Leadership is a social phenomenon, the theories of which are continually evolving and emerging. The relevance of its study for a better understanding of this concept and the proposed approaches resulted in the appearance of numerous models and interpretations of such a notion. They consider leadership from the point of view of one’s traits, qualities, interactions in society, ability to cope with new situations under stressful conditions, and many other aspects. The purpose of this paper is to understand what kind of person can be regarded as a leader. For this, I interviewed my sister, who, in my perception, corresponds to the description contained in numerous leadership theories.
Background on the Leader
My sister is a project manager at GE on her team, and this job requires a certain amount of traits and qualities that are usually prescribed to leaders. Hence, she must be good at planning, executing, and closing projects for successful work towards achieving the company’s objectives. However, such characteristics are not enough for being a successful leader of a team. In this case, excellent people skills like the ability to communicate, behave in a team, and accept responsibility for the outcome of the measures taken are vital. From my point of view, she possesses all of the traits and qualities as well as the skills mentioned above, and this fact contributed to my choice of her as an example of an excellent leader.
I see my sister as the leader of her team due to her ability to motivate the team members and thereby help in meeting project goals. She can solve any emerging problems, whether it is during the meeting or over the calls, and this skill contributes significantly to the confidence of her co-workers in the outcome of their projects. Moreover, my sister is able not only to provide moral support to the team members but also to work on concrete, tangible things like planning and budgeting. Such a multi-skilled and versatile employee like her is the example of a respected leader able to resolve any kind of issues concerning both the communication and efficiency of the company’s projects.
During the interview, I asked my sister about various aspects of her life, which relate not only to work but also to her family and hobbies. She said: “My hobbies are psychology and chess, and these activities help me to develop planning abilities as well as empathy.” Her answers to the questions about the qualities she possesses confirmed my view that my sister is a leader I can learn from about the concept of leadership. The demonstration of similar traits of her character in daily communication with our family and friends indicates their authenticity.
She describes herself as a person with a clear vision of the project’s outcomes due to her excellent planning skills, who can motivate other team members and engage them in activities. To the question about the reasons for her success as a leader my sister replied: “It is conditioned by my empathy, adaptability, flexibility, and the readiness to solve the emerging problems at once.” These qualities are demonstrated not only in the work environment but also in communication with people outside of work. My sister said: “I love organizing not only work but also activities for my friends.” Thus, she applies these skills for the organization of leisure activities, motivating our family to join her for weekend activities.
Analysis of Leadership Theories and Traits
In order to describe a leader and the qualities that define him, one can apply them to leadership theories and models. In this way, it is possible to understand what type of a leader the person is and what qualities allow one to consider him or her as one. The first theory that can be applied to my sister is the trait approach, which intends to determine the traits that define a true leader (Bratton, Grint, & Nelson, 2020). Despite the controversy of this theory and the lack of agreement on the definition of the qualities of a leader, there is a set of traits most researchers use for this purpose. Thus, the integrity of my sister and her empathy can be considered as such characteristics.
The other theories describe the behavior of a leader in general as well as in various situations. Hence, according to the behavioral approach, the actions of a leader are essential (Bratton et al., 2020). In the case of my sister, such actions are finding solutions for various problems in different ways, whether they are considered at the meetings or over the calls. They reflect the task behavior that allows the team to achieve their goals. The relationship behavior is reflected in the motivation of her team workers and consideration of their views towards the projects.
As for the situational approach, its main target is to define the ability of a leader to adapt to new situations (Thompson & Glasø, 2018). In this regard, my sister shows leadership in meeting the goals of her team due to her flexible approach to emerging issues. The ability to adapt to the changing situation allows her team to efficiently deal with it for the achievement of its objectives concerning the current project of the company.
The leader-member exchange theory that determines the success of a leader by his or her interaction with team members is also applicable to this case. Hence, the empathy that my sister demonstrates makes her a charismatic leader, ensuring a better interaction by taking into account the opinions of her colleagues (Martin, Guillaume, Thomas, Lee, & Epitropaki, 2016). This quality also contributes to the consideration of followers and their importance for a project’s outcome (Kong, Xu, Zhou, & Yuan, 2019). The traits of my sister also allow her to encourage other people to adapt to emerging circumstances for the benefit of the company (Nelson & Squires, 2017). Thus, the correspondence of this case to several leadership theories makes the interviewee an excellent leader.
The role of a leader is quite challenging as it requires not only specific traits or skills but also implies the ability to cope with changing situations and adapt to new circumstances. The example of my sister has shown that being a leader does not mean being strict to others, but understanding their needs. Therefore, the successful cooperation of a leader with his or her team members is possible only in the case of such a person is empathetic and flexible. I believe that these two qualities are the most important ones for leadership. The people with such characteristics become charismatic leaders respected by their teams, and this case demonstrates the effectiveness of their work.
There is a lot of theories and approaches describing leadership, and they are all based on the specific characteristics of a leader. The consideration of his or her behavior in a team, adaptability in the case of changes, and attention towards the team members and their opinions on projects are defined by various personality factors. Thus, in order to become a successful leader, one needs to develop such traits and qualities as flexibility or empathy as only the person who understands the members of his or her team can be efficient in a leadership position.
Bratton, J., Grint, K., & Nelson, D.L. (2020). Organizational leadership. London, United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Kong, M., Xu, H., Zhou, A., & Yuan, Y. (2019). Implicit followership theory to employee creativity: The roles of leader-member exchange, self-efficacy, and intrinsic motivation. Journal of Management & Organization, 25(1), 81-95.
Martin, R., Guillaume, Y., Thomas, G., Lee, A., & Epitropaki, O. (2016). Leader-member exchange (LMX) and performance: A meta‐analytic review. Personnel Psychology, 69(1), 67-121.
Nelson, T., & Squires, V. (2017). Addressing complex challenges through adaptive leadership: A promising approach to collaborative problem-solving. Journal of Leadership Education, 16(4), 111-123.
Thompson, G., & Glasø, L. (2018). Situational leadership theory: A test from a leader-follower congruence approach. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 39(5), 574-591. Web.