In every organization, whether small or large-scale, there is an unambiguous need for a leader. This leader is usually the owner or manager of the business but in some instances may also be an employee who possesses the ability to influence the actions of his or her co-workers. Effective leadership generally makes for a successful business organization. Conversely, the absence of, or ineffective use of leadership can have dire consequences on the organization for without leadership, organizations may move too slowly, stagnate, or lose their way.
Leadership is defined as “the process of influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement” (Stogdill, 1950, p. 3). Hogan et al (1994) posit that leadership is persuasion not domination, and so true leadership only occurs when others willingly adopt the goals of a group as their own. In a group setting, the individuals who make up the group all have different experiences, values, beliefs and needs. As such, they all have unique views of the world and will support differing ideas.
The role of the leader in these instances is to point the individuals of the group in the same direction and harness their efforts jointly. The leader must ensure that each member of the group has an equal opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas. Therefore, a successful and effective leader must be patient and open-minded. If employees perceive that the leader is being unfair or biased, conflict will arise as they (the employees) react to the perceived injustices.
It is important to note that the positions of manager and leader are entirely different. Leaders develop visions and drive changes while managers monitor progress and solve problems (Zalenik, 1977). However, sound leadership is a key skill which all managers should possess. A manager can not effectively perform his duties without the ability to lead the individuals in the organization. A leader must be someone respected and looked up to by those in the organization.
Thus, the employees will freely follow the path charted by the leader in order to achieve organizational goals. Moreover, a well-liked leader usually means that employees are satisfied with their job environment and are therefore more motivated and determined to see a task or project through to the end. Employees who feel appreciated in the organization usually display a higher quality of work and also higher levels of productivity are also associated with workers who favour their leader.
On the other hand, ineffective leadership can result in reduced motivation and dissatisfaction of employees. Unclearly defined goals and an unsatisfactory work environment, symptoms of improper leadership result in frustrated workers which will eventually result in workers exiting the workplace or neglecting their duties. As a result the output efficiency of the organization suffers and its yield will decline.