Can Leadership Training Make Great Leaders?

Introduction

Leadership, in most cases is perceived to stand for the act of influencing others. It is the process where a person makes others assist or support him or her in the effort aimed at attaining a certain objective. According to Alan Keith of Genentech, leadership means devising mechanism that would help people accomplish something unusual. It is the ability to manage and properly utilize the available resources within internal and external environment to attain the community or organizational objectives. The term leadership carries different meanings depending on the context. Some people attribute it to possession of capacity: the ability of leaders to listen and observe, apply their knowledge in initiating discourse at all levels of decision making, ensuring that there is transparency in decision making process as well as articulating ones ideals and visions within the organization rather than imposing them on their subordinates. The main question emerges whether leaders are born or there is the possibility of making competent leaders. Good leaders are made and not born. One develops leadership skills through experience in day to day life within a certain field of operation. A person who has the will and desire to become a leader has the capacity of becoming an effective leader.

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There have been establishment of numerous theories that try to look into some of the qualities that a person is supposed to have for he or she to be chosen as a leader. Some of these theories tackle issues to do with traits, power, vision and principles, behavior as well as situational connections. The main reason for establishment of these theories was the great value attributed to leadership and the notion that leadership is ascribed to certain characteristics that are possessed by some individuals. The idea that leadership depends on individual attributes led to emergence of the trait theory of leadership. Scholars tried to identify some of the talents, physical features and skills that were possessed by the past leaders in bid to support their argument (Cromwell & Kolb 2004, PP. 451-454). However, trait theory of leadership has been criticized for concentrating on a small set of personal traits disregarding other factors such as social skills, motives and expertise. The theory also fails to look into the interdependence between multiple features. It has not been able to distinguish those personal qualities that are developed with time from those that are never changed.

Main body

The criticism led to development of behavioral and style theories. On realizing that trait theory proved not to be viable explanation of leadership, people began to research leadership based on a collection of behaviors by groping behaviors of the past and present successful leaders. They developed a behavior classification and also came up with a wide range of leadership styles. According to David McClelland, leadership requires one to have a strong personality with a well nurtured positive self-worth. For one to lead he or she deserves to have self poise as well as sense of worth. Kurt Lewin, Ralph White and Ronald Lipitt conducted an analysis on what makes leaders adopt certain styles of leadership. They realized that depending on the decision making process within an organization or a community, feedback as well as assignment management, leaders result to three forms of leadership. These include authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire. Authoritarian occurs in places where leaders do not involve other people in decision making and demands for all their subjects to comply to their orders (Watt 2003, P. 40). The leader need not necessarily to be hostile but is detached from involvement in work and usually give individual commend and disapproval to for the work done. Democratic leadership on the other hand is where the leader involves his or her subjects in decision making process. Before any decision is reached, people are allowed to hold a discussion with assistance from the leader. For laissez-fair, the leader gives his or her subjects the freedom to make decisions without interfering. The leader is never involved in decision making unless asked to assist. Of the three leadership styles, most people have been seen to prefer democratic style of leadership.

One of the major roles of a leader is inspiring his or her workers when it comes to conducting a certain activity within an organization or in the community. For one to achieve this, there are certain qualities that one need to have as well as things that one is supposed to know or do. All these do not come naturally rather they are acquired as one continues with his or her leadership duties. Some can be acquired through undertaking leadership studies. Leadership skills are gained and improved as one continues working or enrolling in leadership studies. According to Keith Pascoe, a leader ought not to be an authoritative person rather is suppose to be one who is able to bring together all his or her subjects when it comes to making decisions within the organization. A person supervising others in an organization can not be considered a leader if he or she does not make any improvement in the organization. A leader is supposed to ensure that he or she allocates people amount of work that fits the set time. One is supposed to be ready to address all criticism that arises in his organization in-stead of evading them. It is important for a leader to ensure that everybody is satisfied for the good of the organization. A leader is supposed to be close to his people, listen to their ideas as well as monitoring them in order to be able to identify the various roles that best fit his people. One learns leadership skills by not leading rather by interacting with his or her subjects.

