Successful management in an organization is determined by the skills the leader has and how innovative he/she is in bringing positive changes. These skills are based on theories of leadership as well as styles that enable leaders in leading organizations towards achieving its goals. The theories were introduced to improve styles of leadership that used to exist in past where qualities of good leadership were judged on how able one was in being powerful and authoritative when discharging orders to his/her juniors. Such an approach could not mind whether the group led got hurt or not. Today, the situation has improved because successful leaders are considered as those who can encourage participatory environment thus harnessing different abilities among workers.
The concept of leadership for organization is significant in ensuring effectiveness in an organization as well as managing changes. This paper therefore addresses the important skills and practices for effective leadership. Leadership is commonly taken to mean the individual who is first or the most powerful but a more meaningful definition interprets a leader to be an individual who can set direction and can influence his/her followers to follow him/her. There are several theories concerning leadership such as servant leader, group-man theory, visionary leader, situational leader, democratic leader and great-man theory. There are also various leadership styles such as autocratic; laissez-faire also known as hands off, democratic as well as participatory. The leader adopts a style that is largely influenced by the situation such as the life cycle of a particular organization. According to the traditional perception, functions of management included planning, coordinating and organizing as well as leading, but today many scholars have a different perception. They argue that, leading is a key function of management and differs from planning and coordinating in that, its main objective is on influencing people. On the other hand, planning and coordinating as well as organizing are concerned with resources (Bryan, 2003).
Determinants of methods of leadership
Various competencies regarding knowledge and skills as well as abilities that a leader uses in leading others in a given organization is determined by a number of factors: first, it depends on whether the one being led is a group or just an individual and also the mastery of skills in leadership that particular leader has. It also depend on his/her basic nature and values and therefore competencies in a leader should be selected in accordance with such nature and values. Necessary competency of a leader also depends on the nature of the organization on whether it is a profit or non-profit making organization and whether it is on a large scale as well as the culture of the followers of the leader. This means the behavior due to culture of those who are being led also determines the leadership skills competencies. (Bryan, 2003).
Early theories on leadership were comparing the qualities of a leader with those of his/her followers but theories that followed considered other factors such as the level of skills as well as situational factors. Research indicates there are eight major leadership theories. (Bryan, 2003)
“Great man” theories
These theories consider the ability of leadership to be inherent and therefore leaders are born but not made. It portrays such leaders as mythic, as well as heroic and having capacity to rise to leadership whenever the situation demands. The name of this theory came from the fact that, during early days, leadership especially military leadership was a male quality. (Conger, 2000)
These theories assume that, people become leaders because they have inherited some leadership traits as well as qualities and this makes them fit better in their leadership. The theory identifies a common personality or a behavior between leaders. However, research shows that there are some individuals with features that are keys to leadership but they are not leaders and this makes it difficult to explain this theory. (Conger, 2000)
These theories focus on certain variables in relation to their environment that determines the style that a particular leader adopts in order to fit in particular situation. This means that, there is no style of leadership that can apply in the entire situation. An organization achieves it goals as a result of the combination of several variables such as the style of the leader as well as the characteristic of the followers. (Conger, 2000)
These theories state that, situational variables largely determine the course of action a particular leader should choose because different styles fit certain decision making.
These theories are shaped by believe that, leaders are not born but are made and leadership is rooted in behaviorism. The focus is in the action of leaders but not on the qualities of their mind as well as their internal states. It is therefore possible for an individual to learn leadership qualities if he/she is given proper teaching and makes an effort to observe other successful leaders.
These theories recognizes the input of other people especially those who are being led as well as those whom the leader is working with. The theories therefore explain the need of the leaders to encourage their group to participate and make contribution. The leaders therefore need to help the members in feeling more relevant as well as committed in the process of decision making. However, in participative theories, the leader has the capacity to give or not to give the chance to others to have their input in the process of decision making. (Conger, 2000)
These are also known as transactional theories and are concerned with supervision roles and organization as well as the performance of the group. Leadership according to these theories is based on reward as well as punishment system. Managerial theories usually find their application in business where if the employees are successful, they tend to be rewarded as well as equally punished if they fail.
These are also known as transformational theories and their focus is on the connection between leaders and their followers. Such leaders enhance motivation and inspiration of their followers by helping them to see importance as well as higher benefits of their tasks. Leaders operating on these theories are more concerned with the performance of their members but at the same time also helps individual members make use of their potential. High ethics as well as moral standards have to be shown by leaders who operate on these theories. (Conger, 2000).
Power and influence on leadership
(Bryan, 2003) argued that, good managers in an organization are both good leaders as well as good managers and their role is not just commanding juniors in the organization but should also be able to lead the organization in achieving its roles and objectives. Today, in most organizations, leadership has shifted from power oriented style or autocratic to an approach characterized by an environment of participation. This is the preferred model that is achieved through education of workforce. However, the best leadership model for a particular organization largely depends on the environment which determines the style the leader should adapt to. A successful leader is the one who is accorded his/her roles by the group that is being led and it is different from a successful headship of an individual imposed to heading an organization. Headship is majorly focused on position or relationship regarding power and is different from leadership which is broad in its context. An individual who has the capacity to exhibit power and authority is not necessarily a successful leader because the later requires personal effort as well as energy in addition to power relationship. However, a successful leader should possess power to engage into forceful acts when need arise, to induce people in pursuing a particular course of action but with a sense of commitment and in a directional manner. If forceful acts are used when sense of commitment is lacking, success is diminished.
Gender issues relating to leadership
A study conducted on gender issue relating to leadership has shown that, characteristics of masculine gender role rather than biological sex are important aspects related to leader emergence. Most female leaders who are ranked high in an organization are also rated high in masculinity scale compared to women with lower ranks in the same organization. However, the same researches have shown that, there is no biological sex difference in group as well as self perceptions of leadership. Correlation of masculinity with reported emergence shows women are also associated with stereotypes that limit them from progressing up in leadership compared to men. Most people believe that, certain roles can only be done better by men than women. The notion is that, if a woman can handle a complex task that can equally be accomplished by a man, the significance of such men would be undermined. (Bryan, 2003).
Significance of leadership in initiating change within organizations
The behavior of a leader in an organization impact directly on the performance of the staff under him/her and therefore affects their productivity as well as their job satisfaction. For a leader to initiate a change in his/her organization, the leader must have the skills of motivating the work team and inspire them to work with minimal supervision. In past, most leaders in organizations just gave orders regarding the task their wanted accomplished and did not care if the manner in which the orders were given hurt anyone or not. This was based on believe that, authority had to be obeyed and therefore expected obedience without being questioned. However, most current leadership styles have adopted effective functional tasks where leaders initiate envisioning goals with affirming values and motivate their juniors. They deal with polarization and ensure that they have taught and explained every concept that needs to be clarified thereby serving as a symbol in the organization. An effective leader is the one who can make a representation of the rest of the members in the organization in external world and is always ready to reach out for alternative whenever there is a problem to be solved (Bryan, 2003).
A successful leader is the one who has skills that can enable the organization to achieve its goals that are based on the values and culture of the organization. He/she should fit on those values or initiate changes on them to bring a new meaning that can motivate the group being led. This is because, without motivation is like leading an organization where there is no one following the leader. Whenever there is a conflict, a successful leader is the one who does not avoid, deny or repress it but considers it as an opportunity to constructively harness the issues for the good of the organization. It is good leadership skills that define a successful leader in an organization.
- Bryan L. (2003): Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership: Josser-Bass Inc Pub PP45-57
- Conger A. (2000): Leadership and Organizations: Elsevier pp. 23-31