Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Identify Your Own Personal Theories

According to Osland, Kolb, Rubin & Turner (2007), successful organizations are characterized by good fit among strategy, structure, systems, staff, style, skill, superordinate goals, and also fit the environment. In order to achieve that, managers should do their job or the best way to manage people, and their successful management involves a careful balancing act and the ability to manage paradox (Osland et al., 2007). According to Osland et al. (2007), excellent managers have an unusual ability to resolve paradox, to translate conflicts and tensions into excitement, high commitment, and superior performance. It shows that managers should be able to make the organizations to be adaptable, flexible, stable, and controlled. In fact, managers should work toward growth, resourced acquisition, external support, tight information management, and formal communication. Managers should also emphasis on the value of human resources, planning, and goal setting.

The first step in managing the paradoxes of organizational effectiveness understands one’s own theories of management. Theories are constructed to give an explanation of phenomena (Stam, 2000). Managers have their theories and mental maps about what makes successful managers and organizations. A relevant theory of leadership can then serve as a valuable tool for diagnosing the situation and determining the most relevant aspects of leadership behavior. According to Denzin (1970), there are three functions of a theory: permitting organization of descriptions, leading to explanation, and furnishing the basis for prediction of future events. This is to ensure that managers do not approach leadership problems and situations using trial and error tactics but base their decision-making on principled actions.

Managers need to be aware of the leadership theory or theories they ascribe to because these will determine and provide insights to who they are and the enduring concepts that really define everything about them as leaders. In the effort to understand the various elements that impacts on leadership and organizational effectiveness, much attention and research has been conducted on leadership theories. The notion of leadership has been defined and conceptualized from numerous perspectives. Managers must find the appropriate method to match a given situation because there is no one best way to manage in every situation. There are many leadership theories that can assist leaders confront the complex leadership phenomenon. These converge and create a new framework for thinking about and leading complex change.

According to Osland et al. (2007), some of the theorists’ model of excellent organizations and managers are:

1. Taylor’s Scientific Management, the managers scientifically determined the goals that needed to be accomplished, divided the work up in the most efficient way, trained workers to do the job, and rewarded them by wage incentives.

2. Administrative Theory, the organization would succeed if managers designed the organization correctly and followed the proven principles of management. Managers emphasizes on understanding the basic tasks of management and developed guidelines or principles for managing effectively.

3. Human Relations School, the effective managers were expected to pay attention to people’s social needs (i.e., feelings and attitudes that affected productivity) and elicit their ideas about work issues. Cohesion and morale as a means of increasing the value of human resources.

4. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y described two ends of a continuum of assumptions about people and human nature. Whether managers incline more to the carrot (Theory Y) of the stick (Theory X) approach to motivation may be rooted in these assumptions.

5. Decision-Making School, the effective managers have to take into account workers’ “minds,” set the premises for employee’s decisions and relied on their rationality to make choices that would be best for both themselves and the organization. Managerial effectiveness consisted of a thorough understanding of decision making.

6. Contingency Approach, the good managers (and employees) analyze the situation and choose the most appropriate action because they believe that effectiveness varies according to the particular situation. They converged on the idea that there was no “one best way” to manage, and they tried to identify which variables would be successful for particular situations.

Each model suggests a mode or type of organizing. Manager must be able to analyze a situation, determine what pattern of leadership behavior is needed to influence processes that are important for optimal performance, and then carry out the behavior in a skilful way (Yukl, 2002). The writer understands that effective organizations exhibit different kinds of leadership. None of the leadership theories offers a perfect solution for all contexts. Each suffers limitations that may make it inappropriate in a particular situation. It can be concluded that appropriate leadership depends on a broad range of internal and external factors. A fruitful approach into choosing an effective leadership theory or theories is for the individual leader to carefully diagnose the situation and choose a leadership approach that best fits the context. Ultimately, our leadership will be judged as effective or ineffective not by who we are as a leader but by what leadership we induce in others.


Denzin, N. (1970). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods. Chicago: Aldine.

Kolb, D. A., Osland, J. S., Turner, M. E., & Rubin, I. M. (2007). The Organizational behavior: Behavior reader (8th ed.). Upper River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Stam, H. J. (2000). Theoretical psychology. In K. Pawlik & M. R. Rosenzweig (Eds.). International Handbook of Psychology (pp. 551-569). London: Sage Publications.

Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in organizations. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River. N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Humility-Inducing Experiences

Organizations are much more than only a means for providing goods and services. They create the settings in which most of employees spend their lives, and they have profound influence on employees’ behavior. When employees join, they have a very deliberate process of socialization, where they learn the culture and the present organization. Organizational socialization has been defined as “the process by which organizational members become a part of, or absorbed into, the culture of an organization” (Jablin, 1982, p. 256), “the process by which a person learns the values, norms, and required behaviors which permit him or her to participate as a member of the organization” (Van Maanen, 1978, p. 67), and “the process of ‘learning the ropes,’ being indoctrinated and trained, and being taught what is important in the organization” (Schein, 1968, p. 2). Socialization is the process by which organizations bring new employees into the culture.

Organizational socialization is the process of showing new people in an organization what the organization is about--the how and why of the way things are done in that particular institution, and getting the new people to understand and accept this. Organizational newcomers typically have high uncertainty regarding how to do their job, how their performance will be evaluated, what types of social behaviors are normative, and what personal relationships within the organization might be beneficial to them (Miller, 1996). Socialization of new employees consist of learn role, and appropriate values and behaviors. Socialization of new employees is crucial. It fulfilled expectations correlate with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and the intention to remain with the organization. Effective socialization reduces these uncertainties, helps newcomers cultivate productive relationships at work, and ensures that individuals and organizations benefit from their working relationship (Jablin, 2001). Consequently, newcomers and experienced organizational members typically engage in formal and informal organizational socialization activities before, during, and after their entry into the organization.

Socialization often starts with a humility-inducing experience that shows the person that they really do not understand how things work. Humility is the state or quality of being humble; absence of pride or self-assertion (Webster’s Dictionary, 2010). This is followed by an in-the-trenches immersion that inculcates the culture. In solidifying culture, the use of humility inducing experiences causes one to question their values and beliefs and whether to accept them. Humility-inducing experiences that cause newcomers to question prior behavior, beliefs, and values. Humility-inducing experiences promote openness toward accepting organizational norms and values (Gibson et al, 2003). Humility-inducing experiences show the new worker that they still have a lot to learn, especially the organization’s pattern of beliefs, expectations, and values as manifested in organization practices.


Gibson, Ivancevich, Donnelly and Konopaske, (2003). Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes, McGraw Hill.

Jablin, F.M. (1982). Organizational communication: An assimilation approach. In Roloff, M. E. & Berger, C. R. (Eds.), Social cognition and communication. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Jablin, F.M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In Jablin, F. M. & Putnam, L. L. (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Miller, V. D. (1996). An experimental study of newcomers’ information seeking behaviors during organizational entry. Communication Studies, 47, 1-24.

Schein, E. H. (1968). Organizational socialization and the professional management. Industrial Management Review, 9, 1-16.

Webster's New World College Dictionary. Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

Van Maanen, J. (1978). People processing: Strategies of organizational socialization. Organizational Dynamics, 7, 18-36.