Personal Philosophy of Leadership
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There are many definitions of leadership based on character traits of legendary leaders, situational leaders or impact leaders have on their followers. It is hard to find a definition that caters for all situations because leadership differs in many ways such as styles, impact, source of power and ability.
From analyzing many definitions and studies on leadership, I would define leadership as the process of socially influencing other people with an aim of maximizing their efforts towards achieving a common goal willingly. The concept of leadership is a difficult one to define. The following paragraph attempts to avoid any confusion in its exploration.
Firstly, leadership does not involve hierarchical positions one has in an organization. This means that attaining higher job group does not necessary make a person a leader (Daft & Lane, 2008). This is because there are truly many lower level employees in many organizations who influence other employees towards achieving the company’s goal. Leadership is not just about influence. Managers influence other people to follow their directives using formal authority that allows managers to reward or fire people. Kidnappers or abductors have influence over their victims, but this does not make them leaders. This type of influence is by coercion.
True leadership derives its power from social influence, but not from formal authority (Northouse, 2012). The above definition tries to indicate that a leader derives his or her authority from the society. The definition also includes the need for others. These are the followers who are willing to follow a certain leader without coercion of any type. Leadership does not influence without a purpose and this definition clearly indicates that leaders influence their subjects with an aim of maximizing their efforts towards achieving a certain goal. Lastly, leadership does not involve certain traits of character. This is because different leaders have different characters. Furthermore, there are people with similar characters as current or past leaders but they are not leaders. From the above mentioned, it is clear that there is no common pattern of character for one to become a leader. This is because persons’ characters are largely innate and inheritable. Mentioning of certain characters would mean that leaders are born, yet there are leaders who come from families that have never produced leaders before them.
Discuss at Least Three Major Leadership Theories or Models That Have Most Influenced Your Thinking on Leadership and Leaders
There are many theories developed with an aim of trying to explain and understand leadership and leaders. These theories include; trait theory, situational theory, great man theory, behavioral theories, contingency theories and transactional theory. These theories try to explain leadership based on traits, characteristics, behaviors and personality. A common feature among the dominant theories is the notion that to some extent leadership is a process that involves influencing people towards the realization of a common goal. I am going to talk about three theories that have influenced my understanding of leadership and leaders.
I will combine the great man theory and trait theory under one category because they have a lot of similarities in their definition of leadership. The trait theory has got many theories from different persons hence it can also be called trait theory. The two theories assume that people inherit certain specific individualities and traits that make them become leaders. Inheritance of these traits occurs at birth. The theories identify particular behavioral characteristics common among leaders, and claim to be the traits of a leader. These theories identify leadership traits by studying character traits of prominent leaders. Since leadership personalities or traits are innate, these theories assume that; it is either a person has them or not at the time of birth to become a leader. It also shows that anyone with the identified traits can become a leader (Kendra, 2013).
My opinion, being based on the two theories, shows that leadership is for certain specific people that come from a family of leaders. The great man theory mainly found use in those days when people used to assume that leadership was a male value. The picture given by the two theories is; leaders are heroes and destined for greatness.
The greatest criticism, in my own opinion, facing the two theories is the existence of people with the same characters as leaders but they are not or cannot become leaders. Moreover, today there are very many women in leadership positions – a fact that nullifies the assumption that leadership is a male quality as proposed by the great man theory.
With the above shortcomings in the two theories, I think that leaders are both born and made but to a greater part, leaders are made. In my view, the theories enable us to identify qualities such as assertiveness, likeability, empathy, integrity and good decision making skills that are useful when a person is leading others. However, possession of any of these qualities or a combination of some or all does not guarantee achievement as a leader.
A perfect example that indicates that people make leaders is in a military organization or in the political leadership of a country. Though a person could be from a family that has produced many leaders, that person cannot be directly given the leadership mantle right away. The person needs to take a step by step while learning the qualities needed to become a leader. These qualities are learnt through personal experience or experience of other people. Through experience, a leader gets shaped.
Furthermore, it is clear that there are many people with qualities such as intelligence, good decision making and other character traits associated with leadership, but they are not leaders. This clearly shows that leaders can be made. Some situations lead to the emergence of a leader. A good example is the rise of Mahatma Gandhi in India into leadership. While training as a lawyer in Britain, Gandhi could not make a public speech. When Gandhi returned home and witnessed the injustice committed to his fellow countrymen, he became a leader and led India in protest against British colonial rule.
