Leadership ranks first in management success | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Leadership ranks first in management success

8 March, 2020

Although there are many definitions and interpretations in terms of leadership, in my long experience in business as a follower and a leader, I find that leadership is a process in which an individual attempts to influence the activities of another in matter of importance in a given situation.

Personality and leadership ability play a more important role in business and management success than subject knowledge.

Many successful large conglomerates with broad and diversified business lines are led by a single person, often with knowledge of one or a few chosen subjects. These business leaders always have a strong and confident viewpoint, customarily with people skills.

Leadership is an influencing process. Therefore, leaders, irrespective of the number of subordinates, must understand and get to know each person’s motivation factor. Also the leader must predict how subordinates will respond to leadership attempts and to adjust the efforts to influence the followers from situation to situation.

There are five sources of leadership power. They are, the legitimate power given by the organisation as the position, Reward Power: the ability to reward subordinates, Coercive Power: the ability to punish subordinates, Expert Power: expertise, knowledge and skills of the leader and finally Referent Power which is the followers’ attitude towards the leader. All five criteria are equally important depending on the given situation.

Among many theoretical leadership styles, throughout my career, I have always practised what is known as the situational theory as the best approach.

This means that the leader analyses the situation and selects the best style of leadership where the inter-relation between the leader and the followers is effective as both find themselves in the same situation.

The framework I identified was instrumental behaviour where the leader plans, organises, coordinates and controls subordinate action. Extending support to the task, participating by sharing information and using their suggestions in decision making, not only improves the result but also establishes mutual trust.

The leader’s personality, aims and experience show his approach and behaviour styles such as instructing, persuading, participating and delegating according to the task and the situation they are in.

He should understand individual characteristics and behavioural patterns, objectives and level of performance of each subordinate.

The leader should also consider the same criteria of the group they are involved with. Finally, he should consider the situation, the task at hand, organisational factors, problems and the pressure of time.

As in democratic/participative leadership style, instead of controlling behaviour we have analysed, it is best to empower followers and motivate them. It is also useful to genuinely trust your subordinates and establish that trustworthiness before events test it.

A good practice is delegation of powers, by encouraging decentralisation and the sharing of ideas. Effective flow of lateral communication with subordinates is imperative to establish a lasting and successful leader and follower reciprocation.

Charisma is a deadly leadership trap. Most people think charisma is vital for leadership or is an important trait for a leader. This mannerism not only dilutes the judgement and rational decision making but also can be misread as emotional manipulation.

Charismatic people draw more attention than others. That is why others naturally assume that they are capable leaders. However, this is not always the case. When it comes to executive leadership, charisma alone can produce negative results and often can be dangerous due to incapability of respectfully reasoning with followers.

In business leadership, motivation is coextensive. Motivation is a goal oriented characteristic that helps a person to achieve objectives and the initiative to undertake a task or activity without another’s nudging or supervision.

Often, companies opt to motivate staff by financial benefits such as compensation and special incentives or non-financial benefits such as recognition or career development opportunities. The leader must possess the right leadership traits to influence motivation. Knowing the needs of individuals and the group immensely assists the leader to influence followers.

An effective leader who steps into the shoes of the subordinate to view things from his or her angle and empathise with them, makes them strong and boosts their morale.

Organisational leadership deals with the human mind and specialised strategy and the leader must have the potential to control the group of individuals. The leader should have the ability to guide a team without dominating them, by giving them a sense of direction.

Organisational leadership is about processes, results and strategic communication that lead to an achievement. Personalities with high energy levels, self confidence and flexible qualities along with other leadership traits are recognised as good organisational leaders.

Whatever said in theory, leaders are different to each other and do not possess the same attitude or perspective. Although it says that the carrot and stick method is ineffective in the modern world, both can be effective depending on the situation. Leadership styles differ with the individual personalities a leader interacts with and the specific situation.

That may be why Steve Jobs, one of the most successful and respected business leaders said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.’’

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