In today’s world, business organisations need effective leadership in order for them to continue to be successful. Without this, organisations cannot function correctly or achieve company goals and visions. Effective leadership is dependent upon the role of the leader and whether or not they can ensure their employees meet company objectives and standards. This assignment will critically examine the role of leadership as a contributing factor to contemporary organisational success.
Effective leaders are made not born. If an individual has the desire and will power, then they can become a successful leader. Leaders develop through a never-ending process of learning, education, training and experience (, viewed 25th July 2003).
In order to inspire people to achieve higher levels of work, there are a few things a leader must be, know and do. These do not come naturally however are acquired through continual work and study. Effective leaders are individuals who are continually working and studying to improve their leadership styles and skills (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Definition of Leadership
Leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, task, or objective and directs the organisation in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent (, viewed 25th July 2003). A leader carries out this process by applying their leadership attributes, which include their beliefs, values, ethics, characteristics, knowledge and skills (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Role of Leadership
Within each business organisation, the role of the leader varies depending upon the requirements of their job. Most leaders take on the role of a planner, an organiser, a controller, a communicator, a delegator and a coach. Leaders also take on the role of accepting responsibility for reaching an organisation’s goals (, viewed 8th August 2003).
The basic job of the leader is to win the energy and commitment of people at all levels of the company towards improving the performance of the organisation as a system. This means, they will need to develop their ability to release the intelligence, creativity and initiative of people throughout the organisation, particularly those who have been traditionally executed, and then to integrate those initiatives towards an agreed vision of the future and to solving the problems encountered on the way (, viewed 8th August 2003).
There are a number of principles of leadership that leaders must follow including:
- Knowing themselves and seeking self-improvement;
- Being technically proficient;
- Seeking responsibility and taking responsibility for their actions;
- Making sound and timely decisions;
- Setting the example;
- Knowing their people and looking out for their well-being;
- Keeping their people informed;
- Developing a sense of responsibility in their people;
- Ensuring that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished;
- Training their people as a team; and
- Using the full capabilities of their orgainsations (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Leaders are clear about their business values and beliefs. Strong leaders set an example and build commitment. They keep people and projects on course by behaving consistently with these values and modelling how they expect others to act. Leaders also plan and break projects down into achievable steps, creating opportunities for small wins. They make it easier for others to achieve goals by focussing on key priorities (Mittra, K 2001, p. 77).
Leaders must recognise that they do not have all the answers. They must be willing to listen, reflect, and learn, openly and honestly, and reach across conventional boundaries to embrace new knowledge and new ways of leading. These leaders we can confidently follow, for they will be sufficiently generous and assured to lead the way into emotionally unchartered territory and to “celebrate the unknown”, and will be courageous enough to act alone when necessary (Mittra, K 2001, p. 77).
In this obviously shifting, fluid and challenging business environment, mistakes can happen, but learning from them is possible. Not only is it possible, but it is of paramount importance. And it takes courage. It is the exceptional leader who can understand that mistakes can, and do, occur but who does not lose faith in the creative aspirations and accomplishments of others (Mittra, K 2001, p. 78).
Leadership Qualities and Skills
In today’s society there are many business organisations who fail to succeed. This is because they do not have adequate leaders in place who possess the characteristics of effective leadership skills and qualities.
In order to provide effective leadership, a leader must possess or want to develop a number of qualities and skills that will ensure organisational success. These include:
- Being innovative and promoting change;
- Having the ability to develop as a leader;
- Being able to focus on people;
- Inspiring trust among followers;
- Having a long range perspective;
- Having an eye on the horizon; and
- Challenging status quo (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Leaders must also have a backbone strong enough to be responsible and to take on the role of leader. They must have an open mind for learning the hard lessons of experiences as they occur. Effective leaders must have a positive outlook for making sure that bad news always brings opportunity as well as an ability to get organised (Lewis, J 1998, p. 36).
Each leader in a business organisation encompasses different styles of leadership including autocratic, democratic and laissez faire. These styles of leadership differ between one and another and therefore produce various results within an organisation.
