Leadership is a very popular topic today and it has always remained an important part of human existence. Despite the fact, that not so many concepts have changed since the tribal and warrior times, the art and science of leadership is re-discovered to correspond to the modern environment. Researchers and practitioners clearly distinguish between leadership and management. Leadership is about managing energy, first in yourself and then in those around you. (Clawson, 2006). A true leader is able to engage people, navigate the way and encourage potential.
An example of an inspiring leader is Richard Branson, a CEO of Virgin Group Ltd. With his extrovert and entrepreneurial character, Sir Branson fits the criteria of a person who has the ability to influence people towards achievement of their dreams. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to start own business a year after that, and now Virgin Group Ltd. consists of over 300 brands from sound recording to airline industries. According to Carmine Gallo from the Forbes magazine, the first important skill of an inspirational leader is to show enthusiasm. Mr. Branson strongly supports the vision of Virgin company and he believes in what he does, that’s why people enjoy working with him and following his example. Such claims are written on the corporate website of Virgin Group and Richard’s autobiographical book “Screw it, let’s do it”. Because of an inspiring vision, members of successful groups feel more zealous about their work than average employees. (Clawson, 2006) Another crucial fact is that Richard nurtures trust in the team and motivates employees and colleagues to reach common goals. With his bold visions he moves the progress, such as revolutionizing low-cost airlines and introduction of the first commercial passenger spacecraft.
For another example of opposite I selected Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister. In this discussion I am going to analyze only leadership behavior, without any attachment to government and politics. He has enough power in his hands to control the biggest country on this planet, but he is not an inspiring leader to make people follow. First of all, he ignores public opinion and fails to act honestly. The last elections turned out to be fraudulent and caused several waves of protests in the country. Unlike in the beginning of his career, when his strong image was accepted well, Russians don’t support his actions and long-term power today. An inspirational leader should also make sure that people live up to their capabilities, however in my opinion Russia can be more than a powerful energy exporter, therefore Vladimir Putin doesn’t explore and develop potential of the country and its nation. Recent news in Russia also shows that Vladimir Putin was engaged in corrupt activities. Corruption is an abuse of power; its causes are organizational factors as well as leader’s individual characteristics (Nahavadi, 2006).
Both inspiring and uninspiring leaders change the world and influence people; however it takes more to inspire and to spread a good cause. In essence, it doesn’t matter what to lead. The most important thing is to appeal and make people follow because of their own will.
Afsaneh Nahavandi (2006), Power and Leadership 4 e., Prentice Hall Inc.
Carmine Gallo, The 7 Secrets of Inspiring Leaders, retrieved on 01/02/2012 from
James Clawson (2006) , Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface, 3e, Prentice Hall
Corporate web-page of Virgin Group Ltd. http://www.virgin.com/about-us, accessed on
Thomas Grove and Guy Faulconbridge, Tens of thousands of protesters pressure Putin, Reuters,
retrieved on 01/02/2012 from < http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE7BN04420111225>