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Leadership and Organizational Culture

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In this paper I will discuss the effects and responsibilities leaders have on an organizational culture. I believe leaders have an enormous effect on the well-being of an organizational culture. Leaders must take an active role within their organization’s culture. Whether positive or negative, in an organization, things tend to follow suit “down hill.” A leader has the power and influence to maintain, create, or repair an organizational culture. However, this can prove to be a delicate and challenging task.

When trying to maintain a healthy organizational culture the leader has many factors that he/she must balance. Maintaining a healthy organizational culture may be viewed as an entire strategic operation in itself. A healthy organizational culture is a must for success

within the organization. In this paper I will discuss the leader’s role in making certain that the organizational culture is a healthy.

The Organizational Culture

What is an organizational culture? Every organization has its own unique culture. Organizational culture can be “described as the personality of an organization, or simply as "how things are done around here." It guides how employees think, act, and feel.” (Hansen, n.d., para. 2) Organization culture is a key aspect to the organization’s success or failure. Organizational culture “shapes the way people act and interact and strongly influences how things get done.” (Adeyoyin, 2006, para. 1)

The organizational culture may be shaped and molded through years of perceptions and views. The culture is very difficult to change. Just about every possible factor within the organization in some way molds the culture. From inside factors such as job benefits to outside factors like the surrounding environment, everything is a possible factor in an organizational culture.

These factors may also be described as “artifacts.” Artifacts are the “tangible aspects of an organization that people hear, see, or feel; management style, the way in which managers behave and exercise leadership and authority; organizational behaviour, the way in which people act and interact in the organization, the structure of the organization, the process and systems used in the organization; and, organizational climate, the working atmosphere of the organization.” (Adeyoyin, 2006, para. 4)

These factors that shape an organization culture often seem to evolve naturally among subordinates in an organization. It is vital that the leader know how to manage these factors effectively to ensure a healthy organizational culture.

Perspectives on Relationships between Leadership and Organizational Culture

Upon researching I found a three perspective model showing the relationship between leaders and organizational culture. The first is the “functionalism perspective.” The functionalism perspective basically entails that “a strong culture depends on a strong leader or a strong leader can develop a strong culture. Leaders have choices and can influence the firm through their actions or decisions.” (Zhang, Tsui, Wang, Xin, n.d., p.5) With the functionalism perspective it is believed that the leaders, who are in the head positions, have all the power in molding and changing an organization. There are numerous factors and the leader must know how to manage them.

The second perspective is the “attribution perspective.” With the attribution perspective theorists “argue that the role of leadership is in the mind of the followers, who attribute a person the ability to lead and consider him/her to be the leader.” (Zhang, Tsui, Wang, Xin, n.d., p.6) The idea of the attribution perspective gives less of importance to the individual actions of the leader.

The third perspective is the “contingency perspective.” The contingency perspective “suggests that it is the situation that makes the hero, allowing the leader to influence the organization in various domains, including performance and culture.” (Zhang, Tsui, Wang, Xin, n.d., p.7) Basically the leader is needed more in critical situations which may require leadership, while the remaining time the organization runs as it is accustomed.

Creating and Maintaining a Healthy Organizational Culture

I personally believe that a leader’s influence plays a large role in an organizational culture. However, in organizations with a strong, set culture it may be the culture controlling the leader. This can result in an unfavorable end if the culture becomes unhealthy. These driving forces may include for example, “union behavior.” (Shivers-Blackwell, 2006, p. 1) It is important that the leader does not end up being controlled by the pre-existing

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