“Organizations need strong leaders and a strong culture” Essay

In this essay, I am going to critically analyze the importance strong leaders coupled with a strong culture has within organizations. In doing so, the argument is built up of several contextual layers defining the significance that heavily immersed cultures along with well driven leaders has on the operational and interactional functioning’s of an organization but most importantly its employees.

However first and foremost, it is believed that Post Bureaucratic management practices shape the construction of individual values and beliefs, ultimately depending on which cultural enrichment management will adopt. Furthermore, the abuse of power leaders may espouse may inflict adversarial repercussions upon the cultural framework embraced by the organization. Therefore this initiates a direct sequence of employees challenging De Facto power by engaging in managerial discourses, which repudiate against cultural structures, causing hierarchal movement.

Whilst, firmly substantiating that strong culture’s lead by strong leaders build the inner mechanistic functioning of an organization, throughout this essay, in Section One I shall illustrate the importance of Post Bureaucratic mechanisms and the internal relationships they have with culture and leadership.

Moreover in Section 2, I will attempt to expose how power is used as a possession, rather than a relationship between people. Lastly, in order to logically complete my argument, I will define how resistance is seen to be a ‘reactive process’ whereby people embedded in power relations actively oppose initiatives enacted by others (Jermier et all 1994:90)

Section 1

It is believed that having such a widely shared integrative culture in organizations is often viewed as a panacea for management and a recipe for corporate success (Peter and Waterman 1982) In relation to this statement, a good culture coupled with a intuitive leader will only set out a positive regime of truth, that will undoubtedly allow the emergence of a cultural landscape to ensure conformity is consistent to all who belong to the organization. In order to achieve such an ambition, organizations embrace Post Bureaucratic mechanisms, which are depicted as a set of normative controls that stress the importance of socialization, enculturation and identification with company objectives. (Josserand, Villesèche, & Bardon 2012)

However the most pressing point to highlight is the fact that Post Bureaucratic mechanisms heavily entail the involvement of cultural promotion, which further aims to propel culture onto center stage. Ultimately, this means that for people to function within any given setting they must have a continuing sense of what the reality surrounding them is about (Pettigrew 1979) Herein, this tells us that culture provides a source of organizational ‘common sense’, upon which members draw to when deciding where, when and how to act. (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011)

Therefore social interaction must be conceived as the negotiation of meaning, which inevitably formulates and continues the growth and extension of leadership abilities and culture amongst members of an organization. Moreover social interaction may also be characterized as an organization of instrumental relations, resulting in the formulation of various relations or relationships amongst not only members of an organization but also identification in a corporate alumni network.

Hence, repetitive symbolic activities are drawn upon by organizations to maintain the stability of the social system, which has a fundamental obligation to create and recreate the system. (Rosen 1988) Making direct reference to Michel Rosen’s journal article: “You asked for it: Christmas at the Bosses Expense”, the use of ceremonies and rites, being the Christmas party encompasses a latent function, which directly aims to enable a state of partial suspension of normal structure relationships in which culture emerges as an organizing principle underlying agency membership.

Lastly, despite Post Bureaucratic mechanisms promoting an enterprising culture, more importantly it imbues humanistic values of autonomy, flexibility, confidence and trust that ultimately carry the intent to urge employees to take on responsibilities (Josserand, Villesèche, & Bardon 2012)

However, it should be undoubtedly emphasized that managers must inhibit the appropriate leadership qualities that will enable themselves and employees to share a common relationship, in turn directly allowing them to control and frame their subjectivity in order to align one another’s relevancies. Subsequently this is achieved through leaders identifying culture, as an asset to form a paternalistic relation with their employees, as such can be debated to ignite a desirable urge to be apart of the community the organization instills.

Furthermore it should be accentuated that the “Path Goal Theory” of leadership, is imperative to a successful relationship between employer and employee. It is noted as the physiological and technical support that managers provide as leaders, which ultimately intends to motivate employees by helping them understand that their needs and expectations can be fulfilled through the performance of their jobs. (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011)

Section 2

In todays business realm the sociological treatment of power has the ability to perpetuate a substantial impact on the interrelation and operational processes of an organization. In support of this statement, it is elemental to treat power as a property of abstract systems, as its complexities must not only be precisely managed but also more importantly understood.

