Leader and Leadership

Leader and Leadership

Leaders are persons who have the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. They do not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. Leadership is a process of individual influence on a group of individuals aimed at the achievement of individual and or common goals of the group or the organization. Thus without two elements of the leader and follower leadership ceases to exist.

Good and effective leaders lead. They create organizations which turn strategic aspirations into sustained actions. They do not try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people are to be led. Hey have a vision, set a direction, align motivate, and inspire people, act with integrity, and are authentic, and so on. A leader is needed to deliver the results. Results are the outcomes of the leadership actions.

Leaders have the qualities of determination, unselfishness, and motivation. They also possess the ability of having ‘people pay attention to them’. Further, leaders inspire subordinates to achieve their potential and show them that the whole can be far greater than the sum of the parts. In addition, leaders possess good judgment, an uncanny ability to spot talent which fits the needs of the organization and situation. To that end, leaders seek people with character as well as courage and develop them into ‘on-field leaders’, to use a football metaphor. Leaders provide an atmosphere of mutual admiration, a suppression of egos, and a team concept which allows the leaders to overcome adversity.

Effective leaders tend to share several traits. These include (i) intelligence which is the ability to integrate and interpret information, (ii) creativity which means that the leaders are to be innovative and original in their thinking (iii) self-confidence which means trust in themselves and confidence in their abilities, (iv) drive which means a high level of energy, initiative, and tenaciousness, (v) task-relevant knowledge which mean that they know their business and what it takes to make it successful, (vi) credibility which means that they are honest, trustworthy, predictable, and dependable, (vii) motivation which means they enjoy influencing others to achieve shared goals, and (viii) flexibility which mean they adapt to fit the needs of followers and demands of situations.

Leaders emerge from within the structure of the organization. Their personal qualities, the demands of the situation, or a combination of these, and other factors attract followers who accept their leadership. Instead of the authority of position held by an appointed head or chief, the emergent leader wields influence or power. Influence is the ability of a person to gain cooperation from others by means of persuasion or control over rewards. Power is a stronger form of influence because it reflects a person’s ability to enforce action through the control of a means of punishment.

Leaders who demonstrate persistence, tenacity, determination, and synergistic communication skills normally bring out the same qualities in their group. Good leaders use their own inner self to energize their team and organization. They lead the team to achieve success since they have leadership attributes such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills. They create trust in the group and to create trust the leaders subscribe to a value system consisting of a behaviour which enhances the confidence, commitment and enthusiasm of the people of the group.

Leaders have a vision. They do not follow a trodden path. They set high standards and goals across the entire spectrum, such as strategies, market leadership, plans, meetings and presentations, productivity, quality and reliability etc. They foresee the things happening in future due to their intuition and experience. They foresee paradigm changes which are going to come and guides their teams and organization on the path of success while negotiating these changes. They take a few steps ahead of their teams, but not too far for the teams to be able to understand and follow them.

There are five basic principles which apply to most of the leaders (Fig 1). As per the first principle, leaders are strategists who shape the future. They have a point of view about the future and are able to position their organization to create and respond to that future. They make sure that those around them understand the direction as well. They not only envision but also create the future. They figure out where the organization needs to go to succeed, they test these ideas sensibly against the available resources (money, people, and organizational capabilities). They work with others to figure out how to get from the present to the desired future.

As per the second principle, leaders make the things happen. They are executors and ensure to achieve the objectives and targets. As executors, they translate strategy into action, make change happen, assign accountability, know which key decisions are to be taken and whom to delegate, and make sure that the teams work well together. They keep promises to multiple stakeholders. This principle revolves around disciplines for getting things done and the technical expertise to the get the right things done right.

The third principle is about engaging of the available talent. As per this principle, leaders optimize available current talent. As talent managers, leaders know how to identify, build, and engage talent to get results in the existing environment. They identify what skills are needed, draw talent to their organizations, engage them, communicate extensively, and ensure that employees turn in their best efforts. They generate intense personal, professional, and organizational loyalty. The third principle of ‘leader as talent manager’ centers around the actions which help people develop themselves for the good of the organization.

The fourth principle is the building of the next generation by the leaders. Leaders as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people while human capital developing activities of the leaders ensure that the organization has the longer-term competencies needed for future strategic success. Leaders invest in the human capital for future success of the organization. They through-out the organization build a workforce plan focused on developing the future talent, and help employees see their future careers within the organization. These leaders ensure that the organization outlive any single individual.

