Working with and leading people
A leader must have certain skills and attributes which makes people obey and abide by his decisions. Some important skill sets leaders should have is having a drive to achieve, integrity and honesty, motivation, emotional maturity, cognitive ability, flexibility and creativity, charisma, self confidence, business knowledge, self efficacy and effectuation. These are just some skill sets that a leader should possess. In general, the traits of most leaders may be divided based on task competence or trait related, interpersonal attributes and demographics. In a similar manner, the behaviours displayed by leaders may be further classified into change, relational dynamics and task processes (Derue et al.). Based on demographics, attention has been given to leadership styles depending on the gender. However, when studied in integration with other leadership traits and behaviours, there is not much impact of gender on leadership effectiveness. Scholars have researched on a variety of attitudes and traits depending on task competence such as conscientiousness, emotional stability, zeal to experiment and explore and intelligence. Interpersonal attributes like being warm, friendly, agreeableness and extraversion helps a person to be an effective leader. Effective leaders should take initiates, be persistent and ambitious and motivated. They must be capable of implementing the vision by means of training and selection, structured process, delegating authority, motivating followers and building self confidence, attaining challenging and specific objectives and acting as a role model. They also must be capable of building and managing teams, taking care of data and encouraging innovation and change (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 50).
Leadership has a plethora of explanations. Scholars have explained leadership by means of behaviours, traits, role relationships, interaction patterns, occupying a certain administrative post or influences on followers. However most leadership definitions presuppose that leadership involves making a process wherein the leader influences its followers to structure, facilitate and guide tasks in an organization or group (Yukl, 20).
Leadership and management are linked with each other and must go hand in hand. However, there are several differences between a leader and manager. A leader is a person who does the right thing whereas a manager does things in a correct manner. A leader is one who innovates, looks out for solutions, have empathy towards workers, instils trust among relevant stakeholders, have high skills to listen, understands the long term picture, looks out for opportunities to find out strengths and finds out means and ways in which the current state of affairs may be improved. On the other hand, a manager act as an administrator, accepts events and current trends, emphasizes on systems, structures and control, perceives threats, manages subordinates and tries to lessen weaknesses (The Wall Street Journal). However the most important function of a leader is to make a vision and this is one of the most important traits which differentiate a leader from a manager. Hence a leader must have a combination of vision, skills and implementing the vision by directing followers to achieve short term and long term goals. On the other hand, a manager is one who is responsible and accountable to get a work done from subordinates. The manager does not create or implement the path to attain the vision.
The main styles of leadership include autocratic, laissez-faire and democratic styles. The autocratic or authoritarian or dictatorship style of leadership is featured by an individual who makes the directions and expects followers to obey them. These leaders are hostile, boastful, egotistical and arrogant.
The laissez-faire leader believes in completely empowering its followers. It is just the opposite of autocratic leadership. Here, the leader gives full freedom to the followers and hence there is absence of objectives leading to complete chaos in the firm.
The democratic leader concentrates on sensitivity and group relationships. The leader discusses issues with the team before taking any decision. Hence, it follows a structured and a cooperative method to taking decisions. Such leaders are usually friendly, confident and warm.
Other than the three main styles, there is also another style a leader may adapt. A situational leader is one who considers the situation at hand and adapts the style which best suits it. For example, if a task needs to be completed within a set deadline and the subordinates show an attitude of laxity then the best style adapted at that time would be the authoritative or autocratic style.
Motivation theories are extremely relevant to leadership. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stems from the fact that individuals first satisfy their physiological needs before trying to satisfy higher needs like social needs, esteem needs and lastly to satisfy the need for self actualization. Leaders use Maslow’s theory to make opportunities wherein followers can best use their skills and talents. Also the role of recognition stems from these motivation theories. Leaders usually recognize the contribution of followers thereby satisfying their esteem needs.
Herzburg’s hygiene factors are of extremely significance as he classifies things to be motivators and de-motivators. According to him company policies like working climate and salary either motivates or de-motivates employees. Other motivating factors are career path, recognition, achievement and accountability and responsibility.
McGregor’s X and Y theory of motivation considered two leadership styles – authoritative managers as X and participative managers as Y. In this case, a democratic style would best suit to handle senior employees by recognizing and honing their skills and talents. On the other hand, meeting certain administrative work can be done by adapting an authoritative style.
The capability to influence people can be attained by means of power. One of the most celebrated theories on power has been provided by French and Raven. According to them, there are five main types of power which may be further categorized into personal power and organizational power. Organizational power is got by means of the post enjoyed in the firm and gives an individual reward, coercion and legitimate powers. Personal power is referent and expert power. Position or legitimate power is the ability which a person uses to influence subordinates. This gives the power to direct others. Managers may ask subordinates to sit late in order to complete a work in time or adhere to certain timelines. This is done by means of legitimate power. In exercising position power, subordinates have a right to either comply or deny. If managers ask executives to type a company document then they may comply. On the other hand, a subordinate may refuse to execute some personal work given by a manager. Hence, managers should not overstep certain boundaries of legitimate power (Greenberg, 110).
Reward power is used by managers by rewarding personnel for excellent performance or by encouraging certain appropriate behaviour in the firm. Rewards may be financial or non financial. Financial rewards may be in the form of higher pay including cash incentives and bonuses whereas non financial rewards may be in the form of recognition, praise and promotions. Reward power may lead to better performance.
Coercive power is the power an individual uses by taking punitive action against subordinate to discourage certain unwanted behaviours. Organizational punishments include undesirable work, reprimands, suspension, disposal or demotion. Such power has adverse effect and should be used with great care (Lunenburg, 3).
The leader uses expert power by influencing subordinates by means of the skills, abilities and knowledge he possesses. This power is based on the acknowledgement of the expert power by followers. Such leaders seem to have expertise in certain functional tasks. Also a person is given expert power by followers when they develop feelings of trust, relevancy and credibility in the leader (Luthans, 86). Thus, the leader uses power to control and at the same time delegate tasks to subordinates. Hence, power and control are integral assets of a leader and the leader must use them effectively and efficiently.
The seven components of emotional intelligence proposed by Dulewicz and Higgs are relevant to leadership literature. These comprise of self awareness. The leader should be aware of emotions and be capable of identifying and managing these feelings. Such individuals must be able to perform consistently well under pressure situations. In other words, leaders should be emotionally resilient. The leaders should be motivated and have the energy and drive to attain results, draw a balance between long term and short term objectives and face rejection and challenge. Leaders should have interpersonal sensibility. In other words they should know the feelings and needs of followers and effectively interact with people to arrive at certain consensus or decisions. Leaders must be able to influence followers to change their outlook with respect to certain decisions and issues. They should be intuitive and use interaction and insight for decision making in situations where they have incomplete or vague information. Leaders should have integrity and conscientiousness. They should be committed to taking a certain path despite challenges, adhere to certain ethical values and norms (Higgs, 102).
Above all, a leader should have certain skills and attributes which makes followers listen to the person and follow a certain path to meet short term and long term goals in order to achieve a mission. A leader is a visionary, guide and mentor and helps organizations to gain competitive edge by driving performance and sales by motivating and engaging employees. A strong leader must be empathetic towards followers and at the same time must have the empathy and listening skills to influence the subordinates to attain goals.
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Kirkpatrick, S.A. & Locke, E.A. “Leadership: do traits matter?” Academy of Management Executive, 5.2(1991): 48 – 60. Print.
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Luthans, F. Organizational behaviour. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2011. Print
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