It is the first and foremost, it is crucial to define who a leader is and what leadership means. A leader is a person who leads the others. The leader has to have his vision and drive or the commitment that will enable him to pursue and achieve that vision. Similarly, leadership is whereby one influences on others to achieve the set goals (Northouse, G 2007). Leadership challenges people to use their skills and capabilities to accomplish the things which they need to accomplish while being in the society or even personally. Dwight Eisenhower viewed leadership as the art of getting something done by someone who wants to do it. On the other hand, the leadership development is an activity which enhances leadership in people or organizations. It focuses on the growth of leadership as a step by step process.
Leadership is an area centrally concerned by people. It is a distinct role compared to any other due to its unique responsibility for people. An anonymous writer said that an organization is only as strong as its leadership. Effective leadership does not necessarily require the significant technical capacity or the intellectual greatness. This does not mean that these attributes are useless, but they are not pivotal. It is about the behavior, firstly, and skills, secondly. Good leadership needs the attitudes and behaviours that reflect the humanity. Effective leadership requires deep human qualities beyond the conventional notions of authority. For someone to be an exemplary leader, one has to learn to serve. Leadership is more a servant’s role than most people imagine it because it involves serving an organization or a group of people. Ineffective leaders consider the opposite thing to be true that the leader should be served and not vice versa. This faulty notion has attributed to the fall of many nations and organizations.
The difference between a leader and the rest people is that the leader sees the need and acts upon the needed things, while everyone else just watches or complains without doing anything. The leader initiates an action. One common misconception about leadership is that it is similar to management. This is not true. As mentioned earlier, leadership is related to the behavior, whereas management mainly concerns processes.
Secondly, management heavily relies on such measurable capacities as the effective planning, the use of organizational skills, etc. On the other hand, leadership relies strongly on the less tangible and less measurable things, such as: trust, honesty, decision-making, and the personal character. These are the facets of humanity displayed by the leader’s character. Napoleon believed that a strong leader needs to inspire his followers to give the maximum performance into the things he or she is doing.
Theories of Leadership
According to Bass’ theory of leadership, there are three ways a person could become a leader (Stogdil 1989; Bass 1990). The first two ways explain the leadership development for a small number of people. The first theory is that some personal traits in people may lead them naturally to have the leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory. The second theory indicates that a dilemma or crisis can cause a person to rise and deal with the situation bringing out some extraordinary leadership qualities. This is called the Great Events Theory. The last theory states that people can choose to become leaders, and, therefore, learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational Theory. In the current times, it is the most and widely accepted theory.
Main Factors of Leadership
There are four main factors in leadership (“U.S Army”, 1983).
A leader must have an honest understanding about himself as an individual, what he knows, and what he is capable of doing. For the leader to be successful, he must inspire his followers and convince them that he is worth to be followed.
A true leader must know his followers well enough to know the style of leadership which suits each of them. For example, a new employee will not be treated the same as an employee who has worked for the last ten years. The new one requires more supervision than the old worker.
In leadership, communication is a bi-way process. That is between the leader and his followers. However, most of this process is usually nonverbal. When the leader leads with his own example, and the followers follow him, this is the example of the nonverbal communication. It shows that the leader will not ask his followers to do something that he will not do. Communication can either establish or totally destroy the relationship between the leader and those that follow him.
In leadership, the leader will encounter various situations that he will need to deal with or to address. The situations differ and so should differ the way of taking care of them. One way of dealing with the situation may not work so effectively when you deal with the other situation. It is up to the leader to use the proper judgment on the best course of action to care of when the leader deals with various issues. It is crucial to note that the situation has a greater effect on the leader’s actions than his traits. Mischel (1968) observed that though some traits have the impressive stability during some time, they have the little consistency across situations.
The next thing is to look at the traits that make each leader outstanding or that set him apart from a crowd.
