BUS Assignment-2

Theme #1:  There are various types of leadership roles in an organization. They extend from the executive leadership role to the project leader. Each has different sets of responsibilities to the organization and each leadership role utilizes skill sets which require influencing people to move the business towards the vision. This week’s theme focuses on those levels which are most visible to the students either because they are seen from afar as being on the top or because they seek to become involved personally: executive, managerial, and team leaders. We will examine the role of each and the skill sets associated with them.

Executive Leader: Is the leader that many of our students see from afar. They are the people at the top.  Their role is to design the vision, mission, structure and culture of the organization. It is their ideas that provide the framework upon which the manager builds.

The job of the executive leader is to be the social architect. An executive leaders create the vision, mission, structure and culture and are change agents.


     The Leader as a Social Architect   

· The Leader’s Role in Strategy

· The Leader’s Role in Strategy

· Leadership is critical to forming and implementing strategy and without it, good strategy does not happen.

· By James N. Fuller, MBA and Jack C. Green, PhD

· 2005 Volume 8 Issue 2

· Examining strategy through the lens of leadership focuses the topic on the critical tasks that a leader must undertake to create and execute strategy. In choosing this focal point, managers may find that some strategic activities such as industry analysis, competitive analysis, and internal analysis become their second priority because it is not as important for the leader to do them as it is to make sure such activities get done. This article specifically examines what the business leader does in the five major phases of the strategy-making/strategy-executing process: developing a vision and mission, setting goals and objectives, crafting a strategy, executing the strategy, and evaluating performance. We conclude with what is required in a leader’s character in order to exercise good leadership.




· http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/beholder.jpg

· Photo: Simon Cataudo




· Developing a Strategic Vision and Mission

· Vision is the core of leadership and is at the heart of strategy. The leader’s job is to create the vision for the enterprise in a way that will engage both the imagination and the energies of its people. “An effective leader knows that the ultimate task of leadership is to create human energies and human vision,” succinctly notes Peter Drucker.[1] The vision must be tied to what the firm values, and the leader must make this connection in a way that the organization can understand, grasp, and support. Vision moves the enterprise; values stabilize the enterprise. Vision looks to the future, values to the past.

· The vision and value statements need not be complicated. Howard Schultz earns high marks for bringing Starbucks to where it is today: a vibrant, growing, hugely profitable company with global brand recognition. He has developed and promoted a strategic vision from the beginning: to make Starbucks “the most respected brand name in coffee and for the company to be admired for its corporate responsibility.”[2] Two key values that supported this vision were “to build a company with a soul” and to pursue “the perfect cup of coffee.” Simple phrases, but they have given direction to a highly successful enterprise!

· The leader distinguishes between vision, which describes where the enterprise is headed, and mission, which articulates why the enterprise exists. A good mission statement encapsulates a firm’s purpose with its unique contribution. For example, Disney’s mission may be stated simply as, “To make people happy.”[3] A good leader understands the difference between vision and mission and makes sure that the organization does, too.

· Setting Goals and Objectives

· Good visions do not become reality by magic. The process of realizing the vision—strategy—is just as important to the firm as having the foresight and the commitment to achieve the vision. Somewhere just beyond the horizon of vision and before the hard edge of strategy kicks in begins the leader’s work of setting strategic goals and objectives for the organization. This activity calls for disciplined thinking to narrow the organization’s focus.

· Jim Collins, who presented the traits of eleven outstanding companies in his book Good to Great, maintains that focused, disciplined thought is a common element of good-to-great leaders and their companies.[4] Great leaders focus their firms on a single, organizing idea that unifies and guides all decisions. They boil down complexities into simple ideas that answer three questions: (1) What can we do best? (2) What is the economic denominator that drives our business? (3) What do our core people care passionately about? It is the leader’s job to ask these questions, even if others produce the answers.