Leaders are partly born. A very direct example is the birth of a mentally retarded child. It is very hard for such a child to become a leader. It shows that a leader needs to be born with qualities such as intelligence, confidence and charisma, then enhance these qualities through experience, training, coaching and knowledge.
It is clear that the great man theory and the trait theory are helpful in identifying qualities and traits used by leaders, but these theories fail in their description and definition of leadership and leaders.
Behavioral theory is another theory of leadership that influences my understanding of leadership. The theory argues that leaders are made and not born. It focuses on actions that not inborn; it focuses on mental capabilities and traits of leaders that can be devoloped. The theory asserts that people can learn and become leaders through teaching, training, and observation, done by looking what leaders do. In other words, the behavior of leaders can be imitated. According to the theory, expanse study enables an accurate correlation of behavior and success. It is also possible to identify behaviors that lead to failure.
Based on the behaviors of leaders in the behavioral theory, it is possible to come up with three main types of leaders. These are democratic leaders, laissez-faire leaders and autocratic leaders. A democratic leader involves his or her followers in decision making. A leader informs everybody about the decision agreed upon. A laissez-faire leader allows subjects to make most of the decisions and implement them as long as the subjects act within the stipulated rules. This type of leadership works well in situations where the subjects are highly capable. An autocratic leader makes a decision without involving his or her followers and expects the subjects to follow them to the letter. It is appropriate when the subjects are less capable and when quick decisions need to be made.
Leadership behaviors determine if a leader is effective or not. Different leadership styles suite different circumstances. Therefore, an effective leader is one who can learn all styles and know when and where to apply each one of them in its most suited situation.
Behavioral theory asserts that leaders are made and totally disregards the fact that leaders can be born. This shows that leaders are made to a greater extent than born. I differ with the view that leaders cannot be born. As it is indicated above, one needs to be born with qualities used by leaders and then enhance them through training and experience.
Compare and Contrast Leadership and Management, Leaders and Managers, and the Value of Each
Comparison between leadership and management involves looking at the similarities and differences between the two. Leadership can be defined as the process by which a person influences his or her followers to achieve a common goal and directs an organization in a way that makes it more united. Management is the process of planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling activities and efforts of people in an organization to achieve the organization’s goals.
Leadership and management are two different things, but they complement each other and must exist hand in hand. The two of them have similarities in that they both involve a group of people pursuing a common goal. Both of them are symbols for authority upon which objectives can be attained. There several differences such as sources of power. Lastly, they are both processes. A major difference between the two is the type and source of power or authority. Leadership uses influences to get followers while management uses formal authority to control people. This could be through reward or punishment. Management does not have followers while leadership has followers.
Both managers and leaders have so many similarities that people often confuse them. This is because both of them hold authoritative positions and they are people in the lead of employees providing direction and source of command.
Taking a closer look, managers differ from leaders as the following points indicate.
Leaders come up with ways of doing things while managers get involved in administering and implementing policies. This shows that a leader would develop while a manager maintains. Managers work within stipulated set of policies while leaders do not follow stipulated guidelines. This makes managers to be more inclined to science (set of rules and principles) while leaders are more inclined to art. Due to this strict following of rules and guidelines, managers are not original, while leaders are original.
Both management and leadership are important to an organization because they perform different functions but complement each other. To an established organization that requires simply maintenance of organizational structure, management is then more important, and such a company should mainly focus on strengthening its managerial functioning. This is because the management will keep the company going while handling the few changes (Bertocci, 2009). A new company or a company whose environment is dynamically changing requires much of leadership than management. Too much inclining towards management makes company fail to respond to changes in attitude, technology and societal culture. At times of rampant changes, organization should mainly apply leadership skills (Eilers, 2010). Leaders would think how to make an organization relevant to people once again. They would also think how to make people think whatever the company is doing is meaningful. This is about influencing people’s mind, and eventually leadership aligns an organizational structure into realities of the environment surrounding a company.
Discuss the Qualities and Characteristics That Make for an Effective Leader. Why Are These Important?
