Discussion Questions for Week 9Ropes Part 3, Section 5, & Ch 31-33Part 3

What is leadership?

Leadership is determined from behavior. A leader gains followers from the values he espouses. Leadership consists in exhibiting high moral values that attract the respect and admiration of followers. People with leadership attributes are role models to those below them. Their behavior puts them at an esteemed position compared to their peers and followers. In leadership, people exercise an incomparable level of performance and commitment.

Why is Leadership one of humanity’s biggest myths?

Leadership is a myth because there are many hidden characteristics behind the concept of leadership. Leadership consists in conferring responsibilities to the followers and privileges to the leader. Leadership is thus a myth since it entails granting certain privileges to an individual while at the same time denying the same privileges to other individuals.

Why is communication such an essential part of leadership?

Communication is very crucial in the leadership process. Organizational communication is an important factor in maintaining the myth of leadership. Leadership is enhanced not only by the dissemination of information but also by the restrictions the leadership process places on communication. Leaders have undue advantage in the communication process over their followers. Leadership is the highest level of the organizational communication chain and the communication process affirms this position. An open communication system enhances the leadership process and enables the organization to thrive.

Why is decision making a less essential part or quite possibly an incidental part of leadership?

Decision-making is an incidental part of leadership since it is an acquired characteristic. It is not as important as communication in the leadership process. The leadership process involves persuading everybody to carry out certain actions or adopt particular ideas. Decision making on the other hand is individualistic and plays a very small role in enhancing leadership.

Section 5

Briefly describe the results of study 1 and study 2 discussed near the beginning of this section.

Study 1 and Study 2 focus on random assignment of leadership positions. People are randomly picked in these studies and assigned leadership positions within the organization. These people are given the opportunity to act within these leadership positions and perform their duties as subordinates or superiors. The results show that an organization that uses such strategies is highly ineffective and faces many leadership problems.

What do the results of the studies say about leadership?

These two studies show that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to assign leadership position without taking into account the leadership attributes of an individual. Such strategies lead to massive problems in the leadership within an organization.

According to this part, can leadership influence performance?According to this part, leadership has a great influence on the performance of an individual or an organization. Leaders are able to influence other workers to work harder. The special attributes leaders possess enable them to make important organizational decisions and work with other members of staff to achieve organizational goals. Their relationships with the workers ensure the success of the organization.

Chapter 31

With people like that running The Company, how come it’s still in business? What critical function is served by the procedure of subordinates briefing superiors, who, in turn, brief their own superiors, who only then carry the message to executive councils?

The act of subordinates briefing their superiors who go on to brief their own superiors who then convey the message to executive councils shows a lack of leadership in the organizational structure. In as much as the structure of communication enables decision-making from the highest levels of the organization, leaders would have found ways to solve the problem within their ranks. The passing on of such information up the ladder delays the problem solving process and reduces the trust workers have on their superiors.

Can you think of some previous examples of this type of behavior in organizations that you have worked for?

One instance I can recall that showed a similar incidence involved a supervisor at the production area who approached a Quality control officer of the same company. The supervisor’s complaints were that the machinery that sealed packed juice was being overworked and thus causing many spillages in the production area. The approached officer showed a lot of reluctance in solving the problem and trying giving excuses instead of the appropriate feedback. After some time the QC officer turned over the issue to the operations manager. The operations manager called for a meeting in which he briefed the concerned departments on what to do. The solution was simple and would not have required intervention from the manager.

Could Stanley have handled himself any differently at the meeting and thus had different results?

Stanley had no choice than to behave the way he did. There was no communication in the meeting and nothing much could change the current situation. He was unable to pass his ideas across since no one was concentrating. Perhaps if they believed in him they would have been attentive.

Chapter 32

What is meant by the title phrase, “Better the Devil You Know . . .”?

The phrase better the devil you know is used to show the importance of underperforming superiors whom workers have significant familiarity. It shows that workers exhibit a certain level of tolerance to such people compared to new people who are either underperforming or better.

What do you think of Stanley’s assumption that he was chosen for the task force because he was the best person for the job and, indeed, “Faust had been lucky to find him”?

Stanley’s assumption is right. He is the best person for the job since he possesses adequate experience and leadership ability.

Do you agree with the text’s assertion that having people on the task force who know each other well is generally the best policy?

Having people who know each other well are a good strategy since familiar people can understand each other and work together with very few hindrances.

What management Theories would argue against the policy of putting only managers who know one another well on the task force?

Some theories require that in problem solving task forces, managers be mixed with those managers they are less familiar. Such theories show that such task forces show higher performance.

What are some downsides to only having managers on the task force that know each other?

When managers in the task force know each other, they preempt the conduct of the other managers and enter the meeting with a preformed attitude. They are thus unable to engage in productive dialogue.

Chapter 33

Is C. Marsh Bell as talented as The Company Clarion’s article indicates?

C. Marsh Bell was not as talented as the article claims. His ability is a bit exaggerated by the article. He might not have been the best superintendent the company seems to claim he was. He just had the advantage of having relations with the top brass.

Why do companies go through the type of charade described in this chapter?

Company’s go through the above trouble to create role models or leadership examples for the other workers to emulate, while at the same time appeasing the top management.

What is a talented new employee, related to the owner or a top executive of the company, to do?

Such employees face many problems. They should maintain cordial relations and professionalism in their responsibilities in order to survive in the organization.

Do you have any examples of similar situations you have witnessed in the past of company relatives being ushered to the top? How did everyone else react?

A particular example of such a situation involved the General Manager’s niece who was promoted to the operations manager position straight from graduate school. This incidence caused a lot of grumbling among employees especially those who thought they deserved the post.


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