Personal profile is very important when it comes to recruiting people in an organization. For Keith, a leader is supposed to ensure that he or she recruits competent people. The old methods of leadership have become outdated with leaders now adopting a collaborative method of leadership. There is need to ensure that there is diversity in the working environment. It is the duty of leaders to ensure that they always motivate their staffs. Good leaders make staffs be positive on whatever they are doing. As people keeps on moving out of the organization, it is hard to get other competent staffs if the leader does not motivate the current staffs. An organization is judged depending with the status of its staffs as well as its performance.

Experience from John McCarthy reveals that a leader ought not to be a popular person in the country or the world. In most cases when the word leader is mentioned, people tend to start thinking of some of the worlds successful leaders such as Martin Luther king and Gandhi. However, a person is a leader if he or she brings positive changes within an organization or a department that he or she is assigned to manage. All leaders are subject to portray transparency and integrity in their day to day activities with an exception when their duties tend to compromise national interest. McCarthy understands the need for every corporate institution to keep to the combined code. This helps in ensuring that every institution conducts its activities in the best concern of its stakeholders. He understands that lack of competent management within institutions leads to rise of scandals and dishonesty in an organization. To avoid this, organizational leadership needs to establish a set of regulations with respect to organization management. There is need to ensure that the company is led by a competent board that is liable to the success of the company.

From my past experience as a manager in an oil refining company, I have come to understand that leadership experience does not depend on what a leader has done rather it matters on what a leader has helped his or her group of staffs achieve. With the rate of competition in the oil industry, as a manager I realized that I had to look for methods to ensure that our company produced the best quality of oil to help it maintain its competitive advantage. This could not be achieved without having to come up with mechanism to motivate my staffs. It is in this need that I came to understand some of the underlying methods that a leader can employ in motivating his or her team to achieve organizational or community objectives (Donaldson 2006, Par. 2). I had to ensure that all employees enjoyed the freedom of making decisions regarding the management of the refinery. I later learnt that allowing employees participate in decision making makes them have a sense of owning the organization thus making them strive to achieve the best for the company. In pursuit for methods to motivate my staffs I came to learn of various motivation methods that are in the disposal of leaders. Leaders ought to ensure that they have provided better working conditions for all employees. No employee can be productive if he or she works under pressure. Speaking from past experience, the previous regimes of the company management had established strict rules and regulations that governed the company. Despite these rule being in place and every staff ensuring that he or she obeyed them, no progress was being made in the company. It was until when I decided to relax some of the rules that the company started showing some sort of improvement. Recommending staffs works a lot in improving organization performance. I learnt that there is need for leaders to always recognize individual and team performance. Some simple acts of appreciation within organization are usually ignored but they are very crucial in improving its performance. By organizing for departmental parties whenever a department within the company made some progress, there emerged a sort of competition within the company where every department struggled to make sure they have made improvement in their respective areas of operations. This led to significant improvement in the company.

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There comes a time when leaders ought to change some of the set working program in the organization to help it adjust or cope with competition (Donaldson 2006, Par. 4). An organization may set some targets but in the process of attaining the targets it realize that it is making more loss than profit. This moment calls for leaders to come up with methods to change the current system of operations to help the organization meet the problem. I came to realize this in the course of my management duties. We had set a target of ensuring that our company produces four thousand liters of oil daily. In so doing, we were sure that we could be able to cater for consumer needs as well as to expand our market share and make more profit. Initially, this appeared to work as per our expectation but later we were faced with some challenges: the advent of economic crisis. This led to the price of crude oil sky rocketing as well as demand for oil going down in the market. Continuing with our previous rate of production meant that our company would be producing a lot of oil that could end up not being consumed by the available market. This meant that I had to look for ways to ensure that the company operations are not conducted at a loss. This meant that we had to shift from our initial target and look for alternative methods of improving our profit. This made us change from producing a lot of oil to improving on the quality of oil we produced.

