This paper is aimed at discussing those skills, attributes and competencies that person should possess in order to be an effective leader. This question has long been of great interest to scholars and business administrators. This individual must be able to inspire, motivate, or organize employees. Yet, in order to do it a person should possess certain qualities. The first part of the paper will explore such attributes of a leader as honesty, ability to create vision, inspiration, competence and credibility, and general intelligence (Forster, 2010; Kouzes & Posner, 2007). It is necessary to demonstrate the importance of these skills or qualities and describe their major elements. In the second part of the assignment, I will discuss those strategies that will enable me to develop these skills and competences. These are the key goals that have to be attained.
The major attributes of a leader
Many scholars believe that honesty and integrity are indispensible moral qualities that a leader should possess (Forster, 2010, p 56; Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p 32). There are numerous definitions of this concept. Honesty can be interpreted as rejection of fraud, deceit, or hypocrisy. Yet, at the same time, it is close associated with inner sense of justice and willing to adhere to certain moral qualities. In his book Maximum Performance, Stephen Forster points out that those managers, who play “Machiavellian games” and stick at no principles, do not usually enjoy much respect of their subordinates (Forster, 2010, p 32). Moreover, people will want to follow a leader if he/ she is someone who can be trusted. It is possible to single out several elements of honesty. First of all, one can speak about the consistency of a person’s words and his/her actions. The employee must know that their leader is willing and able to abide by his/her word. This person must the rules and examples which he/she sets for the subordinates. Without it, there will be little or no trust between them. The second element of honesty is the willingness to state one’s position and take responsibility for ones decisions. People are more likely to trust the manager, if they know this person will not shift responsibility or blame on them. Another important component that should not be overlooked is certainly rejection of deceit and fraud as a means of achieving the objectives.
Overall, understanding of this concept is crucial for business administrators. They people must know what qualities and traits are valued by the employees and how these people will react to the leader’s words and actions. This knowledge will enable them to build long-term relations with them. In order to illustrate the importance of honesty for a leader, one should look at those organizations in which management completely disregarded ethical or moral principles. For instance, we can mention Arthur Anderson LLP which was a leading auditing company in the United States (Forster, 2010, p 482). Yet, its reputation was ruined almost instantaneously after Enron scandal when people found out that this company turned a blind eye to the inaccuracies in the financial statements of Enron. This blow on the firm’s reputation seems to be the underlying cause of its decline. The same thing can be said about other organizations such as Walmart, which is continuously being accused of labor law violation and discrimination against women. It is not known to what extent these accusations are substantiated but, they produce a very detrimental effect of the image of this corporation.
Ability to inspire other people is also believed to be an indispensible quality of a leader (Forster, 2010; Kouzes & Posner, 2007). On the whole, ability to inspire consists of several important skills. On the one hand, a leader must be to prove that his decisions and actions are justified and that they will eventually lead to success. Yet, the most important thing is to make an emotional appeal to the subordinates. These people must feel that together they can achieve much better results that separately and that goals and objectives of the management are worth attaining (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p 56). According to James Kouzes and Barry Posner, business administrators must encourage people to take pride in their work and in the company in which they are employed (2007, p 131). Thirdly, a leader must be able to motive workers at an individual level. It is vital for the managers to understand the key factors which drive the behavior of their subordinates and what motivates them. Other elements of inspiration include respect of the followers, sense of humor, recognition of employee’s contributions, fair treatment of the people, rewarding the high performers, and enthusiasm. It should be mentioned that a leader, who has the ability to inspire the staff, can ensure their support of the workers, which is important for every kind of strategy, implemented by this leader.
Exemplary leaders excelled in bringing about change. They strive to transform employee’s values as well as attitudes in order to help them reach higher level of performance and with their jobs (Forster, 2010, p 56). They expect high levels of motivation and performance from their followers and make them live up to this expectations. A leader, who wants to inspire the staff, must convince them that they have yet to fulfill their potential and that they have much more to achieve. It is possible to provide several examples of inspirational leaders is Steve Jobs, the chief executive officer of Apple Inc. His inspirational power and vision is one of those factors that contributed to the recent financial successes of Apple (Forster, 2010, p 40). It is possible to draw other examples of inspirational leaders; we can refer to Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google.
