Importance of leadership traits in a manager
John Smith was a charismatic personality. A bachelor of engineering and a post graduate in management, John began his career with a top Oil and Gas Company in the world that was headquartered in U.S. After having worked there for 23 years, he opted to pursue higher management studies and got into a top management course at Harvard. After completing his MBA in marketing and finance, he joined as a Chief marketing officer at Evlon Oil Company. It was an emerging oil and gas company that employed more than 5000 employees worldwide.
The company management had high hopes from John Smith and they sincerely believed in his potential to succeed. The management had analysed the performance of John Smith over the past three months, and they were very happy with his efforts. They found that he was an extrovert personality. Agreeableness was another personality trait that could be associated with John. This is was extremely pleasing to the higher management because they knew that leaders who scored high on Agreeableness were good natured, forgiving, courteous, helpful and cooperative (Matzler,K. & Renzl,B. Personality Traits, Employee Satisfaction and Affective Commitment. p.590). He was also open to new ideas that could be put to practise through a sustained marketing campaign.
Leadership and management are those traits that differ from a situation to situation. Leadership and management, in a small organisation, are quite different from leadership and management in a large organisation. Leaders and managers of large organisations need to focus on building teams that would accomplish any outcome of the desired objectives and strategic goals (Bill P. Leadership: Debunking the Superhero Myth). A true test of a leader is collectively managing functions across different business environments and forming synergies across different departments. John had a good experience of 23 years, where he had effectively managed a large team of people. These people were from different cultures and backgrounds. John had succeeded in inculcating a team spirit in these employees. He was conscious of the needs of his juniors and organised various training and development sessions for enhancing their technical, managerial and interpersonal skills. He was very patient in dealing with some of the conflicts in which his colleagues and juniors were involved.
In order to succeed at workplace, a leader must possess certain key managerial traits that can go a long way in ensuring the success in achieving the organisation’s strategic goals. Looking at John Smith, it can be seen that the following traits are needed to succeed as a manager and a leader, and why it is important to achieve it.
- Having clear and measurable goals: The globalisation of the business often compel the leaders to handle several complex situations simultaneously. During the process of achieving specific objectives, the manager must make sure that his desired objective or the ultimate goal is measurable and clear in the minds of its team members and in his own self. This is a managerial trait which requires that leader to embrace chaos, face high level of uncertainty, and also redefine his strategies if needed. It must be his endeavour to push innovations and breakthroughs that can take organisation to a new direction while engaging its colleagues and other team members. The team needs to clear any major differences that exist among members, and it must be ensured that the team is willing to work towards the achievement of the desired goals.
- Resolving internal differences and conflicts: It is the duty of a leader to clear any form of differences and conflicts that may exist among its team members, he must ensure that its team is willing to work towards the achievement of the organisational goals. It is very important to remove any form of disruption that might prove to be a hindrance in achieving the organisational objectives (Bill P. Leadership: Debunking the Superhero Myth).The leader has to forge and mould his team by tolerating high levels of risk and failures. If there is unity in the team, half of the job is already done!
- Being Ethical (Graybeal,P & Patrick B. ( 2011) An Exploratory Study on the Effect of Professional Internships on Student’s Perception of the Importance of Employment Traits) : The first step towards becoming an ethical manager is the same for becoming a leader: knowing yourself and discovering your true values and culture (Manikutty, S. 2011. Being Ethical. p.208). A true leader is that person who leads his people not in ‘any’ direction but in the right direction. In order to achieve this, it is very important that the leader knows who he actually is? What are his main strengths and weaknesses? What are the places where he is comfortable and where he is not? How strong are his values and convictions and to what level is he prepared to stand up for them (Manikutty, S. 2011. Being Ethical. p.209)? This was the biggest strength of John Smith, his ethical way of functioning had ensured that he earned enough goodwill and respect from his co-workers and associates during his 20 + years of work career. He had developed a unique perspective, which gave him the ability to understand and analyse many problems and issues along with their possible implications on the business. This had come through experience and consistent hard work.
If we look at the managerial traits of John Smith, we realise that these traits can be applied and utilised effectively in our lives too. Starting from the first, it is very important to have a specific goal in life. Without a goal, life is like a misdirected missile! It has no aim and target. This trait can be developed by simple planning and introspection. We need to decide what is it that we want to achieve? In order to succeed in our goals, it is very important to collaborate with our friends, well wishers or colleagues. It is also very important to avoid any unnecessary conflicts and differences which might affect long term relationships. This can be achieved by clearing misunderstanding, issues and developing an acceptable level of tolerance. Also, it is very important to be ethical, as it clearly differentiates between the right and wrong. This can be achieved by studying the ethical code of conduct and by observing our true leaders and managers, such as John Smith.
Thinking about a specific goal that we can formulate, we can effectively utilize the SMART technique (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. Performance Development).
Measurable: The efforts put to achieve the goal can be analysed and measured by comparing our monthly and annual performance at workplace.
Achievable: To constantly keep a check on efforts and its outcomes, to analyze any shortcomings or roadblocks in our efforts.
Relevant: The goal is very much relevant to the workplace, as it stresses on the importance of being fair and honest.
Time bound: Constant ‘checks’ must be maintained to ensure that we succeed in achieving the goal. A timeline of three years can be fixed for achieving this objective. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. Performance Development).
Although, there are lot of advantages in inculcating the above mentioned managerial traits. Sometimes, employees and managers can come across some difficulties while inculcating and practicing these traits. One of the biggest disadvantages of embracing these traits is that the concerned manager or the leader can never afford to divert his or her attention from the work processes. A constant effort is needed to achieve and maintain the set standards and it sometimes becomes a tiresome job. Also, managers can sometime feel discouraged when they are not able to achieve their short- term objectives.
The traits that are mentioned above are very practical and I have applied them in my own life! Personally, I have made a goal of buying a new house for my family within the next 10 years. To achieve this goal, I am determined to excel at my workplace and develop a team-spirit within my project team. I want to work hard and remain honest in my dealing with my clients and colleagues. By following the principles of business and corporate ethics, I want to work in a peaceful and honest way and achieve success by being consistent in my efforts. After all, slow and steady wins the race!
These traits can be marketed by me in the following way as John Smith would have done:
- “An energetic and a goal-oriented person who is always ready seek greater heights of success by being pro-active and disciplined”.
- “A problem solver and a team player who always works closely with his team to create best results”.
- “A person who believes in being ethical, fair, honest and values hard work”.
At the end, if I analyse the personality and management traits of John Smith, I would accept that it would have been great if he had managed me. His vast experience in dealing with different situations made him a people’s man. He believed in hard work, honesty and was open to new ideas. It would have been inspiring to have worked with such a dynamic and energetic personality!
Renzl,B. & Matzler K. (2007) Personality Traits, Employee Satisfaction and Affective Commitment. Print
Graybeal,P & Patrick B. ( 2011) An Exploratory Study on the Effect of Professional Internships on Student’s Perception of the Importance of Employment Traits. Print.
Manikutty, S. (2011). Being Ethical: Ethics as foundation of business. IIM Books, India. Print
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2014). Performance Development. Retrieved from: http://hrweb.mit.edu/performance-development/goal-setting-developmental-planning/smart-goals
Bill P. (2013) Leadership: Debunking the Superhero Myth. Retrieved from: http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2013/08/07/leadership-debunking-the-superhero-myth/