Although there is no universal definition of leadership, or the traits that comprise it, all definitions can be summarized as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” (Blake and Mouton, 1985).
Basically, leadership concerns organizing a group of persons to realize a common objective and this involves inspiring them to adopt a teamwork strategy.
There are four main concepts involved in leadership, i.e. the leader, the followers, communication, and situation. The leader must be honest in all his/her roles. It is vital to point out that it is the subjects who decide the success of a leader. Consequently, the leader must employ two-way communication and consider the situation before choosing a communication strategy.
There are two models of leadership in use today: the Four Framework Approach and the Managerial Grid. The Four Framework model proposes that leaders show leadership traits in one of the following structures: Structural, Human Resource, Political, or Symbolic.
However, the Managerial Grid employs two axes: “concern for people” and “Concern for task or results” (Blake and Mouton, 1985). The dimensions are plotted in the vertical axis and horizontal axis respectively and have a range of 0-9.
Since a leader interacts with all persons, below, at par or above his/her rank, it is vital that he/she wins their support and be able to inspire them. This can be effected by understanding human nature, which is defined as the common traits of persons such as values, beliefs, and customs.
Another important aspect in leadership is vision, purpose, and goals. Goals must be realistic and attainable, should improve the organization in all aspects, should involve all people, and should run on a predefined program. In addition, the following characteristics are important in goal setting: goal difficulty, specificity, feedback, and participation.
Although there are no common leadership traits, the following traits are vital towards the success of a leader: honesty, competency, forward-looking (vision), inspiration, intelligence, fair-mindedness, broad-minded, courageous, straightforward and imaginative. These are just a fraction of the traits that a leader should possess.
There are various styles of leadership, each of which should be used according to the situation. They are authoritarian, participative, and delegative forms of leadership. A good leader employs all the styles with one of them being dominant, however, a bad leader tend to stick to one form of leadership.
A leader may be required to create a matrix team, lead one, or form a part of one. A matrix team may be a work group, task groups, brainstorming teams, or similar specialized groups in an organization. Communication, collaboration, and collective efforts is important in these working groups.
One of the greatest challenges in leadership is to get all members of an organization to embrace diversity. Diversity is all about empowering persons and it increases the efficiency of an organization by making the most of the employees’ strengths. To develop diversity, a leader can use either of the following methods: training, education, and development. Time management is important too in all leadership processes.
In today’s changing and highly competitive business environment, one of the proven methods of surviving is to adopt change. This strategy will ensure that consumer demands of quality products and services are met.
Reshaping the organization may involve picking a highly flexible and committed workforce. Training can also increase output, but should be followed by an After Action Review (AAR) which evaluates the success of the tasks and goals set by the leader.
Blake, R. R. & Mouton, J. S. (1985). The Managerial Grid III: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.