Effective Leader And To What Extent Management Essay
The purpose of this essay is to provide insights into what makes an effective leader and to what extent does effective leadership mean being morally good. The essay will begin by looking at what is a leader, and will present the idea that certain skills that leader should have and the behavioural approaches that they take whether task-orientated behaviour and people- orientated behaviour, all determine how effective a leader is. The various leadership styles that a leader may implement will also be analysed and the extent of how being moral good impacts on the effectiveness of a leader will be discussed.
There is a vast amount of definitions and understandings of what it means to be a leader; Gary Yukl (2006) defines leadership as “the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives” (Yukl, 2006, p. 8). Peter Northouse (2007) defines leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Thory, 2012). From these definitions alone it is clear leadership is a process. Leaders set the tone for desired behaviour and goals. A leader is therefore an individual who inspires, by appropriate means, sufficient competence to influence a group of followers to become willing participants in the fulfilment of organisational goals (Darling, Gabrielsson and Seristo, 2007). Without having an influence, it is impossible to be a leader. Leaders not only have to influence their subordinates they also have to influence their peers and bosses in a work context. It is also clear from these definitions that leadership is a two-way interactive event between leaders and followers, rather than a one-way event in which leaders only affect the followers (Rowe and Guerrero, 2011).
Many believe managers and leaderships are practically the same however they have distinct qualities associated with their roles. Daft et al. (2010) believes “Management promotes stability order and problem solving within the existing organisational structure and system where as leadership promotes vision, creativity and change” (Daft et al., 2010). In other words, “a manager takes care of where you are, a leader takes you to new places” (Nash, 1990). Leadership cannot replace management; it should be in addition to management. Good management helps the organisation meet current commitments, whereas good leadership is needed to move organisations into the future (Ciulla, 1998).
The skills in which a leader possesses can also help to understand what it means to be an effective leader. Many influential academics in management suggest that the skills required by a leader can be understood in terms of four general categories: Cognitive skills, Interpersonal skills, Business skills, and Strategic skills (Mumford, Campion and Morgeson, 2007). It is these skills identified that will therefore define the successful leaders of tomorrow (Home &Jones, 2001).
Cognitive skills are the foundation of the leadership skill requirements. They are comprised of those skills related to basic cognitive capacities, such as collecting, processing, and disseminating information (Mumford, Campion and Morgeson, 2007). Therefore a leader should be able to use this information in order to understand the environment in which they have to lead and hence can identify and apply the most appropriate leadership style and methods to suit the situation. To be effective a leader must listen and understand the needs of their followers so as to approach the situation efficiently. Leaders who strive to establish a setting that is supportive of followers and their development also help to instill within those individuals a loyalty that will help to enhance the operational success of the organisation (Darling, Gabrielsson and Seristo, 2007).
As previously touched upon in order for leadership to exist at least one other person is required for it to take place. Leadership is regarded within the critical literature as a process based on interactions and social relations between two or more people (Senge, 1990; Yukl, 1998; Alvesson, 2002; Burgoyne and Pedler, 2003). Therefore interpersonal skills are a key factor of being an effective leader. Having a poor relationship with followers can be hugely problematic for an organisation thus by building a strong relationship with their followers’, leaders can engage them to encourage success (Khan and Ahmad, 2012) and develop a strong working relationship and influence on them. It is known that to be an effective leader and to bring effective change within an organisation, leader must possess the ability to motivate, communicate and build a team (Gilley, McMillan, and Gilley, 2009) and the only way of doing this is by having strong interpersonal skills. Of course, having an influence on others means that there is a greater need on the part of leaders to exercise their influence ethically (Rowe and Guerrero, 2011). As leaders are in a position where they have power over followers; the decisions and actions they take will in away influence others and impact on the organisation. If leaders are ethical, they can ensure that ethical practices are carried out throughout the organisation.
Business skill requirements, involves skills related to specific functional areas that create the context in which most leaders work (Connelly et al., 2000; Lau et al.,1980). An effective leader is therefore required to carry out tasks such as operations analysis and resource management. Effective leaders must have the ability to organise the necessary resources; mental, emotional, and physical, in order to successfully achieve the organisations objectives. They will be ultimately responsible for operations and therefore will have to look over the whole process and ensure the smooth running of it.
Finally strategic skill requirements includes the important planning related skills of vision (Conger and Kanungo, 1987) and having the ability to look at the bigger picture. Leaders are expected to ask what and why? (Thory, 2012) taking a systems perspective in order to identify potential problems so they can be avoided or identifying what went wrong in order to achieve goals more efficiently in the future. A leader must plan and make these decisions in the interest of the organisation rather than for their own interests. They should be able to successfully plan, evaluate, make decisions and problem solve in order to be effective within the organisation. An example of an effective leader who was able to do this well is Bill Gates. Gates is able to identify a solution to a problem, plan and acquire the resources needed and translate the solution into commercially feasible and variable products (Chandran, 2003).
