Leadership is an important aspect of organizations, regardless of the type of association one belongs to. If a group is led by an effective leader, then the company reaches its goals and members of the group become successful as well. Not only are goals met, but everyone performs according to set expectations. The role of the leader is to “keep the ducks in place” and ensure that each one in the organization has a clearly defined goal and position in the team. On the other hand, when a leader does not think about the plight of his subordinates and is the type who gives orders instead of leading the group in the right direction, then the team does not reach its full potential. Many would assert that leadership traits such as intelligence, drive, vision, and motivation, among others, are what constitute what good leadership is. However, apart from these traits, the more important characteristics of a political leader include the ability to inspire, encourage participation, become a transformational leader, and exercise empathy towards other people.
Personality traits make some individuals a better fit for a leadership position than other people. Political leaders must be visionaries in the sense that they are able to foresee how their decisions could impact his constituents. It also involves having the ability to sell the vision to others so that all members understand what the political leader wants to happen. He must have the ability to influence others to see his things from his perspective. At the same time, the political leader must also be able to abandon plans that are not working rather than trying to carry on with set plans that could eventually lead to failure. There are political leaders who prefer giving out commands to members of their organization, while there are also those who encourage the participation and involvement of others when coming up with goals and decisions. This political management style is known as participative leadership, which takes into account the input and thoughts of specific members of the organization before making a decision (“Participative Leadership”). For political leaders who want to become successful leaders, involving members in the decision making process is a useful method in leading people because the more involvement from the people, including the capability to contribute ideas, the more members become committed to the goals, mission, and vision set by the political leader as members feel they are important part of the group. This also involves having the ability to include enemies on board and come up with a compromise. Not belonging to the same political party should not be an issue because political leaders who are able to help the whole nation instead of just sections of society are the ones most admired.
Leaders who are secure about their position in the organization encourage a participative leadership environment because “people are less competitive and more collaborative when they are working on joint goals” (“Participative Leadership”). Instead of feeling threatened or intimidated by another person’s efforts and achievements, members become more open, proactive, and supportive of the leader’s initiatives (“Leadership Characteristics”). A good political leader encourages people to be accountable for their actions to themselves, to society, and the outcome. He espouses that the people must learn to make compromises and responsible choices. However, this does not mean that all suggestions and comments will be considered and put into action as the leader still has the right and the final decision whether or not to follow through an idea or not. It also means the leader has the main decision on the level of influence employees are given. Therefore, because of the involvement of many people in the discussion, political leaders must also have the ability to judge character and find people whom they can trust and who are competent enough to handle positions in the group. This is of primary importance because no individual has the capacity to do and think about all solutions to problems. For instance, in a recent talk in San Francisco, President Obama displayed grace under pressure when, in the middle of his speech about the immediate passing of immigration laws, an attendee shouted his sentiments regarding the president’s capacity to control the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants to the United States. President Obama’s response was that while he respected the emotions of the young man towards his family, the country is a “nation of laws, and ‘it is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law” (Wheaton). Thus, political leaders will have to work with quirky individuals as well, who, despite their uniqueness, can greatly execute their tasks as assigned.
Successful political leaders may also opt for transformational leadership style. Caldwell et al., (2012) define transformative leadership as an “ethically based leadership model that integrates a commitment to values and outcomes by optimizing the long-term interests of stakeholders and society and honoring the moral duties owed by organizations to their stakeholders” (176). It is moving above oneself in order to serve society. A good political leader rises above his religious or political views and does not associate himself to any particular agenda. This type of leader keeps his personal views private and does not limit himself to his beliefs, but rather, includes the beliefs of others as well. This means transformational leadership is a method that helps people change their views about change itself. It opens the minds of people to the idea of wanting to “improve and to be led” (Hall et al., 2012), as it combines with the concept of servant leadership (Caldwell et al., 2012, p. 180), that is, service above self. To attain such ideology, the transformational leader must assess what are the motivations of the people and indulge their needs. Doing so shows that the transformational leader considers the people important, and when people feel they are important, the more they become open to the leader’s ideas and efforts. This type of leadership emphasizes how important the role of supervisors is in a group setting in order to become successful.
A transformational leader leads to ethical leadership. When leaders go out of their way to inspire, empower, and pay attention to the needs of the people, then the more people feel they are part of the organization. Praising and showing the political constituents that that they are appreciated also helps (Hall et al., 2012).
Political leaders must also be emphatic towards their subordinates. Empathy gives leaders the ability to understand what their constituents are going through instead of giving orders without actually understanding what the members need and are going through. An emphatic leader is a sensitive leader who does not take others’ feelings as his own or even trying to please anybody. Rather, being an emphatic leader means “thoughtfully considering [others people’s] feelings – along with other factors – in the process of making intelligent decisions” (Goleman 4).
As such, the role of the leader, including the manner of leading and managing the group is crucial. A good political leader comes on the table brimming with ideas while still letting individual members plan and execute ideas. Therefore, a good leader empowers the people to think and become their own personal leaders as well. They draw strength from their own abilities in preserving the organization’s goals.
Caldwell, Cam, Dixon, Rolf, D., Floyd, Larry, A., Chaudoin, Joe, Post, Jonathan, and Cheokas, Gaynor (2012). “Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Success.” Journal of Business Ethics, 109(2): 175-187. PDF. 24 November 2013.
Goleman, Daniel. (2004). “What Makes a Leader.” Harvard Business Review. PDF. 23 November 2013.
Hall, John, Johnson, Shannon, Wysocki, Allen, and Kepner, Karl. (2012). “Transformational Leadership: The Transformation of Managers and Associates.” EDIS. PDF. 24 November 2013. <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hr020>.
“Leadership Characteristics.” (n.d.). Holden Leadership Center. Web. 24 November 2013. <http://leadership.uoregon.edu/resources/exercises_tips/skills/leadership_characteristics>.
McKenna, Patrick, J. and Maister, David, H. (2005). “First Among Equals.” New York: Free Press, 2005. Print.
“Participative Leadership.” (n.d.). ChangingMinds.org. Web. 24 November 2013. <http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/participative_leadership.htm>.
Wheaton, Sarah. (2013). “Obama Calls for Quick Action on Immigration, and So Does a Heckler.” The New York Times. 25 November 2013. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/us/obama-calls-for-quick-action-on-immigration-and-so-does-a-heckler.html?ref=politics&_r=0>.