Qualities of a Good Leader
For the one to be termed as a good leader, it is necessary for them to possess at least most, if not all, of the traits below. These traits are such that will set the leader apart. The lucky ones are born with them, while the others develop them as they are improving their leadership skills. The bottom line is that they are indispensable from the leader. Firstly, they should be the people of integrity. That is they should be the people that do something because they believe it is being right and not just because of the ego. They should be able to keep their promise given to people. Confidence is another trait of the effective leader. No one will follow a coward even if he is right. A confident person has a greater chance to be followed than the person without it. Confidence in any leader is extending the followers, despite the challenges ahead. The confident leader will also assure and encourage his people to do what seems to be impossible. This is because, in front of challenges, the confident leader does not shrink back.
It is vital for any leader to release positive emotions. The positive person is a better company than a negative one who is always complaining. Even the Bible says that it is better to live on the roof of the house than to share the house with a nagging wife. The positive person gives the assurance even when sometimes difficult times start to prevail. In any organization, this is helpful because employees will not be tempted to quit as soon as they see the company is facing some tough economic times. The positive leader does not focus on the mistakes of people but considers the lessons learnt from these mistakes. The leader also needs to be tied to his work and to the vision he has concerning it. The failure to commit will result in half finished projects. Commitment is vital because it is the factor that will push someone to achieve something considered as impossible by everyone.. The commitment forces someone to move on even when they are on the verge of giving up, because such leader displaying the commitment will be able to encourage his followers to do the same. The next pertinent trait of the effective leader is wisdom.
The leader cannot be effective if he is not wise. Leadership involves the decision making process. As such, he needs to be wise in the decisions he makes to avoid any losses.
In addition, the exemplary leader must be passionate. This is what will make everybody push them harder. When the leader is passionate of something, he will do it without much difficulty because it is something that he loves or enjoys doing. The lack of passion makes it even harder to encourage other workers. Passion is a contagious trait. If the leader possesses it, there are many chances that the followers will the same possess as their leader, hence, making the environment conducive for any progress.
The last but not the least trait is that the exceptional leader must possess humility. Without the humility, the leader cannot achieve his full expectations. This is because he must be humble enough to accept the correction when he makes a mistake. Humility touches the lives of those who are located in the least social bracket. A humble leader will not find it difficult to interact with poor and social misfits of the society because he has humbled himself to their level, hence, they can have a decent conversation then.
All the above and many more other qualities characterize the effective leader. The people that possess them will naturally attract their followers because they will inspire and motivate them.
These qualities produce a charismatic effect that will result into the outstanding leadership. Someone once said that a leader is not born but made. Dr. Freda Turner echoes these sentiments when she says that leaders are not born as the great leaders, great managers or great CEOs. Actually, each is born as a baby. Jago (1982) adds that good leaders develop through the continuous process of self-reflection, education, continuous training and experience. Good leaders constantly work and study to improve their leadership skills, and not just the rest on their laurels. As John F. Kennedy said: “ Leadership and learning are indispensable”.
For a person to be able to develop his or her leadership effectiveness, he or she needs to be focused and persistent. People can be trained in a classroom and read books as well. This is really highly effective. The success of the leadership development efforts is associated with three factors: the individual learner’s characteristics, the quality and nature of program, and the support for the behavioral change from the leader’s supervision. Leadership development programs can either be personal or collective.
Personal Leadership Development
The personal development is whereby the leader gets to know who he is, what he can do, where he is going as well as concerning his abilities to manage the communication, emotions and behavior on the way to getting there. It is about the personal mastery and the strong attitudes and skills foundation being useful for the effective leadership. A good personal leadership development program should enable any individual to realize the personal attributes such as gaining a focus, developing a purpose for life, and achieving dreams and goals. The person will be confident about his or her capabilities and will be able to produce the positive effects. In addition, the self-leadership development enhances the person’s responsibility for his or her actions as a leader.
People’s Leadership Development/ Collective Leadership Development
This program involves bringing people of different styles and competencies to work together towards the common goal. It involves getting the best from people by connecting their natural motivators with their visions of the company. In such program, the communication is vital as people get to learn from each other, as well as from their leader. People that also manage other workers learn how to coach and mentor other employees for the maximum performance. The collective leadership development focuses on such team activities as a team building that could well fit such a program. People learn how to tolerate each other and work together in harmony for the achievement of the common goal.
