I have realized that organizations face many challenges than I expected. I thought that organizations can operate with minimal challenges, and that the success of any organization is determined by the internal stakeholders. However, after learning this course, I have realized that there are many internal and external forces which affect the performance of an organization. The internal environment consists of employees, managers, shareholders and others (Pfister, 2009, p. 132). The course has improved my understanding of challenges facing organizations in modern environment.
The challenges facing organizations are unique but there are general challenges. Each organization has its own challenges, and this is determined by the internal and external forces. I concur with the concept that organizations have unique challenges because each organization has its own mechanisms and strategies. Therefore, there is need for managers to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the goals have been achieved despite the challenges experienced in the environment. Schermerhorn (2011, p. 416) opines that managers have an obligation to control all factors affecting an organization.
Internally, organizations face the challenge of attracting retaining professionals (Cronin, National Research Council (U.S.)., National Cooperative Highway Research Program., American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials., & United States 2011, p. 75). There is a high demand for professionals, and attracting such people requires good strategies. The few professionals I have interacted with have explained that professionals have different needs which should be satisfied. An organization that fails to satisfy the needs of its employees experiences a high labor turnover. This affects the performance of such organization because a fluctuation in employees affects the profits. My friends have explained that employees should be motivated for them to work effectively. Motivation can be defined depending on the intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. The intrinsic aspect of motivation includes recognition, positive feedback and offering moral support. I think that intrinsic motivation is free and managers should be humane when handling employees. The extrinsic motivation aspect deals with the monetary factors and work environment. Employees need attractive remuneration packages. In addition, the work environment should be safe (Martín-Pérez, Martín-Cruz & Estrada-Vaquero, 2012, p. 418).
Kalkan (2008, p. 390) provides that managing knowledge in an organization is a major challenge that organizations face today. Knowledge management involves education employees and continuous training so that they can have updated skills. I understand that knowledge management is a major challenge because organizations need to balance between achieving goals and training employees. Most organizations focus on goal achievement and fail to realize that improving the skills of employees is also important.
The external factors which affect organizations include political aspects, economic changes, social-cultural structures and technological aspects. In the modern days, politics plays a major role on the policies, business environment and resource allocation. I understand that government policies are controlled by the political class. Organizations are always affected when politicians implement strategies. For example, developing a tax policy can cause an organization to pay large amount of money to the exchequer. I acknowledge that technology is a factor that has affected many organizations. Today, innovations have been major success factors. In addition, the society affects an organization because people live in communities which have different cultures. These cultures must be obeyed, otherwise an organization can fail. Economic changes also affect the performance of organization (Tum, Norton & Wright 2006, p. 37). Lussier 2012, p. 56) adds other external factors that affect an organization. The author explains that the suppliers, customers, and competitors affect the performance of an organization.
b) The role of leaders and managers.
In the past, I thought that leadership is similar to management and I could interchange the two words to refer to the same aspect. However, after learning this topic, I have realized that the two aspects have a big difference. Managers follow the rules and regulations which are established and they avoid introducing new ideas. The concept of management has been embraced to ensure that rules and regulations of an organization are followed. I understand that managers follow all details so as to achieve the objectives.
Hay and Hodgkinson (2006, p. 145) explain that leadership involves taking risks, developing new ideas and influencing people to achieve the goals. Leaders implement strategies depending on the prevailing conditions. Managers are involved in the process of planning, organizing and controlling activities in an organization. In addition, managers coordinate activities to ensure that all departments are harmonized. They issue directions to ensure an organization focuses on a certain issue. This helps to avoid derailing the goals and objectives which have been established (Coleman & Glover, 2010, p. 1).
I have realized that the two concepts are important in an organization because they promote organizational success. Dover and Dierk (2010, p. 50) opine that managers and leaders can work together successfully. Leaders develop ideas, while managers implement the strategies. I feel that this is achievable because each person needs other people, and success cannot be achieved when a single person is allowed to make decisions. As human beings, leaders and mangers make mistakes, and the errors can be corrected when checks and balances are established (Mitchell & Casey, 2007, p. 2).
According to Lyons (2005, 5), leaders and managers play a major role in the competitiveness of businesses. The market environment has been competitive, and there is need for leaders and managers to develop innovative strategies. Innovation is a major aspect that has been associated with leadership and management. I understand that employees need resources to develop innovation. Managers provide resources to employees so that innovative products can be developed. On the other hand, leaders need to provide a vision, a dream and motivate all stakeholders so that the goals can be achieved. Companies which have developed innovative products have achieved a lot of success despite the turbulent economic environments (Zacharias & SpringerLink 2011, p. 1).
For example, Apple Inc. has developed innovative products such as iPhone, iPad and others. The company has achieved customer loyalty because the products are innovative, and they match the needs of the customers. The success of Apple is attributed to the good management and leadership aspects. The management team provides resources and motivates employees so that they can understand innovation gaps. They develop unique products, and this has improved the competitiveness of the company (“Leading personalities: Jobs, Polet and Gunn” 2008, p. 17). The company managed to overcome competition in the industry because the products were appealing. The company penetrated the market when there were many large companies which had dominated the market. Steve Jobs is said to have facilitated the rapid growth of the company. He was an astute leader, and he improved the performance of the company. Before, Steve Jobs had returned to the management of Apple, the company was performing poorly. This indicates that Steve Jobs managed to manage the organization properly. He was good in leadership because during his reign the company achieved a lot of success (Rufat-Latre, Muller & Jones, 2010, p. 23). I admire the leadership skills that Steve Jobs had because he managed to promote the performance of Apple. The company has gained global acceptance because its products are unique and have high quality.