Autocratic leaders rely heavily on their power to coerce and their ability to persuade. This leadership theory assumes that an able leader successfully persuades others to follow him or her because they expect that following the leader’s suggestions will result in solving the problems that the group faces. It also assumes that a powerful leader can directly reinforce the behaviour of others by granting or denying rewards or punishments (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Democratic leadership usually requires more maturity and some education on its processes. Democratic leaders are identified by the way they follow procedures, such as group based decision making processes, seeking consensus on issues affecting the group/team, and adopting an open and trusting relationship with their followers (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Laissez faire leadership focuses less on the balance of power and more on the extent to which leadership is avoided or attempted. Laissez faire leaders give their group members complete freedom of action, and refrain from interfering in their group member’s actions (except to field questions when asked) or making evaluative remarks. Some problems commonly experienced in groups under this leadership style are that they are less organised, less efficient, and the work that is produced is often of poor quality (, viewed 25th July 2003).
Due to the fact that they are many different types of individuals working within a business organisation, their reactions to the differing leadership styles will vary. Some may like a particular leadership style while others may not. As a result, effective leaders must ensure they provide a leadership style that ensures every individual will respond to their full capacity. Leaders can achieve this be taking on board a number of each of the characteristics of the different leadership styles that best suit the individual.
In today’s global market, where economic fortunes shift quickly, a business can only survive if its leadership is effective and innovative. Leaders must be capable of nurturing a flexible organisation and developing a committed and well qualified workforce to handle rapid business changes (Mittra, K 2001, p. 77).
A potential leader may have some instinctive qualities such as vision, self confidence and so on, but to become a truly effective and exceptional leader, her or she will have to develop personal capabilities in being able to take a holistic view of the organisation and the world in which it operates and should be able to manage change, promote team spirit and develop the potential of each and every team member (Mittra, K 2001, p. 77).
A fundamental requirement for a leader is to be able to clearly define an organisation’s mission and purpose. It is imperative that the leader has a clear idea of what the organisation’s objectives and goals are. Once this has been defined then the role of the leader is to articulate this throughout the organisation so that each employee has a clear understanding of what the company wishes to achieve and what is expected of them. The leader must then be able to motivate the workforce towards the achievement of the organisation’s objectives and goals (, viewed 25th July 2003).
It is also the exceptional leader who can maintain expectations, yet remain vigilant to the fact that these may produce unrealistic standards, and who does not lose sight of the fact that perfection, through essential to strive for, does not exist (Coombs, A 2003, p. 1 & 2).
One of the main reasons for a business organisation to fail is the lack of leadership skills and qualities a leader possess. A leader must be effective in order to provide leadership to their employees. Employees will not work to their full potential if they are not provided with an effective leader.
There are a number of reasons why leaders fail including:
- Greed – Greed can destroy any leader. The best leaders remember that it is their stakeholders, not themselves, that should be put first.
- Loss of Focus – Failing leaders lose track on the big picture. Instead they focus on short-term or narrow problems that don’t address strategic direction or major issues.
- Poor Change Management – Many poor leaders get locked into actions that worked in the past but which don’t address present of future needs.
- Failure to Listen – Some leaders become arrogant and insulated, failing to capitalise on the views or expertise of others.
- Band Luck – As the saying goes, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good (Jusko, J 2002, Issue 3).
A leader must possess or want to develop effective leadership skills and qualities if they want to lead their business organisation to success.
How Leadership Contributes to Success
Being an effective leader is probably the most important of all managerial functions. As a result, the way a leader manages or leads their employees will determine their success not only in getting projects done, but also in doing them right (Lewis, J 1998, p. 36).
If a company makes an effort to discover what drives its people, it’s the people who turn will drive the company to success. What lies behind this philosophy is a value system for both the company and the individuals. The company values and the individual values have to go together for the best business results (Mittra, K 2001, p. 77).
By providing effective leadership skills and qualities, leaders can ensure that they drive their organisation to success. Without effective leadership, business organisations cannot achieve company goals and objectives therefore allowing the business to fail.
In order for an organisation to succeed in contemporary Australia, businesses must ensure they have effective leaders in place. These leaders must possess the right skills and qualities to enable them to provide effective leadership to their employees and colleagues. To be a successful leader, an individual must continue to study, learn and experience new leadership skills and qualities so that they can carry on providing effective leadership.
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