Post 17 -by Gautam Shah
Meaning of Leadership : ‘Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members,’ a person in a position or office of authority, such as a President or a Chairperson. The convener of the Design Organization is normally the prime leader of the unit.
Lack of Authorities to conduct the Organization : Conveners of the organization, who lack any of these authorities, try to make it up by other means. Formal authority can be procured by having a financier partner or associate, or an official appointment. Technical authority can be secured by hiring technically qualified associates or employees. Personal authority can be modified by having an indirect or remote mode of management.
Quality of Leadership : Qualities of Leadership vary according to the nature of work in the organization, but nominally it is the quality of leadership that defines the work style of the organization. To achieve the first object, organizations separate out the domain of leadership for the functioning of the organization from the domain of leadership required to handle a project. The second aspect requires the leader to be as versatile as the project demands.
Nature of Leadership : Organizations that handle highly variable situations or non-repeating projects need a very Radical leader. On the other hand organizations with routine projects will function well under a Methodical leader. An Autocratic leader overrides the situational differences and imposes a preconceived style. The autocratic leader expects complete obedience. Such a leadership works well for projects that are critical in time, resources and extent. A Democratic leader would rather mould the situation, so that it can be handled within the ambience of the personal (leadership) qualities. A democratic leader offers full support, status and due recognition to employees. Democratic leaders are ideal for projects involving large user base. A Bohemian leader develops a style to suit the situation on hand, and are very useful in tackling continuously variable situations. A Custodial leader has extra ordinary economic and political resources to make employees subservient, but the resulting performance is barely adequate.
Authority and Responsibility in Organizations : Leadership in organization is recognised in terms of Authority and Responsibility. Authority refers to the right or prerogative of requiring action over others, or simply a right to command, whereas, Responsibility means being prepared for the consequences of application of authority. A leader passes on a part of the authority to selected subordinates, and makes them responsible for their actions. By sharing the responsibility a leader strengthens the ultimate authority.
A leader establishes a rational link between the authority and responsibility. Leaders create a logical, transparent and well-balanced structure of authority and responsibility, within their organization, through selective participation of subordinates. A relationship between authority and responsibility motivates other subordinates to belong to the process.
Employees’ Perception of Responsibilities : Members of the organization take on responsibilities with different concepts, as an assignment, as a perceived duty, as something to reimburse the favours or compensations, as a share of power or prestige, or even as a compulsion. The responsibilities unless accompanied by adequate handout or recognition of the authority, causes unpredictable responses.
Dispensation of Authority and Responsibility : A complex organization will have many layers of people with assigned or presumed authority. In mid size and large organizations owners or conveners do not get involved in dispensation of authority and responsibilities. To manage these dispassionately, a coordinator or manager is required. A coordinator’s job is to dispense the authorities and responsibilities in a formal and ceremonial manner. A coordinator or the manager usually has the power to hire, fire or favour any subordinate. ‘Managers are people who do things right, but leaders are people who do the right thing’- Warren Bennis, ‘On Becoming Leader’.
Specialization or Core Competence of the Organizations : Organizations come into being with specific aims. All organizations intend to specialize in tasks that are analogous to their aims. But specialization is acquired through repetition of opportunities. Specialization leads to an economy in the operations. It also upgrades the organization’s capacity to deal with larger or complex tasks. Specialization, is perceived as an innovative activity, that causes enough synergies, to make the organization behave like self correcting or continuously adjusting biological entity.
Creativity is not in specialization (capacity to excel in limited fields) nor in generalization (capacity to handle many different situations) in any field. Specialization means being consistently proficient in sustaining the technical superiority, whereas Generalization means being efficient or productive, but not at the cost of quality.