Both kinds of programs are a part of the leadership development and impact both on the leader and his followers. However, the modern day organizations also have developed another leadership development strategy referred to as the succession planning. This mainly involves training an individual for a leadership position in the company. Such individual has to portray the high potential and leadership qualities that could be sharpened to turn him into a great leader. For the one in such a program, they should have the extensive knowledge of the organization as well as to have the experience of all the departments of the organization. In the large corporate bodies, a potential candidate is transferred to various international branches in order to get the further knowledge and experience. A person in a leadership succession program should not only have the proper skills, but he or she should also have the vision of the company’s future and perspectives. As mentioned earlier in this paper, the leadership development is a process. As such, let us have a look at the process of great leadership.
Process of Great Leadership
According to Kouzes and Posner (1987), there are the following common steps to achieve the great leadership skills:
- Model the way: They argue that for any leader to be successful the exemplary life must be kept; this will motivate his followers to do the same. As the adage deduces, the process gets tough, and one’s hands become dirty. A leader should not shy away from getting his hands dirty when the situations get sticky. As William Penn said that, no man is fit to command the other person, yet he cannot command himself. The leader shows what needs to be done with doing this himself. However, the boss simply commands something to be done.
- Encourage the heart: The successful leader shares glory with his followers, while keeping the pains and heartaches inside of him or her. The exceptional leader encourages his followers or employees whenever they do something exemplary. There is nothing such motivating to any employee as receiving a good praise from his employer. It makes them realize that their efforts have been noticed. It also boosts other employees to work harder to be rewarded.
- Enable others to act: A good leader lets his followers find their own ways. Bosses, on the other hand, like to meddle in the affairs of their employees instead of letting them find their own ways around. The thing required from a good leader is to give his people the tools and leave them learning how to utilize these tools to solve their own problems.
- Inspire a shared vision: Great leaders have some visions that guide them. However, it is necessary to share these visions with the followers in such a way that they can understand to clarify their way they are moving to, and advice on the things that have to be achieved. Ineffective leaders hardly share their visions with their followers; and this makes the followers feel them left out from the whole process.
If one wants to be a great leader, he needs to observe and follow the above processes. In the end, he will witness the positive results yielded. Lastly, we shall look at the key principles of leadership. These principles are pivotal in the leadership development, and, without them, leaders cannot be effective.
Principles of Leadership
A good leader needs to:
- know himself or herself and seek for the own self-improvement. As mentioned earlier, he or she must be able to understand who he or she is, what he or she knows, and what he or she does. In addition, he or she has to improve him or herself while reading extensively, working hard in the field, as well as to strengthen his or her own personal attributes. This can be achieved by interacting with other people, going in for classes, and even having the time devoted to the personal reflection;
- be technically proficient. Any good leader needs to be familiar with all aspects of his or her job as well as those of the employees. He or she should know what each of them does, and how everything is done;
- be responsible. A responsible leader is one who will not always seek to blame other people, but will also take the responsibility for his or her actions when things are going wrong. He or she will analyze the situation and will take the corrective measures moving on instead of dwelling on the mistakes of other people;
- make wise decisions. For this, he or she will require the good problem solving skills, as well as the effective planning and decision making skills;
- set the examples. An effective leader should be able to act as a role model to his followers. His or her life ought to reflect what he or she preaches. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “We must become the change we want to see”;
- invest into a team work. Leaders should not seclude themselves from their followers. On the contrary, they should train everybody to be as a team and invest into the team building activities that will create a stronger bond between the leader and his followers;
- keep his or her workers informed. A good employer is the one who informs his or her employees of any updates in the company. This way they are kept on the same page of what is happening, and, as such, they are even in the position to contribute some meaningful ideas on how to improve the things in the company.
All the above and many more principles and rules guide a good leader to become even better while managing the organization.
In conclusion, any person does not become a good leader after one night because it is a whole complicated process of becoming a really effective leader. For some people, it is faster, but for others it is rather slow. Regardless of the speed it moves on, leadership is not easy and requires much time, patience, focus, and commitment in order to achieve the set goals.