Leadership Effectiveness for the Twenty-First Century

Introduction

As
we move steadily through the first few years of the twenty-first
century, it is only natural to reflect upon the most significant
events of the twentieth century, and look ahead at what awaits
us, particularly the next few years. Perhaps one of the largest
groups of people pondering the future is the business community.
Given all of the technological changes which occurred during
the twentieth century, corporations have had to endure almost
non-stop change to remain competitive in the global market.
Open any history book to see the political changes…the end
of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration
of the Soviet Union…or the social changes…the development
of the entertainment industry with things like the television,
VCR, compact discs, personal computers, and the Internet…and
the economic changes…the global economy, instant communication
for business purposes, planes, and even the beginning stages
of video-conferencing.

Combine
everything and one can see the unprecedented changes which
have influenced business all over the world. The reality of
the world-wide economy and the proliferation of information
and technology has made corporations large and small begin
competing in a whole new manner. As a result, effective management
skills and leadership often determine whether or not a company
will survive. Open any business journal or trade magazine
and the myriad of articles talking about how to stay afloat
amid the flood of changes is overwhelming.

In
addition to businesses being forced to deal with a changing
society, education has also had to confront changes. One issue
involves the public desire for strong results in the end product
of children (Berry, 1997). According to Blankstein (1992),
the structures schools use to manage daily operations need
to be updated and changed in order to be relevant and meaningful
in today’s society. Blankstein also argued that without creating
a framework and structure for educational systems, all of
the current practices in schools are simply individual programs
which function ineffectively. While dealing with the above
management and organizational issues, school must also focus
on the need to graduate students capable of leadership in
a diverse and changing society (Seitz & Pepiton,1996).

As
we look toward the future, we must reflect on the past, evaluate
what has worked and begin plans for the twenty-first century.
What will leadership effectiveness mean in the next millennium?
Perhaps the best way to begin a conversation on this subject
is to turn to the greats in management theory–Deming, Shewhart
and Greenleaf. By examining different perspectives regarding
effective leadership and combining the best aspects of each
person, a mixture of philosophies and practices should emerge
which can continue to change with the times.

Review
of the Literature

A
review of the literature reveals countless articles regarding
total quality management (TQM), effective management, quality
controls, employee empowerment and servant leadership. Articles
have been written applying these ideas to areas which include
everything from education (Berry, 1997; Blankstein, 1992;
Napier, Sidle, Sanaghan, & Reed, 1988; Scholtes, 1997;
Seitz, & Pepiton, 1996) to government (Levin, 1996, Scholtes,
1997) and even sports (Ho, 1997). What do all of these things
mean? What do the philosophies and methods have in common?

Total
Quality Management Concepts

On
a very basic level, all of the ideas revolve around a few
concepts. First of all, management officials should always
act as leaders within their organization. It is the opinion
of the author that true leaders always give 100%, stick to
their beliefs, act for the good of their people/organization,
and accept the consequences of their actions. Managers acting
as leaders inherently produce quality products, interact with
employees in a positive manner and create a healthy working
environment based upon mutual trust. Furthermore, leaders
should always strive to bring out the best in people and encourage
the constant growth of every individual within the company.
Naturally, the leader must hold himself/herself accountable
to the same standards as the employees. If leaders create
a vision for their company and their people, and then take
the necessary actions to achieve their goals, businesses will
prosper in the years to come. On the other hand, as Scholtes
(1997) said, “if leaders don’t understand and lead systems,
organizations and communities will forever falter and will
probably not survive” (p 49).

Officially
speaking, the ideas mentioned above are all found in the theories
which exist in the business journals. For example, take the
total quality management approach. According to Grandzol,
& Gershon (1997), TQM can be best defined as, “a
holistic approach to running an organization such that every
facet earns the descriptive quality” (p 44). Every facet
obviously refers to a slew of other topics. Anderson, Rungtusanatham,
& Schroeder (as cited in Grandzol, & Gershon in 1997),
found seven guiding principles which repeatedly occurred in
the research of TQM: leadership, continuous improvement, internal/external
cooperation, customer focus, learning, employee fulfillment,
and process management. Each of the above mentioned principles
may be broken-down into the categories listed below.

For
example, in a broad sense, leadership refers to the clarity
of vision and the long-range orientation of the leader. It
also includes management through a coaching or participatory
style. Furthermore, leadership covers topics such as employee
empowerment and the planning/implementing phase of change.
The continuous improvement component allows for the refinement
of ideas and specific improvements to be made to the final
product or service. In addition, cooperation must be collaborative
between individual employees and teams of coworkers. The ultimate
goal of cooperation is to operate from an organization-wide
perspective where the entire business functions as one system
based upon trust and not fear. In terms of education, this
means schools need to focus on: implementing long-term planning,
addressing turnover rate of management (principals and superintendents),
eliminating arbitrary goals/quotas, revising the current appraisal
process of teachers, studying merit pay for teachers, and
reducing fear among educational participants (Blankstein,
1992).

Of
course, businesses should always focus on the customer–all
actions should ultimately be based upon what the end result
provides the customer. One of the ways in which customer driven
focus occurs is through the continual process of learning
among corporation employees. The training provided through
the company enhances employees’ foundational knowledge as
well as process knowledge. The resulting educational development
and continuous self-improvement of all employees enables the
business team to better serve the customer. In fact, the training
and development often leads to an increased level of employee
fulfillment (job satisfaction, commitment, and pride).

Once
again turning to education, Berry (1992) indicated schools
must begin being considered as service organizations concerned
with the needs of their clients/customers. As a result, Berry
argued schools must actively provide both employees and students
with services in the areas of educational programs, advice,
care, information and opportunities for specific skills training.
More specifically, Berry stated a TQM approach should include
the following areas: leadership roles, development of vision,
management by fact, team building, human resources, bench
marking, cycle time reduction and customer focus/satisfaction/measurement.
Unfortunately for educators, Berry also pointed to barriers
which face educators when applying TQM practices to school
systems: philosophical barriers, unclear relationships between
TQM and improved learning outcomes, difficulties with statistical
analysis, the customer/supplier relationship, customer-defined
quality concept, the industrial culture in education, the
introduction/development process and the inspection/evaluation
process.

Finally, the last component of qualities associated with TQM
revolves around the concept of process management. The managers
of a business are directly responsible for prevention of mistakes
and reduction in mass inspections. Management must focus on
the company’s design quality and statistical control. The
managers and leaders are required to understand the concept
of variation and be able to use the idea to eliminate numerical
quotas and merit ratings. Furthermore, management must truly
understand motivation and be able to direct employee motivation
toward cutting total costs within the company and maintaining
a stable level of employment among the workers. All of these
ideas constitute the seven indicators of total quality management
(as described by Anderson, et al., 1994 and cited by Grandzol,
& Gershon, 1997)…but where did these ideas originate?

Deming,
Shewhart, and Greenleaf

It
is important to backtrack to the works of W. Edwards Deming
and Walter A. Shewhart. Both men were classical American pragmatists
(Lovitt, 1997) that believed, “knowledge is grounded
in hard, measurable data” (p 99). Deming viewed businesses
as systems designed to please the customers. In order to please
the customer, Deming realized that a number of factors must
be addressed. First, the business must clearly identify the
customers and know what they want. Then, the business must
produce quality products that meet the customers’ needs and
desires. In order to do this effectively, the business must
function as a system of interrelated processes working at
optimal performance. Deming based his standards of optimization
on the work of Shewhart. Levels of acceptable variation could
be determined based upon the data collected by the business
(Roehm, & Castellano, 1997). A key component of this view
is the idea that when the system was not functioning at the
correct level, management officials need to find the cause
and solve the problem. Deming even modified Shewhart’s work
to create a method for problem solving to aid in this procedure.
The PDSA cycle (plan-do-study-act) refers to the process by
which people learn and improve (Lovitt, 1997).

Already
one can see the relationship between the unofficial definition
of leadership and the works of the Deming and Shewhart. If
every employee at a given business focuses on expending 100%
effort and takes pride in their work, then it naturally follows
that the corporation would run at optimum levels and produce
high quality items. When the leader treats everyone with respect
and creates an atmosphere of trust, then employees will be
able to work towards continuous improvement, personal growth/development,
and learn. Few employees would be able to argue they were
unfulfilled! Even the customers would feel well taken care
of when they bought quality products which served their needs
and met high standards.

Before
continuing with more details about Deming and Shewhart, take
a moment to relate Robert Greenleaf’s work to effective leadership
in the twenty-first century. Greenleaf’s concept of servant
leadership focuses on putting the needs of others above one’s
own needs. A leader concerns himself/herself about the employees,
the customers, and the community as the number one priority.
One knows he/she is truly adhering to servant leadership when
the people being served grow as individuals, are happy, and
become more autonomous. Perhaps the best reward is when someone
you have served takes on the role of a servant leader (Spears,
1994). Once again, these ideas fit with the first concept
of leadership–leaders strive to bring out the best in people
and encourage constant growth. This level of commitment and
service, if sincere, would enable businesses to prosper in
the twenty-first century.

Now
that general ideas have been discussed, a closer look at Deming’s
work seems appropriate. One of the goals of Deming’s TQM movement
was to create a culture for change within an organization.
In order to create change, the head of the company must commit
to the hard work of developing a vision which the employees
will embrace. Deming created the following philosophical platform/framework
of fourteen quality management points: (1) create constancy
of purpose; (2) adopt a new philosophy; (3) stop mass inspections;
(4) end price-tag contract awards; (5) improve constantly;
(6) institute training; (7) institute leadership; (8) drive
out fear; (9) break down barriers; (10) eliminate slogans;
(11) eliminate quotas; (12) remove barriers to pride in work;
(13) education/re-training courses; (14) action (Berry, 1997).
These fourteen steps are not in any particular order but reflect
the ideas of Deming.

Other
researchers have rearranged the order of the fourteen points
so that the points stress the commitment employers have to
employees (Roehm, & Castellano,1997). Still others have
chosen to focus on specific elements of Deming’s work. For
example, Ward (1997) zeroed in on the issue of implementing
employee empowerment. In the case of Blankstein (1992), five
of the points were connected to school related concerns. Additionally,
Lo (1997) used seven points to address issues related to major
changes within the philosophy of the organization. The bottom
line is that Deming’s work provides enough information to
effectively manage while at the same time, provides enough
flexibility to tailor the fourteen points to fit the needs
of a specific situation.

As
businesses experience the changes that will occur as time
goes by, it is important to continuously apply the PDSA model.
If businesses make it a habit of planning their course of
action, implementing the ideas of Deming, Shewhart, and Greenleaf
and studying the results, then corporations will be able to
act in the best possible manner to achieve customer demands.
When management follows the guidelines and applies 100% of
their efforts to achieving company goals, serving the needs
of employees/customers/community members, then the corporations
will be able to keep up with the changes and survive in the
new millennium.

Summary
and Conclusion

In
closing, businesses and schools throughout the world should
practice the leadership effectiveness models currently outlined
by Deming’s fourteen points, the PDSA learning cycle, and
the servant leadership paradigm of Greenleaf. When applied
in a consistent manner by individuals committed to working
with 100% effort and organized by people in leadership positions
willing to adhere to their beliefs, then success should follow.
The key is for the leaders to act in manners consistent with
the best interests of their people/organization. Of equal
importance is for the leadership team to accept the consequences
of their actions–both good and bad. Through modifying the
process and eliminating sources of inappropriate variations,
managers will facilitate the production of quality products.
Furthermore, employees will work within a positive, healthy
working environment. The high level of mutual trust combined
with the encouragement of leaders to pursue constant growth
will empower employees to actively participate in the entire
business process. With sound vision, people, and methods,
companies will achieve their goals, businesses will prosper,
and everyone will win together. In terms of education, students
will be prepared to enter the work force and educational professionals
will experience benefits similar to those in business. Leadership
effectiveness in the twenty-first century will ideally be
characterized by impeccable customer service, employee loyalty,
high standards, and individual growth.

References

Anderson,
J. C.; Rungtusanatham; & Schroeder, R. G. (1994). A theory
of quality management underlying the Deming management method.
The Academy of Management Review, 19(3), 472-509.

Berry, G. (1997). Leadership and the development of quality
culture in schools. International journal of Educational Management,
11(2), 52-64.

Blanksetin, A. M. (1992). Lessons from enlightened corporations.
Educational Leadership, March 1992, 71-75.

Grandzol, J. R.; & Gershon, M. (1997). Which TQM practices
really matter: An empirical investigation. Quality Management
Journal, 4(4), 43-59.

Ho, S. H. (1997). Problem solving and the Euro ‘96. Management
Services, January 1997, 10-12.

Levin, W. J. (1996). Could a dose of Deming transform government?
Journal for Quality and Participation, January/February 1996,
56-61.

Lo, W. (1997). Application of Deming’s principles in the management
of change–a Hong Kong experience. The TQM Magazine, 9(5),
336-343.

Lovitt, M. R. (1997). The new pragmatism: Going beyond Shewhart
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Napier, R.; Sidle, C. C.; Sanaghan, P.; & Reed, W. S.
(1998). Metamorphosis: Creating the capacity for change. NACUBO
Business Officer, January 1998, 18-28.

Roehm, H. A.; & Castellano, J. F. (1997). The Deming view
of a business. Quality Progress, 39(2), February 1997, 39-45.

Scholtes, P. R. (1997). Communities as systems: Americans
need to pick up where W. Edwards Deming left off. Quality
Progress, July 1997, 49-53.

Seitz, S.; & Pepiton, S. (1996). Servant leadership: A
model for developing college students. Metropolitan Universities,
Summer 1996, 113-122.

Spears, L. C. (1994). Servant leadership: Quest for caring
leadership. Inner Quest, 2, 9-13.

Ward, J. A. (1997). Implementing employee empowerment. Information
Systems Management, Winter 1997, 62-65.


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