Essays on Leadership and Management: Defining the Competitive Edge Research Paper

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Leadership and Management: Defining the Competitive Edge While some companies flame out in a ball of red ink even in the best of times, others can weather storms that should have taken them into Chapter 11 and left the shareholders with little more than padlocked doors and soaring debt. While the difference is generally said to be good management, excellent leadership should also be included as a fundamental contributor. Experts have studied these leaders, their style, and their personal attitude in an attempt to reveal the secret between success and failure in the highly competitive world of global economics.

Indeed, they do uncover some similarities that mark exceptional leadership, as well as the composition and performance of a top-notch management team. These studies reveal that there are distinctly different roles for management and leadership. This paper will examine some previously published articles and report their findings in regards to the similarities and differences in the two roles. This paper will further report on the impact that diversity and culture have on management and leadership by observing a centuries old traditional Indian system of management.

The studies will confirm that leadership creates a vision and strategy for tomorrow, while management implements the policies that direct the firm towards those goals. One of the most important tasks for a leader is to create a mental vision of where the firm will be in the future, and be able to communicate that vision to management and the employees. The effective leader recognizes opportunities and is able to take advantage of new trends that the firm can capitalize on (Women in Optometry 2009, p. 17). The successful leader then communicates this strategy to the workforce in a way that instills belief and confidence in the future of the firm.

According to Jackson (2009, p. 13), "an effective leader is able to mentally connect the known reality of today with the unexplored vision of tomorrow, and be able to take responsibility for it". Create the vision, communicate the strategy, and have the fortitude to take the lone responsibility for the outcome. A more pragmatic approach to leadership calls for assuring that goals are clear, that people understand their role in respect to these goals, and that people are treated fairly (Maurer 2009, p. 29).

While this may seem like a simple task, keeping the workforce focused can be difficult when goals are abstract and roles can change with time. Here is where an effective management team steps in to keep the workforce working towards the strategic vision of the firm. Management's role within the company is to take the strategic vision of leadership and create policies and procedures that will keep the workforce working towards those goals. The effective manager will be able to interpret the corporate vision and put it into the day-to-day context of tasks, process, and procedure.

As part of this vision is the corporate culture that forms the foundation of the firm's strength. The CEO must have the effective communication skills required to assure that the managers understand the vision, strategy, and corporate culture. According to Brunnelle (2004, p. 404), "CEOs and middle managers who make the conscious decision to plan, create, implement, and nurture a specific corporate culture have the potential to reap significant benefits". These benefits include the organization of a consistent framework for decision making, behaving, and communicating (Brunnelle 2004, p. 404).

In addition, culture affects everything from employees' attitudes towards safety to the relationships that they have in regards to corporate ethics. This helps management stay on the same page as they serve as consistent sources of confidence for the workforce. When times get rough, good management can pull the workforce together, make collective sacrifices, and do what ever is necessary to weather the storm (Erven n. d., p.1). Leadership creates the vision and the culture, but management must materialize the vision and execute the strategy in a way that the workers can understand and believe in.

In the global marketplace, managers must recognize and be willing to make quick and significant changes. Effective managers view change as opportunity rather than a threat to stability, as "an organization's pattern of learning experiences often reflects current focus and future possibilities" (Walker & Floyd 2003). Additionally, effective managers must communicate goals, enforce codes of conduct, set production goals, and create systems of rewards and punishments in a way that is equitable to all employees.

Global diversity has made cultural differences in management and leadership styles more important than at any other time in history. Managers from one culture may be called to perform in another part of the world. Leaders and managers both must be aware that significant differences exist between cultures that must be accommodated, and not overcome. As an example, India is a world leader in technology, but has management systems that date back to the 19th century. In India, the dabbawala deliver freshly home cooked food to office workers on a daily basis.

This traditional form of workplace and employees has a simple management framework, minimum technology, and everyone within the system is considered an equal. Yet, they are able to maintain the goals and vision that allows them to deliver 200,000 meals a day with almost no record of error. This 125-year-old industry continues to experience significant growth (Dabbawala Mumbai 2008). However, it is rooted in the Indian culture and would not be able to be generalized to New York, London, or Paris.

As India transforms into the 21st century of competitive global economics, it is transforming some of its traditional management characteristics such as, "notions of authority and hierarchy, the role of familial networks, indigenous ethical-philosophical frameworks and community boundaries" (Davis, Chatterjee, & Heuer 2006, p. 11). Leaders in India have generated a new vision for India's future, and management is now tasked with the job of communicating that vision to the workers and creating a path from the present to the unexplored vision of tomorrow. In conclusion, leaders create the destination and the goal, while managers pave the road and make it passable for all employees to travel.

Effective leaders must be able to recognize where the firm stands today, and what opportunities lie ahead that can be incorporated into their strategic vision for the future. The CEO must be able to clearly communicate this with the management and workers, and be prepared to take all the responsibility for the outcome. In recent years, we have seen too many CEOs evade their personal responsibility for corporate failure. Effective managers do not create the vision, but must make it into a workable plan that can be executed on a daily basis as the workforce works towards the common goal.

Managers need to be flexible, fair, and genuine in their approach to motivating the workforce and accomplishing the firm's goals. In addition, both leaders and managers need to be aware the impact that culture has on the view of management and leadership around the globe. Some cultures may be slower to change as leaders create new visions, and managers implement the policies that accomplish the goals of their long-term global corporate strategy.

References Brunnelle, FWH 2004, 'Practitioner application', Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 49, no. 6, p. 404. Dabbawala Mumbai 2008, Jupiter Infomedia, viewed 22 June 2009 Davis, HJ, Chatterjee, SR, & Heuer, M 2006, Management in India: trends and transition, New Delhi. Erven, B n. d., Good Human Resources Management in Bad Times, Ohio State University. Viewed 22 June 2009 Jackson, J 2009, 'Leveraging your leadership style', The Clergy Journal, vol. 85, no. 3, pp. 12-14. Maurer, R 2009, 'Get your team involved', Journal for Quality & Participation, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 28-31. Walker, DA & Floyd, D 2003, 'A model for creating and communicating a shared vision', College Student Journal, vol. 37, no. 3.

'Women in Optometry', Review of Optometry, 3/17/2009, p17.

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