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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leading and Learning as a Cure for Pathological Management Styles


Learning organizations are likely to be more successful in developing new methods to compete on the market. Research by Michie & Zumitzavan (2012) furthers the argument that those organizations that foster learning and are managed by learning leaders are more successful than those who are reactive and focused on pathological styles. Learning leadership is progressive, open-minded, humanistic, and goal orientated that results in higher firm development and profits.  

Leadership and learning are two components that come together to foster development. The way in which leaders learn has an impact on how they act as administrators. Those that engaged in all four learning styles action, thinking, feeling and assessing others are more capability of using multiple leadership styles such as challenging, inspiring, enabling, modeling, and encouraging (Brown and Posner, 2001). 

Learning is one way in which organizations can continually renew themselves versus accepting the fate of a rigid decline. According to (Johnson and Scholes, 2002), organizations that are willing to continue learning throughout their lifecycles become more sustainable in the sense that they can adjust to new market trends, structures, and realities. If such organizations are not willing to learn and change they will be eventually crushed under new market realities by more competitive and nimble organizations. 

Leaders have the ability to prime the behavior of their followers. When leaders have a healthy respect for learning they can influence the expectations and behaviors of managers who further impact the social structure of employees. Creating a culture that respects and fosters learning, helps to enhance both the employees’ abilities, as well as the ability of the organization to adapt to market changes. 

The researchers Michie & Zumitzavan (2012), attempted to see how the attributes of managers impacted the learning and leading styles that influence organizational success. Twenty North Taiwanese firms were selected for the overall interviews and questionnaires.  They found that there was no relationship between learning styles and the demographics of the organization or location. In other words, learning leadership is not tied to organizational demographics. The impact of organizational learning styles was influenced by the leadership styles within the organization. 

Effective Organizations: Managers within effective organizations believed that technology and cost reduction were two important factors. However, they agreed that by developing employees skills their organizations could be enhanced. Thus, they sent people to seminars, workshops, training, educational outlets, etc… to improve their skills. They welcomed open opinions, managed workplace problems progressively, delegated for employee enhancement, and continued to forecast the needs of their organizations into the future. 

Less Effective Organizations: Less effective organizations are marked by their short-sighted thinking that focused on day-to-day issues. They were less able to forecast the future of the organization or able to solidify the goals of the organization. They rarely sent people for enhancement training or education and did not do well in managing employee problems. Furthermore, they were not willing to delegate authority and did not encourage employee opinions. 

The research results indicate that short-sighted behaviors, whereby individuals are not learning, are more prone to poor performance. With such results it is important to understand how training and development has an enhanced place in the most successful organizations.  Such training doesn’t need to be formal but does need to encourage constant learning and development to be effective. The learning style of the leaders and their level of expectation setting appear to foster organizational learning. 

Micromanaging leads to poor results and creates a systematic structure that damages the organizations ability to effectively compete on the market. Some have argued that micromanaging is a pathological behavior rooted in the manager’s childhood experiences, perceptions of incompetence, and their inability to think beyond their most immediate needs. Such managers foster fiefdoms in the workplace, manage by fear, and often take credit for others work. Many times their policies, procedures, and departmental approaches are based in the need for self-validation. For investors and executives who desire to see their organization succeed, they should take considerable care in fostering learning within their organizations and limit the advancement of those with the least capacity to lead. New ideas bring opportunities for organizational advancement. Where profits are low, adaptation slow, and employee development under toe….you may just have an abundance of pathological management styles.

Brown, M. and Posner, Z., (2001). Exploring the relationship between learning and leadership.
Leadership and organizational development journal,  22 (5–6), 274–280.

Johnson, G. and Scholes, K.,(2002). Exploring corporate strategy. Essex: Pearson Education.

Michie, J. & Zumitzavan, F. (2012). The impact of learning and leadership management styles on organizational outcomes: a study of Tyre Firms in Thailand. Asia Pacific Business Review, 18 (4).

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