Leadership as a balancing act between performance- and development-orientation: a study of managers’ and co-workers’ understanding of leadership in an industrial organisation
2013 (English)In: Leadership & Organization Development Journal, ISSN 0143-7739, E-ISSN 1472-5347, Vol. 34, no 3, 222-237 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to revisit data from a previous study of leadership in an industrial company that was in the process of implementing a process-oriented, team-based form of organisation. Based on these data, it aims to explore the assumption that process-orientation implies “new” leadership behaviours and relationships with co-workers. More specifically, it aims to focus on analysing how the managers and co-workers understood and practised the ideas about leadership for learning and development that were introduced in connection with the new production organisation. The purpose is also to determine what factors constrained and facilitated these leadership practises.
Design/methodology/approach – The study was conducted with a large industrial company using case study methodology. The empirical material consists of 35 qualitative interviews with production managers (n=4), first-line managers (n=14), and operators (n=17).
Findings – The results indicate that performance-oriented leadership with a focus on facilitating adaptive learning is emphasised more than development-oriented leadership, which facilitates critical reflection and innovative learning. Furthermore, the study suggests that the administrative workload greatly limits the potential for development-oriented leadership. Overall, first-line managers appear to have more in common with system administrators than leaders.
Practical implications – This study highlights the need to find a balance between performance and development in organisations. Specifically, there is a need for leaders to create opportunities and support for increased developmental learning at work. It is also necessary to emphasise critical reflection both in connection with daily operations and in the formal education of co-workers and leaders.
Originality/value – This study demonstrates the gap between the rhetoric of new leadership and the organisational realities that leaders experience in their daily work. At the same time, the study points to the dual nature of leadership for learning and the constraints on its realisations in practise.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013. Vol. 34, no 3, 222-237 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77966DOI: 10.1108/01437731311326666ISI: 000325829900002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-77966DiVA: diva2:530254