· The leader sets measurable goals and objectives for the organization. A goal or objective for which attainment cannot be measured is worthless. The leader makes measurable goals effective by building in incentives for attainment, what Jim Collins describes as “catalytic mechanisms.”[5] These incentives reward goal-attaining behavior, discourage the opposite, and thus make strategy “happen” by virtue of their self-enforcement power, but they must be created to fit the organization. Consider Granite Rock’s short pay policy: every invoice that the gravel company issues includes a statement that if the customer is not satisfied for any reason, they simply do not pay for the line item and they do not need to return it. It is easy to imagine how a “short paid” invoice provides enormous incentive to fix quality or delivery problems immediately, thus moving Granite Rock toward its goal of customer satisfaction. Granite Rock’s short pay policy, 3M’s 15 percent discretionary time, and Nucor Steel’s production bonus system, all mechanisms designed to incentivize desired behavior, were developed to work within their respective organizations. When the leaders establish goals and build in incentives that reward attainment, the organization moves to achieve them.

· Crafting a Strategy

· The leader must now ask the question, “How are we as a firm going to employ our resources to achieve our goals?” Taking a strategic position means accepting that there will be trade-offs with other positions. It also means choosing what not to do, as well as what to do, because no company can compete successfully in every business segment featuring every variation of product or service. “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,” says Michael Porter, groundbreaking author of Competitive Strategy and creator of the “five forces” model of competition.[6] Tough choices must be made, and the leader must be the one to force the issue.

· But crafting strategy is not all top-down. Gary Hamel asserts that “revolutionary” strategy-making involves getting to the “revolutionaries” who are embedded in every organization and involving them in the strategy-making process.[7] He advocates taking a “diagonal slice” through the organization to pick up these revolutionaries who exist at every level and across every function. Furthermore, the leader should make sure that three kinds of people participate in strategy-making: the young, those who are new to the firm, and those on the “periphery,” that is, the geographic boundaries of the business. Why these people? Because they are the ones—together with those picked up in the diagonal slice—who are certain to have the most revolutionary ideas for the company. They are the ones most likely to challenge the assumptions that the senior managers have all been taught to share. They are the most likely to redefine the industry by challenging its accepted beliefs. Such challenges require an attitude of humility and openness from the leader who crafts strategy for the firm.

· In the end, it is the leader’s job to define the company’s strategic position and make the trade-offs. Instead of broadening into every segment in which profits may be earned, the leader focuses the company on deepening its strategic position and communicates the strategy externally to customers who value it, as well as internally to the firm. Taking a strategic position that delivers value and communicating that value inside and out are the core leadership tasks in crafting strategy.

· Executing the Strategy

· Leaders have primary responsibility for implementing the chosen strategy. While an action plan involves many discrete tasks, at the core the leader must build an organization that can carry out the strategy. The leader builds both an organizational culture and an organizational capability for executing strategy.




· http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/airplane.jpg

· Photo: Julie Elliott




· The “Southwest Spirit”[8] is a positive, fun-loving, can-do approach to the job of flying passengers to their destinations. The company promotes two core values: LUV (love) and fun. LUV, the company’s ticker symbol, has to do with treating employees and customers with courtesy, caring, and respect. Former CEO Herb Kelleher took a different tack than most company executives do by insisting that the employees come first, the customer second. He reasoned that by treating employees well, they would be happier in their jobs and would in turn treat customers well.

· However, it would be naïve to think that Southwest Airlines is successful solely because of a good company culture. Kelleher and his management team drove the company hard to squeeze cost out of every activity, from ticketing through baggage handling, and achieved distinctive capabilities that rivals have not been able to imitate. The Southwest Spirit undergirds this competitive capability with a company culture that, taken together, has made the airline consistently profitable.

· Kathleen Eisenhardt, professor of strategy and organization at Stanford University, maintains that the leader must embed strategy in the organization: choose an excellent team, pick the right roles, and let the rest of the team make the strategic moves. The logic is that if you begin with the right people, you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world because the right people already are adaptable and self-motivated. Indeed, picking the right people is one of the few things that leaders can directly control.[9]

· In industries undergoing rapid change, the organization structure should be kept flexible so that modular business units can be “patched” onto specific market opportunities as they arise.[10] Good organizational patching requires committed “ego-less” leadership from the executive suite down to the business unit level and an organizational culture that encourages and rewards this behavior over empire-building, politics, and turf battles.

