Leadership plays an important role within any organization. This perhaps helps explain why several approaches to leadership have been developed.
Although there are different advantages and disadvantages associated with the leadership approaches, it is worth noting that several factors influence the success achieved within organization. Based on this, thought leadership is put into perspective to determine how useful the approach is in leadership of organizations.
Thought leadership is useful as ideas are important in transforming the way people think (Ryde, 2007). In the same line of thinking, thought leadership is crucial in the development of new products and services (Krishnan, 2005).
The bottom-line in achieving this lies in convincing the led that it is possible to attain success through the production of such goods and services. The key towards success is demonstrable in the manner in which the leaders are able to convince the followers effortlessly.
The most important attribute of thought leadership revolves around the idea that it is not an inherent attribute. Instead, it is cultivated through developing interpersonal skills and use of authority (Ryde, 2007). As an illustration, once a business runs into debt, it is not necessary to adopt an approach that does not support repayment and exploration of new approaches necessary to raise funds.
Using logical arguments, factual ideas or emotional appeal, thought leadership is seen to be at play (Ryde, 2007). Concisely, thought leadership entails the championing of novel ideas to both peers and leaders. As a thought leader, one understands that the people who are led are valuable to an organization.
Based on this, the leader offers an opportunity to the followers to make meaningful contributions towards the organization. In precise terms, the leader acts as a mentor in a bid to increase an organization’s capacity.
In embracing thought leadership, a leader has the opportunity to learn from both senior and junior colleagues (Ryde, 2007). This allows the leader to obtain new ideas that are useful in leading an organization.
Such also contributes towards the growth and development of the leader, as elements of humility and acknowledgment are required in the learning exercise. In addition, the thought leader is presented an opportunity to mentor the led through sharing vital knowledge gained through the leading career.
Thought leadership in crises times
In times of crises, leadership is put to test. Crises emerge in different forms. As an illustration, when organizations face uncertainty, it is arguable that an organization is in a crisis. Uncertainty may be reflected both in the internal and in the external environment of an organization (Karp and Helgø, 2008). In such an environment, the leadership is called to task.
In addressing such issues, an organization may respond by seeking to alter human interaction patterns. In crisis times, leaders should avoid falling into the temptation of focusing on the strategy, the tools and the structures. Instead, the leaders need to lay emphasis on human beings. Changing people is more valuable than altering the other work elements.
Based on the motivation theory developed by Herzberg, motivation is of critical value in organizational leadership. The motivators push employees towards pursuing organizational goals while de-motivators push workers in the opposite direction. In this regard, motivating employees is valuable in an organization. During crisis times, organizations are in need of a motivated work force.
This is premised on the notion that at such times the organization is seeking ways to navigate the difficult times. As such, leaders in crisis times should understand the concept of motivation and implement it in order to attain the expected results. The leaders should primarily aim at creating a conducive environment for the workers.
The ability to relate organizational goals to personal goals is important in leadership (Waldman et al, 2001). This view holds more value during crisis times. At these times, the goals of an organization are at stake. In addition, the goals of workers who pursue career growth would equally be in jeopardy. By way of illustration, during the financial meltdown, several companies were facing a bleak future.
A number of organizations such as the Lehmann Brothers collapsed. As such, organizations found out that they were in danger of collapsing. In an event of an organization sinking, its employees would suffer a loss in terms of employment.
Based on this, organizational leaders during this time would find reasons to align organizational goals to those of individual workers. Such would spur workers since in pursuing their personal goals they would end up satisfying those of the organization also.
As pointed earlier crises come in different forms. It is thus noticeable that at times workers may face problems at the workplace leading to a crisis. In this case, a leader needs to show up and help an organization move forward. As the transactional theory of leadership establishes, leaders should respond to the desires and needs of the employees (Dulewicz and Higgs, 2005).
In this case, workers seeking better working conditions using various approaches may illustrate the point. Apart from helping workers facing problems, leaders need to extend rewards to workers who show exemplary performance. This idea is especially important when an organization is in a crisis and it needs to improve the performance.
Although thought leadership is perceived as being ideal, in times of crises, the leadership could be put to task (Hill, 2008). In times of crises, certain elements are necessary. Such include communication, visibility, control and perspective. Visibility hinges on the pace at which a leader becomes available to respond to the emerging issues during times of crises.
