The organization chosen is ABE Defense Systems. ABE Defense Systems is a global organization and a premiere defense contractor, specializing in defense, aerospace and cyber security. The organization that will be discussed is the network operations center of ABE Defense Systems. The leader selected is the director of the network operations center. The reason the director of network operations center was selected was to better understand the role and requirements of the position. This is a challenging position, responsible for the oversight and operations of all information technology’s “break and fix” services provided to its customers, the engineers and non-technical employees of ABE Defense Systems. Organization Description
In this section an overview will be provided on ABE Defense Systems and the network operations center. ABE Defense Systems is a multinational defense, security and aerospace company headquartered in London England. It is among one of the largest defense contractors in the world with its largest operations in the United Kingdom and the United States. The company was formed about 20 years ago as a result of a merger of 2 British companies. Since the merger, the organization has absorbed multiple aircraft, shipbuilding and armored vehicle companies. The organization is involved in many major defense projects around the world. The organizations objectives are to provide premiere security and defense services and products.
As previously described, the focus will be on the director of the network operations center for ABE Defense systems. The network operations center is responsible for all break and fix IT issues in the enterprise. The director is responsible for helping maintain the high availability of IT services. The network operations center is responsible for the network, server and backup administration and functions within the enterprise. These services are provided to the end users across the United States and ensure high availability of all required network resources. Since this is a global organization, employees working on a specific project, may be broken up and working from different locations. It is the responsibility of the network operations center to ensure resources are available 24/7. Leadership Practices
The leader selected for analysis is the director of the network operations center. The director can be described as a transactional leader. A transactional leader, also known as a managerial leader, focuses on the role of supervision, organization, and group performance; transactional leadership is a style of leadership in which the leader promotes compliance of his/her followers through both rewards and punishments. This type of leadership is effective in crisis and emergency situations, as well as for projects that need to be carried out in a specific way. (Transactional Leadership) The function of the network operations center operates to support the organization in times of crisis and emergency situations so a transactional leader is an appropriate fit in this environment. As the director, he clearly defines the roles and tasks of subordinates, provides structure, rewards employees appropriately, and displays consideration for followers. A practice of this leadership is that he defines team member’s roles. Defining member’s roles will help increase their effectiveness and efficiency.
As the network operations center handles multiple tasks and duties on a daily basis, defining one’s role will aid in the efficiency of the operations and will ensure crucial tasks are being performed on a day-to-day basis. Specific duties and task can be assigned to employees based on their skill set. If a member of the organization is more effective at preforming a specific task, he or she can be assigned the role of performing that particular task. This person can be considered a subject matter expert and will have the ability to pass on their knowledge to fellow employees. An example of this is the organization uses a particular backup solution to save data and backup servers in the event of hardware failure. This backup solution is not easily implemented or maintained and a subject matter expert is needed for any unforeseen events that may take place. The backup solution at times will fail and backups will not take place, leaving the most recent data that has not been backed up at risk. This happens quite often, as there are thousands of servers that require backups everyday.
An assigned team member with in depth knowledge of the solution is able to troubleshoot, diagnose and resolve issues much quicker then their colleagues. As this person is solely assigned this role, the director is effectively using his skill to ensure backups are properly running, ensuring crucial data is not lost. Another example of assigning roles is the director has assigned teams leads for each function the network operations center performs. The network operations center has three internal groups within the organization. These groups are network engineers, server administration and backup support. As the director is not a subject matter expert at each function, he is using his skill of assigning roles to leads that can disseminate knowledge and any important information to their peers in each respective group. As each group has a lead, the lead for each group will act as a conduit to the director; allowing any important information to flow down. As a result of this, each group can operate efficiently and effectively.
The director uses this skill to help improve productivity and it also aides in increasing subordinates morale. Employees feel as if they have purpose and as a result they take pride in the functions they perform. With their assigned roles, they also have a sense of commitment and feel as if they are a key part of the team. Another skill the director practices, as a transactional leader is he provides structure. As the network operations center is constantly monitoring the network 24/7, structure must be provided to keep operations flowing smoothly. The director has implemented policies and procedures. With multiple issues that may arise, he uses his skill to create a process when a particular event occurs. There is a structure on what actions to take and who to contact for every circumstance. If an issue never seen before arises, he uses his skill to create a process in order to handle said issue in the future. An example of this practice is a new classified network is created and a process must be created on how to handle issue related to the network.
