Leadership in Organization
In our world today, leadership has been an issue that has been of utmost interest. This might have been informed by the fact that in one way or the other, this topic relates to all of us. It is therefore not an issue that can/has been over discussed because it is relevant to our everyday life. With the growing awareness of the importance of leadership in our society, there has been the evolvement of several motivational speakers who primarily base their life on the meaning and nature of leadership. Not only does leadership determine our today, our future is also hinged on leadership.
However, because of the widespread importance of leadership, the term has been used in several ways that some people think they really know what leadership is. So many people today hold several beliefs about what leadership, therefore, this has resulted in a lot of misconceptions about the term. This term has been used intermittently by several people to mean different things, thus it becomes imperative to make a conceptual clarification of this term. Although this is a rather difficult task to embark upon, an attempt will be made to define this concept for the purpose of clarity and precision in this paper.
Leadership as a concept can be defined and seen in four different ways. When the term leadership is being used, we might be referring to ‘the action of leading a group of people or an organization: different styles of leadership’. It could also mean the ‘the state or position of being a leader: the leadership of the party.’ It could also mean ‘the leaders of an organization, country, etc.: a change of leadership had become desirable.” And finally, it can be said to be “the ability to lead skillfully.” (US Military Dictionary: Leadership). However, for this purpose of this essay, attention will be drawn on the first view of leadership that holds that leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”.
What Leadership is Not
Several times, some people confuse leadership to mean the same thing with management. However, although these two concepts relate and sometimes overlaps with each other, there is a unique difference between them. As an organizational concept, ‘Effective management carefully plans the goal of an organization, recruits the necessary staff, organizes them, and closely supervises them to make sure that the initial plan is executed properly’ (Lee). However, leadership transcends this. Leadership entails management but also involves the visualizing of the future and based on this, channels a course that the organization will go. Apart from this, manger can be said to have subordinates but leaders essentially have followers. There is also a difference between the styles used. While managers use a rather authoritarian and transactional style, leaders use a charismatic and transformational style. In addition to this, management is work focused while leadership can be described to be people centered.
As opposed to popular opinion, leadership is quite different from authority and power. Authority uses the exertion of force while “leadership is all about influence” (Maxwell). There is a unique difference between these two concepts. People in position of authority/power use force in order to show that they have a say-so in the sate of affairs. On the other hand, leadership is about influencing people. When a leader influences the people that follow him, they build their trust in such a leader and then power naturally comes as a form of influence on these followers.
Administration is a process of working with and through others to accomplish school goals efficiently (Sergiovanni 1991). This is different between both concepts is that administration like management deals with the organization and controlling of an organization or an establishment while leadership entails the exercise of high-level conceptual skills and decisiveness (Brennen). . It is envisioning mission, developing strategy, inspiring people, and changing culture (Evans, 1996, p. 148).
Depending on the way you see it, everybody is a leader. This is because in one way or the other, we have people that are under us and look up to us. In reality, everybody in one way or the other have people under them on whom the have a certain degree of influence. However, we have to be able to distinguish between the levels and the different types of leadership.
Types of Leadership Styles:
This is a form of leadership that is based on the general assumption that people will naturally follow people that they consider to be a source of inspiration. In addition to this, transformational leadership believes that vision and passion is the key of achieving success in an organization. Transformational leaders are generally enthusiastic and energetic as they believe that these are the pivotal forces that ensure the success and achievement in an organization. Working with transformational leaders is rewarding as they are optimistic people that put themselves into their job. Transformational leadership seeks to change the organization and it is credited for the change that occurs in the followers. Transformational leaders are often charismatic and are positivists in their opinion. In the bid to transform the organization, transformational leaders do four strategic things. First, they seek to develop a rather radical vision and chart a course for the organization (Maxwell). When this is done, the next thing that they do is to sell the vision to their followers. This is somewhat tasking because such visions are radical and it takes followers with a great mind to buy the vision. After this has been achieved, the transformational leader seeks a way forward by charting a course that will ensure the achievement of this radical vision. Because of the nature of this vision, transformational leaders take the lead and encourage the followers by injecting the passion and energy into them.
Autocratic Leadership Style
This a form of leadership style that involves the leader making what he/she want known and how he/she wants it. Autocratic leadership is essentially a dictatorial style of leadership that is built around a single person and the person is the sole factor in decision making. In autocratic form/style of leadership, the will of the leader is always known by the followers and is not open to whatever opinion they have. Since the followers are not figureheads, this form of leadership has been noted to be a source of rancor and discontent in several organizations. The followers want to be involved in the decision making process and no body wants to be “pushed around”. Although proponents of this style of leadership claim that it is effective especially when the time required for making the decision is short or the decision is a rather sensitive or complex one, some people have criticized this style of leadership. They claim this style of leadership does not allow creativity in the employees or the followers. It is said that it is another way of saying that you don’t believe in the abilities of your followers. One of the disadvantages of this style of leadership is that it “usually leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. For some routine and unskilled jobs, the style can remain effective where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages.”(Mindtools Webpage). This style of leadership is fast becoming unpopular in organization because leaders have realized the adverse effect that it might bring to the effectiveness of the organization or company. Generally, leaders that employ this style of leadership do not have the trust of their followers and thus this frustrates the development of the organization and sometimes might result in the collapse of such an organization.
