Traits and Characteristics of Effective Leadership
There is a famous conflict about whether leaders are born or made in the study of leadership. Leadership is a mixture of inborn talent and external modifications that enable the expression of these talents. Leaders usually have specific characteristics that make them stand out. They can influence others towards a particular course of action and cause them to rally behind it (Moskovitz, 2019). These include leaders in the workplace who help their colleagues set a plan and abide by it.
Additionally, leaders value ethics and integrity, ensuring that the people they lead abide by the rules and codes agreed upon to guarantee societal order (Sabil et al., 2021). Leaders also act decisively, ensuring they make difficult decisions for the people they lead. This means they take responsibility for their actions on behalf of their people.
Compelling leadership balances optimism as well as hard truths. It vivificates that the people being led are not excessively gloomy due to too many hard facts, but not too optimistic that they lose sight of reality (Le et al., 2018). This balance is achieved by constantly confirming that the led people are frequently aware of what is at stake and the benefits likely to be accrued from collective action. Effective leadership encourages transparency that ensures decisions are made based on absolute truths and facts. Transparency means that secrecy within an organization is not enabled. This also has a limit as it may be negatively impactful if transparency amounts to externally sharing organization information (Gierlich-Joas et al., 2020). Effective leadership encourages innovation and risk-taking in the proper proportions. Innovation warrants that the organization achieves newer means of making decisions regularly, while risk-taking means that the organization is not restricted by cowardice and fear of failure.
Why Traits and Characteristics do not Guarantee Effective Leadership
There are two main reasons why the characteristics of leadership discussed above may not guarantee effective leadership. These are inexperience and a lack of knowledge of self. A good leader must be aware of the traits they possess before expressing them and being practical (Paton, 2021). People see good leaders and choose them based on these characteristics even if they do not know they consciously possess them. Additionally, leaders must seek an experience that enables them to exercise the factors already discussed above regularly. Experience enables them to learn. Inexperience means that leaders may make catastrophic errors that may lead to the failure of the entire group or organization. A few years ago, I held a junior position of employment and had wonderful colleagues. I appeared to have an immense influence on the workplace mood and advocated for workers’ welfare.
I was appointed by management to be in charge of my group and help push the organization’s agenda. During the early days of my tenure, I experienced immense difficulties getting the requirements of management across to my colleagues. Goals were not met in many scenarios, and this caused tensions within the workplace. This resulted in me being hard on my colleagues, making the mood of the workplace undesirable. It was difficult for me to communicate with the top brass about the organization’s continuity due to unmet targets, amounting to a lack of transparency. Gradually, I became better at the position and performed better after immense reading and mentorship from some senior colleagues. In hindsight, the position was my first significant leadership position, and inexperience was a major factor in the difficulties I experienced. I was unaware of what I could do because I never took the time to gain sufficient knowledge of myself.
Specific Behaviors Associated with Traits and Characteristics of Effective Leadership
Effective leadership qualities are demonstrated by some behaviors that make people better fit for certain leadership positions. These behaviors include honesty, being approachable, leading by example, demonstrating confidence in the decisions made, remaining objective, and supporting others (Muchiri et al., 2019). Leaders must be true to their people by speaking the truth regardless of how difficult it is at any one point. Honesty attracts confidence and belief in a leader and ensures that the people being led appreciate integrity along with their leader (Sozzi, 2018). The organization can then run on the right moral principles and achieve massive success. Leaders must lead by example by not merely directing other people on what to do but by demonstrating through actions. How to do it and possibly inform the people why it is necessary is crucial to leadership.
Effective behavior is demonstrated by the acquisition and expression of relevant knowledge. A good leader must be sufficiently informed in their field of interest and pass this knowledge to their people. This ensures that the organization makes decisions based on sound doctrines and avoids the possible implications of emotional decisions (Sozzi, 2018). Effective leadership must empower the people and not suppress their abilities. This involves ensuring that the people feel the support of the top brass towards their abilities and development. This entails eliminating insecurities that may fuel envy or hatred. While promoting the objectives of an organization, top leadership must recognize the ambitions and vision of the people and promote them too. This ensures that the organization comprises people who are satisfied with their progress and can serve the organization better.
How Effective Leaders Demonstrate Behaviors
Effective leaders must exhibit the behaviors illustrated above and demonstrate them, and this entails leadership. A good leader must always encourage and not discourage their people from becoming better at their responsibilities (Sozzi, 2018). I once held a job at a food joint a few years ago, where I got firsthand experience of how a leader should demonstrate effective leadership. Being the first job I held, there were difficulties doing most things due to the rush I was not accustomed to. The pace of the job was too fast, and I was unable to meet most of the orders on time. I was clumsy at the start and would drop some of the orders accidentally. This frustrated me, and I almost quit the job during my first week. The manager noticed my difficulties, had a lengthy conversation with me at the end of one of my shifts, and promised to help me get better.
When my shift was over, he would get me to remain for a few minutes and show me how to carry and serve the food. He demonstrated how the tray serving the food and drinks should be carried and where the fingers should be. During the subsequent days at work, he constantly applauded my efforts and encouraged me to keep doing better. I could feel the optimism and support buzzing all around me, which encouraged me to try harder. When I appeared fatigued due to the busy schedule, he would ask me to take over at the counter for him while he served for a while. This was a great chance for me to observe and learn more from a professional. That year I was awarded the employee of the year award.
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