· Concepts that provide a simple framework for the leader who would implement good strategy are: (1) embed strategy in the organization’s culture while focusing the organization on a few key strategic capabilities; (2) build a good team, and (3) remember that any strategy is temporary at best, so watch the environment and make adjustments in the organization as needed.

· Evaluating Performance

· How does the firm keep its strategy fresh? By keeping both the organization and its leadership agile. Gary Hamel and Liisa Vlikangas coined the term “strategic resilience” to describe the firm’s ability to continuously anticipate and adjust to trends that can permanently impair the earning power of the company. The goal is a resilient organization that is “constantly making its future rather than defending its past.”[11]

· In the face of rapid change, the firm must conquer denial, nostalgia, and arrogance by cultivating good habits, such as visiting the places where change is taking place and getting to the real ideas and opinions of those who make change. The leader recognizes that even the best strategy decays with time and has to be renewed or altogether reinvented. Competitors, market forces, and technology changes cause such decay. Astute leaders must keep their eyes open in order to accurately and honestly appraise strategy decay as it occurs.

· At the same time, the leader must see that there is an adequate supply of options that can be cultivated into full-fledged strategies to replace the decaying ones. These may start out as small stakes bets; the most promising ones are then selected and funded to full development. The more strategy options that are created in this fashion, the more resilient the firm will be in the face of change. The agile leader must nurture this process of renewal that replaces decay.

· Donald Sull, who teaches at the London Business School, uses the term “active inertia” to describe an organization’s tendency to follow established patterns of behavior in response to a crisis. He maintains that “Success breeds active inertia, and active inertia breeds failure.”[12] Sull theorizes that active inertia is caused by what are essentially good traits that have become fossilized over time so that they no longer serve the company well.

· Can active inertia be prevented? Yes! When a company finds itself challenged in the marketplace, instead of asking, “What should we do?” the leader should pause and ask, “What hinders us?” By reframing the question, the leader shifts focus to the strategic framework, activities, and patterns of behavior that by force of habit can channel energy in the wrong direction.

· However, the leader should not try to change everything at once, since everything is probably not all bad. In trying to uproot everything, managers often destroy more than they create in crucial competencies and social relationships, thereby disorienting employees and alienating customers in the process. As Sull suggests, leaders “should build on the foundation of the past even as they teach employees that old strategic frames, processes, relationships, and values need to be recast to meet new challenges.”[13] The word “recast” sets the right tone for how change should be approached in an historically successful company in which the core values remain constant.

· A company’s strategic vision can shift in subtle ways over time, so the wise leader must consciously re-ask the questions, “What are we all about and where are we going?” and then, “Are we going where we need to go?”

· The Character of the Leader

· What makes a good leader? A leader is someone people follow, but because people follow does not mean that the leader is going in the right direction. History is filled with followers who were willingly led to destruction.

· A good leader lays out a strategy that people will grasp and accept out of trust, then gets everyone working from top to bottom to achieve that strategy. A good leader builds long-term benefit for all of the firm’s stakeholders—customers, employees, and shareholders—not merely short-term “shareholder value.”[14] Good leadership coexists with good character—that is, with the congruence between word and deed we call integrity [15] . Fifty years ago, Peter Drucker wrote regarding integrity:

· For it is character through which leadership is exercised, it is character that sets the example and is imitated in turn….The more successfully tomorrow’s manager does his work, the greater will be the integrity required of him….No matter what a man’s general education or his adult education for management, what will be decisive above all, in the future even more than in the past, is neither education nor skill; it is integrity of character.[ 16 ]

· Much has changed in fifty years, but the integrity requirement remains constant for the business leader who would craft and implement good strategy.


· [1] Drucker, Peter F., “Leadership: More Doing Than Dash,” Managing for the Future (Truman Talley Books/Dutton: 1992).

· [2] Thompson, Arthur A. et al., “Starbucks in 2004: Driving for Global Dominance,” (University of Alabama: 2004).

· [3] Collins, James C. and Porras, Jerry I., “Building Your Company’s Vision,” Harvard Business Review . September-October, 1996. (Also see Collins, James C. and Porras, Jerry. Built to Last, Harper Business, 1994.)

· [4] Collins, Jim, “Good to Great,” Fast Company. October, 51 (2001): p. 90. (Also see: Jim Collins, Good to Great, (HarperCollins, 2001).

