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Leadership

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Leadership is a very complex element to organizational effectiveness. It can be influenced by numerous factors and can be drastically different from one organization to the next. Individual actors will impact the way in which leadership is implemented, and if this is done wrong, it can have detrimental effects on the overall success of an organization or branch.  A leader must orient their leadership style around the general attitude of their subordinates. The most effective leaders have a way of "analyzing" how best to manage/lead their subordinate and are constantly listening and reacting to their subordinate's ever changing needs. In most situations, effective leaders are those who accommodate their subordinates, but not one where they lose their power. The ways in which processes, culture, structure and environment and all closely related in their affect on leadership. A leader needs to "fit it" with their organizations and in only very unique situations should they attempt to alter the general culture of their organization.  It's very important that a leader is aligned with the overall goals of an organization, minimizing possible issues that can arise from veering off course.  When leadership is implemented correctly it will most likely improve organizational effectiveness. This can have a lasting effect, as it promotes a culture of success and subordinates are more likely to follow these leaders. It would seem that proper leadership is determined by each specific situation and they way certain organizational factors will effective this leadership style.  But there are some general guidelines to being a successful leader, no matter the situation. One needs to properly listen to their subordinate's attitudes towards leaders and know the general culture, structure, and environment of the organization.  One of the most successful leaders in college basketball history, Dean Smith, did just that and in his book on leadership, The Carolina Way, he gives his opinion on effective leadership. First, he stresses the importance of pleasing all actors of your organization, from the water boy to the dean of the institution and everyone in between. This is closely associated with understanding the specific environment you are in. Next, he discusses the value that should be placed on a leader falling to place with their organization and understanding it's culture. A leader should be less focused on specifically changing the organization and more focused on achieving certain goals, because for the most part semi-successful organizations aren't in need of a big organizational overhaul but a change in leadership style.  Lastly, he stresses the importance of a leaders willingness to change and adapt. Not only can circumstances change rapidly but also at the same time different leadership style may be needed simultaneously. There is no one set of rules for effective leadership but being flexible and willing to adapt to your organization can be an useful first step.
When looking at the different dimensions of sources of power, both organizational and individual-based, I think it's important for any specific sports organization to determine which of these will have the greatest impacts. Doing this will help the organization eliminate the numerous issues that arise from any specific individual or subunit having to much power.  Much of the same can be said for political power, where certain individual can use political activity to heighten their influence over parts of the organization.

While I believe it's important for organizations to have certain figures of authority, these positions of power must not be abused. I would argue that in general, the most influential aspects of power and politics, but not the only ones, come from individual or subunits controlling aspects of the organization. Whether it's individuals reward or coercive power, a subunits ability to control the decision-making process, or using a political tactic to control information, when these are abused it can cause major problems in the effectiveness and efficiency of any sports organization.  To try and combat any of these powers from getting out of control I think it's essential for the specific sports organization to determine the appropriate structure, organizational culture, strategy and goals for their situation. When you have a well-defined structure, one that creates little opportunity for individual to abuse power, it will help eliminate the possible negative effects of both power and political activity.  In doing this along with stressing proper organizational culture, you can create an atmosphere where individuals and subunits will feel little pressure to use either power or politics to their advantage, and possibly hurting other parts of the organization. Other strategies to help effectively manage all sources of organizational power and politics would be to have effective communication pathways throughout the organization. This can help eliminate the stresses that arise when certain individuals or subunits feel, because of lack or inefficiency of communication, that they don't have enough say (aspect of power?) in the organization.  Obviously, these aren't the only sources of organizational power and politics, and the occurrence of these will differ within every sport organization but, no matter the organization, it is essential that these be managed correctly so they don't cause problems at certain levels of the organization. When managed correctly, power and politics can be a major positive influence for an organization, one that can help separate them from other their competitors.

Organizational Strategy

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When assessing the influences on organizational strategy I would argue that power, capacity to change, and actors interest all play a certain role, but that capacity to change and more so power have the greatest influence on strategy.  The strategy of an organization is only as good as the power structure in place to implement it and without the right structure certain strategies; both corporate and business levels are bound to fail. The capacity for change will also have a huge influence on almost all forms of organizational strategy.  If an organization is quite flexible in the business operations it will be more likely to take on aggressive growth strategies. This cannot necessarily be said for organizations that are very structured and might be encouraged to take on a more stable strategy. While actors interest's my influence certain strategies I do not believe they have a big influence on most organizations strategies. I would contend that actors interest's have a much bigger influence on business level strategies as a opposed to corporate level ones. This is because at the corporate level, especially with larger organization it would be difficult to measure and take into account the interest of a large number of actors.  This may be different for specific business level strategies as the actors are more likely directly influenced by a specific strategy. To show how these factors influence organizational strategy it would be beneficial to look at a company such as Under Armor.  To begin with, their power structure has drastically changed as its organizational strategy has evolved.  The power of Under Armor used to be with only its owner and founder.  As the company grew and strategy changed, the power and leadership was dispersed throughout the various divisions of the company making the implementation of both corporate and business level strategies easier to carry out.. In this instance power has a huge influence on strategy and vice versa.  Obviously the capacity for change at Under Armor is a huge factor in how the company chooses its specific strategies. Because they are a very decentralized organization, thus very flexible, it makes it possible to implement very aggressive strategies. While actors interests aren't ignored, I don't see them having a huge influence on Under Armors' corporate strategies.  I don't think Under Armor's decision to create new division took into account the interest of actors in other division but may have with higher-level employees. Clearly, Under Armor's corporate strategies have been highly successful and were influenced in one way or another by the power structure, capacity for change, and actors interest.  

When examining what makes an effective organization I believe one must first look at the organizational structure. While the contextual features of the company may influence this aspect, I think it's most important for the organization to have a solid foundation, one where tasks are allocated efficiently and effectively. When this is not the case, an organization can waste valuable time and money trying to complete even basic tasks, putting it at a significant disadvantage to it's competitors. For example, you can look at large banks like Citigroup who nearly went bankrupt during this latest economic recession, in one part because of poor organizational structure.  Certain employees had the ability to take unnecessary risks and managers did little to stop it (or were completely unaware), in the long run costing the organization billions of dollars. This poor structure nearly ended many organizations, but this isn't the only aspect that can make or break a company.

I would argue that nearly as important is the culture of an organization.  When the marketplace is crowded with so many competitors one-way to separate yourself from the pack is with a strong and enthusiastic workforce. Obviously, employees are going to be more productive when they enjoy where, and with whom they work for. The best example of great workplace culture as a building block to an effective organization is with Google.  They have consistently been rated as one of the best organization to work for and this is clearly correlated with its quick ascension to the quintessential web 2.0 company (above competitors such as Yahoo).

Lastly, I would like to stress the importance for an organization to be highly flexible and able to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. This is important in nearly every industry and is why some organizations can last a lifetime and other go by the wayside.  Because society is ever changing it's important for consumer-based organizations to understand these changes and be able to adapt and take advantage of them.  One example of this is the way Best Buy has been able integrate internet based business into their organization.  With the rise of the internet based commerce Best Buy realized they couldn't only be a store based business. With the integration of their website they were able to take advantage of the consumers demand to do more shopping online. This has been a huge success for Best Buy as it now accounts for more then a quarter of all their sales.

So, my three keys to an effective organization are structure, culture and adaptability. While these aren't the only aspects of an effective organization and certainly aren't always the most important I think that generally to have sustained success as an organization these aspects must be at the forefront.
-Paul Lehrer