Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of some common leadership styles and evaluate how modern managers can best implement them to deal with the challenges they face in the 21st century.
“Today’s increasingly competitive, dynamic business landscape requires the ability to change, evaluate, and implement new courses of action” (Bucic, Ramburuth and Robinson, 2010: 228-248). The importance of the leadership and its significant impact on the business’s performance , productivity of the organization and turnover is clear for most business people and scholars. It is a subject that has long excited interest among people (Yukl, 2010: 19). In addition, it has been classified in many different ways. However, this essay intends to explore only the advantages and disadvantages of charismatic and transformational style. Furthermore, it looks at how today’s leaders can exploit these styles so as to overcome the 21st century challenges. “Charismatic leaders can be defined as those who have high self-confidence, a clear vision, engage in unconventional behavior, and act as a change agent, while remaining realistic about environmental constraints.
Their key behaviors include role modeling, image building, articulation of goals, showing confidence and arousing follower’s motives” (McLaurin and Al Amri, 2008: 15). Although charismatic style has a lot of positive points, it has some negatives as well. “Charismatic leaders can have a powerful stimulus on an organization, but the consequences are not always advantageous. The personalized power orientation of these leaders can make them insensitive, manipulative, domineering, impulsive and defensive. They emphasize devotion to themselves rather than to ideological goals. Charismatic leaders tend to make more perilous decisions that can result in a serious failure” (Yukl, 2010: 294). The world has seen some great charismatic leaders in its history namely, President John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and the late Apple founder Steve Jobs. A second style of leadership is transformational which is an expansion of transactional leadership (Avolio and Bass, 2002: 42).
These leaders are those who stimulate interest among followers to view their work from new perspectives, generate awareness of the vision of the organization, develop followers to higher levels of ability and potential, and motivate colleagues and followers to look beyond their own interests toward those that will benefit the group. Although transformational style may sounds powerful and be the most favorable to driving safety, it has some drawbacks too. Transformational style is not as operational in cases where followers are not experienced enough. It could also be very time consuming. As a result, it is not suitable in crisis a genuine emergency or high-pressure economy, where time is valuable. The 21st century with its fast changing and erratic environment in the business world, requires leaders to be more effective.
In order to be more successful in current atmosphere and to deal with politico-socio-economic challenges, leaders should use a combination of types of leadership. In other words, moving among styles will help them to achieve their goals more efficiently (Goleman, 2000). “For some theorists, it is the essence of leadership and everything else is secondary” (Yukl, 2010: 296). In conclusion, the last two decades of the twentieth and now the early part of the twenty-first century presented organizations with unparalleled levels of uncertainty, turbulence, rapid change, and intense competition.
Many organizations are struggling with the need to manage chaos, to undergo internal cultural change, to reinvent their businesses, to restructure their organizations, to adopt or invent new technologies, to reduce organizational boundaries, to discover the path to continuous improvement, to globalize their operations, and to invent high involvement organization and management systems (Yukl, 2010). In the face of such challenges, the transformational and charismatic leader, sometimes referred to as the visionary or inspirational leader, represents a style of leadership that may be capable of facilitating adaptation to a changing environment and navigating organizations through the chaos of the twenty-first century. (Jon L.Pierce, 2008: 337)
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