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Curriculum Center Browse Bibliography Build EPacket Pricing Structure Distribution Process Management Control in Nonprofit Organizations
Note on Leadership
Young, David W.
Functional Area(s):
   General Management
   Management Control Systems
   Organizational Behavior
   For Profit
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pages: 11
Teaching Note: Not Available. 
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First Page and the Assignment Questions:
    Too often, managers focus on only one aspect of a business, be it operations, marketing, finance or something else. Yet, as any good manager knows, an effective leader must integrate all aspects. Indeed, we read constantly about the need to manage across an organization’s chimneys, smokestacks, or functional walls. This is good advice, but it fails to answer a crucial question:

What is it, specifically, that senior managers, as leaders of their organizations, 
must attend to when adopting a cross-functional or integrated approach to management?

    This note strives to answer that question. As such, it does not focus directly on any of the traditional management functions, such as operations, marketing, accounting, finance, personnel, information systems, and so forth. The working assumption is that senior management has both the requisite knowledge in these areas, or competent people to worry about them, or both. Rather, the note focuses on seven activities that cut across these functions, and that senior managers must attend to if they are to lead their organizations successfully.

    These seven activities are the crux of a true cross-functional approach to management. At various times, the activities are called processes—the terms should be seen as interchangeable. The key aspect of an activity is that it has a process rather than a thing orientation. Organizational structure is a thing, for example. So too is organizational culture, as well as many other aspects of an organization, including, perhaps most importantly, the organization’s strategy. They are all things, or components, of the organization.

    This note does not deny the importance of those components. Its focus, however, is on the activities that senior management must attend to if it is to have the set of components it desires, and that can help to assure the organization’s success. For example, while senior management may design or redesign the organization’s structure, its leadership task is to assure that the interactions within that structure serve the organization’s best interests. Similarly, while an organization’s culture clearly is important, a key leadership activity is the maintenance of, or modifications to, the culture. These activities are what senior managers can use to change the way the organization works. Moreover, the note has an integrative focus, reflecting the idea that it’s not only the leadership activities that are important, but how they integrate, or fit, with each other. This concept of fit is a major theme of the note.


    The note is written for senior or aspiring-senior managers of medium- to large-sized organizations, although it can be of help to the CEO of smaller organizations as well. Like Japanese Haiku, it is designed to stimulate your thinking, and in so doing, can assist you to work with your subordinates and colleagues to help move your organization toward success.

    The note is designed to be applicable to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Indeed, a major assumption that underlies the note is that, when it comes to the work of leadership, there are few differences of any significance between these two types of organizations.
    This is not to say that there are no important differences between for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Clearly, there are differences in ownership, governance, compensation arrangements, tax status, IRS reporting rules and requirements, financial performance standards, customer focus, community concerns, and others. But when it comes to the activities that senior executives can use to influence the way their organizations operate, the conceptual frameworks discussed in this note are equally applicable to both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.


    Much has been written about the topic of leadership. Readers interested in an especially useful coverage of the topic may wish to order a paperback anthology entitled Harvard Business Review on Leadership (Harvard Business School Publishing, Product Number 8834). The book contains eight of the Harvard Business