Since it is a classified network, it does not adhere to the normal standards and processes. The director uses his skill to structure a process and how to take appropriate action. Another example of this is since this is a classified network; only those employees with government security clearance would have access. Prior to be being assigned the position of director, none of the employees in the network operations center had any type of security clearance. As a result, none of the employees were able to handle classified material. As the director, he realized the importance and need for employees to have and maintain a security clearance. He used his skill to create the structure and need for clearance. This has had a positive impact on the network operations center and the company as a whole. The structure has clarified teams members roles and allows for more streamlined processes. Another example of the transactional leadership trait exhibited is that he uses his skill to recognize and reward individual and group achievements and performance.
The network operations center is a high paced environment and team members must troubleshoot multiple issues per day. The tasks can come in the form of incident tickets where employees are assigned tasks and projects. It’s a fast paced environment, with a high volume of assignments and the more you tasks you can perform, the better. The director has the skill to recognize the efforts put forth by his team and can recognize that rewards and recognition of employee achievements is important the morale in network operations center. An example of this is employees are partly evaluated based on customer surveys.
Customers can survey the level of service they received from a team member. Those that receive a high rating are rewarded with an extra day off or a bonus. This gives the employees a sense of pride and gives others that have not done well, a goal to strive for. Another example is recognitions are communicated to the group when others outside of the network operations center recognizes efforts such as setting up a new server in a timely manner and restoring network services after a major network outage. The director uses his skill to recognize that employees will have a sense of pride and thus improve morale within the group. Relationship Between Leadership and Organizational Culture
The culture of an organization is the behavior of humans within an organization and the meaning that people attach to those behaviors. (Organizational culture) The organizational culture of the network operations center can be considered a fortress culture. In this particular style of organizational culture, employees don’t know if they’ll be laid off or not. These organizations often undergo massive reorganization. There are many opportunities for those with timely, specialized skills. (management culture) Since the company is a defense contractor, the need for IT services is always changing. Countries defense budgets can be very elastic thus the budget defense contractors have will also be elastic.
The director of the network operations center is skilled and aware that goals have to be met to justify the size of his staff. So that he does not lose subordinates due to a smaller budget, he assigns every subordinate multiple goals to justify the need for each employee. This can be a difficult task since there can have budget restraints. The current fortress culture of the business directly affects the network operations center. Upper management needs to cut costs somewhere and the director of the network operations center need to work together to determine how to find savings. An example of this is the director is an authentic leader; he remains true to his values and beliefs. He works for his employees believes that his subordinates should remain employed and their budget should not be cut. His view clashes with the organizations fortress culture. SWOT Analysis
In this section a SWOT analysis will be conducted on the network operations center. A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.(SWOT) A SWOT analysis is conducted to identify the important key factors that are necessary to achieve an objective. The objective the network operations center is trying to achieve is to provide high quality customer service and ensure high availability to all network resources. Their goal is to resolve all network related issues as quickly as possible. The SWOT analysis will aide in improving the efficiency of the group. Organizational Strengths
A strength that the network operations center has is they are all highly skilled and have obtained industry certifications to help resolve any type of network issues. The skills obtained from these industry certifications are a validation that they can resolve complex issues. These certifications are required by the organization. Without the knowledge on how to troubleshoot and resolve these issues, the organization would not be able to maintain the high availability of the network. An example of this is if a network router fails and needs to be repaired; only a network certified individual with knowledge of the equipment would know how to resolve the issue. The same would hold true in the event a server failed. An individual with formal server training would know how to resolve a server issue but not a network issue.