As such, a leader needs to be available during crisis times in order to avert a scenario where individual workers resort to relying on rumours. It is also noticeable that being available at the workplace offers workers an opportunity to clarify issues regarding the work to be done. Although using written reports is feasible in times of crises, it is critical that the leader appears in person to cool anxieties.
The importance of communication is indisputable in any scenario (Hill, 2008). In common practice, people seek to develop theories to explain why undesirable things happen. As a leader, one cannot afford to fall into such traps. Consequently, leaders should investigate and get to the root cause of a crisis.
This empowers the leader to respond appropriately. In providing information, leaders should take caution in order to avoid creating more unrest within an organization.
In addition, the leader should consider the necessary steps an organization intends to pursue in addressing the emerging issues. As an illustration, when companies are implementing decisions to lay off workers, the workplace is likely to turn out to be an uncomfortable place for several workers.
As such, the leader should devise strategies aimed at correcting the adverse effects. Giving out information is critical in times of crises. Hence, leaders should embrace the idea of sharing information with those affected.
Additionally, the leadership should consider holding open forums where the workers and all the affected parties are accorded the opportunity to raise their views freely. Such a move is an important step that would help defuse tensions a great deal. This comes against the idea that leaders are not expected to have all the answers to emerging problems.
Equally important is the role of self-control (Hill, 2008). In times of unexpected crises, leaders are likely to react in different ways. It should be understood that leaders are also human and as a result are prone to making mistakes. However, leaders have a small margin for error. Consequently, they need to gather all necessary information and exercise restraint from making premature decisions.
Although, it is recommended that leaders remain calm, it is difficult to do so especially when leaders are themselves part of the problem. However, irrespective of the nature of the crisis, leaders must observe calmness and take the right measures to address the concerns facing an organization. It is clear that creating a wrong impression is costly since erasing such issues is not easily achievable even after the crisis.
Hill, (2008) alludes to the idea that perspective may not be real. However, it is a critical component in handling a crisis. Perspective entails creating the big picture. More precisely, perspective involves taking information and locating it into the context.
Using a pedestrian’s language, it is putting into perspective the unfolding of a crisis. In this regard, the leader looks for past events that are related to the current one and attempts to draw similarities or differences. The whole idea behind this is to form an opinion about future events. It should be noted that perspectives are built based on facts and experience.
Another important guideline regarding leadership lies on being proactive (Foster, 2004). It is important to note that crises strike during the least expected times. As such, leaders should be prepared for anything while going about their day-to-day activities.
A proactive approach shows the level of preparedness within an organization. It is remarkable that the more prepared an organization is, the more it succeeds in handling the crises when they emerge. As such, a leader during crisis times needs to be well prepared.
Ethics surfaces as an important consideration regarding leadership during times of crisis (Foster, 2004). Ethics are a set of principles workers, leaders and all stakeholders of organizations need to observe. In business organizations, it is necessary to post financial assessments to guide investors in decision-making.
It should be noted that business entities do not want to present poor financial statements since such would harm their success chances. As such, the businesses may be tempted to present misleading information. Such behaviour is unethical.
However, during crisis times such as the recent financial meltdown, firms could engage in the vice. As a leader, it is important to observe the working principles and avoid being swayed by events taking place. Working by set principles does not only present the leaders as ethical people but it also presents them as mentors.
Essentials of a thought leader
Taking a stand is essential in thought leadership (Ryde, 2007). Some aspects are generally controversial. As an illustration, when a new technology emerges, people may be cautious about adopting it. However, a thought leader takes a stand. It does not matter whether it is to support or decline the adoption of a new technology. This calls for insightful predictions.
For one to be in a position to make well informed predictions, it is important to research and establish the trends before taking a decision. Another essential for thought leaders is the ability to pursue new ideas. This places huge demands on leaders.
As a leader, one may be tempted to replicate the approaches that are already working in other business organizations. Although it is commendable to adopt already tested approaches, a thought leader needs to be innovative. In this regard, the leader should aim at developing and implementing new ideas in every business undertaking.
Thought leaders also need to be vertically rich (Ryde, 2007). In this regard, a thought leader seeks to attain fame among his/her target audience. This implies that as a leader, the primary aim should remain making the business famous.
