There are various issues and considerations existing in the leadership literature as the core of the criticism in the literature is that organizations of all sorts (corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations) tend to be over-managed (and, in some cases, over-administrated) and under-led. Reading all the books on leadership today will cover the gamut of Shakespeare to Geronimo. Not to say that these authors, leaders, and thinkers do not have anything good to say about leadership. It is just that the plethora of leadership literature has sent mixed signals to corporate leaders. The only thing we know is the managers may be doing things right but exemplary leaders are doing the right things. If you agree, even slightly, with this concept, then this article is designed, developed, and created for you.
How Would Dwight Eisenhower Guide Our Companies Today?
After WWII, leadership theoretical models stemmed from research based on military leaders and their followers. This was mostly funded by the GI Bill that helped many soldiers pursue academic degrees. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (P.L. 78-346, 58 Stat. 284m), known informally as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). The G.I. Bill offered many opportunities for both scholars and military leaders alike. Military and corporate leadership may merge today. Military leaders often provide what is called “Top Cover” flying above their followers to ensure their mission is a success. Submarines travel with pilot ships to guide them. This is what corporate leaders need to do.
One example of this comes from Dwight Eisenhower, a military leader and the 34th president of the United States, who effectively led both the American government and the Allied Forces in Europe in defeating Adolf Hitler. Eisenhower’s leadership can provide lessons for top management executives in today’s organizational challenges. For example, he argued that successful leaders must care for their people as individuals, always remain optimistic, and place themselves with and for the people. Hitler has been posited as a charismatic leader as he converted many brilliant people to follow him but the difference with his leadership style is that he represents the “Black Hat” of leadership. A leadership status that is not only a failing platform but one that represents destruction as opposed to innovation and expansion.
What Did Teerlink, Jobs, Gates, and Bezos Learned About Leadership?
Investors recognize the importance of corporate leadership. A good leader can turn a weak business plan into a success, but a poor leader can ruin even the best plan. One example of this comes from CEO Rich Teerlink, who dramatically changed Harley-Davidson in the 1980s, and fundamentally built a different organization that still prospers today. The success of leadership at the Harley-Davidson Corporation has stood the test of time. For example, Harley-Davidson’s leadership created a more effective organization built upon three primary principles, focusing on people, challenging norms, and continuing to fundamentally change. At Harley, every employee can participate in leadership decision-making.
Another example of corporate leaders in a highly competitive environment is Steve Jobs, former leader of Apple, who built a highly effective organization through taking a change-oriented leadership approach, which highly manifested itself in talent, product, organization, and marketing. As a result, leadership, being the core of management, is crucial to a company’s success—-both from a performance and management level.
As corporate leaders attempt to manage people they find that intellectual capital is in the forefront of success—Bill Gates, as an exemplary leader, once mentioned that if he lost his top 50 people that he would not have an organization anymore. Corporate leaders develop organizational communications aimed at providing valuable resources for all organizational members. They enhance knowledge sharing among intellectual capital and stipulate knowledge to be shared around the organization. Sharing the best practices and experiences could positively impact some aspects of non-financial performance such as innovation, providing learning and growth opportunities for employees. Empowered employees can enable organizations to actively respond to environmental changes, which can, in turn, enhance performance in terms of return on assets and return on sales.
Corporate strategy can be also employed by incredibly successful leaders, such as Jeff Bezos, to enhance goal achievement. Executives are already aware that successful organizations enhance their competitiveness by focusing on corporate strategy. Leaders find that corporate strategy is in the forefront of success. The corporate strategy could be the most important component of success in this ever-changing business environment of today. This, by far, is why some organizations are successful and some are not. The key take-away for executives is that corporate strategy is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.
Evidently, executives that implement the corporate strategy as an important driving force for business success find their organization to be more competitive and on the cutting edge. Thus, the effectiveness of corporate strategy implementation is determined by a set of critical success factors, one of which is the strategic dimension of corporate leadership. And the burden of success when the implementation of corporate strategy is concerned is heavily dependent on the capabilities of the organization’s leaders. Therefore, the outcome is success which narrows the gap between success and failure and this can be achieved by corporate strategy implementation and facilitated by an executive acting as a leader.
The evidence from these examples suggests that leadership is highly demanding at the corporate level. For organizations to achieve a sustained change and eventually a higher degree of efficiency and effectiveness, selecting a great corporate leader is the key to success. In the absence of leadership, organizations lose their required direction to achieve a high degree of hyper-competitiveness, and cannot implement successful change in order to adapt to today’s global business environment.
Many executives are familiar with leadership surveys developed by scholars and this article is not about measuring aptitude or defining leadership styles. It is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives worldwide. This article raises a vital question as to how executives can effectively lead companies in today’s global market environment. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with the real-world application through thoroughly looking at the best examples for leadership. Executives can now see that leaders can make a fundamental change in the processes by which business organizations serve their clients. And success can be more effective when leadership is applied to change attitudes and assumptions. Without a grasp on this one tenet executives are bound to fail.