Leadership is a highly esteemed characteristic that attaches maximum political, business and social value with it. Every group, irrespective of its size and influence, is always in search for a leader whom it can trust to steer ahead through all the possible challenges and difficulties. Therefore leadership is an individual attribute that allows one person to motivate and carry many others towards common dreams and goals.
Leadership, by its very definition, commands implicit faith, and confidence in the actions, decisions and philosophy of the leader. Here it is vital to understand that leadership is a dynamic and integral quality of a person and leaders emerge from ordinary groups; they are not made, elected or appointed.
Arguably, there are no definite copy-book rules to construct a leader. The difficulties, complexities, and challenges associated with a situation give impetus to leadership qualities in otherwise ordinary people who believe in themselves that they are capable of rising up to the difficulties as well as helping others out of it. Therefore although it might be difficult to ‘teach’ a person quality of good leader, yet one can expect to inculcate leadership qualities by observing styles and principles of successful leaders. It is said that a leader is a dealer in hope.
Leadership is then about inspiration, motivation, encouragement and direction that pulls people to accomplishments that they would not had managed if left alone. However, effective leadership is a very challenging domain as it requires some impeccable personal and organizational traits that can be developed and realized through considerable experience, knowledge and self- discipline.
There are no fixed guidelines, set of rules and laws that exactly prescribe the traits, qualities and attributes of a successful leader. Quite often the leadership is situational and the leader is required to act purely through intuition and circumstantial requirements. However there are certain essential skills and characteristics that are rather mandatory for effective leadership are
1 Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness is about integrity in action. Effective leadership is about achieving coordination in words and actions and following the age old principles of truth, honesty and personal integrity.
2. Fairness: Leaders can’t afford to be biased or prejudiced or it would jeopardize the confidence of the followers in their secular character.
3. Communication and listening skill. Leadership requires excellent communication and listening skill through which the leaders can articulate their views unambiguously and also hear the views of others to give them sense of participation and involvement.
4. Initiative: Leadership is about taking initiative and orienting other people towards it. Taking initiative pulls the organization rapidly ahead.
5. Good judgment: Leaders must have the ability to process all information in the backdrop of their knowledge to make correct decisions
6. Motivational capacity: Leadership is ineffective if it cant motivate people to the dream and vision of the leader. It is the most desirous quality of a leader and one that is hallmark of leadership.
A good leader should be honest, loyal and committed to the goals of the organization he intends to lead. A good leader should not have a desire for wrongful gains or hidden agendas. This is why perhaps people emphasize on transparency in all dealings of any organization. Some leaders have a self plan and pursue them rather than acting in the interests of the organization.
Committed to the cause of the organization or group and being live to the sacrifices and pains of your colleagues is a basic quality of a good leader. National leaders and particularly the freedom fighters of several nations had steadfast qualities and determination in them, which helped them carry on and ultimately succeed. A good leader is perhaps a good follower. There is never a stage in which you have mastered everything and this applies even to leadership.
Each day you learn more and more, perhaps the rights and wrongs of your own acts too. I have always been a wilful learner and strongly believe I should always keep learning if I am to lead. I have always respected people with values and accountability. A leader is accountable for his actions and should voluntarily open up to any questions or suspicions in his dealings.
Similarly a good leader should also emphasize such qualities among his followers and make them accountable too. Simplicity is a mark of identity for any leader and projecting himself as a role model. A leader’s thoughts, actions and words should be a reflection of him, inspiring all who follow. A leader indeed should have uncommon qualities to successfully lead his organization.
One of the main challenges of a leader is his ability to manage change. Change is a permanent reality across time. The world is changing at an unprecedented pace, as never before witnessed. Change in an organization, group or any set up involves altering its structure, processes, the behaviour of its management and staff, its strategy, environment etc.
The structure of an organization is one of the most common targets of change. This includes the manner in which it is held together, the various configurations of people and the relationship between them, communication channels, job roles and skills. The relationships within an organization are extremely important as it contributes to the internal shape and coherence. Some processes which are altered as a result of change implementation are communication processes, management processes and learning process.
Periodic reviews of its goals and progress are vital for any organization or team to stay aligned with its objectives and expectations. I understand the need and consequences of change, which an organization undertakes according to the demands placed on it. Ongoing communication can motivate managers and employees and help them to overcome resistance to an initiative, keep them prepared for the ups and downs of change.
