A Reflective Outlook on Leadership, management and Stewardship
Organizations are a collection of individuals who come together to achieve a common objective. Normally, this objective is set out by the creators of the organization. Members of the organization are then brought in based on their skills and their ability to make certain desired contributions to the organization. For an organization to achieve its objectives, it is essential that employees or those working towards the realization of these objectives are constantly reconciled with them. To do this, leadership, management and stewardship are important functions. Although they are commonly interchanged in their usage, leadership and management are very different in terms of their approach and functionality. For instance, leadership commonly deals with influencing people, whereas management deals with the much wider concept of organizational resources. Stewardship is even more strictly confined to resources. These and more subtle differences between leadership, management, and stewardship are discussed. This discussion is a reflective discussion, which facilitates a reflection on the lessons learnt. A reflective approach is also advantageous in that it can help one to identify weaknesses and areas for further development.
In addition to discussing the three aforementioned functions, I will also reflect on the my progress through the class. I will reflect on my experience with previous assignments, and in particular, one in which I scored zero due to plagiarism. Plagiarism is a grave offence that has dire consequences not only in a student’s practical and immediate life, but further, on their long term professional lives. In carrying out the reflection, it is best to rely on an appropriate reflective model. The simple reflection model to be used in this case involves pre-subject, mid-subject, and post-subject reflection. This will enhance the flow of the paper and improve the general quality of the discussion. Consequently, the paper will be structured in the following manner, based on the three phases of the reflective model. The first phase will involve a general discussion of stewardship, management, and leadership. I will refer to my own experience of leadership to explicate the theories, by describing details of where, when, how, what and who was involved. In the second phase, the leadership/management instance will be interpreted based on the various leadership theories. Moreover, the issue of plagiarism will be discussed at this second stage. Finally, in the last phase, the lessons learnt from the experience will be articulated. The possible areas for personal development will also be discussed.
Pre Subject Reflection
Leadership is one of the most important functions characteristic of any society. It is a process through which one individual influences a group of individuals to focus their efforts towards the attainment of a common goal. Leadership can be exercised within either a formal context or an informal context. Management, on the other hand, is a model used by organizations to achieve their goals. It involves a number of interrelated functions, and is described as being the sum of these functions. They are planning, organizing, controlling, and directing an organization’s resources. Management can only be exercised within a formal context, and is usually targeted at maximizing the efficiency of the utilization and output of organizational resources.
Compared to leadership, management is rather rigid, relying on a set of tools to attain its ends. Management provides a robust system of organizing and coordinating organizational resources in order to attain organizational goals. Management allows managers to exercise control over the organization and its employees (P. Drucker 2012). Through practices such as motivation, they are able to improve productivity amongst employees. With leadership, however, the focus is not so much on attaining the highest level of productivity, or the highest level of efficiency of resource use. While this is indeed a targeted end, leadership is more subtle in its attainment of this end, instead focusing on inspiring individuals towards a commonly identified goal. Management is more overt in its focus on resource efficiency, and its use of tools to achieve this goal. It shares close similarities to stewardship and in fact, is closely associated with the same.
Stewardship as a function views managers as stewards or caretakers of organizational resources. Managers obtain their authority from the owners of a company who delegate it through directors. The shareholders, through appointed directors, entrust the management of the organization with organizational resources, to engage in prudent practices that will maximize value for them (shareholders). When managers carry out their duties to maximize shareholder’s wealth, this is referred to as the stakeholder theory. Thus, within a stewardship framework, the organization and all of its assets are seconded to managers owing to their superior skills and expertise in handling these resources. Managers may however act in their own interest rather than in the interest of shareholders, and this is the basic underpinning of the agency theory.
I had my leadership experience at a local company where I am an employee, during my summer vacation. While the company is well established, it has not managed to achieve a market reach beyond the state level. I was principally involved in marketing activities. I worked together with four other employees of the same age bracket, who were also on their summer vacations. We were to focus on several channels including one-on-one marketing (face to face) and online marketing.