Another strength the organization exhibits is that they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the high availability of the network. There is always someone on staff at any time of day or night all year long. The network operations center maintains all network equipment including routers, switches, servers and databases. Network engineers and server administrators work in shifts to help monitor the network. In the event as issue occurs at any time of day, the staff is there to address any problems that may arise. The network-operating center monitors multiple remote sites and data centers. If a server or router should fail at 3 in the morning, the issue can be addressed and resolved fairly quickly minimizing any downtime to users. This has a positive impact on the organization as it ensures high availability of network resources. Organizational Weaknesses
A weakness of the network operations center is the staffing levels are constantly changing due to turnover. Due to budget constraints, the staffing levels of the network operations center can result in the group being understaffed at times. Since the network operations center provides a service 24/7, there is a need for a full staff to cover all shifts. Typically, the network operations center should have redundant staffing coverage in the event one of the employees would be unable to work. Due to budget constraints, there is no extra coverage during certain shifts such as weekends and nights.
An example of this is an employee that works at night needs to take time off; this can leave a shift without and employee, exposing vulnerabilities and putting the high availability of network resources in jeopardy. Another weakness of the organization is that other groups do not communicate with the network operations center. If the network operations center is not aware actions or changes being made by other IT groups within the organization, troubleshooting can be more difficult. An example of this is if another group is making changes to a switch or router and the network operations center is unaware of this, the network operations center may think that something is broken. They will use their time to troubleshoot the issue, not knowing that another group is making changes. This decreases the effectiveness of the network operations center.
An opportunity that the organization can take advantage of is new technology. As technology is constantly changing and evolving, there is an opportunity to implement new hardware or software. An example of this is the network operations center has dated monitoring software. It is very limited as far as features to aide in troubleshooting. There are many options available for the monitoring of network devices. There are many options as far as software that have many more features than the tools currently being used. This can benefit the organization by aiding the efficiency of troubleshooting. Another opportunity is that the network operations center is documentation. The organization does not have a single set location for documentation. The organization should have a single shared location where all collaboration can take place. This shared location would contain process documents, templates, graphical diagrams, troubleshooting steps and other core components required to perform tasks. With improved documentation, the staff can utilize their skills in a better manner and eliminate the wasted time that occurs when not having the required information readily accessible. Organizational Threats
Organizational threats can have a big effect on reaching the network operations center’s strategic goals. As ABE Defense Systems funding is based on how governments around the world decide how to utilize their defense budgets, the organization’s demand can be very elastic. Demand elasticity is a measure of how much the quantity demanded will change if another factor changes. (Demand Elasticity) Thus, a threat to the organization is funding can fluctuate. With fluctuations in funding, the need for IT services will also change. During times when governments are not spending a lot of their budget on defense, the organization requires less IT support since there are fewer projects being funded. The organization may see budget cuts. Staff will be reduced but the volume of work will remain.
Here, the organization will be challenged to maintain the same amount of productivity, and resolve the same amount of issues, while maintaining the same quality of service. Another threat the organization faces is changing technologies. With the constantly changing technologies, the staff needs to remain up to date with standards and the new operating systems. Features and processes will change and they will be challenged to keep their industry certifications current. Should the group not stay current with technologies, they run the risk of having theirs skill become outdated. Leadership Evaluation
The leader selected for analysis is the director of the network operations center. The director can be described as a transactional leader. A transactional leader, also known as a managerial leader, focuses on the role of supervision, organization, and group performance; transactional leadership is a style of leadership in which the leader promotes compliance of his/her followers through both rewards and punishments. This type of leadership is effective in crisis and emergency situations, as well as for projects that need to be carried out in a specific way. (Transactional Leadership) The reason he was selected for analysis was due to the practices and skills observed while performing his duties as the director of the network operations center. Leadership Strengths
A Strength that the director practices in is his role as a leader is that he defines team member’s roles. Transactional leaders excel at management functions. They are hardworking, tolerant, and fair minded. They take pride in keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. They have a sense of commitment to the organization and conform to organizational norms and values. Transactional leadership is important to all organizations. (Burns, 1978) Using his skill to define member’s roles has helped increase their effectiveness and efficiency. As the network operations center handles multiple tasks and duties on a daily basis, his ability to define one’s role has helped increase efficiency of the operations and has ensured crucial tasks are being performed on a day-to-day basis. Specific duties and task have been assigned to employees based on their skill set.