· [5] Collins, Jim, “Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms,” Harvard Business Review (1999).

· [6] Porter, Michael, “What Is Strategy?” Harvard Business Review. November-December, (1996).

· [7] Hamel, Gary, “Strategy as Revolution,” Harvard Business Review. July-August, (1996).

· [8] Thompson, Arthur A. and Gamble, John E., “Southwest Airlines – Culture, Values, and Operating Practices,” (University of Alabama, University of South Alabama: 2003).

· [9] The authors recommend Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Crown Business: 2002), as an excellent source for an in-depth examination of executing strategy. See Chapter Five on the topic of selecting the right people for the right jobs.

· [10] Eisenhardt, Kathleen M., “Has Strategy Changed?” MIT Sloan Management Review: Winter (2002).

· [11] Hamel, Gary and Vlikangas, Liisa, “The Quest for Resilience,” Harvard Business Review: September (2003).

· [12] Sull, Donald N., “Why Good Companies Go Bad,” Harvard Business Review: July-August (1999).

· [13] Ibid, p. 52.

· [14] For a fascinating discussion on the connection between the leader’s character and long-term market performance, see Jim Collins, Good to Great (HarperColllins: 2001), Chapter 2, “Level 5 Leadership.”

· [15] Badaracco, Jr., Joseph L. and Ellsworth, Richard R., Leadership and the Quest for Integrity. (Boston: Harvard Business School Press: 1989): 98-99.

· [ 16 Drucker, Peter, The Practice of Management. (Harper & Row: 1954): 157 and 378.

· About the Author(s)

· James N. Fuller, MBA , works as a software project manager in a financial services company specializing in eCommerce applications. He has over 20 years of IT operations and systems development experience as a line manager, systems engineer, consulting manager, and project manager. Prior to his current position, he has worked in defense and commercial aerospace, software consulting, and entertainment industries. Since 1991, Fuller has volunteered service to nonprofit schools in Los Angeles and northwestern Cambodia, focusing his efforts on development. Fuller graduated in December 2004 from the Graziadio School’s Fully Employed MBA program with an emphasis in Global Business.

· Jack C. Green, PhD , is a professor of strategy and department chair of Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Information Systems & Technology Management at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Prior to his transition to academia, he had 28 years of management experience at Weyerhaeuser Company, Pacific Enterprises, and Southern California Gas Company (a subsidiary of Pacific Enterprises). In 1995, he received his PhD from Claremont Graduate University in executive management with an emphasis in strategic management. He was a member of the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission for ten years and was its chairman for five. Dr. Green’s research focus is on governance of nonprofit organizations and on the use of simulations in MBA curricula. His consulting activity focuses on nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses including the use of simulations for Management Training.

· Definition of the term social architect 

The Leader as Social Architect

By Than Lam

The arrival of the 21st century saw a global shift in organizations, especially large multi-national ones. There was a demonstrable shift from an industrialized base to a knowledge-based organization. Bell (1978) identified this as a shift to theoretical knowledge and claimed that post-industrial organizations function with a changing social class of workers who are knowledge driven. These workers make contributions to the organization through rapid and informal team-based decision making. These knowledge workers face increasingly complex problems with the emergence of global competition and respond with increased interaction at the team level with the need for increased communications. Leadership theory in the post-industrial organization is changing rapidly from its industrial roots.

The industrial age leader subscribed to the great man theory, emphasizing power and control by the leader under the assumption that great men inherited superior abilities to lead the masses. This theory fits the hierarchical structure of the organization of that era. Power and control rested in the hands of a few men who were in control. The modern shift to an information based paradigm has shifted power to the knowledge holders in the organization and shifted the role of leader in those organizations to more than one individual. The shift away from the great man theory began with the introduction of trait theory in 1990 (Bass, 1990a). This move shifted the research from the inherited abilities of leaders to a more detailed search of the personality and characteristics of leaders. The knowledge-based leadership model is driven by the external environment’s rapid change and the need for the organization to change in order to remain competitive.

