Is an Organic Leadership style your right answer…..

During the summer period I was fortunate enough to work with several high profile ‘world class’ organisations along with some less well known emerging stars all of whom wished to address the same issue – matching their leadership style to the needs of their organisation and the markets they served.  These organisations spanned a wide spectrum in terms of maturity, sector, cultural diversity and the economic model to which they subscribed.

The ‘world class’ group conformed in the main to the western economic model of value creation described primarily from the viewpoint of the shareholder with other stakeholders’ demands taking a much lower profile. Their current leadership styles were representative in the main of the ‘classical’ or’ transactional’ areas of the leadership spectrum but almost without exception these organisations expressed a desire for their style to be more ‘visionary’ or ‘organic’ (see the work of Professor Gayle Avery for
a description of this model) though none were too clear as to exactly how this
expectation was to be delivered. Recent academic literature is littered with
research in this area the majority of which concludes that the basic economic
model to which these organisations conform is outdated in respect to the needs
of today’s global marketplace and a fundamental change was required to enable
these organisations to survive and prosper.

In contrast several of the ‘emerging stars’ were already occupying the visionary or organic areas of the leadership spectrum; indeed many of the organisations were created by individuals coming together with a unified sense of purpose to which they were all committed. It would seem that these organisations were a perfect fit for the structures being prescribed to meet today’s global requirements. The organisations could already be typified as ambassadors of the new genre of organisations capable of
matching the fundamental requirements of mutual acceptance, trust and respect that
form the cornerstone of much of today’s leadership theory.

Looking back the interesting point from my perspective was the response of this latter to group as they began to tackle the needs of embracing new markets or delivering new products as their organisations grew in size. Not surprisingly some, given their history,
continued to expand from their current position and adopted devolved structures
and styles that mirrored the values of the core organisation. Somewhat more
surprisingly however were the number of these organisations that began to adopt
structures and styles similar in nature to the ‘world class’ group with a
propensity to adopt a more ‘transactional’ leadership approach – it seems that
mutual acceptance, trust and respect has boundaries for these organisations.

To my mind this raises a question mark over much of the current research in this area. It seems to me that too much of this research is focused on the relationship between the validity of the economic model and market globalisation and ignores the basic strategic fundamentals of the organisation itself. It was to this latter perspective that the
organisations that adopted a more ‘transactional’ based model referred to
justify their decision.


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