A leader is a person who is responsible for guiding and directing subjects or a group of people in various activities or processes. Leadership is the process of exerting social, cultural, economic and political influence over a group of people. For one to be able to effectively exert their influence and power over a group people, they must possess specific qualities that define a good leader. Leaders who possess the best qualities of leadership are able to earn the necessary respect and reverence from their followers, which enable them to work effectively.
Importance of leaders
It must be recognized that leaders have a very vital responsibility in any given organization. The role carried out by leaders in organizations is what determines the productivity, success and overall performance of employees. Primarily, the responsibility of leaders in an organization is simply to create and keep a high performing standard of the team of people who work in it (Alvesson & Spicer, 2010). Leaders are the ones who take the blame when the organization underperforms. They are the ones who make the most important decisions of the organization. Leaders are expected to come up with progressive short-term as well as long-term goals and objectives of the firm so that it moves in a pre-determined direction. The leaders within an organization are the ones who are responsible for the function of providing a focus for the employees of the company. They are the managers of the daily operations of the organization. Lacking leadership in an organization, therefore, occasions a very dangerous scenario. An organization must have effective leadership for it to thrive by achieving its set goals and objectives.
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The qualities of a good leader
Researchers have studied the specific characters and traits of leaders that make a good and effective leader. It has been established that good leaders have to possess high interpersonal skills in order to relate well with others whom they lead. Good leaders are also those with effective and good communication skills (Rodd, 2006). Communication skills are important for a leader to effectively communicate messages to followers and persuade them. Good leaders are individuals who can convince employees or followers to support a course of action. Since a leader is supposed to initiate reforms and transformations in the organization, they must have good communication skills that would enable them to convince the employees to implement the change. There are also other factors which make up a good leader. These factors include the situational context and the use of power.
Theories of good leadership qualities
Leadership theories propose that there are specific traits that make a good leader. These traits are the ones that distinguish a good leader from other unsuccessful leaders. Emergent leaders show traits such as dominance, intelligence and self-efficacy (Crainer & Dearlove, 2008). Other researchers have also proposed that good leaders have characteristics like persistence, patience, tolerance, innovation and the willingness to take the responsibility for their decisions as well as actions. Other theories point out that a good leader is one who is able to demonstrate emotional maturity, stress control, personal integrity, motivation and self-confidence. There are many traits of good leadership. The best way to analyze the qualities of a good leader is by considering the manner which a person uses their power and influence.
Qualities of transactional and transformational leader
Transactional leadership is a situation of contract between the leader and the employee, where the former gets whatever they need by awarding the latter rewards that they desire in order to motivate them (Rodd, 2006). Transactional leadership does not mainly focus on the qualities of the leader. It applies in situations where the workers have to undertake matters as directed by the leader without any question. A good transactional leader has basic qualities such as the ability to develop effective structures and systems within the organization, which are necessary for sharing of information. A good transactional leader is a person who has the ability to effrect6ively use rewards to drive employees towards achieving the desired goal. Transformational leaders, on the other hand, are defined by qualities such as charisma and idealized influence, which achieved through earned admiration, reverence and trust. Transformational leaders are able to inspire, motivate and intellectually stimulate their employees. Therefore, transformational leaders create an environment within the organization that fosters innovation, creativity, productivity and high performance on the part of the workers.
It has been established that transformational leaders normally believe and give full support to the objectives of the organization. These leaders also understand the goals of the organization and are able to properly articulate them to the employees in order to gain their support and commitment. It has also been established that transformational leaders normally demonstrate consistency in behavior and give high attention to integrity, ethical principles as well as values (Rodd, 2006). Transformational are highly flexible and able to adapt quickly to change. Moreover, transformational leaders are the ones that plan and implement change in an organization. Their ability to plan and implement change in organizations comes from the high vision that they possess. They bring all workers on board to share their vision. Such traits of transformational leaders are essential because they make workers be loyal to the leader.
Traits of the charismatic leaders
Charismatic leaders have unique traits that include the ability to predict the trends in the future. Moreover, charismatic leaders are creative thinkers. They are empathetic to their followers and always empower colleagues at the workplace. It has been established that the charismatic leaders can give their followers the required motivation for them to perform effectively in the workplace (Rodd, 2006). They make workers perform effectively without even necessarily invoking their authority. Charismatic leaders do have high determination, energy, and self-confidence in following their plan to ensure they are accomplished.