The leadership model is evolving into a lateral equitable system. The necessary skills to resolve competitive and complex situations in a rapidly changing environment are dispersed throughout the organization, rather than existing only at the top. Power is shifting from the authority, or positional basis in a hierarchy, to an equitable, power sharing relationship based on knowledge and processing of learning.

The collective purpose  of the organization, as seen by the followers and stakeholders, replaces the blind following of the organization’s leader’s vision. Modern global business is a complex undertaking requiring the meshing of many functional areas of the organization to achieve the goals. The methods used in designing systems and organizations to respond to this challenge are important to an organizations present and future survival. The stakeholders in the organization, as well as those external to it, must see the urgency of resolving the issues that impede the achievement of the goals on a personal basis. The leader achieves this unification through the coalescence of followers into a team that sees the vision, embraces the vision, and achieves collective purpose of goals. Nadler and Hibino (1994) described this shift as a messy process of the stakeholders working out their collective visions.

Transformational leaders are instrumental in the change process that is occurring as result of globalization and the need to respond quickly to competitive pressures (Bass 1990b). These are leaders who are capable of initiating bold strategy. They help followers rise above their narrow focus on their individual jobs or departments to see a broader vision. Transformational leaders motivate followers into action and charismatically model desired behavior. In their leadership process, they transform the organization into a learning operation that is able to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. In doing so, the organization is better equipped to meet challenges.

Through much of the 20th century, leadership theory centered on the creation of well-structured and static organizations with defined boundaries and defined roles. These boundaries facilitated the control of the organization by a relatively few individuals. In recent years, this paradigm is being challenged in an increasing fashion.

With the pace of globalization increasing, the organization of the 21st century is undergoing constant change. At the heart of the ability of the organization to meet this challenge is the modern leader. All employees and stakeholders of the organization are affected by this need to adapt to change. Progress continues to pick up speed, the global marketplace is getting more complex, and the rate of change continues to accelerate.

The only constant is change. Organizations now need to remove their rigid boundaries and maintain fluid functional boundaries that react and respond quickly. This requires a deliberate change in the leadership theories of the 21st century to more of a transformational style. The leadership challenges of today are as follows: a) transform for tomorrow while doing business today, b) manage an uncontrollable change process, c) lead to an unclear destination, and d) deal with disruption.


· Burns, J. M., (1978). Leadership. New York: Harpers.

· Chen., X., & Meindl. J., (1998). How can cooperation be fostered? The cultural effects of individualism-collectivism. Academy of Management Review, 23, 285-304.

· Hofstede, G. (1980). Cultures consequences: International differences in work related values. San Francisco: Sage.

· Kellamn, H. C. (1958). Compliance, identification, and intellectualization: Three processes of attitude change. Journal of Conflict Resolution,2, 51-60.

· Post. J.M., (1986). Narcissism and the charismatic leader-follower relationship. Political Psychology, 7(4), 675-687.

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· Organizational Structures in the 21st Century

Organizational Structures in the 21st Century

Technological change breeds technological change. This is because technological change is a function of knowledge, and knowledge is increasing rapidly. This is a function many things, including:

· larger population (more minds working on problems)

· better tools for research (fast computers, ability to look up other people’s work)

· more knowledge (it takes knowledge to make more knowledge)

The rate of change is itself changing (getting faster) because most innovations are produced not as a result of new knowledge, but of recombinations of old knowledge. And the number of possible combinations increases exponentially with the number of bits being combined. Here is a chart of the number of combinations of things, given that you have 1 thing, 2 things, 3 things, etc. up to 11 things.


Of course, most combinations of knowledge chunks are useless — combining the technology in a hair dryer with the technology for door hinges probably gets you nothing. But if just 1 in one billion combinations produced something useful, the rate of new product innovation would be absolutely staggering. 

So it’s not surprising that when we look at the number of innovations in human societies over the last 250 thousand years, we find very little change for 99% of the that time. By most estimates, there has been as much technological change in the last 250 years as there has been in the preceding 250 thousand years.

So what does this have to do with organizations? Well, for one thing, organizations are strongly affected by the available technology. The fact that transportation, communication and information technologies have changed so much in just the last 50 years has completely transformed how business is done. Two hundred and fifty years ago it took months to get a message from New York to Japan. Today, you can talk to people on the phone, in real time, anywhere on the planet (and a little beyond!). You can get an object, such as a product, into someone’s hands in any major city on the planet in about 20 hours. So now it is reasonable to not only have global customers, but to have offices around the world, and to have organizational functions, like manufacturing or design, spread out across the world.

