Topic 1 Introduction Our twenty-first century environment is one of constant and unprecedented change, bringing challenges to leaders at global, national and local levels. The most critical challenges facing leaders include the impact that rapidly changing technology brings to the business environment, our workplace and our homes – and the significant challenges that abound as business activity spreads across cultures and borders at a global level. Globalisation draws the citizens of the world together via internet, through social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and a range of other online technologies. We can almost purchase whatever we want, whenever we want it, from wherever in the world we choose. Online media has also provided a unique ‘window on the world’ that enables us to be more aware of our cultural and socio-economic similarities and differences (for example, we are able to access YouTube videos showing critical issues and breaking news, posted by people on the ground at the source, whereas previously we would have relied upon censored news articles appearing in the press or on TV). This phenomenal access to media is also a critical issue within the business world, where as a result of the influx of information available to us, leaders are expected to be increasingly aware of global issues. As a result of what we know about the world and its people – and our access to information that is so readily available to us all, leaders are also expected to be aware of global issues, socially and environmentally responsible. This is now a world where staff within organisations expect leaders to plan for ‘over the horizon’ (or long term) outcomes taking on board global data, collaborating with and benchmarking against competitors. To be considered an effective leader within this environment it is typically necessary to develop a vision for the future with operational plans to bring the vision into action, to communicate effectively and to all levels of the organisation, to be self-aware, flexible and open to change, trustworthy, to have integrity, and to be positive. So what is leadership exactly – and what do leaders actually ‘do’ to bring out the best in those who follow them? How do they influence to shape and massage the culture of their workplace in order to make their organisation more effective within this amazing and rapidly changing global environment? Figure 1 – Drawn by L White from Chapter 1 – Dalgleish, C., & Millar, P. (2010). Leadership: Understanding its global impact. (1st edn.). Praharan Vic: Tilde University Press Amongst other things, leadership is a process. For it to be an effective one, all three elements shown in Fig. 1 have to work together – the behaviour and characteristics of the leader, the culture and characteristics of the followers – and the context within which they operate (whether it be business, industry or politics in changing times). The greater the synergy and understanding between the leader, the followers and the context, the greater the leadership effectiveness – and the greater the chance of the group achieving its objectives and realising its vision. This topic is covered across two lectures – but the theme of ‘leadership’ weaves its way throughout the whole of the unit. We will keep returning to and building upon our ideas as we develop a much greater understanding of the way that leaders impact upon organisations and in turn, remain the lynchpin that determines how successful that organisation will ultimately become. In week 1’s lecture we’ll first be looking at what leaders do. By first looking at what leaders do, it’s possible to gain a fair idea of some of the challenges involved. In so doing, you may also be prompted to think about which aspects of leadership you already have something of an aptitude for. It may prompt you to recognise that you’ve already had some experience and success when resolving a conflict within your sporting team, for example. Similarly, when thinking about the leadership skills associated with establishing and maintaining trust, for example, you may come to realise that you’ve really been very effective in establishing and maintaining trust with your neighbours over the past few years. There are various ways of teaching leadership concepts, theories and skills, and in that first week’s lecture I give a basic indication of the way that I prefer do it. I think it’s best to provide students with a good, broad overview of the concepts and theories that are most widely respected today, and to make it clear how they can be truly useful. I like to emphasize that many of the most valuable insights, habits and skills for leadership can be learned. Just to be clear: to be an effective leader, you do not always need to have a big toothy smile, enormous pectoral muscles, a booming voice, or an extroverted personality. Probably all of those things can be helpful on occasion, but the evidence makes it fairly clear that they’re rarely essential. In week 2’s lecture we’ll be comparing leadership to management. The contrasts involved have been widely discussed for close to 40 years, and yet it’s a topic about which there is still a certain amount of disagreement. After studying the materials for week 2 you’ll be in a good position to make up your own mind about the issues involved. Most importantly, regardless of what you ultimately come to think, the study of such debates can really sharpen your understanding of many of the crucial concepts, while recognising all the while that leadership and management are both essential if you’re going to run an organisation successfully. Topic 2 Introduction Topic 2 is the changing face of leadership. Part of the aim is to convey some sense of where our various ideas and theories about leadership have come from and how they have evolved over time. It’s not that we’ll be dwelling on the origins of any particular leadership idea or theory for very long; we’re not learning about