Discuss three (3) changes from the traditional or “old” paradigm of leadership to the new paradigm. For each change, explain one (1) factor in the current business climate that necessitates each change. Which change in your opinion has been most effective for today’s business environment? Why? (25 points) (A 1½-page response is required.)
Leadership in its old sense with authority, control and superiority has been a successful strategy until recently. Organizations have been built around this kind of leadership, where one person rises to the top and others follow. Charismatic leaders have led movements, and others have felt honored to be followers. But given the changes in our world, this type of one person leadership seems inappropriate. The problems that will face us over the next few decades demand a different approach to leadership. In our globalized world, we need as many people as possible to feel able to dream of positive change and to take responsibility for some of that change.
Among traditional leadership scholars, leadership is still centered on the concept of achieving group or organizational goals. Our current approach to leadership has created large bureaucracies incapable of operating efficiently or responding to the demands of customers. Research on leadership, organizational effectiveness, information processing, quantum mechanics and chaos provides a set of concepts which not only help to explain why many of today’s corporations are not doing well, but also how to make them better. The effectiveness of organizations is a function of the leader, resources, organizational structure and the followers.
To be effective, the leader must have adequate resources to accomplish the job, an appropriate organizational structure, a set of followers to perform the tasks and certain leadership skills and abilities. Leadership is a function of the leader’s motivation, skills, style and level of conceptual ability. High Performance Leadership is founded on matching the right leader to the appropriate organizational level. Motivational level is a function of the match between the organizational structure, the level of the organization at which the leader works and organizational climate. The structure must be such that the leader is able to operate within his/her time frame of discretion. The organizational level and climate must match the leader’s skill and conceptual level.
Burn introduced the notion of transformational leadership as one of two forms that leadership can take (the other being transactional), and he has become famous for initiating a movement to reconceptualize leadership as a transformational process—”when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality” (1978). Bass suggests that “a shift in paradigm is in order’. Bass seemed to equate leadership with a leader who gets “performance beyond expectations” out of his/her employees.
One result of this transformation in the concept of leadership has been the rethinking of leadership definitions. Rost’s definition says that leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes. This contemporary definition is composed of four basic components, each of which is essential and must be present if a particular relationship is to be called leadership.
(1) The relationship is based on influence. This influence is multidirectional, meaning that influence can go any which way and the influence attempts must not be coercive. Therefore, the relationship is not based on authority, but rather persuasion.
(2) Leaders and followers are the people in this relationship. If leadership is defined as a relationship, then both leaders and followers are doing leadership. He does not say that all players in this relationship are equal, but does say all active players practice influence. Typically there is more than one follower and more than one leader in this arrangement.
(3) Leaders and followers intend real changes. Intend means that the leaders and followers promote and purposefully seek changes. Real means that the changes intended by the leaders and followers must be substantial. The changes the leaders and followers intend reflect their mutual purposes. The key is that the desired changes must not only reflect the wishes of the leader but also the desires of the followers (Rost, 1991).
Rost reminds us that leadership is not what leaders do. Rather, leadership is what leaders and followers do together for the collective good. In today’s society, leaders operate in a shared-powered environment with followers. Today we live in world where many people participate in leadership, some as leaders and others as followers. Only when we all work together can we bring about successful changes for our mutual purposes.
Slowly scholars and practitioners alike are giving up on the old ways of leadership, the industrial paradigm. This traditional approach to leadership is characterized by a top-down philosophy, where the leader is decisive, efficient, unemotional and in-control. The changes in the way we view leadership can also be found in other disciplines where descriptions of our world are objective, single, mechanical, hierarchical and controllable. The post-industrial leadership paradigm, on the other hand, is characterized by collaboration, power-sharing facilitation and empowerment. This new view of the world is more complex and diverse, mutually shaping and spontaneously changing (Rogers, 1992).
Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.
Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: The Free Press.
Daft, R. L. (2002). The Leadership Experience, (2nd ed.). Mason, Ohio: Thomson South- Western. Chs. 1-3, pp. 1-112.
Rogers, J.L. (Summer, 1992). “Leadership Development for the 90’s: Incorporating Emergent Paradigm Perspectives.” NASPA Journal: 243-251.
Rost, J.C. (1991). Leadership in the 21st Century. New York: Praeger.