Leadership, Its Purpose and Traits

The primary purpose of leadership is to communicate visions and provide direction that can be followed by others. Leaders are expected to come up with future solutions to both current and future problems. In the same regard, leaders are expected to be respectful in their service to their subjects. For instance, providing a vision should not be a condescending exercise where the leader imposes a solution to his/her subjects. We should engage in leadership because it offers us a chance to support other people and get rid of any impediments to progress. Leadership also gives us a chance to bring out the best among our subjects as we work towards a common purpose.

Engaging in leadership is a fulfilling experience because it enables an individual to pursue his/her goals whilst contributing to the greater good. Leadership is a wholesome experience that engages all the major senses in a stimulating manner. In any leadership scenario, the leader owns a vision that is in turn communicated to a group of people. Consequently, good leaders have the chance to actualize their vision in a conducive environment. Engaging in leadership also gives an individual the chance to implement exciting strategies that are rewarding in the end. On the other hand, a leader has the liberty to choose the right people in the pursuit of a certain goal. Overall, engaging in leadership provides us with a chance to grow and effectively utilize all our core abilities.

All leaders aim to be successful in their endeavors to motivate people and drive their agendas forward. Success in a leader is defined by his/her ability to gauge his/her performance concerning the outlined goals. Furthermore, a successful leader has the ability to breakdown assessments in various stages as opposed to him/her being focused on the bottom line only. It is important to note that “there are always factors which are dynamic, uncertain, and unpredictable; the decision making is a complex maze of probabilistic analysis, exhaustively trying all possible outcomes” (Whitmore, 2010, p. 67).

Success in a leader depends on his/her ability to maneuver the uncertain probabilities whilst actively dealing with unexpected outcomes. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to pinpoint specific measures of good leadership because most leaders flourish in the most unlikely environments. For instance, by looking at the most successful leaders in the world today it is evident that their claim to success can be traced to various factors that are not in any way interrelated. Consequently, one leader can find success as a result of excellent intuition while another one can conquer as a result of his/her logical thinking abilities. Overall, successful leadership can be assessed through a combination of factors: progress in motivating subjects, the ability to create opportunities, and the prowess of harnessing natural abilities.

Trustworthiness is an important trait in leadership and it is universally accepted as a measuring stick of effective leaders. Trustworthy leaders are mainly highlighted by their credibility. Credibility is the prequalifying factor for any leader who expects to be trusted by his/her subjects. This trait forms the foundation of trust and through it that leaders can hone their honesty, self-control, and integrity. A credible leader offers members of his/her team a role model.

On the other hand, the leader-role model can motivate team members by giving a sense of meaning to their endeavors. Leaders who cannot ‘practice what they preach’ would have a hard time mastering the credibility that can garner them trustworthiness. All leaders are under constant scrutiny from their team members, hence the need for credibility. Another valuable trait when it comes to trustworthiness is the ability to formulate long-lasting relationships. Team members can only formulate an opinion of their leaders through their interpersonal relationships. An open-door policy enhances trust between leaders and team members. A trustworthy leader influences his/her team members to walk the same line by being credible and through strong inter-personal relationships.

The ability to communicate effectively is important in any leadership scenario. Good communication can motivate a team whilst establishing good relationships between team members. Consequently, it is good relationships that guarantee that information can flow freely and effectively within an organization. In the modern organizational context, an open culture is important. We are living in the information age where the efforts of all team members are deemed equal. Consequently, an open communication culture creates little to no conflict in the modern and evolved workplace environment.

For instance, where open culture has applied all news (either good or bad) carries the same weight and responsibility is shared across the organization. In an open organization culture, the leader is often at an advantage because he/she can receive information on time. Also, the information that is received by leaders in an open organization is less likely to be subjected to manipulation. Fear is the main motivation behind miscommunication by employees. Open organizational culture eliminates this fear by ensuring shared responsibilities for any good or bad developments.

Decision making in leadership mostly depends on a leader’s ability to strike a balance between acting following his/her emotions and logical reasoning. Nevertheless, decisiveness is a must-have quality for all leaders. When making a decision, leaders seek to “impact themselves, their customers, stakeholders, and their organizations” (Kempster, Jackson, & Conroy, 2011, p. 320).

