Leadership: Leaders & Their Role in Organizations

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  • 0:07 What is Leadership?
  • 0:37 Leadership in Organizations
  • 2:18 A Leader's Role
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Expert Contributor
Wendy Kwong

Wendy has an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University in Canada. She has over 10 years of teaching and accounting experience.

Leadership is the action of leading employees to achieve goals. It plays an important role in employee performance and productivity. Learn about how leaders influence employee behavior in this lesson.

What is Leadership?

Have you ever wondered what the magic is behind a successful organization? In this lesson, we will uncover the importance of good leadership and the role it plays in the success of an organization. Leadership is the action of leading people in an organization towards achieving goals. Leaders do this by influencing employee behaviors in several ways. A leader sets a clear vision for the organization, motivates employees, guides employees through the work process and builds morale.

Leadership involves leading others toward achieving clear goals.

Leadership in Organizations

Setting a clear vision means influencing employees to understand and accept the future state of the organization. A unit of young soldiers may not believe in a particular mission ordered by their commanding officer. A good leader will influence the soldiers to perform their duties by explaining the vision and the importance of their role in the outcome. The soldiers will be more apt to follow.

Motivating employees means to find out enough about the needs and wants of employees, giving them what they need and providing praise for a job well done. Being far from home is lonely for a young soldier. A good leader knows this and will communicate with his unit to learn more about their needs and wants. It may be as simple as giving the soldiers a sweet treat for their efforts.

When guiding employees, it is important to define their role in the work process and provide them with tools needed to perform and participate in their efforts along the way. Some military maneuvers are difficult. Often, orders are to perform tasks that involve intricate details, like explaining how to dig a tunnel past enemy lines. A good leader will explain the tasks, provide the digging tools, direct the work and be available to assist the soldiers if they run into a problem.

Building morale involves pulling everyone together to work towards a common goal. Let's face it - fighting in a war is stressful. Soldiers are often placed in high-stress situations. This can cause the unit to lose their focus or, worse yet, shut down emotionally. A good leader will let the soldiers know how much their work is appreciated. A simple gesture like throwing an impromptu party to recognize the unit's small victories can reignite the soldiers' spirits.

A Leader's Role

A leader's role in an organization can be formally assigned by his or her position, like manager or department head, and it can also be informally assumed by an employee who possesses a certain charisma that attracts others to follow.

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Additional Activities

Writing Prompts about Leadership: Leaders & Their Role in Organizations

Journal Prompt:

Imagine you work at a company that experienced high turnover over the past year for various reasons. The hiring manager realizes that it is difficult to retain staff because of the high demands associated with certain positions and how some managers have wielded authority in the past. Due to your charismatic personality, you can personally connect with your coworkers and are often unanimously chosen as the team leader for projects. Therefore, the hiring manager has approached you for input on how to improve employee morale in the workplace. Write a journal about what ideas and initiatives you would propose to build morale amongst your coworkers.

Short Essay Prompt:

In four paragraphs or less, write a brief persuasive essay explaining whether a millennial would respond better to formal or informal leadership at a workplace. If the millennial is a recent graduate from a post-secondary educational institution, what type of leadership qualities or attributes would he or she view as important? Why would such qualities or attributes encourage the recent graduate to respond better to a direction received from someone in a leadership role?

Discussion Question:

Picture yourself as a new manager for your department made up of a dozen team members. Having worked several years for your current employer, you have the necessary skills and experience to qualify for this recent promotion and new management role. As a manager, how would you set a clear vision for everyone working in your department? Include a discussion about how you would motivate team members in your department and provide them with the necessary guidance to perform their jobs successfully.


Journal Solution:

In order to build morale amongst coworkers, I would suggest starting with arranging a staff meeting to pull staff together with the objective of harmonizing everyone to achieve company goals. The meeting can begin with a short, fun icebreaker activity involving all in attendance to put everyone at ease. By incorporating such an activity, it can help employees and management to connect. If possible, the company could consider providing refreshments during the staff meeting to show appreciation for employees' contributions. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, it is also vital for management to demonstrate that they acknowledge and value the hard work of company staff. For example, management can proactively thank the staff for their efforts and take time to commend them where appropriate. In addition to verbal commendation, management can also express appreciation by helping employees balance the demands of work with their other commitments. The company can emphasize work-life balance by offering more autonomy and flexibility in scheduling where possible as long as employees are still able to fulfill their job responsibilities.

Short Essay Solution:

While individual preferences may vary from case to case, a millennial in general may respond better to informal leadership rather than formal leadership at a workplace. If the millennial is a recent graduate from a post-secondary educational institution, he or she will value leadership qualities or attributes such as trust and confidence. With the absence of hierarchy, a personal connection can potentially be established. When a leader trusts that others will do a good job and has confidence in them, others are empowered to take ownership of responsibilities. Moreover, they will also have confidence in their leader, trusting that the direction provided will bring the best possible results.

Discussion Question Solution:

To set a clear vision for everyone working in my department, I would try to rally the troops by organizing a departmental meeting. During the meeting, I would clearly explain the vision that we are working towards and how the individual contribution of each team member plays an essential role in achieving the outcome. After praising everyone's efforts, I would also try to create an open forum for freely sharing thoughts on what team members need and want to perform their jobs successfully. Based on the feedback and input from the department, I would communicate to staff what training options and professional development opportunities are available to them. To conclude the meeting, I would motivate staff and acknowledge their efforts by getting everyone involved in fun team-building exercises while providing treats for all to enjoy. After the meeting, I would also follow-up with team members individually to ensure they are getting the training and support they need to perform their jobs successfully.

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