Organizational Politics and Leadership
According to Clement, culture, leadership and the network of power are the three important factors that determine leadership in any organization. Clement used a structural approach to explore how organizational politics entrenches itself within a given culture, and how leaders can manipulate these same politics to create change. His analysis shows that all organizations reflect some element of political culture that determines the overall manifestations of the organization. Efficient leadership, according to Clements line of thought is anchored on the aspect of change. A leader must create an enabling environment within the organization for the workers and supervisors to play crucial parts in the overall process of leadership.
Organizational politics is a consequence of the relationship among the processes, results, management and the workforce over a lengthy period of time. Studies have demonstrated that the task of measuring the culture of an organization is anchored on the ability of the leader to extract this working relationship as an element of the continuum effect of the culture. In many ways, individuals who seek positions of influence within the organization will tend to make use of the politics within the system to achieve their desired goals. Consequently, it would seem that organizations whose performances are mainly determined by their cultures will generally favor individuals who have stayed within the system comparably longer than their colleagues. However, Clement points out that it is possible, even for an outsider, to diagnose the basic elements of any given culture for the purposes of distilling the operational pulse of the organization.
Drawing from this thesis, it might be deduced that the art of determining and appropriating the organizational politics of any system remains an indispensable starting point of any effort of changing the system. This is because the art of mastering and appropriating the intricate political networks of any organization requires a lengthy period of time to master. Basic assumptions are fundamental components to the extent that they entail the ideals and practices that are casually accepted within an organization. Basic assumptions determine the trends and nature of organizational politics in the sense that they form up the continuum of thought that bind everybody in the organization towards one uniform ideology.
Clement argues that the culture of the organization is the internal practices that have been accepted as the most sublime conventions. He warns that values might arrest the element of change because when they get entrenched, the organization tends to ignore every other idea that lies above and beyond the boundaries that have been marked by the values. Artifacts are the third element of culture that has been identified in this article. Clement argues that artifacts are the easiest to change because they are mainly physical. However, he warns that a change in the physical attributes of an organizational culture might not necessarily lead to any meaningful change within the organization. By implication, it follows that any effort to exact some political change within an organization through the organizational artifacts can only be superficial and piecemeal.
Clement emphasizes on the difference in the organizational culture and change between GM and IBM. He argues that the process of changing the internal politics of any organization is not necessarily generated within the organization. He cites the two companies as examples of cases where changes occurred as a result of some significant pressure from outside the organization. Clement cites Intel and Chrysler as some of the companies that have had to adjust according to external pressure. Further, he argues that companies that organizational that are heavily reliant on technology must manifest a significant level of flexibility so that they change accordingly in relation to evolving trends and demands of technology. In many ways, companies have received the transformational pressure from their clientele forcing them to adjust their internal politics and culture.
Intel, Chrysler, and Toyota have managed to reflect good performance on the market by exploiting all available opportunities for change while at the same time watching out at all possible products of the same change. Clement explores the different dimensions that might yield the most appropriate organizational change. He observes and critiques some of the approaches that have been proposed by analyses. Result oriented approaches have been identified as somewhat flexible as compared to process-oriented approaches. In his studies of these companies, there is a unifying force of the aspect of change that must reflect within every organization. According to the organizational thesis he develops, no culture is immune to change.
Since change is inevitable, the leadership of any organization must ready itself to evolve new methods of change by managing the politics within the organization. Such a leader must equally develop the capacity to predict situations within and without the organization for the sake of obtaining an aggregate view of the necessary changes. A leader who opts to change his organization from a result oriented dimension will generally cede significant space for decision making to the lower cadres of the organization. Towards this objective, there is often a deliberate effort of abolishing needless bureaucratic intrigues that have variously been cited, in studies, as the chief obstacles to culture change.
The key elements of such a process reflect through quick decision making, a delegation of duties, and the promotion of the theories and practices of specialization. Sometimes it may be problematic to establish a clear line between the policies and practices of any leadership from the average organizational culture of the institution (Pierce, Gardner & Dunham, 2001). In essence, the idea that Clement appears to distil from the disparate approaches adopted by different organizations is that the different forces of change require targeted approaches to yield meaningful change. A leader who wants to change the culture of his organization should begin from identifying the precise challenges of performance within the organization. Such challenges may manifest themselves in various forms.
Structurally, it may be found that the values and practices of the organization are at cross-purposes to the desired objective. It may also be the case that the employees within the organization have been configured to act and behave in ways that do not support the overall objectives of the firm. In this manner, it becomes necessary to design culture change in a manner that will project some significant transforming force towards the process of transforming the employees (Knights & Willmott, 2006). Such a process is likely to take a long time and resources. Clement argues that the changes that begin from the first level supervisors and the workforce are more efficient than the ones that begin at the top. A general consensus among management studies has been that many of the organizational politics are a non-material aspect of any organization. The same studies have explored the different aspects of piecemeal or holistic methods of organizational change.
The overhaul of any organization depends on the ability of the leader to engage the entire personnel in effecting material and non-material aspects of culture. The combined effects of values, practices, and artifacts are the aggregate sum of pressure that often determines what is generally referred to organizational politics. Change occurs when leaders learn the art of dismantling whole or parts of these constituent aspects of organizational leadership in a structured and scientific manner. Leadership that aims to transform the political culture of the organization must consider reviewing at least two out of the three constituent attributes of the organization's political climate.