This has had a positive impact as the team member’s are considered a subject matter expert in regards to a particular function or technology and been able to pass on their knowledge to fellow employees. As a result, the director has used this skill to ensure the network operations center is able to handle all day-to-day operations effectively and efficiently. Another strength exhibited is he provides structure. The network operations center is constantly monitoring the network 24/7, in a very fast paced environment. There are thousands of network devices in the environment that are constantly monitored. The structure created helps keep operations flowing smoothly. The director has implemented policies and procedures. With multiple issues that may arise, he uses his skill to create a process for each scenario and function served in the network operations center. He uses his skill to recognize a process should be created on required actions to take including any resource or personnel to contact for every circumstance. His ability to provide structure for his team has helped create a cohesive group that is well equipped and prepared to handle assigned assignments.
This has had a positive impact on the organization as all tasks and assignments given to the team can be addressed quickly and efficiently as they have a process. His subordinates have recognized that the structure provided has created stability, as they know how to handle tasks that are assigned to the network operations center. Transactional Leadership is based upon the premise of incentives and/or punishments for compliance with and acceptance of authority, thus, a reciprocal exchange of work for reward. (Robina & Brian, 2010) This is another strength of the director. He uses his skill to recognize employees that do well and will reward them in some form. He is effective at motivating employees that are not performing well and gives goals to obtain. The director has the skill to recognize the efforts put forth by his team and can recognize that rewards and recognition of employee achievements is important to the morale in network operations center. Leadership Weaknesses
Transactional leaders are associated with a less comprehensive decision style and reflect a style that restricts the amount of information that is processed (Eberlin, 2005; Kedia et al., 2002; Tatum et al., 2003). As the organization is a defense contractor, it operates on a need to know basis and includes employees as such. The director is not privileged to a lot of information that could be beneficial to the group. An example of this is if a system or service is installed in a classified network. The director may not be made aware of this since he does not immediately need to know about the service. He needs to be able to pass on any important information to his employees in a manner that will not risk putting sensitive information at risk.
The negative impact this has on the group is that the network operations center does not have the required information to effectively perform their duties As a transactional leader, it is difficult for the director to be innovative and to initiate and lead change. This is another weakness of the director. While the director is able to create structure, he is unable to change the way team members perform a particular process. It is difficult to improve on the process in place. He needs to have the ability to lead changes in the organization’s mission, strategy, structure, and culture, as well as to promote innovation in products and technologies. (Daft & Lane , Nd) This weakness has a negative impact on the organization as team members’ morale may be affected negatively since they will begin to feel limited in their role.
In organizations where the transactional influence process prevails, followers will soon cease to experience dignity, meaning, and community so essential for the growth of both the organization and its members. (Mendonca & Kanungo , 2006) This is another weakness that is seen in the director. The network operations center’s function does not change. Growth within the organization can be difficult as a result. Since are limited only to the function they perform, it makes learning new skills and technologies difficult. An example of this is during periods where the organization is required to maintain a small budget; there is little room for growth. The director is unable to provide an opportunity for growth and as a result team members begin to question their meaning to the organization. Recommendations for Leadership Development
To enhance leadership development, is recommended that director develop the ability to lead changes in the organization’s mission, strategy, structure, and culture, as well as to promote innovation in products and technologies. (Daft & Lane , Nd) This is a trait that can be learned to help the director gain the skills necessary to become a transformational leader. The expected outcome of gaining this skill is to help increase morale, motivate team members and to better strategize issues that are encountered in the network operations center. While the director is skilled at recognizing when team members should be recognized and rewarded, he should do not rely solely on tangible rules and incentives to control specific transactions with followers. (Daft & Lane , Nd) The director needs to gain this skill of recognizing that he needs to not only recognized and reward team members but learn how to help develop his team’s skills both personally and professionally.
This practice is recommended to help develop team members as it will help benefit the organization’s skills as a whole. The outcome of this practice will help develop team members and will assist in the director in his practice to become a transformational leader. Studies show that transformational leadership has a positive impact on follower development and follower performance. (Daft & Lane , Nd) Another practice recommended for the director is that he inspire and motivate followers, rather than lead based on reinforcement and exchanges. He is skilled at rewarding team members and for recognition. This practice is recommended to help his team members’ morale and to inspire their growth within the organization. The expected outcome of this practice is that team members work harder and become inspired.
Demand Elasticity. (2014, January 1)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_leadership (Transactional Leadership) Burns, J. (1978). Leadership.
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