Ineffective Leadership

Annotated Bibliography

Spears, L. C. (2010). Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 1(1), 25-30.

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This article recognizes the ongoing rapid changes in several business and not-for-profit organizations. These changes relate to leadership styles from the traditional authoritative and hierarchical approaches to a servant leadership model. Servant leadership provides new opportunities for leaders to build relationships with their followers and colleagues. Leaders who possess servant leadership behavioral traits tend to involve other stakeholders in decision-making process. They depict strong moral and caring behaviors. At the same time, they focus on professional and personal developments of their subordinates while enhancing organizational positive and supportive practices. In this regard, the article explores ten character traits associated with servant leadership. These behaviors define leadership effectiveness, and they include “listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community” (p. 25).

Worst Leader Ever

Many are familiar with the phrase: “Employees don’t leave bad companies; they leave bad bosses!”

The following top five reasons reflect why a certain biology teacher made it to the Worst Leader Ever List. The biology teacher, who is considered as a problematic teacher, simply lacks leadership qualities.

First, the teacher does not collaborate with peers or students. In most cases, he tends to act independently and often believes that other teachers are his competitors. Consequently, the teacher has a created a wide rift between learners and peers whose insights and support he might require. Second, the teacher does not display any energy and enthusiasm. On several occasions, the teacher has rejected any new ideas or initiatives by referring to them as ‘burdens’. He never volunteers to take students to workshops or seminars. The biology teacher has a tendency to stick to his timetable and does not tolerate additional work for fear of being overwhelmed. Instead, he prefers that other teachers perform such tasks. Third, the teacher has accepted his average performance.

Although he has been challenged to improve performances in experiments, delivery of results and other issues, the teacher has condoned his mediocre performance and always provides technical explanations why such targets could be difficult to achieve, but only to look good once he has attained them. He tends to ‘under-promise’ but with the aim of surpassing the target. Fourth, the biology teacher hardly learns from his mistakes, and he has failed to mentor or develop peers. He does not display any efforts to improve performance and sees no opportunities in setbacks. At the same, he tends to focus on himself, avoids questions and often disengaged from peers and students. Finally, the teacher generally lacks interpersonal skills to relate with others effectively. He is abrasive, aloof, reluctant to join others in events and rarely engage in normal conversations.

These behaviors have significantly restricted leadership effectiveness of the teacher. Leader behaviors and traits such as directive, personality, participative, intelligence, charisma and even servant leadership tend to distinguish between leadership effectiveness and ineffectiveness. It noted that behaviors are the most relevant predictor of effectiveness of leaders. However, it is necessary to note that negative traits normally predispose leaders to specific behaviors that may hinder their leadership effectiveness. Leaders who are aware of their situations and display interests in other people rather than themselves are more likely to be categorized as effective leaders. In addition, leaders should be industrious and agreeable to enhance their effectiveness and performance in the team. However, leaders who disregard their peers, are self-centered and lack industriousness generally limit their leadership capabilities and success. Behavioral practices of leaders should not limit their leadership outcomes. Leaders should transform their peers and followers through consistent positive behaviors. For effectiveness, leaders require support and should offer assistance to others, promote and facilitate change. Without these credentials, leaders may limit their effectiveness and poorly impact their followers and peers.

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Teachers who display passive leadership behaviors tend to underperform, and the wide disparities noted in negative leadership tendencies and effectiveness depict that even acting in a suboptimal manner is better than not taking any action at all. Therefore, leaders who have limited influences because of their behaviors should take leadership development initiatives, actively engage colleagues and their followers and assume their leadership responsibilities instead of focusing on displaying their negative behaviors that inhibit leadership quality developments.

Studies have demonstrated that character traits are the strongest indicators of leadership effectiveness (Spears, 2010). In this regard, people should be trained to master leadership qualities and enhance their effectiveness. Although it might be simple to hire individuals with desirable qualities of leadership, people who should be promoted should have proven record of effective interpersonal skills, understanding tasks, encouraging change and mentoring peers among others.

The teacher displayed fundamental elements of characters that are deeply embedded in behavioral traits. In this regard, it has been vital to understand the nature of leaders and their characters and their influences on leadership outcomes. In a learning environment, it is believed that effective leadership characters can be acquired through learning and teaching. Character counts, and this phrase is important in the leadership sphere. It shows that leaders with bad traits can learn characters to improve their effectiveness. Leaders can therefore learn core values of characters such as “trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship” (Spears, 2010) to enhance their effectiveness. The element of character, as a trait of leaders, has become an interesting topic in leadership because of its impacts.

Scholars have focused on leaders’ characters to understand personality or habits of successful leaders and ineffective ones (Spears, 2010). In addition, they also aim to evaluate those traits that can be changed to enhance effectiveness. In this regard, character traits of effective leaders have been identified to illustrate the concept of leadership and behaviors. “Vision, empathy, inspiration and trustworthiness” (Spears, 2010) have been identified as fundamental aspects of leadership characters for effectiveness. In fact, most of leadership studies tend to demonstrate or assume that leadership positive characters ought to be encouraged and developed. Individuals who hold this school of thought have favored servant leadership to reflect leadership and characters of leaders (Spears, 2010).

One can mitigate ineffective leadership by learning and practicing character traits of effective leadership. Nevertheless, it is imperative to recognize that leadership is an extremely important element of human behavior, and different methods can be used to ascertain its effectiveness. In this regard, various models or theories exist to explain leadership. In this case of the teacher, character traits of servant leadership can be applied to mitigate negative outcomes. It is believed that these characteristics can enhance meaningful practices and ensure leadership effectiveness.

