Leadership Part 1


Approaches to organisations

The governing body of an organisation, from the initial decision to create an organisation, needs to consider and decide what the motivation to engage in one’s business activities is to be. This motivation usually fits under either a product or process approach.


Product versus Process approach

A product approach focuses on the outcomes of the organisation. For example, a manufacturing organisation with the objective of maximizing profits via the sale of unit ‘x’, is most likely going to take a product approach: to produce and supply a tangible product as the basis of their purpose for existence.
A process approach focuses on the processes that an organisation engages in, in order to realise the purpose of the organisation. It is unlikely that a process orientated organisation would be motivated by maximizing profits alone. Examples of organisations with a process approach could be those developing science and technology.

Service organisations

However, a type of organisation that is likely to be both profit-orientated organisation and use a process approach is a service organisation. Services organisations provide some form of service as the basis for their purpose for existence. Examples of industries where service organisations are likely to exist are: hospitality, (commercial) education, age care and childcare.


My provision of service to a wide range of organisations

I have for a number of years operated a service organisation, providing business development training to international organisations. The range of industries that these organisations sit within are diverse. For example: manufacturing, hospitality, edu-tourism, commercial (government and private) post-compulsory education, training & ancillary services, higher education, natural therapies and retail industries.

The implications of these approaches on staff performance 

In working with this diverse range of organisations, I have noted across most of these organisations that a similar phenomenon continues to arise. I have found consistently that when my services have been recruited under the broad banner of staff training, I soon realise that the issue of staff performance is actually only a surface manifestation of a more systemic issue. I generally find, as I engage with the organisation through the provision of the training, there is an underlying issue that causes staff to act in a certain manner that frustrates management. I have found in what I believe to be a non-coincidental number of instances that the staff’s poor performance and frustration is tied directly to the approach the stewards have decided upon initially, when they were establishing the organisation: their product approach with an accompanying autocratic management style.
As a result of my experience in service provision to this range of organisations, I have concluded that the initial approach organisations decide upon to position, structure and operate their company, has a natural flow on effect as to the way staff engage in the organisation, across the life of the organisation.  A product approach with an accompanying autocratic management style may appear on the surface to enable the stewards and managers to achieve a degree of compliance with effective systems to realise the organisational objectives from the outset. However, I have consistently found the opposite to be true in the longer term. As the organisation matures, I have found that a product approach with an autocratic management style outgrows its usefulness in the first few years. This approach fails a healthy organisation work place, where seemingly motivated, empowered, high performing staff that were at one point in time inspired to share a vested interest in the vision of the organisation, lose their passion. I am cautious to say ‘lose their passion’ as I have cited many examples of staff where I would strongly suggest it is an archaic organisational approach and culture that has sucked the life out of the staff member; rather than (as I have heard so many times from stewards and managers) “the staff member has outgrown the organisation”. With the growing focus on organisational practice, the governing bodies of organisations have been put on notice to progress their approaches, and be more mindful of what they decide on to better direct the culture of the organisation into the future. Organisational governing bodies need to take responsibility and be proactive regarding their ongoing sustainability.
The following summary represents my observations of working with organisations that have employed either a product or process approach in directing their organisation. I acknowledge the sample is small – about thirty companies in total over a three (3) year period. However, I believe the data listed below lends itself to broad generalisations being direct link between an organisational approach and staff morale, engagement and contribution.

In general




Focus of Practice
The end result is the focus
The work practice is the focus
Style of practice
Outcome orientated
Emergent orientated
Type of testing of the practice
Tools used to manage performance
Summative approach
Formative approach
What is to be tested?
The final product
The process one went through to get to the final product
What aspect is to be fedback?
Feedback on one’s achievement of the final product – successful or unsuccessful
Feedback on ones’ progress/
What mode of feedback is provided?
Once the objective has been realised, what is likely to occur?
Achieve? Next goal?
Not achieve?
What’s next?
Review of one’s process
Result of holistic outcome analogy for the staff involved and the organisation overall
moves onto the next goal
the result usually encourages ongoing assessment of the process