These leadership skills mentioned are what will drive the business forward in order to be a successful business and ensures that a positive reputation is achieved and maintained and therefore it can be said that skills can contribute to being an effective leader. However, these skills must be applied in a morale fashion otherwise it can ultimately damage the organisation and the reputation that it holds.
Many people believe that in order to be an effective leader, a leader must not just have the skills required but they must also be able to adopt the correct behavioural approach. Two basic leadership behaviours identified as important for leadership are task-oriented behaviour and people-oriented behaviour (Daft, Kendrick and Vershinina, 2010). Although they are not the only important leadership behaviours, concern for tasks and people must be shown at some reasonable level (Daft, Kendrick and Vershinina, 2010) and therefore are key to the running of an organisation.
People-orientated behaviour involves the leader respecting the ideas and feelings of subordinates and establishing a mutual trust (Daft, Kendrick and Vershinina, 2010). Leaders who adopt this behaviour value and care for their subordinated, implementing an atmosphere in which subordinates feel comfortable and are highly motivated. They try to be considerate to the needs of subordinated and lead in a friendly and encouraging manner, implementing open communication (Anzalone, no date). People- oriented leaders understand the important of building strong relationships with followers and the positive impact it will have on productivity. However in order to be effective, a leader must ensure a balance is attained otherwise they may put the development of their team above tasks or project instructions (mindtools, no date). An example of an organisation which is likely to implement this type of behaviour is Google. Google is all about the people working there, where everything revolves around creating a relaxed atmosphere for their employees.
On the other hand task- oriented behaviour tend to focus on the task in hand and all the procedures necessary to achieve these. This type of leader is less concerned with the idea of catering to the needs of employees and is more concerned with finding step- by- step solution to meeting the organisation specific goals (Anzalone, no date). Leaders with this style typically give instructions, spend time planning and emphasise deadlines, as well as provide explicit schedules of work activities (Daft, Kendrick and Vershinina, 2010). Task- oriented leaders are focused and are able to delegate work accordingly ensuring that deadlines are met on time and in a productive manner (Anzalone, no date; mindtools, no date). These leaders are effective particularly when employees don’t manage their time very well and they can therefore guide the employees to ensure success. However as they do not pay much attention to the needs of their followers they can be faced with many challenges such as demotivation and negativity from employees.
The effectiveness of task- oriented and people- oriented behaviour will depending on the type of organisation. Chemers, M. described leadership as “the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” (Chemers, 1997). From this is it clear that leadership includes both task and people oriented. As touched on before in many organisations in order to be most effective a balance has to be achieved between the two. Finding the balance between tasks oriented leadership and people oriented leadership requires a leader to develop their awareness of their emotions and social intelligence along with their ability to set goals and manage performance (Foster, 2012). The path- goal theory suggests that in order to be more effect the leader should switch their behaviour in order to match the situation; implementing a style in which is most beneficial for their subordinates and for the organisation. However Fiedler’s contingency theory believes that a person’s behavioural approach, whether task or person orientated, is relatively fixed and difficult to change, therefore believes that leader’s behaviour should be matched with the situation most favourable for his or her effectiveness and therefore leader’s should be switched as a situation changes(Daft, Kendrick, and Vershinina, 2010).
A similar way in which an effective leader may be highlighted is through the leadership style which they adopt. Although there are many different styles a leader may employ, the three primary leadership style orientations are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire.
Autocratic leadership is characterised by individual control over all decision and little input from subordinated (Cherry, no date). Autocratic leaders typically made decision based on their own judgement of what they believe is right. Like task-oriented behaviour mentioned earlier, autocratic leaders are not concerned with the idea of catering to the needs of followers and is more concerned with the task in hand giving instructions to subordinates. Although in some situations autocratic leadership can be most effective many would say that this style is not ethically right for employees.
autocraticÂ management tends to foster resentment; constantÂ democraticÂ management can turn into an endless spiral of discussions. Participatory management, which lets employees have the final say, doesn’t take into account that some are not fit for making decisions. AndÂ laissez-faireÂ management, Beigle said, is “the worst curse” of all, because all workers need some direction and support. (http://search.proquest.com/docview/220919453/13CE9E2EE5844DE5576/3?accountid=14116 )
Not only do leaders have to consider both the organisation and their subordinates in order to be effective they will also have the responsibility for ensuring standards of moral and ethical conduct (Barnard, 1938). Because leadership can be used for good or evil, to help or to harm others, all leadership has a moral component (Daft, Kendrick, and Vershinina, 2010). In order to be an effective leader you do not always have to honest and do the right thing however being morally good
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