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The Role of Leadership in Business

Written by on 08 September 2010

Leadership - a thorny issue?

The study of leadership is in the ascendancy. In the last 50 years, the proliferation of research and leadership theory has gathered pace. Each year, new management books are published with advice as to how to become a better leader and how to lead an organisation through a difficult time. But why does the study of leadership cause such controversy, and why are we so interested in the subject of leadership now?

Globalisation - uncertainty of the contemporary environment

Increasingly, national economies are becoming interwoven within the world’s global economy. The recent international economic crisis demonstrated just how interdependent our global financial organisations had become and yet how dependent our society had become on maintaining these organisations. The increased levels of international trade have increased the complexity and volatility of the world’s economic environment.

Framework for the contemporary context

Not only has the global economy driven a number of key issues, but also, we have witnessed some emerging “thematic trends”. These trends - such as the availability of water, environmental uncertainty, interstate and intercultural conflict, - have all contributed to making the contemporary business environment more complex. The speed of information exchange has also ensured that the international context is becoming more convoluted and volatile.

The burden of leadership

The pace of change in the global economy is placing a burden on our business leaders. Some of the world’s largest organisations found their leaders wanting during the recent dramatic events of the international crisis. Although some business commentators have tried to justify this inertia as understandable due to the unprecedented events of those uncertain months, is this fair?

The role of business leadership

Being a business leader is not to manage the organisation in sedate times, it is to lead the organisation when the answers are not clear, where risk and uncertainty overwhelm other members of the team. It is not the role of the business leader to provide the definitive answer but to provide leadership and direction between the decisions. Our leaders need to engage the whole organisation, provide direction and facilitate a culture of confidence that enable all members of the organisation to search for answers and sources of innovation.

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