So, one huge trend of the last 250 years has been globalization — the exponential growth of truly global organizations. The key benefit of global organizations is the ability to exploit regional differences in needs (customers) and production capabilities (worker expertise, costs, government aid, etc.). In addition, the markets in many countries have become largely saturated for many products. For example, to grow the market for televisions in the United States, manufacturers either have convince users to have multiple televisions, or they have to make them obsolete over time, or convince people to have more children, because at this point, virtually every person who could conceivably afford and use a television has one.


Increased globalization has had a number of effects. In combination with changing demographics (e.g., minorities in the US have greater fertility rates, so the share of minorities in the workplace is increasing), globalization is causing a rapid increase in diversity in both the marketplace and the workplace. More than ever, people have to interact with and coordinate with people who are different from themselves on a number of different biological and cultural dimensions. This in turn has meant that employees need new relational skills to succeed. A typical manager at CitiBank has to be able to spend several years at CitiBank offices around the world, and not just places like Europe, but exotic places like Guatemala, or Ethiopia. While in those places, managers have to learn how to work with people that do things differently — do things in ways that are personally repugnant to them.


At the same time, organizations need new coordinating mechanisms to accommodate different kinds of people in the workplace. For example, as more women have entered the workforce, organizations have had to deal with a whole range of issues, including sexual harassment and pregnancy. The response to increased diversity has, in many cases, been increased organizational flexibility. Some organizations allow different workers to have very different work and payment schedules, such as “fast tracks” and “mommy tracks”, full-time and part-time. Many organizations (and workers) have found it convenient to treat some workers as independent consultants rather than employees. In certain occupations, advances in communication and information technologies have enabled “telecommuting” — working at home via computer.


Another effect of globalization is increased competition. Back when national borders effectively sealed off national economies, the major competitors for any given company were usually local. For example, in the car industry, each industrialized country might have 3 or 4 major auto makers, of which one was usually dominant. Splitting up a market among 3 or 4 players, some of whom could be quite weak, was often a less than challenging affair. But once globalization made it possible for companies all over the world to compete, the number of players went up radically, and more importantly, the number of really good competitors (the top players in each national market) went up as well. 

With increased competition comes an even faster pace of change, as each competitor introduces innovations in order to outsell their competitors.


This in turn creates a situation in which organizational response time is at a premium — those organizations that can develop new technologies faster, or which can adapt to changes in the market faster, are the ones that will survive the competition. To maximize response time, organizations have been flattening, downsizing, and networking. Flat organizations make decisions more quickly because each person is closer to the ultimate decision-makers. Smaller organizations are faster because there are simply fewer different things going on — fewer competing goals, fewer people to coordinate, etc.


Organizations that flatten tend to simultaneously encourage horizontal communication among workers. Rather than work through the hierarchy, it is often faster for workers that need to coordinate with each other to simply communicate directly. (It can also lead to chaos — there is a downside.) Such organizations are said to be highly networked.

Another meaning of network organizations refers to their relations to other organizations. Organizations that have downsized to just their core competencies must then outsource all the functions that used to be done in-house. To avoid losing time and effort managing contracts with suppliers, organizations have learned to develop very close ties to their suppliers, so that social mechanisms of coordination replace legal mechanisms, which are slow and costly. In many industries, such as the garment industry in Italy, strong relationships have developed between manufacturers and suppliers (and other manufacturers), so that considerable work is done without a contract and without even working out a firm price.

Network organizations are particularly important in industries with complex products where technologies and customer needs change rapidly, such as in high tech. Close ties among a set of companies enables them to work with each other in ways that are faster than arms-length contracts would permit, and yet retains the flexibility of being able to drop the relationship if needed (as opposed to performing the function in-house).

In summary, the end of the 20th century is seeing a sea change in the way business does business. This contrasts hugely with the relative lack of change that we saw in the first few million years of human history.