Another feature that defines charismatic leaders is their uniqueness within the business world. An example is Richard Branson, who was ready to stand by his instincts and convictions even if they entailed taking a deadly risk. Charismatic leaders always venture into new territories.
Traits of authentic leaders
Authentic leadership is normally discouraged in the modern times where circumstances in the business world have greatly shifted. Although such form of leadership is applicable where workers are supposed to take orders from the leaders and implement them without questioning, it is often regarded as an exploitative style of leading (Rodd, 2006). However, there are some cases, as asserted earlier, where the situations demand that leaders be authentic and genuine. Fort the authentic leaders, they always revoke their authority when leading workers. The opposite of authentic leadership is servant kind of leading.
For the servant leaders, the focus is mostly on empathic traits of the person in leadership. A servant leader is one who is able to demonstrate altruism and nurture the talents of workers and enhance their potential to produce high performance. Servant leaders should focus on ensuring each worker has some level of personal progressiveness. Servant leaders normally believe in the doctrine of fairness and justice.
Good leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to realize one's feelings and those of others in order to manage them effectively. There are five major factors that constitute emotional intelligence. One factor is self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation (Rodd, 2006). The followers of a leader normally watch out for some of these characteristics in order to give their reverence to a particular person within the position of leadership. However, it is vital to understand the fact that leadership qualities of individuals differ depending on the circumstances at stake and the type of followers whom the leader is in charge. A person may find it quite hard to gain acceptance in a place where there exists prejudice based on gender, race or ethnicity. In general, for a person to be accepted as a leader, they must possess great knowledge, competence, and status, association with a particular group and proactive.
The qualities of a leader as a good manager
Another major quality of a good leader is that they must be effective managers in the organization. A good leader demonstrates good managerial skills. It has to be understood that a good manager must possess a high human, technical and conceptual skills, which play an important role in the delivery of services of the organization. In this context, human skills refer to the ability to tackle properly issues that are related to humanity as well as members of the society. The technical skills of a manager refer to the ability to use technical resources to achieve good results for the organization.
A good leader demonstrates high managerial capabilities by having clearly-defined objectives and goals for the organization they are leading (Bass et al., 2003). Objective management enables the good leader to develop strategies as well as plans that effectively give direction to the group of people towards achieving the goals of the organization. Leaders with high management skills have the ability to make effective decisions and choices. As a good manager, the leader is also able to make compromised decisions in order to accommodate progressive divergent opinions and propositions. Another trait of an effective manager, which is a significant characteristic of a good leader, is the ability and willingness to delegate responsibilities to the subordinates and trust them fully. Therefore, based on this high trust vested on the subordinates to whom responsibilities are delegated, the good manager is able to build warm and good relationships with the workers of the organization (Rodd, 2006). This good relationship highly enhances the performance of the workers at the workplace.
A good leader, as a manager, is able to build bridges among workers and solve conflicts. An effective manager is a perfect problem-solver and able to instill peace where there is a feud (Bass & Bass, 2008). The environment created by an effective manager in the company is one of friendliness among workers. Such managers show the highest level of neutrality when solving conflicts; therefore, the parties in the feud get satisfied with the settlement. These are some of the features of a good manager, as another trait of a good leader.
For one to be able to effectively exert their influence and power over a group people, they must possess specific qualities that define a good leader. Traits of a good leader are diverse and many. It can be seen that identifying these traits is not an easy task. However, there are basic traits that define good leaders such as tolerance, self-confidence, persistence, ability to motivate followers, the capability to inspire, empathy, good communication and interpersonal skills. Moreover, the amount of power that a leader uses in leading followers determines the quality of a leader. Effective and good leadership is what drives organizations in achieving set goals and objectives.
Alvesson, M. and Spicer, A. (2010). Metaphors we Lead by: Understanding Leadership in the Real World . London: Routledge.
Bass, B.M. and Bass, R. (2008). The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications (4th Ed) New York, NY: Free Press.
Bass, B.M., Avolio, B.J., Jung, D.I. and Berson, Y. (2003). Predicting unit performance by assessing Transformational and Transactional leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 207-218.
Crainer, S. and Dearlove, D. (2008). The heart of leadership, Business Strategy Review , The London Business School, (Autumn), 41-45.
Rodd, J. (2006). Leadership in Early Childhood, 3rd Edition. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.