Why Does Leadership Make a Difference?


Leadership is a topic that has impacted much research amongst academicians and independent research bodies owing to the fact of its effectiveness to organizations, businesses, and professional institutions. A number of researchers proclaim that leadership does not produce a significant difference in an organization’s ultimate performance.

Hence, it is the goal of this study to completely differ with such a proclamation and to explain why leadership makes a difference to an organization’s final performance. As will be further explained, it is clear that progressive leadership efficiently creates organizational cultures leading to a number of successful outcomes such as smooth decision-making processes and easy adaptation to organizational changes. The reasons for adopting prudent leadership show that it is a key feature that all groups of people should focus on achieving.


Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy (2012) define a leader as somebody who can influence the views and actions of other people. A leader is a person that a certain group of people believes in, follows, and can give directives to this particular group. It is within this context that Goleman (2000) considers leadership as a process of social or mental influence, through which a leader impacts the behavior and actions of a group of people toward accomplishing a particular goal. As Goleman (2000) continues to explain, leadership is not an entitlement, but a progression that aims at ensuring the accomplishment of a common goal through the development of effective strategies and vision for subjects. Thus, this paper aims at disclosing the importance of leadership and clarifying why leadership makes a difference in organizations or groups of individuals.

Importance of leadership

Currently, many problems and controversial issues face the world, which is in urgent need of solutions. In the contemporary world, the roles of prudent leaders with regard to finding solutions to a myriad of problems have been widely studied. In fact, a considerable number of scholars have dedicated their efforts and time to understand various aspects that are related to leading people in various groups. Prudent leadership styles are applied in many areas, such as business establishments and school systems.

For example, research has demonstrated that able leaders are able to focus on the main issues that affect their firms. With such a focus, they direct their juniors in achieving excellent goals. Moreover, most organizations require proper guidance to achieve long-term solutions to the issues affecting their performance. Hence, efficient leadership is necessary at every level of enterprises across the world (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). No matter the stature of a firm in perspective, the following are some of the reasons why leadership makes a difference:

  1. Leadership inspires innovation and creativity in business establishments. A firm may acquire a competitive advantage in its target market through innovation and creativity (Goleman, 2000). However, a significant number of enterprises experience challenges with regard to achieving effective outcomes from innovations. Hence, an effective leader is crucial toward realizing the benefits of such innovations and creativity in an organization. The support and guidance of a leader are required to motivate the efforts toward the innovation at its initial creative phase. It is also a leader who would ensure that there exists a favorable environment for supporting innovative ideas. (Safferstone, 2006).
  2. Leadership provides a clear vision and operative direction. The nature of leadership that is adopted by any firm determines the pace at which objectives are achieved. Prudent leadership would instill confidence through a clear vision of where an enterprise is headed. A progressive leader guarantees a positive view of challenging situations in business establishments with a “we can” perspective of any ‘impossible’ circumstance (Collins, 2006). It implies that leaders need to have the aptitude of recognizing setbacks and formulating appropriate solutions.
  3. Leadership sets objectives and works toward achieving them. Smythe and Norton (2007) assert that effective leadership thinks beyond the scope of organizational goals. Drawing from what happens outside a firm, visionary leaders would set key objectives for an organization and determine how much time and effort are needed to accomplish them. Visionary leaders are determined and persevere to positive changes in an enterprise. Their enthusiasm and exhilaration exhibit their commitments to achieve excellent outcomes. Such efforts are reciprocated in the renewed energy of juniors who work on various tasks but aim at achieving common objectives (Smythe & Norton, 2007).
  4. Open identification of problems. Reliable leadership, according to Safferstone (2006), not only concentrates on the positive achievements of a firm but also identifies the problems that negatively impact operations. Additionally, effective leaders inspire their subjects by admitting their own mistakes rather than putting blames on them. The leadership should consider mistakes as challenges. Hence, there is a need for frequent open discussions and resolutions (Collins, 2006). In cases of conflicts amongst members of a group, the leadership should reach out to each member involved in the conflict and impartially solve the issue. Such impartial solutions lead to the smooth implementation of the resolutions to the conflicts and increase respect and cohesiveness within a firm.
  5. Model leadership shows appreciation to its subjects. The motivation of members of a group is a key function of those in leadership. Model leaders improve the productivity of its subjects toward accomplishing a common task through the provision of credit for a work well done. Rewards in the form of promotions, higher packs, or time off serve to stimulate members of a group to work harder than before. Consequently, a firm would be assured of fully utilizing the ability and potential of all of its members (Safferstone, 2006).
  6. Effective leadership encourages communication amongst seniors and juniors in a business establishment. Lucid and purposeful communication is a vital requirement for progress. In cases of ineffective communication, leadership would be necessary to bring about listening, clarity, and understanding amongst members. Open communication enables the leadership to include all concerns and views of subjects in the decision-making process (Kouzes & Posner, 2012).
  7. Leadership ensures the availability of funds and other requirements for the organization or group. Achieving the common goals of an organization depends on a number of factors, including the availability of enough funds. In their publication with regard to the means of accomplishing extraordinary events in an organization, Kouzes and Posner (2012) stress that the availability of funds is the key to implementing various projects that would be used to achieve diverse outcomes. The authors emphasize that a resourceful leader would always ensure that his or her firm is adequately funded. He or she would make efforts of funding operations by liaising with his or her contacts and leaders of other groups. With valuable funding for various tasks, the leadership would make a great difference.
  8. Leadership encourages the general growth of the organization and the members of the organization: As Hughes and colleagues (2012) argue, the level of know-how of each member of a group varies. Visionary leadership, at its best, would ensure that members are equipped with the necessary skills for improving their performance. Thus, a visionary leader might come up with educational programs, which would be utilized to boost the skills of entire firm. Moreover, prudent leadership could provide conducive working environments. Hence, there would be a positive difference in the operations of a business establishment (Smythe & Norton, 2007).


