Effective leadership is a key determinant of an organization’s welfare. Many organizations have failed all over the world due to poor leadership. Governments have failed in their role in protecting and providing for their citizens due to poor leadership and millions of people have been killed in the past due to poor leadership. Revisiting the past and considering the leadership failures that caused the world lots destruction accentuates the grave importance of effective leadership. Consider a leader like Hitler. He killed millions of people and caused the deaths of more by his contribution to the start of the WWII. It is through such leadership failures that the world has learnt the methods that must be employed in leadership for it to be effective. This discussion of effective leadership would be incomplete without clarification of a common misconception about the success of leadership and its effectiveness. Many people consider success in leadership to be proportionate with the number of followers that the leader has behind him. This is a misconception that is highly negligent especially considering the fact that history has examples of people who set records of poor leadership albeit with a large following behind them. Leadership should thus be understood to have many faces some of which conflict. Leadership effectiveness should therefore be indicated by a perfect balance among the various indicators of leadership success. The leadership failures in history failed because most of their causes are based on hate and greed. They had a great following made up of people who had ideas like their own. It is therefore necessary that we look at leadership as a call to leading people towards achieving goals that are for the good of the community and the world at large. Leadership is however multidimensional and although contemporary leaders do not fail as much as early leaders used to, many leaders in the society today are not equipped with the necessary techniques to help them undertake their leadership roles effectively. This has led to considerable counts of leadership failures in the society. This is very discouraging especially considering the fact that these people have precedents to learn from.
Sperry (2002, pp. 7 – 18), is of the idea that, roles that are normally attached to leadership make leaders learn to manage power and influence. With this opinion therefore, effective leadership is shown to be dependent on the ability of an individual leader to manage these valuable resources of leadership. Although power and influence is normally attached to virtually every leadership position, the leaders in these positions differ substantially in the effectiveness of their leadership. This difference is brought about by the differences in how the leaders are able to use the power and influence at their disposal to the advantage of the organization and to grow their skills in leadership. Power and influence are known to be disorientating and thus most leaders misuse them. A misuse of power and influence directed to the people that a given leader is leading will lead to dismal failure. This is because the popularity of a leader among his/her inferiors is a literal indicator of the effectiveness of the leader. On the other hand, a leader who gets selfish with his/her use of influence will experience diminishing levels of influence until he/she is unable to use the influence attached to his/her position as a leader to the advantage of the organization. This could be exemplified by leaders who influence their juniors to disregard the ideas of his/her seniors. The discovery of such misuse of influence and power would make the leader be stripped of his powers and thus his influence will also be affected. Such kind of a leader will also miss promotion opportunities because he will have made his superiors lose trust in him. Thus for effective leadership, a leader must know how to manage the power and influence attached to his/her position.
Effective leadership is also characterized with continued development of the leadership skills of the individual leader and adherence to organizational objectives. Many leaders suffer the problems of imbalance of professional and personal career development. As much as it is necessary for leaders to give their optimum professional contribution to their organization, it is also necessary that they develop their leadership skills in the process. Thus an effective leader will make proper use of the learning environments created by his/her position as a leader and advance his /her leadership knowledge through experience. This is in contrary to the actions of some of the leaders in organizations who give depriving commitment to their work that they end up being frustrated and even failing in their duties as leaders. On the other hand, other leaders prioritize their career success so much that they end up underperforming in their duties. This in turn makes them miss wonderful opportunities for expanding leadership knowledge through experience. It is therefore clear that an effective leader must balance personal and professional career development.
Effective leadership also employs the various strategies that determine productivity. Let us have a look at each of them. The first is executive coaching. This refers to guidance offered to executive to develop their leadership skills. In this kind of a program, leaders identify their areas of leadership weaknesses and work with their tutors to end or mitigate their effects on their work. This way, the leaders become highly effective in their work and thus they become better leaders. Next, leaders can consult with their fellow professionals in solving leadership problems. This enables them to make well informed decisions and learn from the reasoning of their colleagues such that they are able to solve similar problems in the future on their own. Another strategy for improving productivity is organizational consultation in which the whole organization seeks the ideas of another organization in solving its own problems. Next are the various strategies that help in the development of leadership within the organization by for leadership talent from junior staff. Other similar and helpful strategies employed include policy advisement that involves the seeking of adequate information before making policy decisions and executive health promotion that is geared towards reducing employee absenteeism that results from sicknesses. There is also executive counseling that is involved with collection of leadership knowledge for application in the organization. Since all these strategies help in enhancing the leadership skills of leadership they form good leadership practices and thus they add to the effectiveness of the leadership.
