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The Secrets of Successful Leadership and People Management, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

Leadership is a very important aspect in any organization. Bill Gates is a clear leader that is able to motivate and direct the employees and administrators at Microsoft to continue to make the company a large success.  With this in mind, a leader is the individual who directs others with an aim of influencing them to follow a set direction. The leader uses leadership techniques and behaviors to help influence people.  Therefore, leadership can thus be described as the ability to influence or motivate a number of people to achieve a given aim or goal.  It involves directing the action and behavior of other people towards accomplishing a given set of objectives (McNamara, 1997, p. 12). Generally, leadership can be viewed as a rather complex action.  It is a process involving two actors – a leader and a follower.  Leadership ultimately includes an interrelation of various factors such as leadership styles, goal achievement, development of group unity or cohesion, and the enhancement of organizational culture and change.

Values, Skills and Competencies

It is necessary to have a good leader in any organization to achieve success. There are certain values, skills and competencies that make up a good leader. These skill sets are usually noteworthy from comparing the leader to all other individuals within the organization. The increasing awareness and growing need for idealist leadership principles are enhancing more emphasis on personal integrity, business ethics, corporate responsibility and emotional maturity. A good leader must possess the necessary qualities, values and skills to ensure that he or she leads his team members into the successful achievement of the desired goals and objectives. If the leader fails in his duty, the entire business or organization will be negatively affected.

Many leadership qualities can exist within everyone, while the ability for them to be used to help benefit the organization may be different.  One quality of an effective leader is honesty towards his or her team members as well as to his or her work.  Having good communication skills is also another effective leadership quality.  Interpersonal communication is very important so that the information is expressed to the employees or group members of the organization in the clearest and most-efficient manner possible. This also suggests that the leader must be a good listener.  Any good leader must be a fast learner and have the ability to spot and nurture potential talent and to take necessary risks.  Furthermore, the leader needs to be enthusiastic in relation to their role, work and cause (Vroom and Yetton, 1973, p. 130).  This quality does not only escalate dedication and passion from the team members but also acts as a source of motivation and inspiration.  Good leaders tolerate ambiguity as well as harsh conditions and are always composed, calm and steadfast to achieving the main goals.  They show commitment in the maintenance of good work standards and excellence.  Other qualities of effective leadership include good decision making skills, creativity, confidence, humility and appreciation for what others have done (Vroom and Yetton, 1973, p. 132).  Each of these qualities is very special toward the leader’s ability to help motivate and guide the people to help achieve the goals of the organization.

While it is important to examine this issue as purely domestic, globalization adds another dimension to the skills, values and competencies that leaders must have in order to be successful.  Global leaders require having various essential competencies and skills to enhance continuous success.  The recommended competencies are divided into three groups:

  • Those that refer to tangible and explicit information as well as the ability to handle roles and responsibilities.
  • Those that refer to behavioral and cognitive abilities to make use of gained knowledge to perform these roles and responsibilities.
  • Personal characteristics necessary to enable the manager make effective decisions.

These three competencies can be further categorized into three groups; knowledge, interpersonal and personal competencies.  Knowledge competencies deals with the manager’s knowledge and understanding of the relevant business or industry and technology required to successfully carry out the assigned roles and responsibilities.  An interpersonal competency is concerned with the manager’s possession of the necessary skills and ability to transfer the gained knowledge into effective action.  It deals with a manager’s social interaction, communication skills and management skills.  These competencies include the ability to resolve conflicts, ability to properly motivate the people within the organization, and the ability to work in different cultural settings while using good decision making skills to be successful. Finally, personal competencies are concerned with the personal characteristics of a good leader or manager. These include emotional intelligence, self awareness, having an inquisitive mind that is constantly looking for knowledge, integrity and honesty, open mindedness, flexibility, optimism and empathy (Parker, 2005, p. 54). Each of the three competencies is very specific and important for the leader to be effective in communication, motivation, and achieving overall success within the organization.

Leadership Styles

The leadership role in management is mainly determined by the company’s organizational culture.  A leader’s values, assumptions and beliefs are very important to the leadership style the individual adopts and includes within his or her behavior. The kind of leadership style to use within an organization depends on the situation, the leader’s background in relation to his or her ethics, personality and values.  It also depends on the team members’ socioeconomic backgrounds, personalities, traditions, philosophy, and the values and concerns of the organization (Veccio, 1988, p. 289).  There are four major styles of leadership: autocratic, laissez-faire, democratic and bureaucratic leadership.