Managerial Leadership: Leaders create followers through influence while managers lead people and manage things (overlap is the skills needed to lead people to do things)


· Manage or Lead or do Both

Leading Teams:   Many of our students may have this type of leadership job already. They may be team leaders with some leadership tools necessary.


· Team Leader vs. Supervisor Responsibilities

Team Leader vs. Supervisor Responsibilities

by Stacy Zeiger, Demand Media 

Team leaders help ensure team members work together and stay on task.

Team leaders help ensure team members work together and stay on task.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Many companies have begun appointing team leaders to relieve supervisors of some of their responsibilities and save money. While team leaders are placed in roles of responsibility, their responsibilities are not usually as extensive as those in supervisory positions. Team leader positions often do not come with extra pay, as the benefit often lies in the prestige of being selected for the position, although some companies may provide team leaders with stipends or bonuses for the extra work.

Team Leader Responsibilities

A team leader guides a group of employees as they complete a project. This includes developing a timeline for the project and delegating the individual components to members of the team, including himself. He often provides information to a supervisor or updates the company on the team’s progress in meetings or through regular email contact or reports. Should a conflict arise, the team leader must work with team members to solve the conflict quickly and effectively. If a project falls off track or fails, the team leader often takes the blame for the failure because he is responsible for seeing that it succeeds.

Supervisor Responsibilites

Supervisors typically head a department of employees or an outlet of a business. These individuals are involved with overseeing the quality of employee performance, resolving conflicts within the workplace and completing mostly administrative tasks. A supervisor may also be directly involved with the hiring and firing of employees. Whereas a team leader often does the same level of work as the members of his team, a supervisor is in a higher position of authority and completes different tasks. Should a project he helps supervise fail, he is not held as responsible as a team leader or individual members of the project team.

Related Reading: Role of a Team Leader in Retail

Resolving Conflict

Both supervisors and team leaders have a role to play in conflict resolution. A team leader will work to resolve individual conflicts and problems with a specific project or task. A supervisor serves as a mediator when the team leader has difficulty resolving individual conflicts or when team members have a problem with the team leader, such as feeling that he is not listening to their concerns about a project or is engaged in unethical behavior.

Evaluating Employees

A team leader may be required to complete evaluations on the members of his team or verbally provide a supervisor with information about the performance of members of his team. This information from the team leader may be used to guide the supervisor in firing decisions. A team leader may also be asked to sit in on interviews with potential employees and provide input on how that candidate could fit into the company. Supervisors must regularly evaluate team leaders to determine whether to keep them in that position of authority or keep them with the company in general. This may involve asking members of the leader’s team to submit short surveys or comments about the leader to guide the decision.

References (3)

· Government Executive: Supervisor or Team Leader?

· Team Leader Resposibilities; Kenneth Crow, DRM Associates

· UC Santa Cruz: Supervisor’s Basic Responsibilities

About the Author

Stacy Zeiger began writing in 2000 for “Suburban News Publication” in Ohio and has expanded to teaching writing as an eighth grade English teacher. Zeiger completed creative writing course work at Miami University and holds a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in secondary education from Ohio State.

Photo Credits

· Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

· 5 Responsibilities For Leading Elite Teams

Theme #2:  Leading from where you are. It doesn’t depend on where you are in an organization you can lead in any position. The job of the executive leader is to encourage this role for everyone through empowerment, the manager through motivation, and the team leader or supervisor through mentoring, listening, and encouragement.


John Maxwell: Lead From Where You Are

Leadership is not about position; it’s about influence.

October 31, 2010

I’ve taught leadership for over 30 years. And in just about every conference I’ve ever taught, someone has come up to me and said something such as, “I like what you teach about leadership, but I can’t apply it. I’m not the main leader. And the person I work under is, at best, average.”

You may not be a follower at the lowest level of the organization, but you’re not the top dog either—yet you still want to lead, to make things happen and to make a contribution. The reality is that 99 percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organization.

The truth is you don’t have to be the president or CEO to lead effectively. So how do you do it? You learn to develop your influence wherever you are in the organization by becoming a 360-degree leader, where you learn to lead up, lead across and lead down.

What I will share with you over the next two columns comes from my book The 360 Degree Leader. This month I will talk about a few of the myths and challenges that come with leading from the middle.

