Leadership is a very crucial management ability. It has a varied definition according to different individuals. However, for the purposes of this paper, leadership is defined as the ability to inspire a group of individuals towards a common objective. Being a leader is different from being a boss or just holding a position; it is about inspiring a positive influence on a group of individuals to act in a particular manner in which all the stakeholders involved stand to benefit (Parker et al 2004).
Organizational requirements of a leader
A leader within an organization has varied requirements in order to positively impact on the organizational development and operations. It is important to note that a leader is expected to be responsible at all times and hence does not need to have any specific tasks. He or she is expected to internalize and live the organizational values, exhibit a high level of ethical conduct, be sensitive to the beliefs, and embrace others’ culture (Gordon 1993).
It is noteworthy that employees have their own personal values, cultural beliefs, and ethics that define their personality. But leadership is about the exacting positive influence on employees. It is, therefore, important for contemporary leaders to be sensitive to such personality aspects so as to make the employees feel respected and considered as an integral part of the organization.
A leader can operate at certain levels of authority. These levels of authority can be used to serve as a guide to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of leadership. We shall discuss five levels of authority for effective leadership. First, there is the positional authority which an individual gain by virtue of having been offered a position within an organization. At the level, the subjects are obedient to the leader. Second, relational authority, where leaders get to link with their subjects at a personal level. At this level, a leader is trusted by his or her followers, and they believe the leader has their plights at heart and is ready to collaborate with them, and in exchange, they offer love to the leader (Gordon 1993).
At the third level is experiential authority; in this case, the leader achieves authority by exhibiting competency hence gaining followers’ trust. Forth is moral authority; this level actually represents what leaders tolerate over time. They are expected to provide directions on how to handle any crisis that an organization may experience. With this respect, leaders earn respect from followers. The last level is a parental authority in which is the highest authority a leader can attain. At this level, the leaders mentors and produce other leaders. The leaders train and guide other upcoming leaders who will later replace them (Gordon 1993).
A leader has the responsibility of ensuring commitment to achieve a vision, which he or she must have and understands and inspire others to work for the same cause. A leader who wants to achieve the most for an organization must work at the level described by Jim Collins (author of the book “Good to Great”) as a level five leader. A level five leader takes responsibility to the extent that the success of the organization he or she leads become more important than his or her personal success.
The way a leader behaves determines the level at which the employees are engaged in the operations of the organization. It is important to mention that employees have personal objectives to achieve in the organization. They are likely to lose their interest in the organization if the leader does not offer them the opportunity to achieve their personal goals and objectives. The assurance by the leader that they will be able to achieve their personal objectives inspires the employees to be more productive in the organization. In terms of team achievement, the leader should be able to provide direction and emphasize respect and tolerance amongst team members.
A leader is a role model for employees or followers in his or her organization. He has the responsibility of presenting a good image of himself to the employees. In order to gain respect from employees, influence their actions towards achieving goals and objectives of the organization and enlist their support the leader must be fair in his or actions and judgments and respect the decision of the employees and follower. He or she makes the employees feel that they are an important part of the organization.
Compare and contrast two leadership styles
There are many leadership styles that have been in for many decades now. Some of these styles are beneficial, while some have potentially negative effects on an organization. Here we shall discuss two leadership styles: participative style and authoritarian style of leadership.
Participative style: in this style of leadership, the leader gets to involve the participation of employees or their representatives in the decision-making process. However, the leader maintains the authority to come up with the final decision. Involving the use of this the leadership style is not an indication of weakness but a way of recognizing the importance and value of employees’ input in decision making process. In fact, the employees get to feel valued and respected in the organization (Huber 2006).
Authoritarian style: in this style of leadership, the leader comes up with all decisions and strategies without necessarily considering or taking into considerations the input by the employees. The leader decides the direction to be followed and expects the direction to be followed without question. Moreover, the leader decides who performs what tasks and who joins a collaborative team. He or she is extremely personal in his or her judgments about each employee and does not participate in an active manner with his or her team members. It is important to mention that this type of a leader is not necessarily hostile and the leadership style is applicable in certain situations (Huber 2006).
