Academic journal article Journal of Leadership Studies

Leadership and Organizations for the New Millennium

Academic journal article Journal of Leadership Studies

Leadership and Organizations for the New Millennium

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

The development of leadership theory has paralleled the development of organizational theory. The models of laissez-faire, transactional and transformational leadership both explain the old paradigm of the bureaucratic organization and reinforce the new organizational paradigm for the twenty-first century. The bureaucratic organization is analyzed in terms of laissez-faire leadership and the transactional leadership elements of management-by-exception and contingent reward. The new post-bureaucratic organization is analyzed in terms of the four `I's of transformational leadership: individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence. Inferences are drawn for the required roles and behavior of future leaders.

The study of leadership has gained momentum in the past 20 years. James MacGregor Burns' seminal book on leadership was a watershed in our understanding of what makes a difference in leaders' behavior (Burns, 1978). The development of leadership theory has paralleled that of organizational theory. The current organizational revolution and the ascendancy of the post-bureaucratic organization are associated with new directions in leadership thinking. We shall consider how the models of transactional and transformational leadership that have emerged as a result of Burns' ideas may both explain the old organizational paradigm and reinforce the new organizational paradigm for the 21st Century.

A New Look at Leadership

During the 1980s, several significant leadership events occurred: the decline and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of glasnost in its post-bureaucratic successors, and the rejection of Thatcherism in the UK and Republicanism in the United States. It became harder than ever for leaders to lead, as Boutros-Boutros Ghali, Margaret Thatcher and her successor, John Major, discovered. Leaders have enjoyed (sic) the increased exposure to, and attention of, the mass media. And traditional goodwill and deference towards leaders has quite rapidly declined.

Parallel with these developments has been research (Bass, 1985) stimulated by Bums' fresh look at leadership. Within the model of leadership effectiveness that has emerged are clearer clues to the masons why some leaders fail, some survive and some go on to transform the groups, organizations and societies they lead to heights of achievement perhaps before only imagined. The challenges of the imminent new millennium require a transformation in organizations and in the thinking and behavior of their leaders, a leadership paradigm shift that matches a shift from a bureaucratic to a post-modernist organizational paradigm.

The Promist of Discontinuity

There has been no shortage of commentators imparting the view since the 1960s that we have already been witnessing and participating in an organizational paradigm shift (Kuhn, 1962). If bureaucracy represented a normal period of organizational development for the twentieth century industrial age, post-bureaucratic organizations are now in the ascendant.

Evidence for the existence of such a transition is readily available (Bell, 1973). Post-industrialism (Bell), super-industrialism (Toffler, 1980), the age of discontinuity (Drucker, 1968), the information age (Tapscott and Larson, 1993), the post-modernist/post-Fordist organization (Clegg, 1990) and the re-engineered organization (Hammer and Champy, 1993) are some of the metaphors-in-use to describe the future shape of the organizational society. In Naisbitt's (1982) evocative phrase, we may be living in a time of parenthesis - a time between the bureaucratic age and its successor.

The Old Organizational Paradigm

The twentieth century has played host to bureaucracy while questioning and eventually undermining its central tenets. As Weber (1964) elegantly reminded us, bureaucracy is Janus-faced: it both provides and deprives. …

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