Therefore it is clear that the conception of power has the capability to “make or break” an organization as Giddens argues that “the notion of power is logically tied to that of action, and in its widest sense, power refers simply to the ‘transformative capacity’ of human action”. (Knights & Roberts 1982) Given this fact, we are able to argue that power has the fortitude to develop, refine or revolutionize an organizational landscape. Accordingly it is paramount that power should be treated and only applied amongst the confinements of a relationship, rather than kept as a possession to an individual. It is this underlying complexity that sparks much conjecture throughout organizations and cultural foundations.

Specifically, when power is treated as a possession the direct result is that of the ignition of conflict, which can be depicted as a threatening hazard that has the ascendency to topple even the most successful organizations throughout the world. Firstly it is important to point that the
individualistic conception of power is concealed within managers in which it is defined as the way that resources of ownership and control are employed in attempt to coerce labor into compliance. (Knights & Roberts 1982)

This is formally known as coercive power, which is understood to be the power someone has over another, ultimately meaning the denial or removal of individual choice. Furthermore coercion “requires the active submission of one person to another…” (Russ 1980:7-11) as such a thought holds the aptitude to administer alarming repercussions throughout an organizations culture. This is largely due to the fact that “equal attempts at coercion may lead to more or overt forms of resistance” (Russ 1980:7-11), a discomforting scenario that will not only cause a severe backlash against the leadership circle, but also hold the potential to eclipse the current operational success of the business.

Essentially, due to the low trust dynamics, a regressive spiral of attempted control and counter control (Fox 1974) will further impede negatively on the business, ultimately throwing the culture into an unhealthy state of affair and the leadership hub at risk of being overthrown.

In addition, another essential point to mention is the affiliation the notion of mainstream culture has with coercive power. As stated above, the sociological treatment of power has the potential to inflict adversarial effects if not effectively managed by administrators of an organization. Alternatively, culture is believed to create consistency and reduce conflict. However coercive authority, contradicts the view of mainstream culture, as it arguably does the total opposite.

If it is believed that if organizational structures, strategies, regulations and policies frame the behavioral intents of employees, then members who belong to a hierarchy dominated by coercive power, will not only reject to be consistent with company norms but also increase conflict. This is supported by the belief that culture brings people together: it ensures they all think alike, feel and act in relatively similar ways. (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011)

Similarly, also by correlating coercive power with mainstream cultures, it highlights the inadequate and defective leadership attributes it promotes. Cultural engineering is undertaken by senior management and disseminated downward causing a spiral effect. (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011) Therefore culture can be interpreted as a management ‘lever’, a means of ensuring organizational goals are instilled and accepted by its members through the allurement of its culture. (Brewis 2007) Essentially, to make leadership effective, a leader must undertake in authoritative power, which is a more realistic understanding of interdependence in organizations (Knights & Roberts 1982)

What this means is that a mutual recognition of employer employee relations is shared, causing members to accept the advice and direction of others rather than opposing. A unique feature of the relationship is that authority cannot be imposed nor possessed, but exists only as a quality of the relationship. (Knights & Roberts 1982) However mutual manipulation may occur when someone attempts to elevate their power above the mutual trust, therefore implying it is imperative to maintain the reciprocal of rights. Lastly this has an overwhelming influence on the culture, as all participants obtain a sense of authority and belonging.

Section 3

With regard to coercive power, and the debilitated ramifications it inflicts on an organization’s cultural arrangement, it can be condoned to believe that members will engage in more overt forms of resistance. Essentially, what this points out is the creativity of employees resisting increasing control of the labor processed by management (Prasad and Prasad 2000).

Therefore resistance can be directly associated with defective leadership, as even though management believe they hold the right to produce the policies that “they” want, it doesn’t mean its members will agree. Given these facts, work groups use resistance to induce what they want, the indispensible adjustments required for relatively smooth and everyday functioning in the workshop. (Courpasson, Dany & Clegg 2011) More importantly, despite the act of resistance producing a common interest in opposition to management, it simultaneously results in more resistance (Burawoy 1982), clearing professing the viral empowerment it professes amongst members of an organization.

Hence, this approach conceptualizes resistance as an irreducible opposition between members and management, clearly endangering the foundations of any cultural environment inhibited by
an organization.

Touching upon the previous paragraph, resistance is a direct result of the enmeshment of exploitative relations (Courpasson, Dany & Clegg 2011). More importantly, this allures members to engage in managerial discourses, which operate against the cultural and ideological controls that frame, a company (Thomas 2009) and craft new identities, which challenge De facto Power (Ewick and Silbey 2003).

