There are numerous challenges facing leaders of organizations today. Most organizations are experiencing rates of change unlike anything we have seen in the past.57 External pressures have been created from mergers, downsizing, restructuring, and layoffs as organizations strive to remain competitive or even survive. Other external forces are global competition, product obsolescence, new technology, government mandates, and demographic changes in the workforce itself. The rise of the gig economy will present new opportunities and challenges for leaders.
Leaders must effectively communicate to followers, peers, and bosses. Managing poor performance is one of the most challenging tasks a manager must do. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, the changes organizations have undergone have resulted in followers who are filled with cynicism and doubt about their leaders and organization.58 Ethics scandals in business have fueled the perception that leaders have lost the credibility to lead their organizations in a principled way.
By now, you have realized that OB is a problem-focused discipline aimed at making organizations more effective. Your ability as a leader will be enhanced through knowledge of the theory and applications from OB research. Each chapter in this book will review the essential and most current theory and research and relate them to how you can develop your leadership skills. At the end of each chapter, there are tools for your “toolkit,” where you will directly apply the theories through cases and exercises. At the end of this chapter, Toolkit Activity 1.1 is a personal leadership development plan where you can apply the concepts and research covered in the textbook to your own development as a leader by setting goals and specific behavior strategies to meet them. For example, a student who set a specific goal to improve their coaching of other students they tutor in accounting would formulate specific coaching behaviors and commit to engaging in them once per week. To gain feedback, the student would have the tutored students rate their coaching behavior by providing a yes or no answer to the following statement after each tutoring session: My tutor provides specific knowledge that has improved my accounting performance. Since leaders are expected to be coaches, this process should help the student improve their coaching skills for the future.
The figure on the opening page of Section I shows an overview of the entire book and how the material is tied together to impact the challenges of shaping organizational culture and leading change. Leadership is a theme that runs throughout the book, with each chapter concluding with implications for leaders. This introductory chapter has provided an overview of EBM and critical thinking that should be applied to all the following chapters. Next, the importance of understanding individuals in organizations is covered in Chapters 2 through 5, including personality, emotions and moods, job attitudes as well as perception, and decision-making. The next section addresses the leader’s role as an influencer and motivator (Chapters 6 through 9). First, leadership is covered, highlighting evidence-based recommendations for you to follow to become effective. Organizations are political entities, and the role of power and politics is discussed in Chapter 7. The role of leaders as motivators is covered next in Chapters 8 and 9. Following this, the role of leaders as relationship builders is covered in Chapters 10 through 13, which builds upon the core leadership theories covered in Chapter 6 (leadership). Section IV addresses the topics of teams, conflict, organizational communication, diversity, and leading across cultures. Finally, the role of leaders as change agents is discussed in Chapters 14 and 15, which cover organizational culture, leading change, and stress management. As you read this book, refer back to this figure as a map of how to organize the vast amount of theory and research on OB that has been generated for decades. It won’t seem so overwhelming if you can place the material in the four broad groupings as shown in the figure. This textbook generally follows the levels of analysis noted in the current chapter: individuals, dyads (leadership and influence), groups, and organizations. It will not address the industry level.