a leader and his followers

Leadership: Definition, Features, Qualities, Styles, and Functions

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the ability to influence the behavior and performance of an individual or group of individuals towards the achievement of common objectives in a given situation. It is the art of influencing and inspiring the behavior of others in accordance with requirements.

Leadership is the personal quality of an individual who organizes the efforts of the individuals and directs them to achieve common objectives. It is an important and necessary skill for achieving group performance.

A leader is one who has the ability to influence and persuade the behavior of his group members enthusiastically for the attainment of common goals. A leader must have the quality of guidance, inspiration, persuasion, influence, direction, motivation, communication, creativity, etc. A successful leader is someone whose followers accept his guidance undoubtedly.

A leader may be a political leader, a spiritual leader, a person elected by team members, or a person will be a leader who has knowledge and wisdom, and a willingness to lead but remember leadership is a choice, not a responsibility because it possesses personal qualities of a leader. It is not about size but it is about knowledge and wisdom. And personal qualities can not be robbed but they can be shared.

a leadership example

In fact, leadership is the process of influencing human behavior. It is the character that is applied by the leader to his group members to reach a specified aim in a given job. A person is said to be a leader when his group members are ready to admit his instructions, guidance, and suggestions. Only a prosperous leader is able to inspire his disciples.

Leadership is equally applicable to managers. Managers also become good leaders. A manager is a successful leader when he possesses the leadership qualities to influence the behavior of his subordinates. He has to guide his subordinates in such a manner that organizational and individual objectives can be achieved. Thus, the manager must have a complete vision of how to operate resources and achieve organizational objectives.

Definition:

  • George R. Terry – Leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for mutual objectives.
  • Stephen P. Robbins – Leadership is the ability to influence a group of people for the achievement of goals.
  • Koontz and Weihrich – Leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of common goals.
  • Keith Davis – Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is a human factor that binds a group together and motivates it towards goals.

Nature/Characteristics of a Good Leadership

Good leadership is consists of following nature and characteristics.

nature and characteristics of a good leadership

Interpersonal Influence

It is a process of interpersonal influence. A leader influences behavior and activities of subordinates through power, inspiration, reward, motivation, and other tools. A manager is said to be a leader when he is able to influence his subordinates in accordance with organizational requirements.

Leaders and Followers

Leadership is a combination of leaders and followers. There should be a mutual relationship between a leader and followers. Followers are supposed to follow their leader’s footsteps only by getting inspiration from his conduct, ability, and behavior.

Similarly, followers influence the leader through their performance, effort, and behavior. They influence the behavior of each other through mutual wishes and not by the use of authority.

Common Goals

It aims at the pursuit of common goals, in other words, a leader and followers must have common objectives. The leader directs and guides the followers to gain planned objectives. Followers also perform their activities in accordance with the direction of the leader.

There is no meaning in leadership if the objectives of the leader and follower are different. Thus, the interests of individuals and those of organizations should be the same.

Continuous Exercise

It is a continuous managerial process. It continues till the existence of the organization. Managers have to influence the behavior and performance of subordinates on a regular basis.

Whenever leadership becomes poor, the performance of people turns into a mere routine function and organizational effectiveness may decrease. Hence, it is the responsibility of managers to guide and direct subordinates regularly.

Leadership is Situational

It is a situational activity. The role of leadership assumes significance in critical situations. It is the duty of the leader to inspire subordinates to overcome critical situations and help them to lead to the destination in a successful way.

Thus, a leader must be innovative and creative to handle difficult and unexpected situations.

Rest on Power

It rests on power rather than formal authority. Here, power focuses on the personal outstanding qualities of a leader through which he influences the followers.

In the context of the manager, some formal authority is rested due to managerial designation. But, at this stage, there is little value of formal authority in comparison to power i.e. personal quality.

Blend of Inspiration, Motivation, and Communication

Leadership is a blend of inspiration, motivation, and communication. It is a process of influencing the behavior and performance of followers by inspiring them. A leader has to employ suitable motivational devices such as incentives, and bonuses to stimulate subordinates. For this, there must be a clear and complete flow of information between supervisors and subordinates. In the absence of any elements, a leadership purpose can not be victorious.

Thus, it is a box of influencing qualities to behavior and performance of group members in order to to achieve predetermined objectives. A good leader is someone who coaches employees, generates enthusiasm, shows how it is done, says we, and develops people.