Characteristics are personal trait and features that distinguish a person. There physical, functional and operational characteristics. In leadership qualities, we mainly look at the functional and operational characteristics of a leader. There are many characteristics and qualities that make a leader effective, and for different leaders these traits vary. The most outstanding qualities are vision, humility, integrity, courage and strategic planning.
Effective leaders are visionary. This involves having a clear and an exciting idea of what to accomplish. This quality raises the emotions of followers who get attached to the vision and start pursuing its attainment. By attaching followers to a common vision, unity among followers gets built (Warren, 1997). Giving the subjects a clear picture of the vision raises their moral towards achieving the vision. The end result is focus, which is a powerful driving force in attaining goals.
Humility enables leaders to recognize other person’s ability with no feelings of threat. It also means that a leader will admit that he or she cannot know everything, and, therefore, can do mistakes. This quality makes a leader to be ready to be taught by anyone. Eventually, leaders give credit to those who deserve, and this encourages subjects to provide valuable information. As a result, followers and the leaders become knowledgeable through the information given (Warren, 1997). The trait also creates an environment that encourages discussions in decision making, since the leader respect and accepts other persons’ opinion or advice. Discussion reduces chances of making mistakes.
Integrity is a core pillar for effective leadership. It makes leaders honest in all their dealings. Integrity ensures fairness to all followers. This means recruitment in an organization would be free and fair. The success of an organization would then be guaranteed since only the right people would be hired.
Courage is another key element for effective leadership. This quality enables leaders to risks while trying to achieve their goals, even in circumstances that do not guarantee success. Many situations in life do not provide certainty, and therefore, a courageous leader will be able to propel a company or a group of people to success while tackling daily challenges.
Strategic planning enables leaders anticipate future trends before their competitors (Warren, 1997). Due to rising competitiveness, only leaders and organizations that are able to accurately foretell the future markets can be able to survive and thrive. Proper prediction gives a company first move benefits.
Discuss Followership and Why This Is Important to the Study of Leadership
Followership is the capacity of individuals in an institute or a group to aggressively follow a leader. It is the societal reciprocate practice to leadership. Studying followership is very important because it gives a greater insight in leadership. How followers follow their leader determines success or failure of any leadership in different situations. Followers of any leadership play a crucial role in an organization, team or group.
Followership helps to understand why a certain type of leadership at a particular time attracted or attracts followers (Deloitte, 2013). People would tend to follow great leaders due to many reasons. Analyzing followers of a great leader enables researchers identify qualities of a great leader. Furthermore, followership helps in identifying which type of leadership works for different situations. It also helps to understand the source of power for different types of leadership.
Followers of a leader are likely to know the strength and weakness of a leader. Therefore, followership helps to identify weakness in leadership that can be overlooked by the followers or that cannot be overlooked. Followership helps identify strength and weakness in different styles of leadership in relation to situations (Deloitte, 2013).
People would follow leaders who make them grow by improving their lives. Analyzing this kind of followership helps to understand what benefits followers of any leadership expect and what attracts them to a certain leader. People would also follow a leader who would think and come up with solutions to problems. Studying followership enables scholars and researchers understand what solutions would attract people to a leader depending on different scenarios.
I have found myself mostly inclined to the democratic type of leadership, in which I respect every person’s views and opinions. Before making any decision, I have consulted colleagues, subordinates and friends. This has its merits and demerits in my performance. A few times I have interacted with willing and knowledgeable friends or colleagues; I have really headed in the right direction. This is by asking their advice and considering the advice before making my own decision. You only realize benefits of this type of leadership when friends or colleagues are willing to help you. This is because there are many times you come across highly knowledgeable friends or colleagues but they might be unwilling to share their knowledge.
Due to much respect of other peoples’ opinion, I have found myself being less effective when urgent decisions need to be made. It is also highly tricky for me when dealing with less capable friends or colleagues because I still try to listen to their views. Though I have tried to learn other leadership styles, I have not been able to fully apply them in appropriate situations.
Definition and description of leadership and how it differs from management are topics having been researched and discussed for many years by many scholars and researchers. Till today, there is no universal agreement on some issues related to these topics, and a good example is the definition of leadership. However, one common feature in all the discussions is that leadership involves influencing people. All current definitions of leadership and even future definitions are likely to be based on this common element.