The fifth principle directs leaders to invest in them.  Leaders need to have personal proficiency. Effective leaders cannot be reduced to what they know and do. Leaders being human beings, if they are to accomplish with and through other people, they are to be learners from success, failure, assignments, books, classes, people, and life itself. Passionate about their beliefs and interests, they are to use an enormous personal energy and attention on whatever matters to them. Effective leaders inspire loyalty and goodwill in others since they themselves act with integrity and trust. Decisive and impassioned, they are capable of bold and courageous moves. Confident in their ability to deal with situations as they arise, they can tolerate ambiguity.

Fig 1 Five principles of leadership

If these five principles are seen in totality, then leaders are to excel at personal proficiency. Without the foundation of trust and credibility, leaders cannot ask others to follow them. While individual leaders can have different styles (introvert vs. extrovert, intuitive vs. sensing, etc.), any individual leader is to be seen as having personal proficiency to engage followers. This is probably the toughest of the five principles since some individuals are naturally more capable than others. Most successful leaders have at least one of the other four roles in which they excel. All leaders are to be at least more than average in all the other four leadership principles. Further, the higher up the organization that the leaders rise, the more they are to develop excellence in more than one of these principles.

The difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader has soul, the passion, and the creativity while a manager has the mind, the rational, and the persistence. A leader is flexible, innovative, inspiring, courageous, and independent while a manager is consulting, analytical, deliberate, authoritative, and stabilizing. Essentially outstanding leaders become a fine balance between traits, abilities, behaviours, sources of power, and aspects of the situation. They influence followers in a desired manner to achieve the desired goals.

Leaders are persons who organize a group of people to achieve a common goal. They influence the people of the group towards a specific result. They are not dependent on title or formal authority. They are individuals with the capacity to consistently succeed in a given condition and be viewed as meeting the expectations of the organization. They are recognized by their capacity for caring for others, clear communication, and a commitment to persist.

Individuals who are appointed to managerial positions have the right to command and enforce obedience by virtue of the authority of their position. However they are to possess adequate personal attributes to match the authority, since authority is only potentially available to them. In the absence of sufficient personal competence, managers can be confronted by emergent leaders who can challenge their role in the organization and reduce it to that of a figure head. However, only authority of position has the backing of formal sanctions. It follows that whoever wields personal influence and power can legitimize this only by gaining a formal position in the hierarchy, with commensurate authority. Every organization needs leaders at each level.

Leaders are certainly more than someone who is a widely recognized individual or who possesses organizational authority. The leaders are (i) a forceful and dynamic personalities who really lead from the front (ii) architects and implementers of strategy, (iii) mediators in conflict situations, (iv) integrators who assure the climate of the organization, (v) persons who are able to motivate subordinates and who, by persuasion, compulsion are example to others, and (vi) persons who succeed in getting others to follow their wishes. Leaders are just ordinary people with extraordinary determination. A leader has the quality of leadership which is the art of mastering change and the ability to mobilize others’ efforts in new directions.

Leadership is the art of getting others to want to do something which the leader is convinced that it is to be done. It is the ability to get people to do what they do not want to do and like it. It is the capacity to influence others by unleashing the power and potential to impact the greater good. It is a process whereby individuals influence groups of individuals to achieve shared goals or commonly desired outcomes.

Leadership is a process by which the leader influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way which makes it more cohesive and coherent. It is a way of focusing and motivating group of people to enable them to achieve their aims. It makes the people accountable and responsible for the organization as a whole. It is the process of guiding people while operating to meet the organizational requirements and improving the organization through a change.

In military, the leadership is defined as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. The leadership role in an organization is assumed when an individual or group of individuals has a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished and is able to get the members of the organization to strive willingly for the common goals.

Leadership is a process of social influence by which a leader enlists the aid and support of the followers in the accomplishment of a common task. It can be defined as the ability of a person to get others to willingly follow.

Leadership style is the style of the leader to provide direction, to implement plans, and to motivate people. It is the result of the philosophy, personality, and experience of the leader. Leadership style is the relatively consistent pattern of behaviour which characterizes a leader. In the present day environment, every organization needs effective leaders who understand the complexities of the rapidly changing environment. Different leadership styles can affect organizational electiveness or performance. The success or failure of an organization has been largely credited to the nature of the leadership style of the organizational leaders.