This lies on the idea that consumers like to be identified with leading entities. As such, a thought leader endeavours to catapult his organization into the limelight. To achieve this goal, the leader may build alliances with leading market players or employ the services of global ambassadors.
A thought leader also studies the market and understands the nature of competition (Ryde, 2007). This view comes up in reference to the idea that business entities should target and position themselves in an industry. As such, information is of great value to a thought leader. Such information enables the leader to understand the market dynamics. Through such an understanding, the leader is able to develop a niche.
On developing a niche, a thought leader needs to develop a voice (Ryde, 2007). While leadership qualities on the aspect of voice vary, it is discernable that a successful leader needs to develop a certain voice. Voices range from a no-nonsense approach to outrageous or professional approaches.
Irrespective of the approach a leader uses, it is valuable that a conscious decision is made to develop and employ one voice. Public speaking is also another attribute that ranks highly in the science of leadership. While addressing the led, it is sound to use an authoritative approach. This is important as it sends an assuring message to the concerned parties.
Importance of thought leadership
The benefits of thought leadership are wide-ranging. For commercial entities, brand affinity emerges as the first benefit. Using products to communicate helps consumers become part of a deal. Products that are well packaged definitely send a strong message to the buyers. As a result, the audience gets an opportunity to know the business more. Knowing a business more has various advantages in as far the pursuit of profit is concerned.
Thought leadership allows all stakeholders to offer their opinions regarding the products being offered. It is also true that thought leadership accords employees of an organization the opportunity to raise opinions regarding various aspects of business hence paving way for a facilitative an inclusive approach to decision-making.
As a result, all stakeholders feel part of the decision-making body and they willingly cherish the final decisions made regarding issues facing an entity.
Thought leadership hinges on creativity. Emphasis is laid on the need to move beyond what is currently on offer or being done in regards to certain aspects within an organization. This implies that in environments where thought leadership is promoted, employees of an organization get the opportunity to be creative. Creativity underlies innovation.
As such, organizations that practice thought leadership presents a good opportunity for employees to develop. In the process, an organization benefits from creative workers. As a result, an organization and its employees are able to attain their goals concurrently.
Thought leadership allows a participatory approach to management. In this regard, the approach presents an opportunity to challenge the old ways of doing things in reference to authority. This is however important as it allows an entity to benefit from creativity and innovation. This view is supported by the notion that allowing employees and consumers a chance to take part in the making of decisions is important in business.
From the above realization, it is clear that this type of leadership does not rely on formal authority. Instead, thought leadership is based on the power of ideas. As such, emphasis is not on the structure of an organization. This typifies decentralization of power as any stakeholder holds the potential of influencing decisions of an organization.
Since thought leadership is largely participatory, the personality of the leader is important. As a rule, those persons appointed to lead have something special. The special attribute maybe based on education or intelligence insights. Consequently, it is expected that the leader should offer direction in every aspect. However, this may require allowing the led to give their views.
As such, the extent to which the leader facilitates the participation of the led and incorporates their views may contribute largely towards the success of the leadership style. In times of crises, the thought leader is likely to face a number of challenges as established in the paper.
A thought leader needs to exhibit optimism, humour, resilience, emotional intelligence and self-confidence in order to lead an organization towards the right direction. All these attributes play an important role in the success or failure of a leader within an organization. It is noticeable however that the ability to embrace all the attributes is a difficult task given the various pressure leaders face at the workplace.
Thought leadership has gained prominence in the recent times. This case holds true especially in the business circles. It should be noted that in business, power has literary shifted to the consumers. Additionally, the competition has gone up to scales hitherto un-witnessed. As a result, business entities need to adopt new strategies to remain relevant in business.
Based on this realization, it is not coincidental that thought leadership is gaining dominance. A versatile individual capable of handling a variety of tasks efficiently is the ideal candidate to employ a participatory leadership approach, thought leadership.
This paper presents a picture that thought leadership is ideal in management of business organizations. One needs to exercise caution because sound leadership is a function of several factors.
Such factors as the circumstances, the personality of a leader, policy aspects etc influence the success or failure of the approach. However, it is concluded that the leadership style is a valuable addition to the art or science of leadership. If well employed, organizations stand to reap the benefits attributable to the leadership style.
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