An autocratic form of leadership is one whereby the leader uses unilateralism to dominate team members, who are in this case his or her followers, with an aim of achieving a particular objective.  The leader is the sole decision maker and maintains as much authority as possible, which implies that the team members are not in any way allowed to question his or her instructions or decisions.  Punishments and rewards are used as the two main sources of motivation.  This authoritarian style can often lead to resistance from team members during times of adversity.  The leader must micromanage the individuals to ensure that tasks are being completed and can take away from his or her ability to perform any work besides managerial and observational tasks.  The approach discourages the team’s effective performance and has been regarded as a probable cause of absenteeism and high levels of turnover in organizations exercising it (Bittel, 1989, p. 173).  Within several sports teams, an authoritative coach can often be very success with the right personnel, but also very inefficient and destructive.  This can clearly be seen from the downfall of Bill Parcells with his last coaching position for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL because many of the players revolted against his decision making and forced the Cowboys to fire Parcells and hire a new coach.  As Parcells clearly illustrates, in many cases this style of leadership can be very ineffective and actually harmful to the goals and effectiveness of the organization.

However, autocratic leadership has been found to be appropriate in situations that require immediate action, where all other styles have failed and where there is need for extremely high production volumes, or in situations where most employees or team members are new and require training or almost constant instructions.  The style can also be appropriate in organizations that are poorly managed and where the team members act as a challenge to the manager.  Additionally, the style is familiar to many people rendering it easily adoptable.  Some subordinates have also been found to prefer this form of authoritarian leadership more than the other styles because they are constantly supervised and given clear directions that make tasks easy to understand and follow.  The approach should, however, be discouraged when the team members become resentful or fearful, when they expect to express their views, in cases of increased turn over and absenteeism, and when the team becomes very dependent on the manager for decision making (Goodworth, 1988, p. 10).  Autocratic leadership has its place in organizations and can be very effective or may also be a hindrance on the ability for individuals and the organization to be productive and successful.

The Laissez-Faire leadership style is one whereby the leader’s control over the team members is limited.  The team members perform their different roles and responsibilities without any participation from the leader and with very minimal instruction.  The team has all power and authority to set goals, resolve problems and make decisions.  This approach is effective mainly when the team members are highly skilled, motivated and trustworthy or when they have shown a history of strong performance results previously.  The team members must also have shown independence and the self drive to successfully work on their own without supervision or constant direction.  Allowing team members to take control of the tasks and assume ownership empowers them to achieve the set goals (Veccio, 1988, p. 293).  The style should be avoided when the team feels insecure of the manager’s unavailability; the leader fails to constantly give feedback on the team’s performance; the leader fails to appreciate the team’s commendable efforts; and when the leader does not know his or her role and requires the team members’ help.

In democratic leadership, a leader’s decision making is based on the views of his or her team members.  The leader in this case consults his group members on important issues while still retaining control.  He or she allows the team to make a decision on the tasks to be performed and declares the persons responsible for those tasks.  A democratic manager can be viewed in two ways.  First of all, such a leader enhances participation and wisely assigns responsibilities but never forgets the fact that he or she holds the leadership role (Parker, 2005, p. 56).  He or she values the team’s output, and thus encourages group discussion.  The individual can also be viewed as one who is always ready to learn from the team members to ensure that the team performs in the best way possible.  Most team members enjoy the trust awarded to them and usually respond with high morale, team spirit and cooperation.  The leader is always a great motivation to his or her team in the democratic leadership style.

Democratic leadership is most effective when the manager wants to give the team members an opportunity to acquire a sense of job satisfaction and personal growth; keep the people well-informed; enhance participation and team building; and wants them to take part in problem-solving certain issues within the organization.  A complex problem that requires a lot of ideas to solve can also necessitate the need to practice this type of leadership (Chemers, 1997, p. 56).  There are situations in which democratic approach can be ineffective.  Due to this reason, it should not be used when the manager gets threatened; when the organization cannot risk making any mistakes; when the making of decisions are cheaper and easier if made by the leader; and when immediate action is necessary.  The leader in this style can be viewed as one who may not be completely confident in themselves, which is a major reason why he or she always has to consult the team members for decision making.  In this case, it can be argued that the leader is really not leading in any way.

In bureaucratic leadership, the manager ensures that every thing is done in accordance with the set policies and procedures.  For anything that is not within a policy or regulation, the manager refers it to the higher levels of power.  The manager’s main role in this case is enforcement of the rules.  This style is most effective in organizations where the team members are involved in routine tasks, require an understanding of various procedures or standards, are handling delicate or dangerous equipment that necessitate clearly defined operating procedures and when they are required to perform tasks that involve handling cash.  The style should be completely discouraged when the team only does that which is expected and nothing more, when the members lose interest in work and in their colleagues and when they form bad work habits that are difficult to break (Goodworth, 1988, p. 16).  Bureaucratic leadership has its place within an organization, but it is clear that it can only be utilized by individuals that have excellent communication and organizational skills to help make decisions quickly and efficiently.

