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THE AUTHENTIC LEADER


February 17, 2016
By Robin Bleich

1300 words – MR

The culture manifested within an organization’s values, mission and goals influences organizational effectiveness. Culture encourages and guides members in slowly becoming involved in the positive evolving process, eventually embedding agency qualities into a routine, forcing its way into members’ consciousness.

The culture serves as a basis for behavioural decisions made by employees and executive leaders alike. Influencing an existing culture is possible. Unfortunately, some organizational cultures are corrupt, carrying with them a poisonous and infectious environment. When an existing culture is no longer effective, two functions become impaired and require modification; internal unity and external environmental adaptation.

Weak cultures resist change and in some cases possess low performance levels (). While there are various types of work cultures, these places require ethical applications of leadership. An ethical management process and unified leadership approach realigns employee behaviour and modifies organizational culture to regain unity and environmental stability.

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{Management Process}

Identify the Change: Culture change is a difficult procedure and requires a systematic approach. It begins with an organizational audit, strategic planning and formulation, communication, vision persuasion and culture implementation (). This management process controls the organization and is led by executive level administrators.

The management process is an effective tool in restructuring unethical organizational cultures. An audit will help management determine the best approach to deal with the roles of employees operating in a separate culture and regain unity. Ethics start at the top-level administration. There are moral obligations in being a leader; if the behaviour of top managers is not consistent with the rules and regulations they enforce, other members will notice the inconsistency.

Organizational leaders are expected to define cultural norms and values in their profession, encouraging other members to adopt the same. When there is an imbalance, the intended culture offsets itself from organizational goals. Plan formulation requires a multi-faceted approach for successful culture implementation, recreating and selling a new vision.

Authentic Leadership: For an organization to maintain consistent ethical behaviour and deter its culture from dissolving completely, formulating a new strategy requires managers to uphold the same consistent standard as their subordinates. Personal ethics influence the behaviour of an individual’s decision-making process; when these choices become unethical within an organization, it corrupts the strategy and values in which the organization believes. Authentic leadership is a style best suited to exercise ethics within a corrupt culture (). Leader-follower values, beliefs and visions need to be congruent to operate successfully in any corporate culture.

Exercising transparency demonstrates integrity, increasing trust within a work culture, demonstrating ethical behaviour and encouraging others to follow in this alternate culture. Authentic leaders ensure their actions are consistent with personal and professional ethical platforms, allowing an openness to their introspective quality. For example, this type of leadership method is driven by values, including a requirement for leaders to be visible to employees. Moreover, these leaders possess a strong commitment to organizational goals, values and strategies ().

To operate as an ethical leader in a corrupt culture, the leader needs to ensure consistency on all agency levels. Authentic leaders demonstrate the ability to own up to failures and exercise resiliency. Transparency is important when developing and presenting a new plan.

When modifying a pre-existing culture, executive leaders are to be cognizant of the needs of employees that influence change and support environmental adaptation. The leader of this transformation will need to have superb communicative skills and the ability to persuade members to move forward from status quo. This leader will need to commit time to its members and remain an influence beyond the new achievement.

{Communication & Persuasion – Incorporating a vision}

Leadership Process: While remaining intuitive and transparent to the needs of employees, a leader needs to be able to shift the focus of the corrupt culture from self interest to a collective interest. A visionary leader is required to accomplish this shift.

The leadership process is either transformational or transactional. Transformational processes have visions that inform and express organizations goals, missions and values and are concerned with employee development.

An article in the (“The Effect of Leadership on Follower Moral Identity”),> concludes that transformational leaders develop positive correlations between moral identities through new vision implementation (). Followers are empowered by this leadership behaviour, changing their ethical perspective while enhancing self-efficacy.

A transformational leader is long term, whereas a transitional leader is transitory and the relationship is severed once a transaction is complete (<Cowart, et al., 2014>). Influencing ethical behaviour within a corrupt culture requires ongoing rapport, trust, communication and persuasion.

The transformation process is a valid direction in achieving new organizational objectives, as set out in the planning and formation stage, for a corrupt work culture.

{Consolidating Change}

The Approach: Ethical leadership behaviour is part of a successful culture change; without an approach, the plan to implement leading ethical practices will fail. An organization requiring ethical influence is not remaining status quo; it requires planning, movement and best practices.

A challenge to consider while implementing new leadership strategies is the resistance to change. Recognizing this resistance and the sensitivity of employees is a positive step in creating an articulated vision – a compelling reason for change.

Moral identity is important because it allows corruptive behaviour to subside and ethical morals to develop, thus aligning employees with the new culture. A change process transforms an organization. Consolidating this change requires restructuring the tools used by all employees. For example, tools aiding in the cognitive restructuring process are reward and punishment reinforcements, allowing for positive or negative recognition.

All employee levels are accountable for the results. Positive reinforcement leads to a sense of empowerment for a stronger work ethic and the desire to achieve and better oneself for the company – allowing the opportunity for one to enhance self-efficacy.

Feeling appreciation is an emotional connection, required to establish belief in a vision. Transparency is part of this new toolbox. The transparency of an authentic leader allows for performance levels to be part of the proposed reinforcement, but also the levels of ethical behaviour; the ability to exercise ethical decisions and be rewarded. The change is to set an example, to be the example of the projected vision. Moreover, the cognitive restructuring process also involves the leader’s ability to inspire trust through continued transparency.

A new leader needs to demonstrate integrity for staff to believe in it. They view ethics, values and trust as significant issues for executives attempting to recover a culture from a substantial failure (<Fulmer, 2004>). In essence, the transparency of ethical management processes is significant when attempting to change the focus of the culture to one with a collective interest.

Ethical leadership can survive in a corrupt work culture. The administrative management of an organization are held to a higher standard; managers do things right but leaders do the right thing (). When a organization’s culture is damaged, employees are not united and the environment loses its ability to adapt.

Introducing ethical leadership requires cognitive restructuring, re-establishing trust from the top of the hierarchy down. Using this multi-faceted management approach allows ethical changes, thus reuniting employees and the organizational mission and allowing for environmental stability.

{Bibliography}

Achua, C., & Lussier, R. (2013). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development (5th ed.). Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Boga, I., & Ensari, N. (2009). The Role of Transformational Leadership and Organizational Change on Perceived Organizational Success. Psychologist-Manager Journal 12(4), 235-241.

Cowart, T., Gilley, A., Avery, S., Barber, A., & Gilley, J. (2014 11(3)). Accountability & Ethics. Journal of Leadership, 70-81.

Fulmer, R. (2004). The Challenge of Ethical Leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 33 (3), 307-317.

Weichun, Z., Riggio, R., Avolio, B., & Sosik, J. (2011). The Effect of Leadership of Follower Moral Identity: Does Transformational/Transactional Style Make a Difference? Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 18(2), 150-163.