Under participative leadership style, the employees play a crucial part in decision making. This has the advantage on enhancing the performance of employees. The employees are able to develop respect and a free working relationship between them and the top management. In applying this leadership style, the leader plays the role of a mentor to employees and guides them towards attaining their goals and objectives.
Alternatively, employees are also able to develop under authoritarian leadership style, especially new employees who are not yet familiarized with the operations of an organization. It also works with employees who are not professionals. They are simply given tasks sand expected to perform; in the process they gain experience. This type of leadership is also mostly used in the disciplined forces and situations of emergencies where no deliberation is necessary; in such a case, the leaders use orders that must be executed immediately (Huber 2006).
Action-centered leadership is represents a desirable leadership style in that the top leaders treat and regard their subordinates or employees as an important resource rather than an extension of the leaders themselves. This is important since it motivates employees to work zealously towards the achievement of the organization’s goals and objectives.
Different situations require different and varied style of leadership. For instance, in an emergency situation, authoritarian style may be the most appropriate; this cases, there is need to engage in an unnecessary dialogue when immediate action is required. However, there are other situations in which participatory leadership is most appropriate, especially where decision making process is elaborate and concerns all the stakeholders (Huber 2006).
How the leader builds a shared sense of purpose with a team
A leader can build a shared sense of purpose with employees by treating them as business partners. This will mean that the team works in tandem.
In order to create a culture of mutual trust and respect with the tea, it is important to know what the team members feel about their jobs, the company and their work group. This can be conducted through survey of each team member and the information collected analyzed accordingly. Through this the leader will know the perception and attitudes of the employees or team members with regards to the work they do, the company and their work at group level. In this case, the leader will be able to take prompt and appropriate actions that reestablish trust between the employees and the leadership.
The leader can also play a major role in removing communication barriers between the employees or team members and the leadership. This implies that flow of information should free bother from the top-downwards and from the bottom-upwards. This will ensure the employees are able to present their grievances and have them acted upon promptly. Besides, the employees should be allowed to participate or be represented in major decision making processes like strategic planning and setting of goals and objectives.
As much as giving instructions is important for a leader, it is important to realize that employees also need to be listened to. Therefore, in order for a leader to establish a mutual trust and respects with his or her team or employees, he or she needs to listen. By doing this the employees or team members will feel valued. However, after listening appropriate and prompt action should be taken if their respect is to be earned by the concerned leader. This will win the employees’ trust to the whole organization.
There are techniques that can be used to motivate and encourage the development of a team. First, the leader should share the information he or she has with the team members. In cases of any up coming project, it is important that the team members have the right information and the leader to strive to make them have a sense of ownership.
Second, the leader should offer the team members to offer solutions to some of the organizational challenges. This may be through direct involvement or through seeking their varied opinions. Besides, they should be complimented for every breakthrough they make in solving organizational challenges. Whenever there is a problem the leader should not look for somebody to blame; instead, every success should be made a team success and every failure should be seen as team failure.
One of the ways in which a leader can develop a team’s understanding of its shared purposes and organizational direction is through letting the team to come up with their own work plan and being accountable for their output. Again, the leader can take a session and train the team members on their responsibilities.
Leadership is dynamic and requires a lot of personal understanding of one’s self. Self motivated leaders are important for an organizational growth. However, it is important to note that one requires leadership skills in order to work with different leadership styles in leading team members, employees or followers (Huber 2006).
Gordon, T 1993, Leader effectiveness training, L.E.T.: the no-lose way to release the productive potential of people, New York: Putnam.
Huber, D 2006, Leadership and nursing care management, New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Parker, P et al 2004, Developing creative leadership, New York: Libraries Unlimited.