By interacting with employees, I came to understand that their morale keeps on changing depending on the organization performance. Whenever there are positive changes within a company, staffs tend to be very happy and active in implementing organization objectives. At this period every employee wants to be associated with the company. However, let there be some setbacks within the company. Employee morale goes down. Every employee does not like to be associated with the company in any way. At this time employees look for their leaders in hope that they will come up with mechanisms to help the company overcome these setbacks. This is the period when leaders are greatly relied on by the company. Here they are expected to guide their staffs in a way that will bring a reassurance to them that the company will be able to triumph these problems. I learnt that at this time, a leader is supposed to assume the role of the organization owner. Here one is expected to lead his or her staffs by showing a stimulating example. This can be through showing that one is sure that he or she is going to succeed despite the hardships facing the organization. There is need for the leader to show that he or she cares for employees’ wellbeing even though he or she encourages them to devote themselves for the good of the company. I learnt that this is the period when a leader ought to be seen more in the organization. He or she is supposed to make sure that he or she attends to some of the duties he has been assuming such as attending meetings he or she has been avoiding. One is also expected to help his or her staffs in performing some of the tasks in order to motivate them. These include helping some of the exhausted staffs, assisting customer service workers as well as doing some filing together with the company clerks.

For a company to grow, it has to have some visions (McCrimmon 2006, Par. 2).It is the role of leaders to come up with organization visions and communicate them to all staffs in the most convenient manner to help them garner employee support. It is from the leadership role in the oil company that I learnt that learnt the important of a vision in the company. It helps the company in setting goals and formulating methods to achieve these goals. It also facilitate in empowering and motivating staffs. Without a vision, a company can not be able to come up with strategic plans to help it manage its activities. From experience, I can state that for leaders to come up with a company vision, they greatly rely on the expectations of their bosses in the organization. Every leader need to have a clear understanding of the organization core values before embarking on coming up with organization vision. One is supposed to review these core values to check whether performances within the company have been keeping to these principles. It is the role of the leader to communicate organization vision to all employees in the company. This helps in ensuring that employees understand the reason why some activities are performed in the organization as well as ensuring that every employee understands his or her role in the organization.

Leaders are supposed to ensure that they every activity in the company is conducted toward attaining this vision. It is in this respect that I learnt the importance of developing leadership qualities. Equipping one-self with the necessary leadership qualities helps not only in improving group performance but also helps leaders in meeting the demands of organization performance. In most cases leaders to not have enough time to develop intensive organization strategies, organize for team building tours or arrange for discussions where they can be able to listen to each staffs complains and ideas. This means having the necessary leadership skills will help a leader in meeting the daily needs within a company. The vision can not be attained if there is no teamwork in the organization. It is the role of leaders to ensure that they have developed a culture of teamwork within their companies.

In implementing our company’s vision, I learnt some of the approaches that a leader is supposed to follow in development of teamwork in the company. It is imperative for team members to be aware of the success that can result from teamwork in a company. To develop teamwork a leader is supposed to make sure that every member of the team has well understood the company’s mission. He or she is supposed to make sure that there is a common trust among team members. This can be through encouraging open communication between the team members as well as with the organization management. Leaders are also expected to come up with an action plan that is intended to attain a common goal (Drucker 1994, PP. 48-63). There is the need to come up with mutually accepted methods of solving problems encountered within the team.

Conclusion

The common believe among people that leaders are born has been a major hindrance to development of competent leaders in many organizations. Through training people can acquire the necessary experience to become competent leaders. It is also possible to gain leadership skills through experience gained from past leaders. This underlines the need for organizations to encourage their young aspiring leaders to start acquiring the necessary experience in leadership skills as early as possible. There is also need for organizations to provide the necessary resources to help in training leaders.

Reference list

Cromwell, S. & Kolb, J., 2004. An examination of work-environment support factors affecting transfer of supervisory skills training to the work place. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 15(4), pp. 449-71.

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Donaldson, D., 2006.Can Leadership Training Make Great Leaders? Web.

Drucker, P. F., 1994. Managing the Nonprofit Organization. New York: Harper Collins.

McCrimmon, M., 2006. Jim Collins and Level 5 Leadership. Web.

Watt, W., 2003. Effective leadership education: Developing a core curriculum in Leadership studies. Journal of Leadership Education, 2(1), PP. 39-48.

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