From a personal perspective, I perceive that leadership is stronger than management because leaders implement strategies depending on the prevailing condition. Situational leadership explains that leaders take action depending on the situations which they encounter. In addition, transformational leadership promotes the performance of an organization because all stakeholders are involved in the decision making process. A transformative leader introduces major changes in an organization, and the changes are focused on improving the performance. I agree that transformational leaders engage all stakeholders in implementing the goals of an organization. This strategy improves cohesiveness and encourages people to participate in improving the performance of an organization (Marshall & Marshall, 2011, p. 16).
I think that leadership is an aspect that is acquired when a person interacts with other people. It is not a talent or a genetic aspect that a person inherits from his/her parents. People with the passion of being leaders can acquire skills through interacting with other leaders, engaging in education forums and participating in different activities which involve influencing people. Therefore, I disagree with the theories which have been developed to explain that leadership is a genetic aspect. I can mention people who have become leaders despite the environment or parental background. An example is Steve Jobs who made Apple Company to achieve success in innovations. Bill Gates is another example of a leader who has been very successful. His life shows that leadership is not acquired through classwork. He established Microsoft Company and propelled it to be a global icon. Leadership involves influencing people to achieve the goals that an organization has established. Leaders have followers who use the policies developed to implement the objectives.
Leadership cannot be achieved by participating in a single event. It is a process that involves working with people, and acquiring the knowledge of developing visions. Even though managers acquire skills through academic pursuits, leadership involves participating in education, formal and informal activities. Leadership focuses on skills of interacting and working with people to achieve goals (Dean, G. & Gottschalk, 2013, p. 304). I agree that leadership is a major aspect that is required to steer development in modern organizations. In addition, Bergin (2009, p. 58) explains that integrity is a major aspect that is associated with leadership. I accept this argument because without integrity, it is hard to trust other people.
I have understood that teamwork is an important aspect when people work in groups. According to Rabey (2003, p. 158), teamwork unites all members of a group, and encourages people to work towards achieving common goals. To achieve effective teamwork, I should have good listening skills. Communication is an important aspect in teamwork. People understand each other when communication is efficient. My parents have inculcated listening skills, and I know that I can work with other people in a team.
Setting objectives is the initial stage when developing goals (Gilligan, Richard & Wilson, 2012). An organization that does not set objectives is doomed to fail. This is because failure to established objectives creates confusion and loss of focus. Objectives provide a roadmap to be followed in achieving goals (Peterson, Jaret & Schenck, 2011, p. 223). This theory is related to the philosophy that I uphold. I believe that when a person has no goals and objectives in life, any road can lead anywhere. An organization with no objectives cannot function properly because there is no vision or goals to be achieved.
I am also working on my networking skills so that I can build rapport with people. I have also resolved to develop my listening skills to attend to opinions of other people and understand their points of view. Cooperation as a team skill is something that I must develop. The ability to cooperate within a team is a quality that I should have in any work or life activity. The ability to negotiate to a mutually satisfactory outcome through healthy compromise is also a desired skill.
Personal Development Planning (PDP) involves establishing values, setting goals and developing a person’s career. It also involves improving relationships with other people. I agree with Rigopoulou and Kehagias, (2008, p. 301) because the two authors have explained that universities improve the personal development. When people are educated, the acquire skills to understand aspects affecting them, and this improves their living standards. Education influences positive thinking, and inculcates the culture of thinking broadly. If education never exists, people would not reason properly. Therefore, education contributes towards PDP.
Personal skills audit is a practical exercise in which a person attempts to know their strengths or weaknesses, talents and skills. This happens during personal evaluation to determine how a person can fit within a certain profession. It involves a review of a person’s current skills against the skills that they need for the future careers. It enables a person to know which skills need to be updated through voluntary work or training (Cottrell, 2010, p. 120).
The knowledge and skills that I need for personal development include effective communication, critical thinking and analysis. Effective communication skills will raise my leadership abilities. I can acquire these skills through practicing public speaking, talking to people that I meet, joining a speech training group such as the toastmasters to improve my skills. I am also developing confidence in decision making because a leader is defined by the decision he/she makes. This process requires that I should learn to evaluate the decision by identifying the advantages and disadvantages and develop a strong will power that will assist me in knowing the ethical decisions to make (McManus, 2003, p. 24).
I also need to embrace the skill of being accountable for my decisions. Being accountable will help people to respect me as a leader who takes responsibility and blames no person for my weaknesses. Being accountable is a mark of self-belief and confidence in leadership capabilities (Jackson, Farndale & Kakabadse, 2003, 186). Admitting mistakes will help to develop humility that will and garners receives respect. I have also decided to be positive with my attitude. This will help me to be successful in my work and personal life. A positive attitude will also help me to be inspiring and give my best. Furthermore, optimism is self-determined, and this will also help to develop self-control. I have also resolved to work on my self-presentation through good grooming, being smart and elegant. This will enhance the way I feel about myself and I will improve confidence.
I will also be resolute in developing time management skills to maintain order and organization in my work. This will also mean that my work will be of high quality and this will facilitate being entrusted with bigger and greater responsibilities. Being organized through time management will also mean that I will create more leisure time to spend in my personal development and with my family. This will also mean that I will have to be disciplined enough to avoid procrastination by being focused on my set goals.
The personal skills audit also assists in growing the society as part of the identified skills are needed to challenge discrimination and advocate for social justice. Inspirational and innovative individuals are needed in the efforts of advocacy to create change. Cultural sensitivity is also essential in this regard to creating an environment where people are inspired by the level of care displayed and are moved to act by this concern. Creating individual work plans that will develop and sustain funding raising ventures and other ventures aimed at raising finances for the cause is also integral to the task.
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