Understanding of this concept of these issues can be of great benefit to business administrators. These people can hardly succeed unless they are able to make employees committed to the common cause. Even the most carefully worked out strategy can fail provided that it is not supported by the staff members. Every organizational change cannot be implemented if the employees do not understand its value. These are the main reasons why understanding is crucial for leaders. More importantly, this knowledge is mandatory for students, majoring in business administration.
Ability to create vision
Leaders are people, who should have a vision of transforming the organization and often people they lead. In order to create vision, a leader must possess a variety of skills. First of all, this person must be able to see the opportunities which the organization can explore. Secondly, this person must find a purpose or goal that can make the employees unanimous. As it has been mentioned in the previous section, this common goal must be clearly articulated, and most importantly create an emotional appeal to people. The vision has to be oriented toward the future challenges and opportunities which the organization can encounter, but at the same time, it must be based on the in-depth analysis of the current situation. The vision ought to emphasize the major strengths of the organization which will enable it to succeed in the future.
Leaders, who are supposed to develop vision, should possess such qualities as willingness to innovate, creativity and courage to take bold decisions. When leaders communicate their vision to the employees in an organization, they must promote teamwork, commitment, satisfaction in their jobs, high productivity, loyalty and motivation of workers. Apart from that, leaders should themselves believe in the vision that they develop. People can share this vision and even be inspired by it only if they see that the leader is fully committed to it. Another issue that should not be disregarded is that a leader should “listening skills” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p 129).
As it is argued by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, this person must pay attention to the aspiration, hopes, or dreams of the employees (2007, p 129). The thing is that these people have to feel that their opinions are valued or at least taken into account; otherwise they will be reluctant to support the leader. There are several examples which show the significance of visionary skills. We can mention Bill Gates who envisioned the first and largest software company; most importantly, he was able to convince other people that his idea is bound to bring them success. A more recent example of a visionary leader is Mark Zuckerberg, who also made other people committed to his ideas. Judging from these examples, one can say that visionary leaders can see the opportunity, understand how it can be used, and persuade other people to join them.
Thus, this discussion shows that ability to create vision is compulsory for every person, who wants to become a successful leader. Business administrators must understand the major attributes of a good vision that is shared or at least accepted by other people. Understanding of visionary skills will help business administrators better develop strategies of their organizations and engage the employees. The managers must know how to assess the vision that they have developed; apart from that, they must be able to predict the reaction of their employees. This is why business administrators should pay attention the theoretical and empirical studies of visionary skills. They should remember that those challenges, which they face quite regularly, might have already been resolved by someone else, and this experience can be of inestimable help to them.
Competence and credibility
Leadership competence lies in the ability to organize employees and motivate them to perform their duties properly. In the context of leadership, competence and credibility include such elements as ability to make decisions, and understanding of the business environment, the major strengths and weaknesses of the organization, its products or services, and its competitors. (Forster, 2010, p 40, Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Effective leaders act as role models for other people, who may want to emulate their leadership style and behavior. The leader of an organization should be a person of good character, exemplary behavior, values, and beliefs. The leaders in organizations need to be pacesetters in whatever they try to convince those who are under their guidance; otherwise, it will be difficult for them to gain support of their subordinates. Most likely, their incentives will not be fully accepted by the members of the staff.
Credible leaders articulate their values well and listen to their voices of other people. Effective leaders not only direct or motivate employees, but also provide teaching, development, coaching, mentoring, guidance and feedback, so that their people can perform to the best of their abilities and fulfill their potential (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Good leaders are able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the employees; they help the employees improve their skills and offer them opportunities for professional growth. Thus, we can argue that a leader must be very versed in human resource management. The most effective leaders understand that communication is a two-sided process in which leaders and their employees play equal parts. Judging from this discussion, one can argue that there are numerous elements of leadership competence and credibility. It seems that the most important one is in-depth understanding of the organization and its environment. Yet, other elements like communication skills or motivation should not be downgraded.