Blagg (2001, p. 1 – 2), attempts to identify the components of effective leadership. She is of the opinion that leadership is non-uniform depending on who executes it, the organization in which the leadership is applied and even the methods that are used in the leadership. She distinguishes the manager from the leader with the argument that managers are mostly concerned with the day to day planning of organizational activities that are normally aimed at achieving the laid down objectives of the organizations. Thus most of the roles of managers rotate around budgeting, organization and control. On the other hand, leaders are concerned with the overall decisions that affect the long-term fate of the organization. Therefore, leaders are the ones who create a purpose for the organization by making visionary decisions and leaving them for managerial implementation. However this analysis is misleading because it compares two roles that have different modes and thus the comparison does not depict the situation well. This is substantiated by the fact that managers and leaders have common characteristics. This statement is made without the disregard of the fact that managers have more management skills than leadership skills, and that leaders have more leadership skills than they have management skills. She argues that the definition of a leader is kind of complicated. Citing an example of a performing manager without celebrity status who is capable of practical leadership skills she gives substance to her argument that the definition of leadership ought not to be linear. For if somebody is capable of proven leadership skills, his/her role in the society should not matter much in determining if he/she is a leader. On the other hand, a leader may be capable of leadership skills and fail terribly in management skills. This way, the value created by his/her good leadership skills will be diluted by the problems that result from his/her problems in management. With this argument the most effective leaders are both managers and leaders (p. 1- 2).
According to Blagg (2001, p. 3 – 4), leadership is all about communication. An effective leader should therefore be a good communicator. The goodness of communication is in this case measured with a leader’s ability to rationality, emotions and values the people who he communicates with. Effective leaders therefore do a lot of communication practice and thus they become adept in their employment of these great aspects of communication. Another important feature in communication is the selection of the key parts of a message that must be communicated. This way, one is able to simplify a message and encourage message reception on the process. This marks one of the most valuable attributes of a great communicator. Effective leaders are normally great communicators and thus to make an effective leader, on must have a touch for brevity. Another important aspect of effective communication is the knowledge of the audience that one communicates to. This requires great skills in reading peoples emotions and actions. The communicator ought to know the kinds of messages that his target listeners are willing to give an audience to and those that would be equivalent to pushing an impenetrable wall. With this regard, the communicator should ensure that he/she listens as much as he delivers his/her messages. An effective leader, therefore, analyses his audience and knows what message he/she should deliver and which message he/she has to leave out. It is also as important to communication by actions as it is to communicate by words. Effective leaders back up their words with adherence to what they communicate to the people who they lead. Leaders must also have a passion for the things they believe in. Thus leaders should involve themselves in projects that they are able to sustain until they are successful. Effective leaders therefore are passionate in their beliefs and are never deterred by setbacks and hardships. The final communication determinant for a good leader is the willingness and ability to appreciate challenging situations and communicate to the rest of the organization about them. Although the communication of a bad situation of the organization’s affairs could be undesirable due to the reactions that may result from it, effective leaders communicate these problems for betterment of the situation because sweeping the dirt under the carpet will only serve to postpone disaster or even make matters worse.
From this discussion it is evident that Blagg’s ideal leaderships must prioritize communication efficacy and back it up with the desired elements of management and leadership skills. An analysis of the contemporary society with a keen look at the evolution of leadership over the years will reveal that most of the advances in leadership can be attributed to development in the communication strategies used in the corporate world. Communication is therefore very important to the success of any establishment that has a leader, ranging from families to governments.
