Over the years leadership has always been based on the ability to control a group through the use of power, power to dominate a certain people. In a business setting, leadership is seen as the ability to generate and promote new ideas. This kind of personality is seen as the basis of leadership qualities. Leadership is therefore not a position that someone holds but rather a process. People become leaders by doing great leadership over a long period (Leadership: the Only Path to Becoming a Leader), whereby a certain individual who wants to be a leader works his/her way through to gain the required leadership skills. It is only through the attainment of these skills that one can be set apart from the crowd as an outstanding leader. These leadership skills help people to describe and distinguish a leader. Some of these leadership skills include:
- The ability to give and get information
- Understanding the group that one is leading(their needs and characteristics)
- Understanding and knowledge of the resources of the group
- Group control counseling
- Being an example to the group
- Being a representative of the group
- Solving problems
A leader should be able to set certain goals and motivate the group to achieve the set goals. For someone to be referred to as a great leader he/she has to have a vision that should be followed up by the establishment of objectives and goals and the setting up of a direction that will be followed to achieve the set goals. This is just the first step towards great leadership. The leader should then be able to influence potential followers, perform the various tasks required to achieve the set goals and this should be to their full potential (Leadership: the One and Only Path to Becoming a Leader). After the realization of the set objectives and goals, the person can therefore be referred to as a leader. For a leader to achieve the set goals and vision, he/she needs to use various styles/ strategies. The various leadership styles include:
- Delegative or Free Reign
- Authoritarian or autocratic
- Participative or democratic
- Delegative or Free Reign
In this kind of leadership, the leader gives the group/ employees the freedom to choose what is to be done. The employees are in a position to make decisions. However, the leader is still responsible for the decisions that are made. A leader decides to use this style of leadership if he/she analysis the group/employees and figures out that the employees are in a position to analyze a certain situation and in turn, they can decide what is to be done and also the employees know how to do that specific task. This style of leadership can only be applied if the leaders have the full trust of the employees and when the leader has the full confidence of the people below him/her. The leader will be able to trust that the decisions that are made are the best and in the best interests of the business and will also help to achieve the set goals and objectives. This is because most of the time it is only by working as a team that business becomes great. As a leader, the employees/group that we have can make us successful or make us fail in our business.
This is according to the article The Men Behind the Guns of Business. A leader’s attitude towards the employees makes the business either succeeds or not. A leader should “select his men carefully and at the right time-then give them free rein within well-defined limits”. This leadership style gives the employees a chance to develop and help him/her to discover what he/she can achieve and what the limits are. The leaders should allow the employees to grow by allowing them to make the fit decisions. And this allows the employees to learn through their mistakes. This is because mistakes help people develop and grow. This kind of leadership allows the employees to make mistakes and this is good because it is the only way that they can gain experience (The Men Behind the Guns of Business). This style can prove too expensive in the initial stages but it always brings positive results in the long run. The advantage of this kind of leadership style is that it gives the employees a lot of confidence and further instills the qualities of creativity and initiative. This means that the business will be successful and profitable. This leadership style can be used by a leader when he/she has a lot of time to achieve a specific goal. That if the employees make mistakes, the leaders will have the time to correct the mistakes and therefore accomplish the set goals on time.
Authoritarian or Autocratic
In this kind of leadership style, the leader does not involve the employees. The leader always instructs the group/employees. For instance, the leader tells the employees what and how he/she wants things to be done. According to the article On Becoming A Manager, this kind of leadership style is supported. It implies that managers are not supposed to work but enable the employees to accomplish the set goals. The leader should therefore provide the necessary help and the resources that are needed by the employees that help them to do their work efficiently. The leader is supposed to stand out and lead the group; he/she is not supposed to think like an employee. When and if managers think like the employees, this leads to a lot of negative energy. This negative energy can lead to poor morale among the employees, weak performance, and low production and can lead to career burnout. A leader should know when to use this kind of leadership style. For instance, it is most appropriate when the leader has all the resources that are needed to accomplish a specific task within a very short period. And therefore he/she does not have the time to consult the employees.
Participative or democratic
This leadership style involves the use of some of the employees in decision-making. The leader uses either one or more employees in the decision-making process but the leader has the final decision. It is best used when the leader does not have the full information that he/she will need to accomplish a specific task. The other information can only be given by the employees. That is why the leader needs to consult the employees to get the information that he needs to achieve the set goals/objectives. The best way of showing employees that they belong and ensuring that they remain loyal is by showing them that they will be given a chance to make the most of themselves. This is by involving them where necessary. Most good leaders normally use the three styles of leadership together on the other hand bad leaders tend to use one style of leadership. But certain situations influence the style of leadership that will be used. The relationship between leader, employees and the situation also determines the style to be used. Some example of these situations includes:
Delegative style: An employee who knows more about the job than the leader. So the leader needs to let the employee take charge of the work.