The example of leadership competence is Carlos Ghosn who became the CEO of Renault February 2005 and transformed it into a once again successful company (Forster, 2010, p 115). His attentiveness to the opinions of the employees and in-depth knowledge of the company greatly contributed to its recent successes. Another example of leadership competence is Andy Grove, who is the former CEO of such company as Intel. He was also renowned for his willingness to listen to the voices of employees and engaging them into decision-making (Forster, 2010, p 115). The examples show that leadership competence includes both managerial proficiency, well-developed communication skills and some knowledge of psychology.
Knowledge of a leadership competency is beneficial every person, who has to guide, organize, and motivate other people. Overall, scholarly sources show that such concepts as competence and credibility include a variety of components such as managerial proficiency, good communication skills, knowledge of the organization and the industry in which it operates. A leader must determine which of these attributes is of the greatest importance to him/her. Moreover, this person should rely on the experience of other people, and those examples, which they set, in order to improve competence and acquire credibility. This is the reason why knowledge of these issues is so important people, who are willing to become leaders.
Such notion as intelligence can be explained as ability to perceive or understand the meaning of something. The scholars argue that intelligence cannot by measured only by means of IQ tests, since it includes a great number of components such as logic, language, creativity, and body language (Forster N. 2010, p 24). These forms of intelligence are nurtured through interaction with other society members and through learning (Forster N. 2010). Effective leaders usually have high level of intelligence, although high level of intelligent quotient does not always translate into effective leadership (Forster N. 2010). Therefore, one can argue that intelligence should not be viewed only as logical abilities. Apart from that, scholars suggest these skills can be elaborated through practice (Forster N. 2010, p 30). One should not assume that these skills are in-born and that they cannot be acquired or elaborated.
A very important attribute of a successful leader is of emotional intelligence. The people must be able to distinguish the moods of the workforce and then act accordingly depending on the kind of the moods. In order to achieve success, this person must understand the concerns and feelings of people, who are under his/her command. Furthermore, a leader must know what drives and motivates employees. Again, these skills are instrumental for enhancing the performance of workers. It should be noted that such scholar as Nicholas Forster believes that emotional intelligence can be even more important than IQ levels (2010, p 25).
It is possible for us to speak of different leaders who are distinguished for their general intelligence. One of them is Steve Waugh, the coach of the Australian Cricket Team (Forster N. 2010, p 30). It should be noted that he developed his communication skills and lateral thinking after gaining the position. His desire for self-improvement and learning enabled to become a very successful coach. Another leader, whom we can mention is Heinrich von Pierer, who greatly befitted from participation in different leadership seminars and programs (Forster N. 2010, p 29). On the whole, these examples indicate that leadership qualities and general intelligence can be developed through learning, training, and everyday practice.
As it has been argued in the previous sections, knowledge of intelligence can greatly avail managers. First of all, these people must know how this concept is applicable to leadership. They must also understand the major components of intelligence. It is quite dangerous to assume that it is measured with the help of intelligence quotient. Leaders should not forget that it includes linguistic competence, ability to understand feelings and emotions of others, creative decision-making, and so forth. They are not always in-born and one has to take much effort in order to elaborate them. Theoretical and empirical works examining these notions will greatly benefit every person, intending to become a leader. This knowledge is very beneficial for those educational institutions and companies that develop and offer leadership programs to the employees. Theoretical works and practical recommendations offered by experienced leaders and managers will enable them to better tailor training programs for students and employees.
