Business and Economics Management Skills

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A good leader is one who can inspire and motivate his followers. Capable of bringing out the best, good leaders encourage employees through constructive feedback. A good leader not only knows what he wants to achieve but also how he is going to achieve it.

Through the lecture, I learned more about leadership styles and leadership skills. I also learned about how a leader differs from a manager. As Dr. Gerard M. Blair (1997) explains the difference – “The Leader is followed. The Manager rules.” A leader is someone who is followed by employees out of choice rather than compulsion, as is in the case of a manager who must be obeyed.

A leader may have reward, coercive, legitimate, referent, or expert power over his followers. However, the power that a leader may possess may actually be the perception of his follower; he may not possess that power in reality. For instance, a follower may assume that a leader has expert power only to realize later that he only had superficial knowledge about the subject.

The autocratic leadership style reminds me of Hitler, and the latest example of such leadership is Saddam Hussein. John F. Kennedy is a reminder of the democratic leadership style. Laissez-faire leadership works well when the team consists of very experienced members who are self-starters (Mind Tools Ltd., n.d.).

As explained by Clark (2008), “Although good leaders use all three styles, with one of them normally dominant, bad leaders tend to stick with one style.” Choosing the leadership style that best suits the situation or one that is most effective is known as situational leadership. The choice can be made based on the member’s skill level and experience, work involved, the work environment, and the leader’s natural style (Mind Tools Ltd., n.d.).

It is beyond doubt that management skills are essential in all spheres of life. I understood a manager to be one who plans and controls the work and team members but who rarely has to do any work himself. A manager is someone who can go about ordering without getting his hands wet. Through this lecture, I was able to clear some of the myths about managers and management in general.

The biggest eye-opener was how a manager spends his time. I never realized how much time a manager ends up negotiating, discussing, and explaining to his team members as opposed to external contacts as per my myths. Managers requiring information systems to support their reporting was another myth; it never occurred to me that they could actually prefer verbal communication.

The typical managers prefer to stick to the routine, are eager to pass the blame rather than provide constructive feedback, and are more engrossed in protecting their territory. However, the scenario is changing. Today, managers need to be ready to embrace change. Customer satisfaction is their top priority. Managers no longer can stick to their specialty but need to understand and follow the corporate vision. All this requires that a manager’s communication skills are highly developed and have a high ability to work with teams and improve/manage their performance. Expectations management which is managing the sometimes conflicting expectations of customers, senior management, team members, and other stakeholders, is the major characteristic of a manager. A manager also acts as an agent for change.

A good manager must possess soft skills such as mentoring, counseling, coaching, facilitating, etc. As a mentor, a manager can help his team members with their experiences. As a counselor, he can be their sounding board. As a coach, a manager can guide them in achieving realistic objectives. As a facilitator, he can smooth the path for the team member.

Morality is basically a code of conduct that an individual uses to guide oneself when making decisions that affect not just him but many others. Morality in a business environment means sticking to a moral code of conduct or ethics not only by the individuals (employees) but also by the organization.

In business terms, though, social responsibility means controlling the impact of its activities on its stakeholders – maximizing positive impacts such as profit and minimizing negative impacts such as pollution. Corporate social responsibility requires an organization to think beyond itself and its immediate stakeholders and extend its care and concern to the wider world. This means an organization needs to be ethically, legally, economically, and philanthropically responsible. An organization may need to go beyond the minimum legal requirements so as to be able to support this cause.

The majority of ethical issues are related to the human resources in an organization. Discrimination is one of the major ethical issues faced by organizations in this regard. Discrimination can be based on caste or gender, or factors other than the qualifications required for the position. Gender discrimination still prevails in many developing countries. Sexual harassment is another form of discrimination, with females often being the soft target in a male chauvinist environment.

Many individuals go through the dilemma of blowing the whistle when they come across an activity that may not be in the public interest. While not many individuals may decide to blow the whistle eventually, it is a moral obligation that they should consider along with all other consequences.

Ethical decisions in business cannot be taken without giving due consideration to all the facts, possible ethical issues, affected people, consequences, obligations, and most importantly, the character and integrity of the business.

List of References

Blair, G. M. (1997). The Difference Between Management And Leadership, The University of Edinburgh. Web.

Clark, D. R. (2008). Leadership Styles. A Big Dog, Little Dog and Knowledge Jump Production. Web.

Mind Tools Ltd. (n.d.) Leadership styles. Mind Tools Ltd. Web.

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