Successful 21st Century Leadership

This paper identifies creativity as a main hub in the ability of organizations to maintain a competitive advantage. It looks at the degree to which inhibitors such as organizational designs as well as leadership style may positively or negatively 21st Century Journal affect creativity in organizations. The paper concludes with a synopsis of how leaders can remove notable barriers in order to permit the free flow of creativity in organizations.

The global crisis, the financial meltdown, eschatological signs, whatever the name ascribed to it, the period 2008-2009 will be long remembered in history. As numerous financial institutions sunk, stock markets crashed, and the end of thousands of businesses was fast forwarded; the economy worldwide was plunged into an abyss. While this epoch making event ended a number of dreams as it demolished numerous organizations, it should also be viewed as a renaissanic period.

This should be viewed as a period wherein lies numerous opportunities for the birth of new businesses, as well as an awakening call for organizational leaders to begin thinking about their leadership style as well as their organizational designs. Such an analysis is vital to ascertain if they are sufficiently fluid to withstand periods of high volatility. Hindsight demands that 21st century organizations examine their modus operandi in order to discover the recipe to help them maintain a competitive advantage. An in-depth analysis of the role of organizational leaders, as well as their organizational design should pinpoint any notable deficiencies to organizational success.

An overview of numerous articles on organizational failures has consistently implied that there is a correlation between factors like poor leadership and poor organizational designs to organizational failure. While correlation does not imply causation, in light of the challenges facing contemporary organizations, the onus lies with leaders to determine the degree to which leadership roles and organizational designs hamper or promote organizational success. Subsequently, they can put in place measures to counteract negative influences.

Hailstorm of creativity
It is an amazing time in the life of mankind. It is a period which is driven almost single handedly by technology. It is an era in which the market life of services and products expire almost as soon they are marketed. A look at classroom technologies, entertainment products, and communication devices gives credence to the rate at which the hailstorm of creativity is revolutionizing the market place. Esentio and smart board technological tools have already revolutionized the manner in which classroom learning takes place. They have almost replaced the overhead projector, the traditional white boards, and chalk boards. The entertainment industries have provided consumers with a variety of ways in which they may view televised pictures whether via Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), Plasma, or Digital Light Processing (DLP). In the same vein, the communication industry, not to be outdone, have changed the face of cell phones. People are now given a variety of features from which they may choose.

All this, at a speed never realized prior to now. Any organization wishing to succeed in contemporary society should realize that to be competitive in today’s environment means harnessing the creative and innovative ability of employees, in order to invent new products and services for a consuming public who craves novelty. The rivalry to survive hold, and will continue to hold organizations spell bound. In the words of the famous the 1969 hits by Jerry Butler “only the strong (organizations will) survive.” For organizations to be empowered to survive, leaders and followers should seek after “creativity.” This is an individual’s ability to conceive of or conjure new ideas, which can benefit society. It is the center of innovativeness, and the momentum behind organizational success. Failure to encourage and embrace creativity within contemporary organizations may be viewed as creating conditions that are conducive to organizations failures.

Inhibitors to competitive organizations
The rapid speed at which changes are evolving necessitate a leadership style as well as an organizational design that is bendable. This will permit organizations the elasticity they need if they are to survive in constantly changing environments. Lewin (1939) identified three main styles of leadership; autocratic, democratic and lassie faire. Over the years, the autocratic style seemed to dominate organizational leadership. This leadership style came alive in an era where organization productivity and efficiency were forces to be reckoned with. In those days, the same manner of viewing televised pictures, classroom learning tools, as well as communication tools survived for decades without any marked changes in features and styles.

The key role of leadership then, was to delegate duty and ensure compliance from employees. Lapeley (2005), concurred with the prior assertions as she stated “During the Industrial Era, populations with low education levels required a leadership style characterized by strong control, full autonomy, a clear power hierarchy, authoritarianism and very strict rules.” According to Schriesheim (1982), autocratic leadership has gained favor because efficiency is created as tasks are repeated; a key drawback is its inability to embrace change. Contemporary society has glided away from a mechanistic era to one that is marked by technological advancement through education. As such, the leadership style employed today should be different from prior ones. After all, the conditions are different.

Contemporary leaders still favoring any style of leadership that excludes employees input, and is bounded by rules forbidding employees from expressing their creativity, are in danger of failing. Leadership style should instead embrace teamwork, promote creativity, and encourage employees input in decision making. As it was with the leadership styles in the Industrial era, so it is with the organizational structure. The bureaucratic design utilized then was functional. It was able to synchronize with the autocracy demands of that era.


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