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Leaders and Leadership in Organizations

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Free «Leaders and Leadership in Organizations» Essay Sample

In the modern world, leaders are expected not only to be skilled in monitoring the performance of the staff and coordinating their actions, but also in developing teams and cooperating with co-workers. Leadership is defined as “the capability of an individual to exercise influence and control over other members to help a group or organization achieve its goals” (George & Jones, 2012, p. 339). Without a doubt, one can distinguish numerous means and terms of influence. The impact of a leader is manifested through various strategies and approaches. The corresponding performance is based on the knowledge of cultural elements of a team as well as on the data about a person’s mind software. This paper aims to discuss the role of leadership in organizations from the cultural perspective of the multidirectional interactions within all groups of stakeholders.

The Duties of a Leader

To begin with, one needs to emphasize that a leader has to be proactive. This requirement suggests that a person has to be open-minded towards the new perspectives and take initiative in creating the vision and working environment that complies with the tasks (Bower, 1997). Besides, leaders must develop sensitivity towards subordinates, stakeholders and situations. In fact, he/she has to study the needs of employees, customers, communities, and investors and ensure that company’s performance and goals are according to the identified desires of stakeholders. In addition, sensitivity towards stakeholders implies building relationships with the involved parties within the frame of corporate ethics, meaning that financial, legal, and ethical responsibilities are considered and maintained. What is more, sensitivity towards situations presumes developing the vision of the ultimate goals and approaches that can be used to achieve these purposes. Specifically, this requirement suggests that a leader is able to conduct effective organizational changes at different levels in various business realms. This ability includes creative vision of the situation, good theoretic base in the business field of a company and strong intuition (Bower, 1997).


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A Leader’s Vision on Interactions with Stakeholders and Rivals

When accentuating the role of leadership in enterprises, one should stress that the main goal of a business is to find its place among stakeholders and rivals. Ghazzawi and Palladini (2014) emphasize the merits of collaboration among government structures, public organizations, businesses, and communities. Today’s rapidly changing world requires embracing new realities, which imply that establishing mutually beneficial connections and bonds with the rest of the world is an effective strategy for success. Given this rationale, the role of the leadership in an organization is to set a specific vision of how, with whom, and to what extent a company has to develop communication. Consequently, a leader is obligated to ensure that the interactions within and outside of an organization bring the highest possible profits and satisfaction to all stakeholders (Ghazzawi & Palladini, 2014). Acknowledging responsibility for success and well-being of stakeholders is the sign of an ethical leadership.

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Ethical Leadership

Leaders can communicate their goals and vision of development strategies in a number of ways. A leader is supposed to monitor the workflow and appraise the performance of staff. In this regard, an important approach in motivating employees is the system of punishment and rewards (George & Jones, 2012). Moreover, employees must be assisted, trained, and encouraged to continue mastering valuable professional and personal skills. In a sentence, when operating in frames of corporate ethics and trying to achieve ethical goals, leaders must demonstrate a range of approaches and behaviors that are aimed to organize the harmonious work of an organization.

Dosing Leader’s Power

The choice of strategies depends on the leadership style. In this regard, leadership style depends on the leader’s vision of the future development of an organization. Overall, one leadership style differs from another in terms of the level of leader’s involvement (George & Jones, 2012). For example, autocratic leadership presumes that organizational chart is constructed as a strong hierarchy. In this case, the company considers vertical leadership when all the decision are made by a leader. In such company, employees are strictly accountable to supervisors, and responsibilities are portioned. In contrast, transformational or charismatic leadership suggests that the staff enjoys greater freedom of actions, is allowed/obligated to make choices and take responsibility for their decisions. The level of accountability to supervisor is lesser. The choice of leadership (dosing leader’s force) is a step to anticipate or mitigate such behavioral constrains as insufficient dispersion of power among team members (George & Jones, 2012).

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Leadership Substitutes

When discussing the different amount of power in various leadership styles, it is appropriate to point to the fact that in some cases leadership, as a source of force, is redundant. For example, George and Jones (2012) accentuate that there are leadership substitutes, which are common for businesses run by intrinsically motivated individuals. The fact is that intrinsic motivation is positively related to the inner locus of control, which means that such employees do not need to be controlled/motivated to demonstrate their best skills and devotion to work. This approach can prevent the conflicts between leaders and self-motivated employees. Hence, leadership substitutes may work in sole proprietorships or small enterprises. To organize the work in a medium-sized organization or manage the workflow in a large corporation, leadership requires a great amount of power. Given the modern tendency towards consolidation of companies, it is natural to conclude that vertical hierarchy will continue to be an important approach in elaboration of organizational charts.

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Acknowledging Developmental Proximity of the Staff

Furthermore, when striving to motivate the staff, leaders have to remember the proper level of complexity. Latham, Borgorni, and Petitta (2011) accentuate that context of a situation is a considerable element that affects the level of person’s motivation. In other words, operational impediments may stem from the content of the working duties.