Therefore, making a good decision is not an easy undertaking for any leader because it involves a significant amount of unfavorable reactions from stakeholders, uncertainty, and stress. Good decision making also encompasses the leadership’s ability to recognize when to proceed or when to pause and collect additional information. In certain circumstances, too much information is overwhelming to a leader. Ineffective decision-making can slow down an organization.

Therefore, all decisions have to be approached in their respective contexts. For example, some decisions require to be made quickly while others give leaders the allowance to gather additional information. A good decision-maker requires a high threshold of emotional intelligence, good analytical abilities, and the ability to recover from the shock that comes from bad decisions.

Leadership is synonymous with power and different leaders wield their power differently. Leaders mostly gain their power through the high positions that they hold. All effective leaders primarily use their power to communicate their vision with the people below them.

Motivating individuals to work hard should be the main purpose of power. The most effective aspect of power among leaders is ‘expert power’. Leaders whose claim to power is their unmatched expertise in certain fields are more likely to communicate this power to others. Individuals who operate under leaders who have expert power admire their superiors and accord them the necessary respect. This type of power also means that these leaders have earned the right to be listened to and be followed. Leaders have the power to control resources but they do not need to rely too much on it to control individuals. The best aspect of power is often accompanied by natural charisma and expert power.

The ability to maintain an almost ‘natural balance’ in an individual’s life is the hallmark of great leaders. Consequently, great leaders should have the ability to prioritize. For instance, an individual’s life is subject to a number of both internal and external influences. The inability to prioritize can lead an individual to feel conflicted. On the other hand, it is not easy for anyone to prioritize loyalties to family, religion, self, community, profession, and stakeholders among others.

One mode of harnessing motivation involves exploring an individual’s motivation-source (Tucker & Russell, 2009). In most scenarios, a person’s source of motivation should be his/her main priority. Therefore, prioritizing should consider this factor. The other important factor involves the sustenance of relationships and partnerships. The most important relationships should be accorded the highest priority and vice versa. Sources of motivation and partnerships are subject to change. Accordingly, a leader’s priority requires to be evaluated and re-evaluated from time to time.

A leader needs to create an environment that promotes and supports individual/team growth and learning. This goal can be achieved using various tools and perspectives. In private organizations, profits are used as both an enabler and motivator of growth and learning. A profitable environment should be beneficial to both leaders and team members. A leader should strive to create a profitable environment both in terms of personal and team growth. The ability to bring out the best in people is also pertinent to the creation of a viable environment. People require “respect, care, and continued support” in their pursuit of personal and communal goals (Kellerman, 2004).

Embedding the theme of service in an organization’s goals creates an environment where a team feels useful. For instance, some teams stick together because of their sense of service to their community. An environment of a united sense of purpose through service to others is a key component of success in any team. Finally, a leader should emphasize on the importance of achieving the greater good. The belief in greater good ensures that the team is not motivated by generic aspects of success.

Continued development as a leader and as a person is mandatory among individuals who are in pursuit of optimum growth. Furthermore, this continued development is also the recipe for effective self-assessment and future learning. First, remaining current in terms of leadership requires active self-understanding and self-knowledge. These two aspects ensure that an individual is aware of the personal aspects that require regular updating.

These aspects can be in the form of leadership seminars, keeping up with current affairs, and changing an organization’s structure among others. Self-regulation is also another key component of leadership. Self-regulation involves controlling all impulses that are detrimental to good leadership. It is also important for a leader to seek feedback from all available sources including performance reports, trusted colleagues, and direct reports among others. Self-insight assists an individual to focus on his/her strengths whilst he/she is monitoring his/her weaknesses.

References

Kellerman, B. (2004). Thinking about…leadership. Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 40-5. Web.

Kempster, S., Jackson, B., & Conroy, M. (2011). Leadership as purpose: Exploring the role of purpose in leadership practice. Leadership, 7(3), 317-334. Web.

Tucker, B. A., & Russell, R. F. (2009). The influence of the transformational leader. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 10(4), 103-111. Web.

Whitmore, J. (2010). Coaching for performance: growing human potential and purpose: the principles and practice of coaching and leadership. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Web.