The issues of organizational culture and leadership have been widely discussed by scientists and practitioners in recent years. The research argues the irreplaceable role of leadership in expanding and shaping of organizational culture. Organizational culture is tightly correlated with leadership behavior and leadership styles. In order to estimate and clarify the importance of leadership for corporate culture, the phenomenon of leadership styles is paid attention to. Furthermore, there is a variety of leadership styles that can significantly influence the way an organization and company secures its objectives. The purpose of the study is to estimate how every organization or company should acquire effective leaders who possess numerous positive skills and productive leadership styles in order to perfect and shape its culture.
Relationship between Leadership and Organizational Culture
The notion of leadership has varied over the years. Furthermore, the phenomenon of leadership can be analyzed from two different angles: as a process and as a concept. At present, the notion of leadership is so indispensable for organizational effectiveness that almost every company pays attention to leadership first and then to management. Leadership is often defined as a stimulation and resource that a person or a group of people uses in order to enable an organization to run business successfully. In addition, leadership is an ability of a person to influence and apply positive motivation techniques to motivate employees with a purpose to contribute towards the productivity and efficiency of a company or organization. John Kotter emphasizes that leadership differs from management on a number of counts. In contrast to management that is more related to coping with difficulties, leadership is connected with coping with changes. However, both notions should be paid attention to in increasingly complicated business environment. The author assumes that nowadays, the notion of leadership is so unclear and incomprehensible that it may seem to be mysterious and even mythical.
The phenomenon of organizational culture has drastically changed in recent years. The problem of explaining organizational culture consists in the fact that this concept is ambiguous, versatile and multipurpose.
Tharp identifies that organizational culture has a power to enhance business performance. The author provides the following definition of organizational culture: it is a model or a unit of assumptions that is used by people in order to regulate business affairs and enhance effectiveness. Organizational culture is aimed to teach people the correct ways to analyze, feel, and solve problematic issues within companies or organizations. Understanding the principles of organizational culture ensures that corporate leadership has a unique opportunity to influence positively the performance of individuals and groups within companies and corporations.
Schein emphasizes, that organizational culture provides employees with a feeling of identity and establishes the ways business affairs are run there. Moreover, organizational culture shortly recites facts concerning elevations and depressions of the company in recent years. Furthermore, the author states that organizational culture can be compared to an iceberg as it is subdivided into “invisible” and “visible” levels. The invisible level of so-called “cultural iceberg” is formed on the basis of the following components: values, assumptions, personal views, beliefs, attitudes. On the contrary, the visible level consists of the corresponding factors: ceremonies, events, slogans, dress, rituals.
It is rather important to note that organizational structure is a versatile process. Moreover, within a single organization, more than one culture may exist. Organizational culture is characterized by the following leading peculiarities:
- Innovations (focus on risks). According to this feature, companies that pay attention to improvement and innovation encourage the employees to perform their work appropriately. On the contrary, organizations that neglect innovations will find it complicated to enhance the performance of workers.
- Attention to details (orientation towards precision). This peculiarity of organizational culture is concerned with the accuracy of work.
- Emphasis on results (orientation towards profits and achievements). Companies that run their business on the basis of this factor should focus on the ways results and profits are achieved.
- Emphasis on people (orientation towards honesty). Companies that focus on this peculiarity of organizational culture treat their employees with respect, defer to their opinion and uphold their rights.
- Teamwork (orientation towards cooperation). Some companies tend to organize their operation on the basis of teamwork. According to this technique, companies are required to have good relationships with their managers and coworkers.
- Aggression (orientation towards competitiveness). This technique implies that companies that implement it highly value contest and competition.
- Stability (orientation towards rules and regulations). Companies and corporations that place high value on stability are, as a rule, bureaucratic in their nature.
It is necessary to mention that Lunenburg differentiates four major scopes of organizational culture: values, heroes, communicative networks and rituals. These dimensions are increasingly important for establishing and development of organizational cultures. According to the author’s idea, values can be considered as major principles and standards that control behavior of company members. Moreover, the majority of successful organizations have “heroes”. Heroes may be born or created. One more aspect that contributes to organizational culture involves numerous celebrations, activities and events. Communication networks also play a significant role in organizational culture as they keep people informed about the interior life of the organization.
As a result, organizational culture is considered to be a set of shared beliefs, norms and rules that affects the way people think and behave. Organizational culture is created with the help of values, rituals, communication networks and heroes. The main functions of organizational culture include control of behavior and encouragement of stability.
Leadership Styles that Promote Healthy Organizational Culture
Behavioral experts and scientists endeavored much with the aim to estimate what features of character, traits and abilities determine the leader who is able to influence positively the followers and perform group objectives successfully. Leadership styles are extremely influential and significant for performance and satisfaction of employees within an organization.
In fact, leaders bear responsibility for rewards and punishment of employees. Furthermore, they affect attitudes and motivation of employees, and influence a self-image of workers. It is worth mentioning that differences in leadership styles affect the performance of employees.
The peculiarities of leadership styles were first analyzed at the University of Ohio in 1945. The experts from this university differentiate four major types of leaders: Democratic, Autocratic, Human Relationships Leader and “Laissez Faire” Leader. In regard with democratic leaders, they mostly focus on the performance of employees. As a rule, a democratic leader is convinced that the majority of employees are hard-working, honest and trustworthy. This type of leader motivates the workers in order to use their full potential in accomplishing not only the goals of organizations but personal objectives, as well.
On the contrary, an autocratic leader insists on high job performance. At the same time, such a leader neglects the wishes and thoughts of employees. The autocratic type of leader supports the idea that “most” workers are unreliable, lazy, unfair and irresponsible. In the process of decision-making, autocratic leaders absolutely exclude participation of employees.