Different types of leadership styles are prevalent. They are (i) transformational style, (ii) transactional style, (iii) engaging style, (iv) participative style, (v) autocratic style (vi) democratic style, (vii) supportive style, (viii) instrumental style, (ix) charismatic leadership style, (x) free rein style, (xi) self loving style, (xii) benevolent style, (xiii) toxic style, (xiv) task oriented style, and (xv) relationship oriented style.

Different situations call for different leadership styles. For example, in an emergency when there is little time for converge of an agreement and where a designated authority has significantly more experience or expertise than the rest of the team; an autocratic leadership style can be the most effective style. However, in a highly motivated and aligned team with a homogeneous level of expertise, a more participative or democratic style can be more effective. The style adopted is to be the one which achieves the objectives of the organization in the most effective manner while balancing the interests of different group of persons.

Disputes ranging from minor differences in opinion to fundamental differences in ideology can arise in the group. The group leader needs to have qualities to handle such disagreements constructively and to ensure that the people of the team remain focused on achieving the organization objectives. Leader encourages people to stand back from any disagreements and look at things objectively. By doing this, the leader not only resolves any differences but also avoids any possible conflicts.

 Attributes of a good leader

Good leaders need to have several attributes to demonstrate the qualities of their leadership. Some of the attributes of a good leader are shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2 Attributes of a good leader

Leaders are required to have an honorable character. They are to give selfless service to the organization. They are to be trustworthy and are to be fully committed to the organization. They are to concentrate on what they are (such as beliefs and character), what they know (such as job, tasks, and human nature), and what they do (such as implementing, motivating and providing direction). They are to be able to convey the vision of where the organization is to go. They have to have effective communication in the following three critical areas which is the key to winning the trust and confidence of the people.

  • Helping the employees understand the organizational overall business strategy.
  • Helping the team members understand how they contribute in achieving key business objectives.
  • Sharing the information with the team members on how the organization is doing relative to strategic business objectives.

Leaders are to let vision, strategies, goals, and values to be the guide post for action and behaviour rather than attempting to control people. They have to understand the three attributes namely (i) be, (ii) know, and (iii) do, in order to know themselves. Seeking self improvement means continually strengthening these attributes. This can be accomplished through self study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others etc.

As good leaders, they are to know their job and also have a solid familiarity with the team members’ tasks. They are to search for the ways to guide their organization to new heights. When things go wrong they do not blame others. They analyze the situation, take corrective actions, and move on to face the next challenge.

Good leaders use good problem solving, decision making and planning tools for success. They are good role models for the team members. They not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see around them. This provides them with good input for decision making.

Good leaders are to know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for their people. They are to be observant and sensitive towards the people. They are to know their teams and to develop mutual confidence within them. They need to know how to communicate not only with heir team members but also with seniors and other key people.

Good leaders develop a sense of responsibility towards their people. It helps to develop good character traits which help in their carry out their professional responsibilities. They ensure that the tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished by the people. Communication is the key to this responsibility.

Good leaders train and develop their team members. They use the full capabilities of their organization. By developing a team spirit, they are able to employ their organization, department, section, etc. to the fullest capabilities. For this attribute, they are to be self disciplined to ensure discipline amongst their people. Further, good leaders are not only be sharp in decision making but are also able to convince others for implementation of the decisions.

A key aspect of leadership is delegation. Unless the leaders delegate tasks to their subordinates, the talent of their teams becomes inefficient and their teams get demoralized. Even though leaders have delegated a task to someone else, they are still responsible for making sure the task is done on time and correctly.

Good leaders have to raise the confidence of the people. They need to make them understand that tough times are part of life and that they come out better at the end of it. They have to create and sustain their hope, and energy levels to handle the difficult days. Further, such leaders lead people to fight for the truth and never compromise on the values. Effective leaders, through honesty and with desirable behaviour, reap long-term benefits for their people.

The behaviour of good leaders is the most important factor which impacts the environment of the organization. Leaders have to prove their belief in sacrifice and hard work. Such behaviour inspires people to make bigger sacrifices. It helps to win the people’s confidence, making leadership to become credible, and also helps create trust in the ideas. Also, trust and confidence can only exist where there is a premium on transparency. The leaders have to create an environment where each person feels secure enough to be able to disclose his or her mistakes, and resolves to improve. Further, good leaders view training and coaching from two different viewpoints: coaching to lead others and being coached to achieve self improvement.

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