In conclusion, leadership is a fundamental feature of any organization. It makes a difference in enterprises because the successful realization of goals largely depends on the availability of a dedicated and result-oriented leader. There may be appropriate training of members of a group with regard to the reliable use of technology. However, it is the nature of existing leadership, whether progressive or retrogressive, that makes the difference. The performance of a group of people closely relates to the dominant leadership.

For a group with a retrogressive operational culture, it would require the indulgence of a strong and visionary leader to introduce changes that would do away with such a culture and make a progressive difference in performance outcomes. Thus, it would be advisable for management teams of various bodies to adopt effective leadership skills that would enable them to achieve their objectives, which could either be long-term or short-term. However, some training would be critical in equipping persons with unique skills that would go a long way in implementing important projects.


  1. Leadership vs. management: These are completely two different terms, but their roles are closely related to each other toward achieving a lasting solution to organizational problems. In accordance with Goleman (2000), leadership is the process of setting principles and visions to guide how a group of individuals handles a specific task while management merely involves controlling people and resources of a group in accordance with the set principles.
  2. Ethical self-reflection: In relation to leadership, self-reflection is the ability of a leader to demonstrate the will to learn more from his or her essential purpose and personal nature (Safferstone, 2005). Hence, ethical self-reflection in leadership would reveal the core values of a leader and enable him or her to develop the valor and enthusiasm of acting and to make decisions based on these values.
  3. Charisma vs. competence: Safferstone (2006) highlights that a charismatic leader normally has a persuasive vision with the ability to communicate this vision and convince his subjects. On the other hand, competence is the ability of a leader to perform his functions according to the set objectives of the organization.


Collins, J. (2006). Level 5 leadership: The triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Managing Innovation and Change, 23(3), 234.

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), 78- 90.

Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2012). Leadership: enhancing the lessons of experience (7th Ed.). Homewood, IL: Irwin.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Safferstone, M. J. (2005). Organizational leadership: Classic works and contemporary perspectives. Choice, 42(6), 959-975.

Safferstone, M.J (2006). Social Motives and Personal Value. Choice, 23(8), 1-29.

Smythe, E., & Norton, A. (2007). Thinking as Leadership/Leadership as Thinking. Leadership, 3(1), 65-90.

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