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From the complex system leadership perspective: DNA leadership

Author(s): Hasan Basri Gündüz | Şenol Beşoluk | İsmail Önder

Journal: International Journal of Human Sciences
ISSN 1303-5134

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 520;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: DNA | Leadership | DNA Leadership | Complexity Leadership | Complex Adaptive Systems

Extended AbstractIntroductionTraditional leadership models are based on the paradigm of bureaucratic top-down administration. These models were suitable for industrial societies and organizations. However, in post industrial societies top down administration is not accurate because of the complex structure of the knowledge societies in which the conditions are changing faster and requires organizations to adapt quickly to that changing environment (Achtenhagen, Melin, Mullern & Ericson, 2003; Halal & Taylor, 1999). In knowledge societies which are characterized by a new competitive landscape driven by globalization, technology, deregulation, and democratization, the success of organizations lies more in its social assets like corporate IQ (Schreiber, 2006) and learning capacity than in its physical assets (McKelvey, 2001; Quinn, Anderson & Finkelstein, 2002; Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, 2007). Organizations and leaders face with new challenges in this new age (Barkema, Baum & Mannix, 2002; Schneider, 2002). The need to exhibit speed, flexibility, and adaptability, with the organization's absolute rate of learning and innovation and the pace of its development becoming critical to competitive advantage (Schilling & Steensma, 2001; Wheatley, 1994). In other words, organizations in developed economies sustain superior performance in the Knowledge Societies by promoting faster learning. In knowledge societies which demands learning, adaptation and innovation, new organization structures and leadership paradigms are required. Nature can provide some clues and examples for possible solutions.Nature is the inspiration of all the facts and events since, the nature contains the ideal form of facts and events. Like the other disciplines management science can also use natural facts or events in order to develop itself. Social systems like biological systems are parts of ecosystems (Erçetin, 2001). The relationship between organisms and their organization and management can be handled at various levels from ecosystem level to cell level (Odum, 1983). For example, human body is controlled by the brain that functions through billions of nerve cells and each of these cells is controlled by their DNAs that are placed in the nucleus. In fact DNA is the administrative unit of the cell or organism (Alberts, Bray, Lewis, Raff, Roberts & Watson, 1994; De Robertis & De Robertis, 1981). Therefore, the administration in one of the cell of the organism can be taken as a metaphor to explain the administration of an organisation in social system. Metaphors have a coherence and internal consistency, which provide insights into ideas that are not explicit or consciously held (Arnett, 1999; Tsoukas, 1991; Oxford et al., 1998; Cerit, 2008; Lakoff & Johnson, 2005; Şişman, 2002a; Morgan, 1998). Organizations within a social system can be considered as cells of the social system. Every organization has similar core structure as the cells of an organism that have the same DNA. Vision, mission, organizational culture and administrative approach of an organization constitute its core DNA. The degree of integration of an individual to an organization depends on how well he/she internalizes the philosophy, vision, mission and culture of an organization (Ball, 1997). Leader as an individual who shapes vision, mission and culture of the organization, should enable members to learn and accept organization’s vision, mission and culture. LeadershipLeadership is a subject that has long excited interest among scholars and layman alike. The term leadership means different things to different people. As is often the case when a word from the common vocabulary is incorporated into the technical vocabulary of a scientific discipline, leadership has not been precisely redefined, and it still carries extraneous connotations that create ambiguity of meaning. Further confusion is caused by the use of other imprecise terms such as power, authority, management, administration, control and supervision to describe the same phenomena (Yukl, 2002).Researchers usually define leadership according to their individual perspective and the aspect of the phenomenon of most interest to them. After a comprehensive review of the leadership literature, Stogdill (1974) concluded that “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept”. Leadership has been defined in terms of individual traits, behaviour, influence over other people, interaction patterns, role relationships, occupation of an administrative position and perception of others regarding legitimacy of influence (Yukl, 2002). More than 5000 studies and 350 definitions would be noticed reviewing leadership literature (Erçetin, 2000; Şişman, 2002). In recent years, however, new leadership definitions have been introduced (ethical leadership, moral leadership, cultural leadership, visionary leadership, learning leadership, quantum leadership etc.) to the literature depending on emerging approaches (Brestrich Topçu, 2000; Erçetin, 2000; Şişman, 2002b). Admitting the difficulty of defining leadership, following judgements could be brought forward considering common and different aspects of each definition (Erçetin, 2000): -Leadership and management are different from each other.-Leadership does not bound to a formal position.-Leadership is political.-Leadership is cultural. -Leadership is a process in which some spiritual processes (such as; resolution, taking risks, self-confidence, attaching importance to the ethical values, being far sighted, developing vision etc.) become prominentLeadership theories in the literature can be listed as fallows according to developmental order; Traits theories, behavioral theories, Contingency theory and new theories (Brestrich Topçu, 2000; Çelik, 1999; Erçetin, 2000; Hoy & Miskel, 2010; Şişman, 2002b). Some of the new theories leadership theories are; ethical leadership, cultural leadership, instructional leadership (Çelik, 1999; Şişman, 2002b), visionary leadership (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Kouzes & Posner, 1987), transformational and transactional Leadership (Bass, 1985), quantum leadership (Erçetin, 2000), self-leadership, shared leadership (Pearce & Conger, 2003), distributed leadership (Gronn, 2002), charismatic leadership (Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977, Shamir, House & Arthur, 1993), servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1991; Spears, 2004), interactive leadership, authentic leadership (Luthans & Avolio, 2003), spiritual leadership (Fry, 2003), adaptive leadership ( Linsky & Heifetz, 2002), complexity leadership (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Uhl-Bien, Mrion & McKelvey, 2007).Complexity leadershipComplex adaptive systems are a basic unit of analysis in complexity science. Complex adaptive systems are interdependent agents who are bounded in a cooperative dynamic by common goal, outlook, need, etc., and these agents forms networks in which agents are interacting with each other. The structures of complex adaptive systems can change, e.g. like the individuals that comprise them, and they are linked with one another in a network which is dynamic and interactive. Complex adaptive systems emerge naturally in social systems and they are capable of solving problems creatively and are able to learn and adapt quickly (Hosking, 1988; Osborn, Hunt & Jauch, 2002). Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) is a framework for leadership that enables the learning, creative, and adaptive capacity of complex adaptive systems in knowledge-producing organizations or organizational units. CLT provides an overarching framework that describes administrative leadership, adaptive leadership and enabling leadership; it provides for entanglement among the three leadership roles. Administrative leadership, which is focused more on efficiency, control and the exploitation of responses, is concerned with traditional top-down leadership. Adaptive leadership refers to the leadership that occurs within the interdependent interactions of emergent collective action. Enabling leadership serves two functions. First, it creates conditions which stimulate emergent collective action and adaptive leadership. Second, it channels productive responses originating in the emergent collective action back up to managerial leadership for strategic planning and exploitation (Lichtenstein, Uhl-Bien, Marion, Seers, Orton & Schreiber, 2006;Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Uhl-Bien, Mrion & McKelvey, 2007). Complex Leadership differs from traditional models of leadership on key issues. First, Complex Leadership argues that organizations and their leaders are products of interactive dynamics. Second, complex systems are better led by indirect than direct leadership behaviours. Complex Leadership moves away from traditional assumptions regarding hierarchical bureaucracy and top-down leadership control. Complex Leaders need to temper control preferences and instead foster and enable bottom- up behaviours and stimulate systems toward emergent surprises Third, Complex Leadership is not necessarily have a formal position but more properly permeates the complex organization. Complex adaptive agent is used as a term to capture this idea and to distance Complex Leadership from traditional notions of leadership as a formal position of control. Fourth, Complex Leaders can more effectively impact the fitness of the system by enabling distributed intelligence. That is, Complex Leaders foster connectivity among diverse agents and enable effective coupling of structures, ideas, and innovations to ensure they are neither too loose nor too tightly interdependent (Uhl-Bien, Mrion & McKelvey, 2007).DNA leadershipComplexity leadership, by taking the concept of adaptability, learning and innovation into centre, provides a new leadership paradigm for knowledge era. Living organisms, especially multicellular ones, are very complex system and very successful in adapting to changing environment and conditions which indicates the success of their management systems. DNA molecules are mainly responsible for the management of living systems. Therefore, this study has tried to relate the dynamic and complex management in living organisms with complexity leadership approach of information age in which the systems are also dynamic and complex. DNA in cell managementThe DNA of the cells of an organism specifies the functioning of that organism. The DNA contains not only the information to direct the organisms’ growth, development, self-maintenance and, responses to environmental changes but also the information to make more copies of the DNA itself and hence to produce new cells and new generations of offspring. The DNA programme of an organism is more like plan for action, a set of instructions to be used under specific circumstances in a sequence that may be triggered by the operation of the program itself as in many steps in the early development of an organism, or by the demands of environmental conditions. The DNA programme of living things is a linear arrangement of information consists of a linear sequence of chemical units linked together in long strands. The programme or set of instructions specified by DNA consists of genes, informational entities that control specific properties of the organism by presiding over the synthesis of individual chemical components of the cell of the organism. Each gene is a segment of a DNA strand; this fact allows us to refer to the programme in DNA as genetic program. Most genes specify the arrangement of chemical units in protein molecules. Proteins are the machine tools of functioning cells. Some act as catalysts that accelerate the chemical reactions of life; others serve as carriers of small molecules; still others serve as units that make up the structural elements of cells and organisms. DNA directs the synthesis of proteins through an intermediate substance called ribonucleic acid, or RNA (Keeton, Gould & Gould, 1993; Luria, Gould & Singer, 1981). DNA leadership in complex systemsLeadership in complex systems has been founded on three main axes which are administrative, adaptive and enabling leadership. Similarly in a cell these roles are carried out by DNA, mRNA and protein. The role of DNA in the cell seems to overlap with the role of administrative leadership in complex systems. DNA is a molecule that contains all the information regarding administrative functions within a cell. However, which part of information, to what extent and when that information will be used depend on the situation that arises with the environmental interaction. Administrative process, similar to that in complex system is sustained by shared leadership approach. DNA primarily shares its leadership role with mRNA. The role of mRNA in a cell similarly overlaps with the role of enabling leadership in complex systems. mRNA provides connections between DNA and protein that performs the work, in a sense, it works like an interface. Each protein performs its specific function, in a specialized manner, according to feedback received from the environment. From that perspective, the function of proteins in a cell coincides with the functions of adaptive leadership in complex systems. This metaphorical approach is considered to bring different perspective to the existing leadership approaches. In a developed multicellular organism, interactions within cell and between cells are carried out under the leadership of DNA. In this study just the processes within the cell was discusses since it will be a comprehensive study if all the interaction in an organism is discussed. Communications and interactions between cells can be examined in an administrative manner by other studies, and this type of studies could bring different paradigms to the leadership literature.
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