ownership (Richard, 2011). The collaboration creates room for consultations among the individuals affected by the change.
Change requires resources because additional resources are likely to be used in helping individuals affected by the change to cope with the new situation. The resources are also used in training human resources as well as in the acquisition of new equipment. These resources can be financial, technical and human (Beverly, 1992). Therefore, agents of change need to ensure they have adequate resources before initiating change.
Moreover, an organization needs to have systems to align the available resources. Yukl (2010) asserts that systems and processes within an organization can hinder or allow the effective implementation of change. The perception of change by the leadership is important as it determines the degree to which the change takes place.
The leadership roles of guiding, training and equipping are vital in the execution of change (Yukl, 2012). Leaders who are conservative in nature or opposed to change may lack commitment and urgency in change execution. The effect of lagging behind after the implementation of change is enormous and irreparable in the current world. In implementing change, it is important to communicate effectively to the concerned employees early enough to ensure they prepare for the change. Communication assists in eliminating misconceptions among workers in an organization. The advances in information communication technology have hastened the implementation of change by enhancing communication.
Beverly, G. (1992). Manage change – not the chaos caused by change. Management Review 81(11), 39-45.
Richard, B. (2011). Keeping change on track. The Journal for Quality & Participation 34(1), 4-9.
Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New York: Prentice Hall.
Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Zaccaro, S. J. (2002). Organizational leadership and social intelligence. In R. Riggio, S. E. Murphy, & F. J. Pirozzolo (Eds.), Multiple intelligences and leadership (pp. 28-54). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.