Sunday, 15 June 2008

GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment: Issue33.

“People are likely to accept as a leader only someone who has demonstrated an ability to perform the same tasks that he or she expects others to perform.”Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

2 samples

Andrew's Writing:Are people likely to accept as a leader only someone who has demonstrated the capability of performing the same tasks that he or she anticipates others to perform ? At least not for me. That is, I do not agree with such an broad conclusion the speaker makes. For some people, a competent leader who can perform the same task is perhaps more convincing. However, according to my observation, most people follow the direction of someone if he or she is proved to be talented and persuasive in that field. He or she doesn't neccessarily have to have the ability to do the same thing.Admittedly, we can learn a lot from those who have already done the same task. A student is more likely to learn from the teacher who has good knowledge rather than from someone ameture. When someone wants to learn to dance, he or she expects the instructor to be a once dance champion in some competition. Even the couches for most sports teams were once excellent players. As evidence shows that some past Olympic gold medal winners become couches in the field that he once performed very well.However, the history abounds with more examples to demonstrate the opposite. During the World War II, Churchhill, the prime minister of United Kingdom, led his country to fight the war and was the great leader in the eyes of his citizens. The soldiers of his country listened to their leaders' commands not because the task those leaders once performed in the battle filed, but because the leadership charisma that inspired people through the speaking. Hitler, the dictator, was accepted as a German hero because his exagerating speeches that fooled his people, rather than any task he had once done. The best examples can be found among the movie industries nowadays. Many movie directors, such as Spielberg or Ang Lee, were accepted as great leaders in that field absolutely not because they are also good actors. Instead, it is because the directors' sense or creative ideas toward the art of movie. Their talents on directing, not performing, persuaves the actors or actresses to follow the directors' commands.In sum, people are more likely to accept as leader someone who shows the leadership charisma. The charisma can be demonstrated through speeches, through the prestige, or even through the media that promotes someone's image easily. The ability to perform the task in the same field is not the most critical.

Sample Essay:

People are more likely to accept the leadership of those who have shown they can perform the same tasks they require of others. My reasons for this view involve the notions of respect and trust.It is difficult for people to fully respect a leader who cannot, or will not, do what he or she asks of others. President Clinton’s difficulty in his role as Commander-in-Chief serves as a fitting and very public example. When Clinton assumed this leadership position, it was well known that he had evaded military service during the Vietnam conflict. Military leaders and lower-level personnel alike made it clear that they did not respect his leadership as a result. Contrast the Clinton case with that of a business leader such as John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, who by way of his training and experience as a computer engineer earned the respect of his employees.It is likewise difficult to trust leaders who do not have experience in the areas under their leadership. The Clinton example illustrates this point as well. Because President Clinton lacked military experience, people in the armed forces found it difficult to trust that his policies would reflect any understanding of their interests or needs. And when put to the test, he undermined their trust to an even greater extent with his naive and largely bungled attempt to solve the problem of gays in the military. In stark contrast, President Dwight Eisenhower inspired nearly devotional trust as well as respect because of his role as a military hero in World War II.In conclusion, it will always be difficult for people to accept leaders who lack demonstrated ability in the areas under their leadership. Initially, such leaders will be regarded as outsiders, and treated accordingly. Moreover, some may never achieve the insider status that inspires respect and trust from those they hope to lead.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Issue 2 - Flat Organisations

The issue of a flat versus a hierarchical corporation or business is controversial. On one hand eliminating ranks and grades to classify employees encourages collegiality and cooperation, on the other hand it reduces career incentives and accountability. I feel that a hierarchical structure is applicable in more situations than a flat one. However, we need to look at both sides of the issue here.

Firstly, a hierarchical organization is more capable of rewarding employees with regard to their experience and expertise. In several corporations the nature of work is such that more senior people gain more knowledge through experience and become more capable in handling various problems and issues. Expertise and experience go hand in hand. An organization typically rewards such people with a higher designation and better paychecks as recognition of their expertise. An organizations promotion policy is an example. Rewarding an expert becomes a more complex problem in flat organizational structure and could lead to a lot of experts leaving as their seniority and work is not recognized.

Secondly, a reporting hierarchy in an organization improves accountability. If ones work is monitored and reviewed by a person of higher rank, then one is naturally more responsible towards the desired goals. For example, the number of bugs detected in the code of each Software Engineer in a team is monitored by the project manager. The manager then appraises each engineer on the basis of the quality of code developed. The project manager should naturally have more power, or a higher rank in the organization. It is not possible to implement this in a flat structure.

Thirdly, I agree that a flat structure encourages collegiality and cooperation among employees. But I think that these traits are desirable only to certain types of corporations. For example, in a research facility, it is best if all scientists cooperate and share their knowledge and research with each other, and achieve the objectives fastest. In general however, a competitive environment serves most organizations better. For example, in a car design firm it is best to have a hierarchy of engineers based on the degree of their expertise. Competition will motivate people to learn faster and contribute more.

Finally, I conclude that in general a hierarchical structure is more aligned to an organization’s objectives, than a flat one. However, both have their pros and cons. The structure should best suit the nature of the organization and organizational objectives.