Leadership Development Plan
The goals of leadership development plan
In this section I will try to work out my leadership development plan for a period of five years. It is an important element of my career. I need to be aware of my strengths and weaknesses in order to determine which leadership qualities and attributes which have to be elaborated. Writing a leadership development plan is beneficial many ways. First, a written document or plan can provide more powerful stimulus to me and make me accountable for the results of my personal development. The plan will help me find the best route of achieving my goals. Lastly, this exercise will enable to me identify those leadership qualities which are of the greatest priority to me. In the following sections of this paper, I will focus on such competencies like ability to inspire others, competency and credibility, and general intelligence. In my opinion, they are indispensible for every person who is willing to achieve success as a leader or at least as a manager. I would like to point out that this leadership development plan can be changed and edited in the future; much will depend on my progress in acquiring leadership competencies and skills.
As it has been mentioned previously, inspirational leaders can understand those factors which influence people’s behavior and their attitude toward their work. In order to acquire these skills, I will need to learn more about the principles of human resource management and focus on the psychology of organizational and individual behavior. Moreover, I will need to pay much attention to practical aspects. There is a great number of books which are based on the experience of many leaders and show how a person can inspire people. Additionally, participation in leadership seminars and programs can benefit me very much.
As leader I will use different methods of inspiring and motivating people. First, I will offer both monetary and non-monetary awards to them. I will be commenting on the successes promptly to let the workers understand I appreciate their efforts and recognize their contributions. I will support my employees in times of need and I will always give priority to those issues raised by employees. In this way, I will show that their opinions are valuable for them (Forster N. 2010). I will also pay much attention to recruiting and selection of personnel. The thing is that leader is more likely to inspire other people, if they have skills, abilities, values, ambitions and personalities that are consistent with the organization’s vision, future goals, core values, working practices and culture. Furthermore I will ensure that I employ innovative and creative employees, as well as people with a good sense of humor. (Forster N. 2010). Thus, the knowledge of HR management as well as psychology will be indispensible for me.
To inspire people, I will also focus on several legal aspects. For instance, by providing permanent employment contract to my employees, I will be able to alleviate stress resulting from lack of job security and eliminates uncertainty on the part of the employees. (Forster N. 2010). I will offering competitive remuneration and shareholding opportunities for long serving employees, and reward those who excelled in their line of duty.
Additionally, I will need to acquire and develop my educational skills in order to inspire other people. It will be necessary for me to educate and sometimes terminate those people who get involved in undesirable behavior or who treat others unfairly on account of gender, culture, or sexual discrimination, By doing that, I will show that each worker is equally important for me. This will help me to inspire people and gain their support.
To develop my employees I will e organizing employee development through on-the-job and off-the-job training to workers so that they could acquire relevant and up-to-date knowledge and skills for performing their duties effectively. Again, these strategies will help me prove that I do try to show that their wellbeing is of great concern to me.
Furthermore, I will delegate responsibility to employees and involve them into decision-making. I will also encourage employees to suggest innovative ways of improving the company. This builds confidence in the workers and motivates them. Therefore, investment in staff training and learning is essential in both staff empowerment and motivation (Forster N. 2010). People can be inspired with the leader’s ideas if they trust him/her and see this person cares about their needs. Thus, at this point, I will need to focus on my educational and HR management skills. I will develop them not only during my studies, but in the course of my career as well.
Competence and credibility
As a leader, who wants to achieve competence and credibility, I will first focus on aspects as knowledge of organizational structure, marketing analysis, HR management, and project management. I will need to show to the employees that I am capable of steering a company or organization. Furthermore, it will be necessary for me to prove to the employees that I can organize them and assess their work properly. These results can be achieved only if I possess profound knowledge of different managerial and economical disciplines. I plan acquire this knowledge during my studies.
The second aspect which I should not overlook is my personal traits. I should first acknowledge my weaknesses and do my utmost to eliminate them. First, I will develop a strong sense of self-sufficiency so that I could properly defend my position in the dominated by males. First, the goal can be achieved by developing one’s managerial and technical competence since they enable a person to better subjstaniate his/her arguments. I shall defend my position on various areas of concerns. Yet, in order to do it, I will need to work on my rhetoric skills (Forster 2010, p 256). It seems to me that I will need to work on this issue during my entire career.