Human relation leaders are rather oriented towards employees than towards job performance. According to their beliefs, all workers are responsible, fair, supportive, and strive to be involved in a process of decision making. Furthermore, human relation leaders support the idea of teamwork instead of individual performance.
Finally, a “laissez faire” leader pays attention neither to performance nor to individuals. This type of leader assumes that employees are uncontrollable and irresponsible. Despite the fact that few leaders adequately understand and evaluate the necessity of the phenomenon of leadership and the efficiency of leadership styles, the awareness of the concept “leader” is extremely important as it influences the performance level of employees and success of the company in the whole.
The Consequences of Leadership Styles
Having analyzed the variety of leadership styles on the basis of extensive data, it is becoming possible to predict and evaluate the potential consequences of each style.
A “laissez faire” leader influences the process of working mostly in a negative way. Correspondingly, employees become indifferent and apathetic towards organization and their leader. An autocratic leader fails to reach extremely high productivity due to the hostile attitude, disrespect and permanent conflicts with employees. The activities of this leader result in poor quality of performance, low productivity and, correspondingly, low income.
On the contrary, human relations leader is concerned with making employees satisfied and happy. Correspondingly, it results in significant achievements and incomes. The consequences of democratic leaders’ performance involve enhanced productivity, satisfaction, cooperation and increased commitment. Democratic leaders do not feel the need to follow numerous formal rules, regulations and systems of punishment. A democratic leader employs competent experts who are willing to work and bear responsibility for job performance.
Skills and Features Leaders Should Possess in Order to Respond to Specific Situations
Maintaining awareness of leadership qualities and skills plays a significant role in understanding the phenomenon of leadership as it provides an opportunity to establish what personal features should be developed in to meet the characteristics of a good leader. Unfortunately, many theorists are mistakenly convinced that skills of leaders and leadership styles are the same notions. To counterbalance it, these two notions are completely different. For instance, skills refer to specialized techniques that a person applies to accomplish tasks, such as planning, controlling, negotiating, communicating, solving conflicts and other problems. On the contrary, leadership styles refer to the emphasis an individual puts on performance and other employees.
Consequently, in order to be successful in the business sphere, leaders need to possess enough skills to perform numerous tasks: they should be prone to self-reflection, avoid biases and prejudices, bear responsibility for work performance and employees, follow the rules, standards, ideas and assumptions regulated by companies and organizations.
In addition, as Winkler emphasizes, a leader should be characterized by an enormous number of abilities and traits. The most necessary and effective are as follows: commitment, responsibility, ability to encourage and inspire other employees, fairness, honesty, ability to evaluate someone/something objectively, intelligence, competency, charisma, courage, creativity and ability to project plans for the future.
As a result, a list of positive features and skills will provide leaders with an opportunity to improve cooperation with employees and establish control over job performance.
Literature researches in the sphere of leadership and organizational culture prove that these fields are interdependent for a number of reasons. For instance, experts in the area of organizational culture emphasize that leadership styles have a direct link to job performance. Furthermore, performance is considered to be closely connected to organizational culture. In addition, it has been confirmed that the role of leaders is significant as they “create” and “develop” various types of cultures within an organization.
Researchers claim that leadership styles and organizational culture include the key to understanding efficiency and success of companies and organizations. Moreover, a leader is required to understand the notion of organizational culture and its nature clearly in order to communicate new idea or vision and guarantee commitment of employees to that particular vision. The primary obligation of the leader is to mobilize support in favor of a new vision. Correspondingly, the task of organizational culture is to ensure legitimacy of the vision provided by the leader. It is usually said that the phenomena of leadership and corporate culture share equal symbiotic relationships.
Schein puts the stress on the fact that organizational culture and leadership styles have significant impact on job satisfaction. Organizational culture is correlated with behavior of a leader in a positive way because appropriate behavior and attitude of leaders towards employees reduces conflicts and misunderstandings, increases job satisfaction and promotes a healthy working environment. Strong organizational culture alone includes a system of rules and codes of conduct for employees, which should help them to reach their goals and missions.
Moreover, Schein pays attention to the fact that leaders are able to “transmit” or “communicate” organizational culture. Being so-called “founders” of organizations, leaders begin formation of organizational culture by dictating their own thoughts, views and beliefs to their subordinates. With the help of personal charisma and leadership style, leaders have a power to capture attention of employees. In order to promote healthy organizational culture, leaders are obliged to know how to perform the following functions correctly and adequately:
- to allocate and distribute resources;
- to control behavior and performance of employees on a regular basis;
- to coach and teach employees;
- to provide rewards and punishments.
In case of critical incidents and crises in organizations, leaders should reduce anxiety and come to important decisions. It has been estimated that numerous organizations have faced problems of declined sales, technological ineffectiveness or obsolescence, and a need to fire employees to reduce costs. In many cases, as the author estimates, leader appeared to succeed in solving these challenges. Therefore, the best opportunity for leaders to express themselves and to send signals about their assumptions can be noticed in the period of severe crises and complicated challenges.
Culture is the expression of norms, views, values and behavioral expectations that direct and control behavioral patterns of members of organization. The “stem” of culture is formed by means of visible and invisible values. The phenomenon of culture is derived from three major sources: beliefs and views of founders of a particular organization; values of employees of organization; new ideas and outlooks provided by leaders.
Organizational culture is very important as it plays a significant role in whether or not organization is pleasant and healthy place to work. At present, organizational culture is considered to be conceptually weak as it has been defined in different ways by various authors. Culture within organization is closely intertwined with the concepts of leadership and leadership styles. A leader is required to have extended knowledge concerning organizational culture in order to motivate and stimulate the followers to work and achieve positive results. For these reasons, in order to achieve competitive benefits, every company or organization needs to acquire effective leadership.