Democratic/Participative Leadership Style
As the name implies, this style of leadership involves the “leader involving one more of the employees in the decision making process” (www.nwlink.com). However, like in the case of autocratic style of leadership, the final decision lies with leader. In the democratic style of leadership, followers or employees feel more valuable because they have the feeling that they are involved in the decision making process. This style of leadership recognizes the ability of the employees and shows that the leader believes that the employees or followers have a quota to contribute in the organization. Consequently, the employees are more committed to the vision of the company and thus pay more attention to their duties. Generally, people tend to be more committed to the vision which they help create (Maxwell). When the leadership of a company or an organization is democratic, the level of efficiency is higher. This is accounted for in the idea of Kendra Van Wagner in his article about the Lewin’s Leadership styles he noted that;
“Lewin’s study found that participative (democratic) leadership is generally the most effective leadership style. Democratic leaders offer guidance to group members, but they also participate in the group and allow input from other group members. In Lewin’s study, children in this group were less productive than the members of the authoritarian group, but their contributions were of a much higher quality. Participative leaders encourage group members to participate, but retain the final say over the decision-making process. Group members feel engaged in the process and are more motivated and creative.”(Wagner. Lewin’s Leadership Style)
The Laissez-Faire Leadership Style
This is the style of leadership where the leader is passive in the decision making of the organization. A Laissez-Faire leader basically leaves the running of the organization in the hands of the employees. This style of leadership encourages initiatives and develops the creative abilities of employees. The leader in this form of leadership is practically passive in the decision making process. This delegative style of leadership is suited for organizations where the employees are highly skilled professional who already have prior experience and have familiarized themselves with the decision making process. Although the leader has to encourage his followers or employees, this form of leadership can be described to be rather weak and extremely passive. This style of leadership has been referred to as a delegative/Free Rein form of leadership that encourages the employee and allows for the maximization of their potentials. However, several people have criticized this style of leadership because it might leave the employees without direction and the corporate vision of the company might be undermined. In general, this approach leaves the team floundering with little direction or motivation. (www.see.ed.ac.uk Webpage). No matter how skilled the employees are, there should be some degree of monitoring. Employees need to look up to someone because of accountability. This style of leadership is dangerous for the progress of the company because there might be a deviation from original vision of the company.
One of the qualities of a good leader is the ability to switch between these forms of leadership styles. In the discharge of his duties and in leading, a good leader is not expected to strictly stick to one leadership style. This is because different situations present itself which requires a different approach and so it is the duty of a good leader to recognize what is needed and adjust the style he/she uses in order to attend to the situation at hand.
Qualities That Ensures Effective Leadership in Organizations
One of the essential qualities that a leader should possess is vision. This is because “everything rises and falls of leadership” (Maxwell. 24 Laws of Liberty). The leader of an organization can be regarded as the “vision house” of such an organization. This is because the leader should be the eyes by which the followers or employees see. “Vision defines a man and gives direction to an organization” (Akinyemi et al. Men and Leadership Pg 56). Vision is an ingredient that can not be compromised in leadership because it determines the direction that the passion, resources and energy of the employees should be challenged.
The effectiveness and success of leadership is dependent on the integrity and faithfulness. This is because the employees must be able to find the leadership of an organization credible and trustworthy in whatever circumstances. Good leadership recognizes the fact that the employees are looking up to them and that they need the trust of their employees.
Leading by Example
A good leader leds by example – this has been a lifelong statement that depicts leadership as mentorship. It remains a proven fact that a leader should do whatever he/she wants to see in his employees. As noticed by Pettinger, “If you wish your workforce to be hard working and diligent, it is important that you live up to your own ideals. There is a saying “I would never ask anybody to do something I wouldn’t do myself”. If your workforce sees you arriving late and being unprofessional, it will make it much more difficult for them to follow your advice.” (Pettinger. “Qualities of a Good Leader” ezinearticles.com)
Ability to Listen and Appreciate Employees
A good leader should be a good listener. According to Pettinger, “A good leader should try to feel part of his team rather than superior, if you listen to others, they will definitely appreciate it. Often you may find that your workers have good ideas that you can incorporate. Even if they have unworkable ideas, it is still worth giving the impression you value their opinions, even if they are not used” (Pettinger. Qualities of a Good Leader). He further maintained that “To be a good leader, you cannot underestimate the importance of offering gratitude to those who are trying hard to do the right thing. If people get appreciation then it will definitely encourage them to continue doing the right thing. At the same time, our appreciation should be sincere. We should not flatter but look for something good a person has done.” (Pettinger. Qualities of a Good Leader).
However, due to the nature of the subject of leadership, several people have different views of what leadership is. Some people see and believe that leadership only deals with the power and that leadership entails the “bossing around” of the people placed under you. Due to the fact that some people have distorted ideas about what leadership truly is, they have abused leadership when they come to places of authority. Generally, a man’s perspective of what leadership is will necessarily reflect on and affect his actions when such a person becomes a leader.
In conclusion, leadership is a foul weather job that requires a lot of responsibility. This is because “with greater power comes great responsibility” (Spiderman 3). Leadership is not all about enjoyment and power but about service, accountability and responsibility. The great leaders that we hear of today recognized this and that is why their names are printed on the sand of time.
· Pettinger, R. “The Qualities of a Good Leader.” EzineArticles 01 February 2007. 30 April 2008 <http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Qualities-of-a-Good-Leader&id=438880>.
· Williger, Darren. “An Overview of the Different Types of Leadership in Existence.” EzineArticles 17 November 2007. 30 April 2008 <http://ezinearticles.com/?An-Overview-of-the-Different-Types-of-Leadership-in-Existence&id=815752>.
· John C. Maxwell “Leadership 101” Thomas Nelson Publishing
· Max de Pree. “Leadership is an Art” Zordozen Publishing
· Akinyemi et al “ Men and Leadership” Oluwayanmi Publishing Company