Understanding leadership

1. Introduction
Leadership can be defined as the act of influencing others to work toward a common goal. Leadership is different from management: management is about coping with complexity whereas leadership is about coping with change. Another big difference is that management requires formal power and authority to exercise where as leadership does not.

Similarly, a leader may or may not have any formal authority and this is one of the differences between a leader and a manager. It is very important to note that leaders do not rely on the use of force to influence people. Instead, people willingly adopt the leader’s goal as their own goal. In other words, the influence comes from leadership always have voluntary response. If a person is relying on force and punishment, the person is a dictator, not a leader.

Leadership

2. Leadership in organizations
In organizations, leadership is more than the personal characteristics: it includes setting a strategy, developing influential relationships with followers, designing organizations as well as managing change within the organization and with followers to achieve desired outcomes. Here are what leaders usually do in organizations:
  • Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence.
  • Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breath it.
  • Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
  • Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.
  • Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
  • Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
  • Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.
  • Leaders celebrate.
Generally speaking, leaders in organizations have three main roles:
  • Path finding: Having a compelling vision and mission that ties the value system and vision to the needs of customers and stakeholders through a strategic plan.
  • Aligning: Having the structure, systems, and processes contribute to achieving the mission and vision.
  • Empowering: Allowing people to bring their talent, ingenuity, intelligence, creativity and energy to the cause.
3. Six keys to effective leadership
According to Giuliani (2003), the six keys to effective leadership are:
  • You must know what you believe
  • You must be an optimist
  • You must have courage
  • You must practice relentless preparation
  • You must understand the value of other people
  • You must communicate effectively
4. Quotes on leadership
  • Leadership is influence.” – John C. Maxwell
  • Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
  • Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” – Colin Powell
  • If a leader will take care of the people – provide support, motivation, discipline, and communication – the people will take care of the mission.” – Robert D. Gaylor
  • As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” –  Bill Gates
  • Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell

Leadership

References:
Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Bess, D., 2012. Leadership, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished.
Forbes, 2012. 100 Best Quotes on Leadership, [online] Available at:<http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/10/16/quotes-on-leadership/> [Accessed 5 January 2013].

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