Latham (2014) considers that the goals should be in the proximity of employees’ developmental capacities. The tasks that do not meet the skills of employees are poor motivators. Similarly, the goals that cannot be attained without great amount of assistance of other people are ineffective motivators. In contrast, the tasks that possess moderate challenge and encourage a person to learn and develop/master his/her skills are considered excellent sources of motivation (Latham, 2004). Therefore, to avoid burnouts and increase the ratio of employee satisfaction, leaders need to assign the tasks that are appropriate in terms of complexity and the level of leader’s involvement.

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Cultural Sensitivity and ‘Mind Software’ of Hofstede

When choosing the proper leadership strategies, it is necessary to take into account cultural peculiarities of leaders, their subordinates, and other stakeholders. As it is known, every person possesses a unique set of socio-cultural features (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010). To understand the inner world of every individual, foresee people’s behaviors and reactions, and develop the proper interactions with the stakeholders, a leader needs to exclude the likelihood of racial/ethnic inequality at a workplace. This approach is called cultural sensitivity or the ability to manage cultural diversity. Probably, the most famous scholar whose name is associated with cultural levels and dimensions is Hofstede.

According to Hofstede et al. (2010), every society instills into its members a system of values that comprises cultural symbols, practices, rituals and images of heroes. Values are a set of features that are typically praised by a certain community and, thus, are desired by all individuals. These cultural elements are represented in the Onion of Hofstede (Table 1) (Hofstede et al., 2010). This schema is called by scientists as ‘mind software’ (Hofstede et al., 2010). Specifically, it is assumed that people’s performance is the reflection of their values, adopted symbols, rituals, and understanding of wrong and right and the interrelation of the matters in the Universe. When comprehending how ‘mind software’ works and acknowledging a significant role of its components, leaders are armed with the valuable knowledge, which helps gather the staff under the same denominator of organizational goals (George, Owoyemi, & Onakala, 2012). In addition, this insight enhances self-awareness about a leader’s position in a team and his/her duties.

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The ‘mind software’ is externally represented with the five cultural dimensions, including power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs femininity, individualism vs collectivism, and time orientation (George et al., 2012). The peculiarities of these dimensions should be considered by leaders to avoid personal biases that could hinder the quality of management. Moreover, application of the Hofstede’s insights assists in meeting the needs and expectation of other stakeholders. For instance, the level of power distance reflects a person’s cultural values and affects his/her practices. Besides, the set of one’s cultural symbols is greatly influenced by this dimension. For instance, verbal and non-verbal communication reflects an individual’s values of power distance. This knowledge is significant because it hints on the proper level of leaders’ power, their level of involvement in the process of leadership, and the goals that they assign to the staff (George et al., 2012). Consequently, when aiming to motivate the staff, it is crucial to detect their ratio of power distance and elaborate the set of actions in accordance to the obtained data.

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Furthermore, another example is the connection between uncertainty avoidance and complexity of the tasks. In fact, a leader has to consider that the greater is uncertainty avoidance of the staff, the less remote must be the goals in terms of the time orientation and the developmental proximity of employees. In case this cultural dimension is neglected, the subordinates are discouraged to attain the set tasks (George et al., 2012). What is more, when motivating employees by assigning the tasks of the proper complexity, it is necessary to consider the level of masculinity versus femininity, since this cultural dimension predefines the staff’s readiness for challenges and an individual’s level of stoicism. Finally, the dimension of individualism versus collectivism should be taken into account during the process of the workflow. This dimension is particularity important in the decision-making process and assigned responsibility for the previously made choices (George & Jones, 2012). Thus, information about the staff’s score of individualism versus collectivism should be detected to apply the right decision-making strategy (autocratic, consultative, group or delegated).

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In conclusion, leaders must timely anticipate and lessen the possibility of operational impediments and behavioral constrains, such as burnouts, low employee satisfaction, poor cultural sensitivity, and failure to meet the needs of all stakeholders. These adverse outcomes need to be addressed with the help of the following strategies. First, dosing the level of leaders’ power and involvement is essential for successful management of organizations. Second, motivating the staff and coordinating working performance should be accomplished by the goals that are set in the close proximity to subordinates’ development level. Moreover, leaders are expected to reach the vision of company’s development taking into consideration that it is not a closed system; instead, the success of a company depends on the interactions with stakeholders and competitors. The above-mentioned considerations must be addressed applying the employees’ mind software, which consists of cultural values, symbols, rituals, and personal characteristics and behaviors. In addition, this inner system of values, the Onion of Hofstede, is manifested externally through the five cultural dimensions. To achieve the goals and remain in the frames of ethical conduct, leaders must study cultural elements as well as the dimensions of their subordinates and other stakeholders.

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