Organizations are managed by several forms of leadership based on the exertion of authority within the organization. Two main, but interconnected types of leadership in organizations are the transformational leadership and the transactional leadership, both having strong philosophical and ethical foundations. Transformational leadership gives followers the opportunity to assess the leader’s view, to seek explanations and provide solutions, while transactional leadership is more based on imposition, where followers are driven by the praise, promise or reward of the leader.
In the transactional leadership, the followers are confronted by reproof, threats and disciplinary actions. Transformational leadership has become more popular in the last three decades primarily due to the changing global economy. Transformational leadership promotes equality, justice and human rights through loyalty and fairness. Recent findings suggest that team performance and communication are improved under transformational leadership.
Authentic transformational leaders are sometimes transactional too. The leader may present his opinion, plans and exhort agreement on them, which however may be in the mutual interest of all involved. I consider myself as a typical transformational leader open to criticism and discussion, unafraid of my decisions being questioned. After all only collective thinking and cooperation can bring results.
People generally do whatever they want to do or, are motivated to do. Motivation is another vital component associated with productivity in workplaces. Suitable theories and principles of employee motivation are applied with basic logic to address the psyche of employees who are to be motivated. Motivation can also be described as a crucial skill for any business to succeed. It involves inducing individuals from his actual and deviant state to a required desired state in a specific way.
Each motivational system must be specifically designed according to the organization and prevailing circumstances. Recognizing and understanding the motivational factors for each employee or follower is very important. It would be surprising to know that things like job security, money etc. cannot help in motivating people. However fear, like yelling from boss, do serve as a short-term motivator. Employees, colleagues and supporters all need to be motivated to perform to the levels expected of them. As a thoughtful leader, I can easily motivate my employees by setting an example and not forcing them to follow me.
Recruitment is a very important function of human resources and recruitment strategies are vital in attracting talented and smart prospective candidates. Selection of best candidates who fit with the work culture of the organization is very important. The recruitment also has a direct bearing on the retention factor in an organization, apart from work efficiency and quality.
Be it an organization, a political party or any association; it is very essential that only the right people with the right mindset occupy responsible positions. My association with people helps me to identify such people with the right mentality and the ones who should be kept away. As a leader I try to ensure that the goals and ideals of my employee are not shouldered by wrong persons.
Conflict and dissatisfaction with superiors like other leaders and officers is another common cause for resignations. When managers or team leaders fail to provide the required leadership by bullying their subordinates or treating people unfairly, it gives rise to employee discontent. Such situations emphasize on the qualities of the manager and the team leader. Only those with well-developed leadership qualities must be selected as second level leaders.
They should be trained in leadership skills, methods of resolving conflict and also on dealing with grievances. Poor selection or promotion decisions too can result in rapid turnover. The selection and promotion processes must be on par with the capabilities of the individuals, with regard to the work they do. As a leader, I know that I keep a close watch on the attrition rate of my organization to seek answers as to what makes people unhappy within my business. I have also implemented exit interviews to identify grievances and offer redress.
Leadership is not a characteristic that exists in isolation. As it is defined, leadership implies establishing coordination, orientation, cooperation, and collaboration among the followers to accomplish designated objectives and goals. It is possible when leaders can inspire their followers with respect, admiration, discipline, confidence in the abilities of the leader while being helped to envision themselves as empowered individuals.
A good leader has the ability to take over even most complex, demanding and otherwise impossible condition by exhibiting personal integrity, ethical and moral traits and values that other can relate to and aspire to imbibe in their own conduct (Laurie, 2000, 53). Here it is important to distinguish personal charisma from leadership, as personal charisma, being an person specific phenomena, can awe people but hardly give them impetus to follow in the footsteps of the leader.
Leadership is also means natural acquisition of power and potential to change its equation affect over the leaders and their followers. There inherent dangers associated with power, and for most of the people, the timeless adage-‘power corrupts’ suits justly. Power contains a temptation that is hard to resist and has potential to become the ultimate goal for a person rather the tool that was designated in helping to achieve the goals. But a genuine leader understands this irony of power and therefore believes that power should be shared with others so that it can grow. The real power of leaders is their ability to inspire others with a sense of power and confidence