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Leadership in the Australian Context Essay

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Updated: May 1st, 2019

Leadership is very important for an organization to function properly and be successful. There are several definitions for leadership and one defines it as, “Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes” (Rost 1991, p. 102). The focus of this paper will be on adaptive versus technical leadership.

Adaptive leadership involves influencing people to changes their hearts and minds. The change is necessary when common knowledge fails to fix a problem and people have to learn new ways of dealing with the problems they are experiencing.

The people going through the problem do the work by learning new ways of solving their problems. On the other hand, technical leadership entails use of already known solutions to problems that occur and the people in authority do the work in this type of leadership.

In adaptive leadership, a leader needs to identify the problems that require adaptive methods. In the Australian context, the leaders must identify the challenges unique to Australia and apply homegrown solutions to them.

The reason for this is that for a long time Australia has relied on American leadership styles, which are drawn from the local business environment. However, the business arena in Australia is different from the American one which does not reflect the Australian society properly (Dalglish and Evans, 2007).

Therefore, leaders in both the business and political arena must identify the new skills and behaviours necessary to be acquired. They must also keep in mind that adapting to change is not easy as people are used to a certain way of doing things and certain beliefs.

As Heifetz and Linsky say “ to lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear-their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking –with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility” (2002, p. 2).

It calls for the leaders to look at the losses that occur due to adaptive leadership and remain focused on the courses even when things become difficult because this is the only way of bringing about change.

One good situation in which the Australian leaders can apply the adaptive leadership is in the issue of the Aboriginal community who have been excluded from the mainstream Australian society.

Giving the people an opportunity to talk about the issue and come up with solutions would be a starting point in bringing about reconciliation (Leigh, 2002). To exclude the people from the change process brings about negative results as the people resist the change (Gary, 2005).

The technical leadership differs from adaptive leadership in its approach. This style of leadership assumes that there are individuals who have unique abilities that enable them to lead employees or people in lower ranks (Ryan, 2003).

Proponents of this style say that the leaders are able to lead because they have superiority that accompanies their position and this entitles them to influence the people they lead.

Some also urge that the hierarchy in an organization largely involve the leader’s behaviour, which influences how people act. Therefore, it means that the personality of a leader plays a major role in an organization’s culture.

Nonetheless, others feel that a leader’s personality although it may influence the behaviour of the employees or those being led the main thing is the leadership strategy employed by the technical leadership strategy.

The set strategies enable the leaders to lead effectively because they use predictable methods that are already known. Just like one pushes buttons to operate an aircraft and achieves desired results so is technical leadership by pushing the right strategy buttons that make people react in certain desired manner (Ryan, 2003).

Finally, in both leadership styles, people are very important and should be involved in the process. The leaders must learn what the people require in order to understand and identify the challenges they are going through to influence them in coming up with suitable solutions.


Dalglish, C. & Evans, P., 2007. Leadership in the Australian Context: case Studies in Leadership. Melbourne: Tilde University Press.

Gary, L., 2005. Ronald Heifetz: the challenge of adaptive leadership. New Zealand Management. Web. 52 (7), pp.46+. Available at: General OneFile.

Heifetz, R., & Linsky, M., 2002. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press,

Leigh, A. K., 2002. Leadership and Aboriginal Reconciliation Australian Journal of Social Issues, 37 (2), pp. 131-152.

Rost, J.C., 1991. Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praege.

Ryan, J., 2003. Leading diverse schools. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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