Other minor leadership styles include charismatic leadership, servant leadership people-oriented, task-oriented, transformational and transitional forms of leadership.  Charismatic style leadership involved the leader injecting zeal, interest and passion into his or her followers and team members.  He or she is extremely energetic in making the team a success.  However, this style accords a lot of responsibilities to the leader such that he or she is seen as the pillar of the organization that creates a risk of having the project collapse if the manager or leader leaves (Chemers, 1997, p. 54).

A people-oriented leader puts all of his or her focus on organizing and developing the team members.  People-oriented forms of leadership help in enhancing teamwork and collaboration; but if taken to an extreme, the successful achievement of goals will fail.  A task-oriented leader, on the other hand, focuses on completing the work or tasks assigned making him or her quite autocratic.  The team members’ well being does not matter in this case leading to difficulties in retaining and motivating staff (Chemers, 1997, p. 23).  These two differing forms of leadership raise a large debate within the academic and corporate communities as to whether the people or the task is of higher value to the success organization.

In transactional leadership, the team members are in agreement to completely obey the leader and that payment will be according to a member’s efforts and compliance.  The leader is at liberty to punish any member whose work is not up to standard and to reward those whose work is commendable.  A transformational leader is regarded as a great leader who highly inspires his team members.  He is concerned with the employees and achievement of set goals and standards in the work place.  Rules are set to punish those individuals that do not accomplish their clearly defined duties accordingly, and rewards the best performing individuals in the institution or business.  Transformational leadership ensures that proper initiatives are put in place to add value and enhance the success of the project being undertaken.  The leader wholeheartedly assigns responsibilities to the team members without necessarily having to be in the fore front.  For successful achievement of goals by an organization, these two leadership styles are needed (Chemers, 1997, p. 56).

Leadership Situations in My Life

Through the various leadership positions and experiences I have experienced in my own life, I have gained much knowledge of my own leadership styles and the growth process involved in becoming an effective leader.  As a team captain of my sports team in high school and a leader in my church community, I have gained many useful leadership experiences.  My styles or methods of leadership have continued to evolve as my level of awareness and knowledge of good leadership and principles of good leadership has continued to change.  To me, every new role is a learning experience and is always a chance to be a better leader and to enhance current abilities and qualities.  Being a youth leader in the church has been my greatest role.  From this position, I have been able to put my most effective leadership skills and knowledge into practice.  Though I do not possess all the necessary values, skills and competencies that make up a great leader, I continue to learn and evolve my behaviors to continue to be successful.  Empathy, enthusiasm, confidence and good communication skills are qualities that have greatly enabled me to productively perform my responsibilities and roles.  These qualities have developed over time as I continue to associate with different people.

Based on the previously-stated research, my main leadership style has been the democratic approach that gives the youth members a chance to express their different views and ideas and to take part in decision making.  Most of the youth meetings and activities involve discussions on issues affecting the youth today and require the active participation of all members making the democratic approach a very appropriate style of leadership.  This style has not only helped me gain knowledge from other youth members, but has also shown the processes involved with effectively interacting with the children, while gaining their trust and cooperation.

Conclusion

As it has clearly been proven, leadership involves many particular leadership styles and characteristics that are important for goal achievement within the organization and offering employees and individuals the opportunity for group unity and cohesion.  During my research for this essay, I have gained ample knowledge and skills to make me a better leader.  One such skill is the need to always seek knowledge and the importance of having good listening skills as a leader.  It also enabled me to understand the importance of analyzing all of the varying factors that affect the development of good leadership.  Through the research, I have learned that pride and the quest for more power are destructive in achieving the goals of the organization and are not effective leadership qualities.  Some of the discussions within the group have led to major arguments among the members, which has always been a situation that is easy for me to handle as a leader.  This study has enabled me to learn how to further handle such situations and how to remain calm and resolve various conflicts.  It has also taught me how to give the directions and instruct individuals where there is a necessity to do so.  These and other learned qualities are what I intend to use during my time as a leader, not just now but as I continue to grow as a leader in the future.  I also intend to combine my democratic leadership approach with other effective styles like the transformational and transactional forms of leadership.  I will purposely attempt to be a more enthusiastic person seeking to successfully work with my team members to achieve our common goals.

References

Bittel, L.R. The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Management Course, USA: McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Chemers M. (1997). An Integrative Theory of Leadership, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Goodworth, C. (1988). The Secrets of Successful Leadership and People Management, Oxford: Heinman Professional Publishing.

McNamara, C. (1997). Overview of Leadership in Organizations. Florida: Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

Parker, B. (2005). Introduction to globalization & business. London: Sage Publications.

Veccio, R.P. (1988). Organizational Behavior, Plymouth: The Dryden Press.

Vroom, V. H. and Yetton, P. W. (1973). Leadership and decision-making, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

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