Walker (2005, pp. 1-14), tries to relate practical leadership to leadership theories and highlights the constituents of effective leadership. He believes that leadership behavior can not be adequately described by theories but by real life examples and studies. Let us concentrate the effective leadership part. Walker is of the idea that effective leaders have many common characteristics. He gives a general description that fits them all as people who give an inspiration to other people to give maximum contribution aimed at attaining a common goal. Thus effective leaders use technical methods of creating motivation in other people and they do not push people to work towards the achievement of this goal. This makes the people they lead have enthusiasm to work and thus they give their best in a bid to attain the laid down objectives. These leaders have many characteristics in common that make them effective leaders. Walker terms these characteristics as the effective leadership principles. Let us have a look at these effective leadership principles.
To be an effective leader, your principles have to be based on a solid foundation. Humility and integrity have been proven to be the best foundations on which effective leadership is built. Integrity is the attraction that draws followers to a leader. If a leader is honest, loyal, trustworthy and honorable, he/she will not only have a huge following but his followers will be unbelievably enthusiastic about supporting his/her causes. No single leader who based his ideals on integrity has ever had a reason to regret his decision. Even if such a leader faces problems in his/her period of leadership, humility gives him/her patience and a sense of accomplishment that helps him/her to accept the condition and move forward. This has helped leaders to stand in their leadership roles and overcome hardships. An example of such leaders is Sir Winston Churchill who led his country to the victory of World War II even after earlier frustration. The most commendable contribution of humility in developing effective leadership apart from avoiding the undesirable effects of arrogance is the development of trust among followers in their leader. This is normally achieved through the various aspects of humility that include taking pride and acknowledging the success of people in the leader’s following. Another ingredient of effective leadership is the development of a code of conduct governing the way the members of the following of the leader behave. This code should also lay down rules governing the conduct of the leader and thus advocate for literal equality. With these qualities, the followers of the leaders are protected against any undesired changes by the leader in the future such that in the event of the same they can continue the worthy cause by appointing someone else to fill the position of the leader.
Summary of literature
The materials reviewed above concentrate on the value of effective leadership and how to achieve it. Leadership has been proved to be a key part of any organization and its effectiveness has been shown to be the prerequisite to the success of organizations. The techniques used to achieve effective leadership have been discussed to touch the areas of research, coaching, teamwork, communication, integrity and humility. Basically, leadership, like any other humanitarian role, has been shown to be based on good intentions and good human values. Thus its success is very dependent on how the leaders relate with people both inferior to them or superior to them. From this it is necessary for leaders to make use of the human resources around them in order for their leadership to be effective. The leader should also make sure that appropriate systems exist that govern the organization to make sure that all people within the organization act with goodwill and integrity. Taking corporate leadership for example, even if the leader employs the best leadership method sand the employees of the organizations are not governed by a code of conduct, the efforts of the leader will be put to waste because misconducts of the employees will affect the productivity of the organization. Leaders should therefore ensure that they support noble causes and mobilize their supporters with a laid down code of conduct to work towards attaining the noble goal. On the other hand the followers of a given leader should make sure that they adhere to the conduct requirements of their organization and keep a close eye on their leader so that the leader does not let them down by, at any point, lessening his/her conviction about the achievement of the noble goal. This will work together with the commitment of the leader in ensuring effective leadership. The extensive research that has been done on the field of leadership has introduced a lot of guidelines that have to be followed in order to achieve effective leadership. These include principles of effective leadership, components of effective leadership etcetera. These guidelines have also been highlighted in literature review and should be put into practical use by leaders in the society so that there will be no more incidences of negligent failures in leadership.
With its planning, organization and implementation roles in organizations, leadership plays a very important role in these organizations. It keeps an organization focused, gives it an authority and most of all enables the activities of the organization to be effectively controlled. This translates to high levels of production and growth of organizational values and the growth of individual values in the organization. Thus the importance of leadership makes it a must-have for every organization that craves for success in its operations. Merely having a leadership does not translate to success of an organization. It is the effectiveness of this leadership that determines the organization performs. Thus the effectiveness of leadership or the ineffectiveness of leadership in any organization could form the thin line between the success and the failure of the organization.
Blagg, D. (2001). “What Makes a Good Leader?” Web.
Sperry, L. (2002). Effective leadership. New York. Barnes & Noble.
Walker, C. (2005). Effective Leadership. New Jersey. Prentice Hall.