Ultimately this causes dysfunctional freezing of an organization, a direct cause of members participating in “distancing” themselves from the company’s ambitions and requisites until change has transpired. Nevertheless this can be seen to benefit the organization as a whole, as employees now have the capacity to accede their desires. In relation to culture, it is imperative that members concerns are meant in order to achieve optimum business success; therefore managers seek to secure compliance through meeting employee’s sentiments and desires.

Subsequently, it is vital for cultures to obtain core values and presuppositions that are widely shared and acted on (Peter and Waterman 1982), however by managers thriving on the elevation of power and exploitation, it only contradicts what a good culture should be about by going against group norms.

Drawing closely to theorists ideas, it is believed that “if you forged a strong culture that incorporate all organizational members in shared beliefs and commitments – everything else good, morale, performance and results should follow”(Peter and Waterman 1982), clearly exposing the importance of effective and understanding leadership. Lastly, it should be accentuated that improvement in productivity and quality would accrue when corporate cultures systematically align individuals with formal organizational goals (Peter and Waterman 1982), but arguably wont be reached if members are continually constrained by the corporation.

Overall with all of the above being discussed, one could conclude that Human skill is a pre requisite of what a strong leader should acquire. An approved culture will only occur if everyone is integrated into one managerially designed structure and the result, a superior performance. However this is can be deemed only attainable if leadership has the ability to work with people, meaning to be sensitive to the needs and motivations of others, and taking into account other needs in ones decision making (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011) a clear contrary to what coercive power achieves. However, it could be argued that such leaders enjoy the hierarchal separation between themselves and lower level employees, as the process to both lead and yet also work alongside them is an ongoing struggle.


In summation, I have come to the conclusion that it is inevitable for an organization to parade operational success without some sort of formulation of a strong culture espoused with strong leadership. Despite Post Bureaucratic management practices shaping the construction of individual values and beliefs, I believe it is imperative for the leadership hub of any organization to be effectively aware of the on going relationship its shares with its members. For any organization to achieve corporate success the notion of culture should be heavily identified and all components that it contains must be exercised accordingly.

Ultimately, if managements leadership qualities are deemed to be strong, the culture constructed must comprise a set of deep, basic assumptions and beliefs as well as shared values, which will enable members to attain a sense of not only identity but also more importantly provide them with heterogeneous ways of making decisions. Therefore bringing my essay to a close, it should not be forgone that an organization requires a strong culture and strong leadership.

Reference List


1. Burawoy, M. 2001. Donald Roy: Sociologist and working stiff. Contemporary Sociol. 30(5) 453-458 2. Courpasson, D., Dany, F. and Clegg, S. (2011) Resisters at Work: Generating Productive Resistance in the Workplace, Organization Science, Articles in Advance: 1–19. 3. Ewick, P., S. Rayner, eds. (2003) Narrating social structure: Stories of resistance to legal authority. Amer. J. Social. 108(6) 1328-1372. 4. Fox, A. (1974) Beyond Contract: work, power and trust relationships. London: Faber 5. Josserand, E., Villesèche, F.

Bardon, T., (2012) Being an active member of a corporate alumni network: a critical appraisal, pp. 31-55 6. Knights, D. and Roberts, J. (1982) The power of organisation or the organisation of power? Organisation Studies, 3(1): 47-63 7. Prasad, P. A. Prasad. (2000) Stretching the iron cage: The constitution and implications of routine workplace resistance. Organ. Sci. 11(4) 387 – 403 8. Russ, V., (1980) Positive and negative power; thoughts of the dialectics of power, Organizational studies 1/1:3-20 9. Rosen, M. (1988) You asked for it: Christmas at the bosses expense, Journal of Management Studies, 25(5): 463-480. Books

1. Brewis, J. (2007) Culture in Knights, D. and Willmott, H. (eds), Introducing Organizational Behaviour Management, Australia Thompson: 344-374. 2. Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., and Pitsis, T. (2011) Managing & Organisations: An Introduction to 
Theory and Practice, 3rd Edition, London, Sage (Chapter 6), pp. 224 3. Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., and Pitsis, T. (2011) Managing & Organisations: An Introduction to 
Theory and Practice, London, Sage (Chapter 4), pp. 133 4. Jermier, J. M., D. Knights, W. R. Nord, eds (1994) Power in organzations. Routledge, New York.

5. Thomas, R. (2009) Critical management studies on identity: Mapping the terrain. M. Alvesson, T. Bridgman, H. Willmott eds. The Oxford Handbook of Critical management studies. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 166-186 6. Peter, T. J., & Waterman, R.H. (1982) In Search for excellence: Lessons from Americas best-run companies. Warner Book, New York.

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