Creativity in Organizations-I : Design Organizations thrive on new ideas, concepts, innovations, etc. A creative environment comes about by many factors. There should be teamwork spirit, willingness to help each other, commitment and dedication to assigned tasks, trust with fellow workers. Personnel should have access to appropriate resources, including facilities, equipment, information, funds, and people. If work is challenging or tasks are intriguing than there is an attraction to handle it. Staff members should have some control on tasks they carry out and freedom in deciding how to accomplish a task. A manager or leader who sets clear goals and is able to communicate well with subordinates, encourages creativity. Existence of defined and surprise rewards encourages creative efforts. A collaborative atmosphere sets in, when the staff shares the vision and goals of the organization.
Creativity in Organizations-II : In any well knit organization, creativity comes about, through several layers of activities, carried out by individuals with many different talents and personality traits. ‘It operates like a relay race, but the participants have no idea who will take over, at which level and when’. Often the racers have no idea, whether they were running forward or backward, i.e. towards or away from the finish line or goal.
Creativity in Organizations-III : Organizations become and remain creative when roles that personnel are required to play, are very definite. Where there is a knowledgeable and visible structure, one knows who is going to take over at what time and at which level. A creative idea or concept will be accommodated, supported and carried through, if necessary, by even changing the goals of the organization. The leaders of such organization are sensitive, and have a ready mechanism to improvise the goals of their organization on a continuing basis.
In organizations, where obnoxious quality control checks, evaluations, secret reportage, etc. abound, personnel come under pressure and become sterile. Promotions other than on qualitative criteria, allocation of resources other than on needs based assessments, recognition of wrong members, delayed or inadequate compensation, etc. are some other factors that vitiate the working of an organization.
A good leader makes the personnel realize that real measure of creativity is in the gains or advantage an organization gets. This is a difficult proposition, as it requires a very high degree of transparency in accounting and auditing processes. Everyone must clearly realize what an effort will cost, and how much benefit the organization will get out of it. Creativity is both a personal and group pursuit. A personal innovation must have confirmation of the larger group, and the group’s achievement must remain impersonal.
These three categories constitute a layered arrangement. There are no specific models as to which category of staff, numerically must form the dominant layer. Organizations involved in Professional work have the third category as the dominant layer. Production organizations have the first category as the dominant layer. Whereas Service organizations such as concerned with testing, evaluation, data management, administration, etc., have the second category as the dominant layer.
Assigning Jobs : Organizations define tasks into various skill and resources-based specialities to assign these to individuals as distinct roles. The leader of the organization or chief of a project continually shifts a job from one to another person, to achieve optimum results. The organization becomes innovative and creative through such shifting of personnel. Jobs are assigned to remove the tedium of repetitions, to provide new exposures, infuse new thoughts, improvise work methods, and utilize different resources (plant, equipments, tools, talents). Jobs are presented as an opportunity, challenge, and incentive to a person or a team.
Personality traits : An organization is formed by people of many different talents and personality traits that are reflected in their attitude and conduct. These traits are not exclusive categories, and under appropriate conditions a person also takes on other characteristics.
Dream-weavers are prolific generators of ideas and new concepts, but lack the skill to detail them. The dream-weavers are mercurial and often have a fear of failure. A dream weaver must be an extrovert otherwise never gets acknowledged.
Technocrats have a talent of visualizing structured entities. For them an entity is conceivable, if it is structured and so practicable. Technocrats are fastidious, uncompromising, and hardheaded. A technocrat though may get entwined while detailing the parts, and lose the grasp of the holistic scheme.
Exponents enjoy advocating ideas or schemes, without bothering either its authorship or practicability. They feel that the public attention received through the advocacy is the measure of their skill and success.
Patrons are not necessarily resourceful people, but are ready to support any new activity that takes them away from their routine chores, provides a novel experience, and keeps them busy. A person may become a sponsor by virtue of the position and powers to allocate resources. Such people are motivated by strategic gains through various sponsorship.
Arrangers or fixers are expert manipulators, and keenly look for a chance to jump into any difficult situation to manage it. As a risk taker they collect lots of benefits, and very fast.
Conservatives are by personality, very over careful. Conservatism is due to a struggle less life or due to old age lethargy. They detest change, but if instrumental of causing even minor innovation, take a great pride.
19 LEADERSHIP in DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS –part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES