By Nguyen Thi Thuong
Fast growing companies have learnt the secret, that in order to stay sustainable and meet their set goals, education is put at the fore front. Having a learning culture in place ensures that employees can sharpen and grow new skill sets, which they can utilize towards the overall growth of the company. Adobe, a leading software company for design professionals, not only employs people from diverse backgrounds but has also created learning opportunities to improve their employee skill sets. In addition, Adobe has award-programs e.g. “Kickbox” that encourages risk taking. Another famous company encouraging learning is Google: It offers flexible schedules to ensure their workers’ creativity and productivity is maximized and also has a diverse group of employees to encourage communication and collaboration, which in return ensures that employees can learn from each other (Top Learning Organizations – 4 Businesses That Do It Right | KnowledgeForce, 2019). This Blog looks at factors of a learning organization, different organizations’ leadership styles and how those impact learning. Lastly, the blog reflects on how a leadership style can influence people management.
Organizations should encourage learning as a culture and not a onetime thing for it to be effective. Leaders need to look into a number of factors that are needed for a learning organization; those include:
- Personal mastery – Leaders should encourage their employees to practice self-leadership as it enables them to understand the company’s vision while coming up with their own. This can be done through development training and self-improvement. It should be part of the daily going.
- Shared vision building – This is an important aspect for an organization. Leaders should share their vision of the company as a way to motivate their subordinates to learn and as a way to give them direction on where the company is heading (Sharma, 2017)
- Team Learning – Builds on personal mastery and shared vision in that it helps align and develop capabilities of a team to come up with solutions or ways that their leaders desire. It focuses on ensuring that individuals in a team communicate and share their ideas in order to grow together.
- Mental Models – These are generalized assumptions and ideas that drive how people view the world and the actions they choose to take. Through learning, individuals need to challenge this set of mental models to promote an open culture that is willing to be innovative and challenge the set norms (Sharma, 2017)
- System thinking – This is a method of thought that is put in place when looking into organizations. It has various methods that can be used to assess the performance of the organization as a whole and that of its different parts (Sharma, 2017)
Organizations and business owners utilize different methods of leadership styles to propel their companies forward. These styles -as will be shown with examples- have enabled large corporations to stay ahead of the competition, welcomed change and grow with changing times:
- Transformational leadership –Starbucks Corporation transformed the coffee industry by giving it a sense of community and it keeps coming up with new and innovative coffee drinks that are loved by their consumer base. (Johnston, 2021)
- Transactional leadership – Bill Gates practiced this style when founding Microsoft Corporation. He encouraged a strict chain of command. Gates often asked his product teams tough questions to see if they understood what the end goal was. (Miller, 2021)
- Autocratic leadership –Tesla and Space X companies lead by Elon Musk: These companies are known to be innovative and come up with products for markets that others do not (dare to) venture into. However, when it comes to innovation, suggestions from other parties are not easily accepted. Instead Tesla and Space X prefer to use the ideas they have (Husain, 2019)
- Bureaucratic leadership – McDonalds Corporation is an ideal example of this leadership: Based on a franchise model, throughout all its franchises the company functions under the same rules and regulations set. Investors seeking to buy a franchise cannot change what is already set and need to adhere to the set standard (Fata, 2021)
The image below summaries how leadership styles impact organisational learning.
Figure 1: How Leadership influences learning organization.
Organizational Innovation is a major challenge for many companies. Fueled by organizational learning and the company’s leadership style, transformational leadership is very appealing when governing a company that operates in today’s fast-paced business setting which requires constant vigilance and innovation. Because it encourages innovation, communication and collaboration among employees, transformational leadership ensures that the whole company can stay competitive and that there is room to grow and become better.
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Johnston, K., 2021. Examples of Transformational Organizations. [online] Small Business – Chron.com. Available at: <https://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-transformational-organizations-23313.html> [Accessed 30 March 2021].
Miller, K., 2021. 10 Transactional Leadership Style Examples, Strengths and Weaknesses. [online] FutureofWorking.com. Available at: <https://futureofworking.com/10-transactional-leadership-style-examples-strengths-and-weaknesses/> [Accessed 30 March 2021].
Fata, E., 2021. 5 Examples of Bureaucratic Leadership | Starting Business. [online] Startingbusiness.com. Available at: <https://www.startingbusiness.com/blog/bureaucratic-examples> [Accessed 30 March 2021].
success, i., 2021. 8 Most Effective Leadership Styles for Organizational Success | Leadership. [online] InsightsSuccess. Available at: <https://www.insightssuccess.com/8-most-effective-leadership-styles-for-organizational-success/> [Accessed 30 March 2021].
iEduNote.com. 2021. Transactional Leadership – Definition, Types, Characteristics, Examples. [online] Available at: <https://www.iedunote.com/transactional-leadership#:~:text=Examples%20of%20transactional%20leadership&text=This%20model%20is%20also%20useful,known%20to%20be%20transactional%20leaders.> [Accessed 30 March 2021].