any obscure historical details merely for the fun of it. One reason for mentioning a few basic historical points is that understanding the origins of a theory can help when trying to work out whether it is going to be relevant to the sorts of situations that you are likely to face. After all, although some old leadership theories rely upon assumptions that have been clearly discredited (e.g., that effective leaders can be drawn only from the landed male gentry), certain other traditional leadership ideas are still widely valued. In the 6th century BC, Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of self-belief, leading by example, and knowing yourself, and today’s research strongly supports convictions such as these. Knowing some of the historical developments in the leadership research can also come in handy when discussing the best approach to a particular leadership decision. For example, if a fellow colleague on a selection panel tries to tell you that the company obviously needs to employ the more extroverted candidate for a particular leadership position, you may need to explain that although there are indeed certain situations in which extroverts generally are better suited, there are also circumstances in which introverts tend to be more effective. For a brief introduction to this issue, see Susan Cain’s TED talk. In the week 3 lecture you’ll probably find that the material starts to get pretty interesting. This is because be encouraging you to try to identify some of the tools and skills required to forge a leadership style appropriate to your own strengths, aspirations, and personality. I really do want you to constantly and actively think about the ways in which the things that you’re learning could be useful to you as a leader. Some of the concepts that are considered in that lecture concern various forms of power and influence. You’ll probably find that some of these forms of power come far more easily to you than others, depending on your personality, your experience, and your understanding of what’s available to you. Also in that week 3 lecture we look at a variety of leadership theories, along with some of the criticisms that are sometimes levelled at them. You’ll probably find that a familiarity with some of these theories will boost your confidence in certain areas. When you learn that honesty and integrity tend to be important leadership traits, for example, you may well learn that you’ve got some real strengths there, and that they have a kind of relevance to leadership that you hadn’t previously recognised. At the same time, you may also learn that there are certain other leadership skills that you need to further develop. In the week 4 lecture we look at some core communication skills, team leadership skills, and ways by which to motivate people. Topic 3 Introduction This topic will be covered over two lectures, introducing the concept of culture and its unique role within organisations. In the first lecture, we will ‘unpack’ the nature of organisations, being mindful of an organisation being: A consciously coordinated social entity, with a relatively identifiable boundary, that functions on a relatively continuous basis to achieve a common goal or set of goals. (Robbins & Barnwell, 1994. p.4) We’ll explore those boundaries – looking at organisational structures and the way areas and positions within organisations interact, drawing examples from case studies. We will also examine the way organisations identify and then plan to meet their goals. The second lecture for this topic will dig more deeply into the organisation, to consider organisational ‘culture’. The idea of ‘culture’, has its origins in an agricultural environment. A ‘culture’ in that sense is the soil or medium that’s prepared and tilled in such a way that allows a seed (or crops) to grow. That culture is added to and enriched, watered and cared for so that the seed has the best chance of survival and as far as a farmer can assist, the best opportunity to flourish. The success of the farmer’s crop depends upon the culture and the environment it grows within. And so it is with organisational culture. An organisation’s ‘culture’ is the term we use to describe its environment, the opportunities, the ‘feel’ and the support that allows its people to grow, develop and thrive. The culture itself can influence the direction of the organisation and its people, the overall success of the organisation and the way it presents itself externally (among other things). Schein explains that organisational culture ‘is embedded in leaders and potentially strengthened by them. Good leaders create and shape their organisations’ cultures by embedding their assumptions in missions, goals, structures and work procedures’ (Cheney, Christensen, Zorn & Ganesh, 2011, p. 87.). We will take this idea and look at the way culture shapes and supports organisations, looking at the culture of some very successful organisations as case studies. There are a number of models that explain organisational culture – and we will touch upon these in the lectures. We will focus more deliberately though, upon Schein’s three levels of observable culture (the second reading for this topic, will provide a wealth of background information for you to consider). The two key areas we will focus upon within this topic will provide you with an understanding of the way that culture can influence organisations – and we will draw upon case studies to provide evidence of this. As an overview, those key areas are: 1. What defines an organisation? Investigating an organisation as a social entity with identifiable boundaries, where work and work practice aligns with an organisational mission and goals; and 2. Seeking out the culture of an organisation. We will look at the nature of culture and its application within organisations. We will also look at models of organisational culture, investigating Schein’s three levels of observable culture in greater depth.