If I had to identify the No. 1 misconception people have about leadership, it would be the belief that leadership comes from having a position or title. This position myth, that you can’t lead if you’re not at the top, couldn’t be further than the truth. The erroneous thinking of this myth is that leadership is position, not influence.

When potential leaders understand the dynamics of gaining influence with people, they come to realize that position has little to do with genuine leadership. You can lead others from anywhere in the organization, and when you do, you make the organization better. The bottom line is this: Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit. Anyone can choose to become a leader wherever he or she is. You can make a difference no matter where you are.

David Branker says, “To do nothing in the middle is to create more weight for the top leader to move. For some leaders, it might even feel like dead weight. Leaders in the middle can have a profound effect on an organization.”

Second, the destination myth says, “When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead.” These people think that something magical is going to happen when they reach their desired position or leadership destination that will instantly transform them into a leader. Just as an advanced degree from a distinguished university doesn’t qualify you to become successful in life, neither does reaching a certain position in an organization make you a good leader.

If you want to succeed, you need to learn as much as you can about leadership before you have a leadership position. Good leadership is learned in the trenches. Leading as well as they can wherever they are is what prepares leaders for more and greater responsibility. Becoming a good leader is a lifelong learning process.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.” Leading today is what prepares a leader for more and greater responsibility tomorrow.

Now, unless you are the CEO of your organization or own your own company, you face several unique leadership challenges. That’s true for anyone trying to influence others from the middle of the pack.

One of these is the fulfillment challenge: Leaders like the front more than the middle. The key to successfully navigating the fulfillment challenge? It’s not natural for a good leader to want to “stay put.” Leaders want to be in front leading. That is a healthy desire, but a leader in the middle has to know how to channel it.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying about the view from the middle of the pack. It’s said that when you’re the lead dog, your view always changes. If you’re not the lead dog, you always face the same. But the truth of the matter is that the dog in front of the pack isn’t the leader. The person driving the sled is—and that individual is actually in the back.

How do you become fulfilled in the middle of the pack? How do you develop an attitude of contentment and fulfillment right where you are? See the big picture. Start by doing the following five things:

1.    Develop strong relationships with key people. The trick to fulfillment isn’t making every interaction with others go smoothly; it comes from developing strong relationships with them. It’s more important to get along with people than to get ahead of them. If you make it your goal to reach out to others and build relationships with them, you’ll derive fulfillment wherever you are. 2.    Define a win in terms of teamwork. Coach Wooden said: “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” In other words, teamwork is what creates success, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. One player may be crucial to a team, but one player cannot make a team. That is also true of leaders. One leader, no matter how good, does not make a team. 3.    Engage in continual communication. As you interact with your leaders, let them know how you are advancing the vision. Get their feedback and ask questions to find out if there are other things you should know to more effectively pass on the vision to others. 4.    Gain experience and maturity. Maturity doesn’t come automatically. My friend Ed Cole often said, “Maturity doesn’t come with age. It begins with the acceptance of responsibility.” 5.    Put the team above your personal success. When the stakes are high, good team members put the success of the team ahead of their own personal gains.

In all my years of leadership teaching and consulting, I have never observed an organization that had too many leaders. Organizations never have enough! Anyone tempted to believe their organization has enough leaders must mistakenly think that only positional leaders can lead. And since they have a limited number of leadership spots, they think only in terms of filling those positions. But leadership is needed at every level in every area of an organization.

Haven’t you noticed that organizations rise and fall because of leadership? Successful organizations cannot wait until someone gets to the top to start leading. They need 360-degree leaders now. Why? Because they add great value, and they help others to win. And that’s much more important than where they are in the organizational chart.  

Read more articles by John Maxwell or visit the store to purchase his books, CD and DVDs. .

· – See more at: http://www.success.com/article/john-maxwell-lead-from-where-you-are#sthash.ujauXg2m.dpufJohn Maxwell: Lead From Where You Are

· Leading your Boss: Managing Up (YOUTUBE VIDEO)

· Strategy for how to Influence (YOUTUBE VIDEO)


· Participate in week 2 learning activities – Initial response due by Thursday, follow up response due by Sunday.