Thinking about leadership: contributions and contexts

Murray, Peter A. (2006) Thinking about leadership: contributions and contexts. In: Contemporary issues in management and organisational behaviour. Thomson Learning, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 274-307. ISBN 0 17 012127 5

Abstract

The CEO of Lion Nathan demonstrates some of the strategies of leadership necessary to run a highly successful multinational company. While modern leaders appear constantly to talk up the need to promote vision and the core values of their companies, such values are more of a myth than they are about the reality of work performed in most organisations. While Gordon Cairns's list of objectives might seem like common sense to most people, leadership strategies have to be developed in concert with other organisational processes (such as change processes and supportive structures) to provide the glue that binds rhetoric to action. Thinking about leadership in today's organisation is more focused on developing people to excel, recognising the strengths and weaknesses in one's own leadership style and developing a picture of the company that shows others the broad direction and how to get there. As we shall see, although earlier research on leadership traits -that is, what type of traits might distinguish more successful leaders from less successful ones was not conclusive, more recent research suggests that a number of individual characteristics consistently differentiate successful leaders from those less successfuL They include attributes such as physical energy and intelligence (Simonton 1994), achievement motivation and the non-conscious achievement of excellence through individual effort (House et aL 1997). Gordon Cairns displays great achievement motivation, for instance. This chapter provides many examples of successful leaders who possess most, if not all, such traits. The chapter begins by examining some of the earlier leadership approaches and discussing their contributions and limitations. This is important since an inquisitive analysis should provide us with some insights about what various theories propose and how useful they are to us as students, practitioners or teachers. The chapter does not provide a prescriptive lens, however; instead, it focuses on the development of critical issues from past to present. Thinking about leadership across different work contexts should also provide us with a new perspective from which to focus our own leadership endeavours. A thoughtful reader might reflect on their particular contributions. Moreover, an integrated approach may come close to capturing the essence of leadership in contemporary organisations. If, as Brian 1l:acey (2005) suggests, leadership is about the'ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people', then we have much to learn about applying leadership principles drawn from many different approaches.


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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Chapter 11. Textbook. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright restrictions. Print copy held in the USQ Library (Springfield Campus) at call no. 658.3 Mur.
Depositing User: Assoc Prof Peter Murray
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - No Department
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2011 02:31
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 00:43
Uncontrolled Keywords: leadership; companies; company; organisations; organisational
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150311 Organisational Behaviour
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/18438

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