In order to come up with an appropriate strategy, we had to adopt a team approach. This means that we had to move from a group to a team. A team differs from a group in that it is more formalized. It can be defined as an organized work group of people or animals (Griffin & Moorehead, 2012). This can be distinguished from a group which is merely a collection of individuals. Thus, before this task, we were merely a work group but for the purposes of this task, we needed to transform ourselves into a team. One of the features that would contribute to this transformation is the development and adaptation of a common goal. The common goal would be the task assigned to us.
Mid Subject Reflection
Our brainstorming session lasted for about an hour, and we were able o identify the appropriate approach and our team leader. Another outcome of our meeting was team roles based on the skills portrayed during the meeting. There are three essential skills in teams, which are technical skills, problem solving and decision making skills, and finally, interpersonal skills (Griffin & Moorehead, 2012). A team leader emerges as the individual who possess the relatively greatest combination of these skills. Increased interaction within teams allows members to acquire proficiency in their areas of skill lacking.
At the end of the first meeting, we were able to choose our team leader. Among the reasons why we chose him is that he displayed confidence and a good knowledge of what was required of the task. While he was self-confident, our leader somehow managed not to get carried away and become dominant. This made it easy to work with him. Perhaps the reason for that he did not assume a dominant nature was the informal manner in which he had acquired the role of a team leader. Whatever the case, his ability to cede authority made it easier to work with him. This conforms to research on group and teamwork, which indicates that within the same, participative leadership is usually preferred (Wagner & R.Hollenbeck, 2010). One of the other traits that made it easy to work with our team leader was his precision. He was able to get his points across directly, an astute indicator of his ability to communicate.
The differences between leadership, management, and stewardship are also well brought out in the weekly role-play. From a management perspective, the redundancy is necessary to improve resource efficiency. A manager may not be so much concerned about those leaving the organization or how they do so. A leader, on the other hand, portrays concern for those leaving and tries to secure a soft landing spot. A leader expresses much more concern for these departing individuals. The tutorial helps to show this, since a leader takes the extra effort to make the departure memorable.
At this point, let me also reflect on the incidence of plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when an individual, knowingly or unknowingly, takes another author’s piece of work and presents it as his or her own. One may do so willingly or unwillingly. My experience with plagiarism came in a recent assignment where my paper had a 36% level of plagiarism, and this caused me to score zero in the paper. There are different ways in which plagiarism can take place. Plagiarism can occur where a student directly quotes another author and fails to reference the quotes. However, even with appropriate referencing, plagiarism may occur if direct quotations are excessive. To avoid this, it is best to paraphrase the work cited such that the general idea is retained with only the wording changing. This is followed up by appropriate attribution through citation. I believe my own plagiarism was due to my failure to cite the works I had used in composing my essay appropriately.
From my own experience and role in the group, I have come to believe that my lack of confidence was the reason why I did not become the group leader. According to Champoux (2010), leaders should be intelligent and self-confident. Confidence is important in inspiring followers towards achieving the team goal. Hellriegel & Slocum, point out that a leader assists his followers to develop to higher levels of readiness (2007). I am highly self-confident but I was not particularly confident about my leadership capabilities and as such, I assumed a backseat role. Another important leadership area that I did not excel at is convincing others of the value of my ideas, a conviction achieved without force or coercion, but rather, through persuasion (Griffin & Moorehead, 2012). This is referred to as charisma, with such leadership being referred to as charismatic leadership. Charismatic leaders possess values, beliefs and behaviors that allow them to exercise a social influence over their followers (Phillips & Gully, 2011). However, good leaders utilize their influence ethically and with due diligence.
Overall, I feel that the above instance was best suited for leadership.
A management approach would not have sufficed, since the key resource required
to attain team goals was the team members. Management creates a high level of
separation between whoever is in charge and the subordinates. It is more suited
where there is an inherent higher level of separation of power from those at
the helm and subordinates. The same case applies to stewardship, which is
rather suited to the engagements with resources.
Drucker, Peter. 2012. The Practice of Management. New York: Routledge.
Griffin, R. W., & Moorehead, G. (2012). Organizational behavior: managing people and organizations. Mason, Ohio: South-Western/Cengage Learning.
Phillips, J. M., & Gully, S. M. (2011). Organizational Behavior: Tools for Success. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Wagner, J. A., & R.Hollenbeck, J. (2010). Organizational Behavior: Securing Competitive Advantage. New York: Routledge.