First, listening is a critical character of a leader. In fact, leaders have always been recognized because of this ability. No leader can achieve effectiveness by not listening to followers. Listening is a good complement of effective communication and decision-making. Thus, listening is a trait that leaders should seek to reinforce. A servant leader tends to listen to followers and peers and then identify with the best solutions. Leaders should learn to listen receptively, reflect and then provide a conclusive decision.

Second, a good leader should aim to comprehend and empathize with followers. Followers need leaders who can accept their special and unique attributes. Leaders should identify good intentions from followers as demonstrated through their behaviors and actions, and therefore leaders can only be effective when they are empathetic to others.

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Third, leaders should have knowledge of self and general awareness. Leadership awareness assists leaders to comprehend issues that relate to ethics, authority and values. It ensures that leaders understand issues from an integrated perspective. A good leader must show the need to act reasonably and not seek solace.

Fourth, a good leader should possess persuasive skills. Depending on persuasion should drive decision-making instead of forceful tactics. A leader should aim to convince followers with facts rather than coerce them into submission. This trait shows the difference between the traditional authoritarian leadership and servant leadership approach (Spears, 2010). A good leader must always strive for a consensus among followers. Persuasion, as a leadership trait, should change a leadership behavior from coercive tendencies.

Fifth, leaders should have abilities to conceptualized or imagine the bigger picture. Leaders should demonstrate their abilities to have valid bigger dreams. They must think beyond everyday activities of an organization and conceptualize the future reality. Conceptualization in leaders needs discipline and practice. In this case, leaders are rarely focused on short-term goals but rather focus on setting and achieving long-term ones. For a servant leader, thinking beyond now is mandatory and therefore developing broader views of concepts and visualizing the future of an organization are paramount for long-term success. In any organization, individuals who conceptualize ideas are mainly leaders at the top. However, these senior executives may have other roles within an organization, including daily operations. In this regard, they may fail to offer visionary insights for their organizations. This is a situation, which organizations should not encourage. Senior executives should therefore focus on developing vision for their organizations while employees should perform operational activities in the company. This is a difficult balance, especially for organizations with few staff. On this note, servant leaders can ensure that the balance between the competing needs of creating a vision and engaging in daily operations of the company.

Sixth, foresight closely relates to conceptualization in leadership. Leaders should have foresight skills. They can foresee outcomes in difficult situations. Leaders can experience foresight in order to comprehend it. They can use lessons learned in the past to understand the present realities, and the most likely outcomes of their actions in the future (Spears, 2010). Foresight is a production of a leader’s intuitive mind. Foresight however has not been explored much by leadership scholars.

Seventh, leaders should demonstrate stewardship traits. This is an opportunity to hold an organization in trust. Leaders, employees and other stakeholders should hold organizations in trust for the benefit of stakeholders and society. Servant leadership focuses on serving other stakeholders rather than self just like stewardship. Such leaders encourage openness and constant engagement to account for the needs of all stakeholders.

Seventh, a leader should demonstrate a commitment to the development of followers. Generally, people possess unique intrinsic values more than their notable performances in their roles. Leaders should recognize such values. As such, a good leader should demonstrate commitment to develop followers within an organization. Leaders should bear the responsibility of nurturing and developing unique qualities in their teams. In most case, employee development and growth may entail training and development, provision of funds for professional and personal growth, including others in decision-making processes and assisting other employees to move upwards in their careers.

The case of the biology teacher demonstrates that inputs of stakeholders are imperative in demonstrating leadership effectiveness. In an organizational set up, leaders must serve various interests of stakeholders and therefore they must learn to meet all these diverse needs. All these diverse interests show that leadership effectiveness entails various aspects not only associated with the leader’s team but also with other stakeholders, including peers and external ones.

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The best leadership effectiveness practices should be identified based on the expected outcomes in critical areas in which leaders are involved. Leadership should be used to influence followers. However, it is imperative to recognize that leadership is different from other forms of practices such as management or supervision. Thus, whatever approach taken should not simply be referred to as leadership. Leaders should rely on consensual modes to achieve their goals or influence colleagues. This is a collective strategy and therefore not coercive. However, constraints may be experienced.

It is imperative observe or measure leadership effectiveness. Leaders or followers should always pay attention to certain behaviors to determine leadership effectiveness. It is imperative to have a clear vision and develop plans for meeting organizational goals. At the same time, leadership effectiveness may be determined based on the extent to which they support their teams or individuals to attain their goals. Leaders have the responsibility of enhancing peer and colleagues’ interaction, creating teamwork and promoting efficiencies. Leadership excellence should be reflected in all dimensions of evaluations.

In conclusion, the essay focused on the worst leader ever. The biology teacher was used to depict this scenario. It is shown that certain behaviors can only limit leadership effectiveness and have negative impacts on followers and colleagues. To mitigate such unwanted outcomes in leaders and ensure leadership effectiveness through their behaviors, character traits of servant leadership were used. Leadership effectiveness can only be realized when leaders become aware of their roles and accept challenges to transform their organizations and positively influence stakeholders. Various forms of leadership theories and models exist, and they show that leadership can be studied from various dimensions. However, leaders face various stakeholders who have diverse needs, and they must meet strategic organizational goals. Thus, it seems that behaviors are the most fundamental elements of predicting leadership effectiveness. Leadership behaviors may occur naturally in people, but leaders can learn and enhance these behaviors through practice. Learning and practice provide opportunities for leaders to develop their leadership effectiveness and move out of the Worst Leader Ever List. Leadership effectiveness perhaps can be demonstrated through the strong positive relationship between stakeholders and their leaders, and the result can be shown through effective partnership among all stakeholders.

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