The second point that I would like to stress is the relation with other people. First of all, I will act in accordance with my words and commitments to enhance credibility and people’s trust in me. Secondly, it will be necessary for me to keep the workers informed of the organizations’ results and progress. As I have said before, a credible and competent leader must be able to uphold ones views; yet, I must also be empathetic and tolerant to the views that are different from mine. Those people, who will be under my guidance, must know that I am not disregarding their opinions. Furthermore, by explaining company’s long term plans to the employees, I will be able to win the worker’s confidence.
Thus, it is possible to identify three most importance areas that I need to address: 1) knowledge of managerial science, economics, marketing, and psychology; 2) personal traits, in particular, the sense of self-sufficiency; 3) effective relations with other people. I will develop these competences through my studies, independent research, participation in different leadership programs, and through everyday practice. This self-improvement is going to be a continuous rather than short-term effort.
A person, who intends to enhance his/her general intelligence, should perform a variety of different exercises and activities. First, I would need to do the so-called lateral thinking exercises which prompt a person to search for unconventional solutions and decisions (Forster 2010, p 329). These activities will challenge me to move from details to the broader view and gain a broader perspective. Furthermore, in this way, I will teach myself to approach each problem from several perspectives to arrive at better understanding and eventually improve my judgment. I have to looking at each problem and decision in the context of how it will impact the employees or the organization. The key purpose of lateral thinking exercises is to acquire or elaborate the ability to seek innovative solutions to the problems, conflicts, or disputes. To enhance my creative intelligence and decision-making, I must evaluate my ideas objectively and ask other people to assess them. A truly intelligent leader always looks for a solution that can suit both sides of the argument. He/she tries to reconcile the interests of different stakeholders and strives to maximize the benefit for each. I will need to do several types of mental exercises to achieve this result. One of them is to look at the same situation from the perspective of different people. A leader must see how they would react to his/her decisions and actions.
Creative intelligence is closely connected emotional intelligence especially in the context of leadership. I will need to be able to control my emotions and understand the emotions of other people. To enhance this type of intelligence, I must first teach myself to be patient and not reject the ideas of other people until I have heard this person out. It is important for me to keep in mind that in the majority of cases, my colleagues or employees care about the success of the company as much as I do. Hence, there views must be taken in account. This is why I should ask them to inform me every concern that they have. In order to enhance my emotional intelligence, I would focus on my listening skills. A leader can always single out a valuable idea from the chorus of different voices. This is one of the traits which distinguish him from others. This is why I will always try to provide feedback to the arguments of other people and specify where I agree or disagree with them. It should be noted that a good listener has to act appropriate, for instance, he/she must avoid fidgeting or tapping the food on the ground, since it prompts another person to believe that his/her words are of no importance to the listener (Forster 2010, p 102). To be frank enough, I sometimes act in this way, though I do try to get rid of this habit. As it is suggested by Nicholas Forster, a person can find it very useful to videotape oneself, especially body movement (2010, p 102). Most likely, I will follow his advice. Another important issue is ability to gain insights into other people’s feelings or emotions. This skill can be elaborated through continuous observation of the changes in other people’s behavior, in particular, body language and facial expressions. Overall, this activities and exercises will enable me to better understand the intentions of my colleagues, partners, and opponents. Apart from that, it will enable me to predict their actions.
Although this development plan covers only the next five years, I think that some of activities and exercises can benefit me throughout my entire career. Moreover, I must continuously work on different aspects of intelligence, both creative and emotional.
Forster, N. (2010). Maximum Performance: A Practical Guide to Leading and Managing People at Work. Zayed University, Academic City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Kouzes, M. & Posner, Z. (2007). The leadership challenge. (4th Ed). Jossey Bass Publishers.