This research paper presents a review of leadership theory and outlines the qualities of exemplary leaders. The research paper begins with interpretation of basic concepts focusing on the difference between the terms “management” and “leadership”. The next section presents a range of qualities and essential behavior elements of a successful leader determined by representatives of leadership theories. The following section gives an overview of basic leader qualities offered by the author. The next section describes life histories of three outstanding leaders.
The research paper concludes with a discussion of becoming an influential leader process as a complex, multifaceted, and multistep way that requires significant effort. It is concluded that although scientists define various traits of a real leader, it does not mean he must own all of them. Though the more of them the leader acquires, the successful he becomes.
Leader vs. Manager
Whenever one person influences an individual or a group of people towards achieving an objective, leadership occurs. Consequently, leadership can be defined as the process by which a group or an individual is motivated towards the achievement of an organization's objectives. This process involves three components: the leader, the lead and a purpose.
In some cases, the terms “leader” and “manager” are used, as if they had equal meanings. Though, there are several differences between them. Managers in the first turn are budgeters, organizers and controllers. To be a manager, one must fit to three basic requirements: to have at least one subordinate, head at least one organizational department and have a certain range of responsibilities. An exemplary leader must not necessarily be a manager, but it is essential for a manager to be a successful leader.
A leader is an individual who offers guidance to others towards a common purpose, showing the way by own example, and builds conditions in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process.
What Makes a Real Leader?
The question of becoming an outstanding leader was explored by many outstanding scientists like Douglas McGregor, Robert Blake, Jane Mouton, John Adair, Robert Greenleaf, Meredith Belbin and many others. The complexity of leadership phenomenon has led to each scientist to offer own vision of this concept and its components.
A modern scientist Daniel Goleman considers emotional intelligence to be a significant trait of each leader. The most prominent is emotional intelligence as it determines the quality of a perfect leadership. Thus, a leader must have five skills which include:
- Self-awareness (managing to understand own feelings, moods, and drives, and their influence on others, that contains qualities such as self-confidence sense of humor);
- Self-regulation (capability to think thins through before acting and control impulses, that involves comfort with ambiguity, integrity, trustworthiness and openness to change);
- Motivation (a passion to work for goals that go beyond the status or money);
- Empathy (the ability to understand the emotional state of other people and treat them according to it, that requires relationship building experience, attention to different cultures and the ability to provide service to customers);
- Social skill (an ability to find common ground, build relationships and create networks, that involves persuasiveness, effectiveness in leading change, and experience in creating and leading teams).
John Hamm believes that the reason of most leaders’ failure is that they “fail to explain what they mean when they talk about organizational structure, financial results, their own jobs, time management and corporate culture” (Hamm, 2006, 3).
The researcher is sure, that each leader should know how to deal with such issues:
- Organizational structure and hierarchy; this is the optimization of human resource and utilizing it effectively without waste.
- Financial results; this is the control of financial matters in regard to the change financial situations.
- Own sense of job; ability to evaluate decisions especially with the subordinates.
- Time management; ability to define daily time limits and sticking to the schedule.
- Corporate culture; this is the development of team env8ironment, new visions and identifying solutions to problems.
The scientist reckons that each leader should seek feedback from his people as such rather expands his power and opportunities than loose them.
John Adair has developed an Action-Centered Leadership Model (Figure 1), which shows that an action-centered leader has ability set a task, support and supervises the individual people doing it, while upholding teamwork.