In terms of specific practice

Management Practice




the organisational management style 
Typical flow of information
Top down directives
multi-directional flow, with
multi-tiered collaboration
Communication Style
Dictatorial /Authoritative (irrespective of how it is delivered)
Verbs describing the management communication style
Tells, sells
Consults, shares, delegates
What this communication style telegraphs to subordinates
No or condescending trust or confidence
Substantial trust and confidence
Result of communication style
Encourages no discussion or generation of ideas and opinions within the organisation for solving issues with jobs
Encourages freedom of discussion, and generation of ideas and opinions for constructive use
Result of the particular management approach
Staff tend to go to work for the pay
Staff go to work to be involved with something
Staff Morale
Low staff morale with suspicion of any requests or activities related to staff
High staff morale
“we would turn up even if there was no pay”
Tools used to manage performance reviews
Summative approach
Formative approach
Staff view of their performance reviews and the way they organised and delivered
Staff interpretation of appraisals
Performance management is a process where they are told what they are not doing
It is an opportunity to receive constructive feedback to develop their professional skills to become more professional
Affect on staff’s willingness for Professional Development
Staff are demotivated by extrinsic required professional development.
Staff are only likely to engage in required professional development given their suspicion that the PD activity is tied to performance management
Staff intrinsically engages in professional development, and embraces their organisational culture which actively promotes and facilitates professional development

Affect on Service Organisations




Result of the Management Approach
As staff tend to go to work for the sole purpose of their pay, they are likely to make their own decisions regarding the level of service provision that they provide
Staff go to work to be involved with something, and therefore are likely to be highly motivated in the level of service provision that they provide
Alignment of staff actions with organisational goals
Such service provision is likely to be tied with the individual staff’s motives and in conflict with the organisation’s goals
Service provision is likely to be in harmony with the culture and philosophy of organisation
Affect on staff’s willingness for Professional Development
Staff engaged in professional development only in lip service given their suspicion such is tied to performance management. Any professional development is done only for their own motivation to better themselves and/or their qualifications to capture a better job in an alternative organisation
Staff intrinsically engages in professional development, and embraces their organisational culture which actively promotes and facilitates professional development
Staff view of organisational Professional Development activity
The completion and/or achieving the minimal required overall grade is the focus, in order to ‘tick the box’
Staff are interested in the journey – experience and knowledge gained is the focus
Staff get a competency grade
Staff get feedback of their involvement and contribution in the organisation
Benefit to staff
Staff receive feedback on their achievement of the desired outcome – successful or unsuccessful
Staff receive feedback on their  progress in the organisation
Holistic Outcome
Staff receive some form of certification
Staff receive detailed diagnostics of their progress in the organisation
Holistic outcome analogy
Staff retreat back to their roles, head down until the next directive arrives
Staff see this process as part of an ongoing process for improved professional practice. This process encourages staff to reflect on their  involvement and contribution
With the growing focus on organisational practice and sustainable performance, governing bodies of organisations have been put on notice to progress their approaches and be more mindful of what they decide on to better direct the culture of the organisation. I believe the data listed above facilitates broad generalisations being made regarding the direct link between an organisational approach and staff morale, engagement and contribution. As organisational governing bodies report to their stakeholders, they need to be mindful of what the most effective approach regarding the direction and culture of the organisation is going to be for future sustainability.


Characteristics of a Leader image courtesy of Characteristics of Leaders Accessed 10th September 2013
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Question mark image courtesy of: Cool Text Accessed 11th September, 2013.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.
Society image courtesy of Development of society  Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Vision blueprint image courtesy of:  Vision Blueprint  Accessed 10th September, 2013.


Filson, B (1994) The new leadership Hospitals & Health Networks “Leadership in Health care” Chicago. Volume: 68 Issue: 17, 1994
Galbraith J R (1977) Organisation Design Reading:Addison-Wesley
Galbraith J R (1977b) The Age of Uncertainty EPS 12:Democracy, Leadership and Commitment UK:BBC Recording(Video)
Gemmill G, and Oakley J, (1992) Leadership: An Alienating Social Myth? Human Relations, 45(2), p113-127
Hart S, and Quinn R (1993) Roles Executives Play:CEO’s, Behavioural Complexity, and Firm Performance Human Ralations, 46, pp543-574
Hitt, W (1995) The Learning Organisation: Some Reflections on Organisational Renewal Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, 16(8), 17 –25
Limerick, D , Cunnington, B and Crowther, F.(1998) – Managing the New Organisation: Collaboration and Sustainability in the Post- Corporate World, 2nd Edition, Sydney: Business and Professional Publishing
Lupton, T (1971) Management and the Social Sciences, UK: Penguin
OECD (1992) The World Competitiveness Report Geneva: The World Economic Forum
Xin Katherine R. “Leadership” Leadership. Accesseed 10th May, 1997.
– ©David L Page 13/09/1996
– updated ©David L Page 12/09/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

David L Page

View posts by David L Page
With over 20 years experience in the arts & post-compulsory education, David has lived, studied and worked Internationally including Japan, India, Fiji, the US and NZ. David has extensive interests as per the extensive blogs hosted on his site (see below). Additionally, David has published in both lay texts and academic (peer-review) publications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top