Participative style: The employee knows about the job and wants to be part of the team.
Authoritarian style: This can be used with an employee who is learning the job.
Using the three styles; telling the employees that something is not right and something must be changed (authoritarian); telling the employees to give their contributions towards a certain project (participative); sharing out tasks to accomplish a task (Delegative).
The above leadership styles are important in the running of any business. But if they are not used appropriately they can lead to the failure of a business. Some reasons make the leaders fail in the running of their businesses. They include:
- Shift in Focus. There are times when a leader loses focus on what is quite important. Leaders are recognized because they can think big and tackle issues effectively. But this can change if a leader loses focus on what is important. Their ability to think big reduces significantly. Good results are determined by who is the leader of the group. A leader should have a clear vision to achieve the set goals and always challenge his/her thoughts. Someone who has lost focus should try and look at the situation from a different perspective or someone else’s point of view. This goes a long way in trying to focus on the original goal or objective (The Persistence of Vision).
- Poor communication. When a leader loses focus of what is important he/she tends to have poor communication skills. The employees are not in a position to understand the leader if the leader can not understand himself/herself. The information given by the leader is therefore ambiguous since his/her vision is not clear. At times these leaders believe that the employees should sense their goals even without being told. This is reflected in the article Why Leaders fail. Such leaders tend to blame the employees that they are not attentive and are not committed. This, therefore, brings misunderstanding within the business. For anyone to communicate effectively one has to have a clear focus in that as a leader one should always know his/her purpose. This is the only way that the leader can say what he means and mean what he says.
- lack of Ethics. Integrity is the highest principle of leadership. A leader’s credibility is determined by two things: character and competency. If these two things are not in line, they cause integrity problems. If and when a leader does not value his/her ethics, this is one step towards failure. For instance, when a leader does not value the means of achieving something but rather values the results, it shows that something has interfered with the ethical values. This leader is not in a position to respect his/her employee who is quite important in the running of any business/organization. This is because the leader will not value the employees but rather will take them as a means of fulfilling his/her goals. Ethics makes leaders empathize with the employees and thus treat them as human beings. Additionally, lack of ethics makes the leaders rigid, and this interferes with the growth of the leader and also his followers (The Persistence of Vision). This is because their thinking is wrong and this, therefore, interferes with the decisions that they make. Due to wrong thinking, a leader whose focus has changed will end up making the wrong judgment.
- Poor Self Management. Leadership is very tiring. So a leader needs o know when he/she needs to rest. Leaders who do not take care of themselves can not lead people for long before they collapse. Leaders need to take care of their physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional needs. A leader should take time to refresh for them to grow and develop. They should be in a position to recognize signs of fatigue and stress. Leaders who do not do this finally give in to fatigue and stress.
- Fear of Failure. The fear of failure makes leaders not to be in a position to take some reasonable risks. A leader who is headed for failure is often driven by fear. Most of his/her past successes create some fear in the leaders. This leads to a situation whereby the leader is not innovative, he/she is not in a position to initiate something because he/she is scared of failure. The cost of failure becomes so much for the leader to handle. But a good leader should be in a position to understand that in business leaders make two steps forward and one step back (Why Leaders Fail). A good leader should not take reckless risk but rather a reasonable risk. A leader should have a creative mind and always be prepared to change the necessary gears, that is he/she should be ready and willing to make the necessary changes that the company may require. If a leader is not creative, this means that he/she is not growing and his/her understanding is not deepening (The persistence of Vision)
- Lost Love. This should be one of the great signs that a leader is a bond to fail. Leadership should be fun and fulfilling but when leaders lose sight of their dreams they tend to work for causes that do not mean much to them. To maintain leadership skills the leaders must be known and maintain what they love and what motivates them to be leaders. This is the only way they can maintain the fulfillment that is derived from leadership.
Leaders should heed the above signs for them to be successful leaders. This is because these signs protect them from disaster and helps the leader to maintain a leadership that is fulfilling and healthy to both the leader and the followers (Why Leaders Fail).
In a nutshell, for a leader to be successful he/she must have some qualities and attributes and also put them into action properly. Some of the practices that successful leaders indulge in include:
- They set an example. They have to model the way in terms of their behavior, beliefs, and values. The beliefs and values of the organization should also be important and the leader demonstrates this.
- Secondly, they inspire their followers. They have a vision; they are uplifting and inspire a shared vision with their followers.
- Third, they challenge others to allow growth, change, innovation, and creativity. Successful leaders experiment and take risks easily.
- Fourth, they give others a chance to show what they can do. Support collaboration with others and appreciate individual growth.
- Finally, successful leaders recognize, reward, and support individual achievement.
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