Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaders make a real difference in an organization’s performance. Build an argument againt this statement?

A. Leaders don't always make a difference in an organization's performance. I can make this argument in a couple of naive ways:

1. In some organizations leaders come and go all the time and nothing changes. This happens when people are hired or retained inappropriately and that happens when the so called leaders fear change. These people will not rock the boat themselves, nor will they hire anyone that is likely to, nor will they retain anyone who does. [This argument is false because, while they make no intentional difference in performance, the organization's performance will stagnate over time by these leaders' inaction. It is a misuse of the language to call them leaders.]

2. There is an organizational form called "the leaderless team." The ideology is that without the monopolization of power associated with conventional positional leadership, the team members will retain their individual power and self organize to accomplish their goals. It is believed that the only difference a leader will make is to constrain individual contributions and therefore limit overall performance. [This argument is specious because in a self-organizing mode everyone, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate contribution, acts as a leader.]

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