Functions of Leadership

Functions of leadership are the roles a leader that he has to perform in the organization. To be more precise, the function of a manager as a leader is to enhance the overall mechanisms of the organization to achieve the planned goals in stipulated time. Generally, a leader does the following functions:

Goal Setting: Leadership is one of the functions of management. A manager as a leader’s first task is to set goals that should attainable.

Motivate Employees (Followers): Motivating employees is the crucial task of a leader. He must motivate his followers as they may feel at some point distracted, he must inspire-motivate them to do tasks effectively.

Coordination: Leaders have to make cordial relations between the organization’s different departments, employees, and resources.

Encourage TeamWork: Teamwork is always better than individual work. A leader has to develop a sense of team spirit among his followers to effectively perform the given task.

Communication: A leader should communicate with all his followers and also let them expose their concerns. He must develop a system of two-way communication.

Other important functions of a leader include representation of the organization, integration of objectives with his follower’s objectives, taking initiative, and taking control & supervision.

Styles of Leadership

Style of leadership simply can be defined as the behavior and actions shown by the leader while leading the team members. Every leader’s behaving way is different since the root cause is a personal quality. The most common styles are:

Autocratic Style

The autocratic style is the one-way communication system. All the authority, power, and decisions remain only to the leader. Here, the leader is a dictator. He believes in the centralization of authority.

A leader makes plans, makes decisions, and leads his followers. Here, the followers must have to follow the guidance of the leader. Followers have no right to share feedback, they must do as the leader wants.

Democratic Style

In democratic style followers, and employees participate in important meetings, and their concerns are considered. Here, the leader believes in the decentralization of authority.

The leader as an executive makes plans considering the points of his followers and followers are responsible for their implementation. Two-way communication is implemented, it makes leaders understand what followers want and take action as so which motivates followers to do more.

Laissez-Fair Style

In the Laissez-fair-style the leader grants decision-making powers to his followers, and employees. Here, the leader acts as an adviser only. They work on their own and make decisions as the situation wants. Though the leader is present here, he only acts as a group member.

Paternalistic Style

In this paternalistic style, the leader is the father, he plays the role of a father. All his followers are his house members and he must protect, guide, and help them to achieve desired goals and lead a happy family.

Qualities of a Good Leader

You may be thinking about what makes a leader good or even great? To be a greater leader a person must own some leadership qualities or skills.

As I already mentioned, a leader possesses his/her personal qualities he/she also needs to have professional qualities. A good leader is one who is successful in both personal and professional careers. The common qualities also called skills or traits of a good leader are:

Fitness

A leader must have his physical fitness. He must have a good shape and should be impressive in appearance. Only a healthy, fit, and active leader is capable of influencing his people.

Self-Confidence

It is obvious that when we are confused about our own thoughts, we certainly think the other person would not give the desired response. Because we lack confidence on ownself. A leader must have self-confidence, he should do his duty confidently, and he should believe what he is doing is right and right for his followers.

Learn More: 16 Qualities of Good Leaders

Vision

A leader must have the quality to see the future in a way that others can not see. He must have the ability to bring the vision into reality. He should communicate his vision with his people, and people should accept it, if not the vision seems not reachable.

Flexible Attitude

A leader must embrace the change. As environmental situations are unpredictable, the leader must develop plans that can be modified when and wherever needed. When a situation changes the plan may be affected, but a leader must ensure that his plans should not be severely affected.

Accountable

In his leadership journey, he has to perform different duties and responsibilities to achieve the common objectives. As a good leader, he must be responsible, accountable, and answerable for his actions and the consequences of what his actions bring. He must take responsibility for all actions under his supervision.

Inspirational

So far we have discussed leadership as about encouraging and influencing others. A leader must inspire his followers passionately so that they internally feel something motivated and take steps to do.

Technical Knowledge

Since leadership is equally important in professional life, a leader must know the technical know-how of his organization. He must know the fundamental of the organization and how to direct subordinates.

Patience

Patience means being cool when something does not happen as we want. A leader must have the quality of patience, he must not lose his temper on small mistakes, he should judge fairly, have no biases, have no impartiality, and make decisions making his mind cool.

Sense of Motivation

Motivation is the force that leads people towards the achievement of their goals. A leader must be able to motivate his followers towards the achievement of common objectives. As people work more when they feel motivated, a leader must motivate with respect to their goal achievement, rewards, and so forth.

Empathy

It is natural that we humans commit mistakes, and can not do the thing in the stipulated time, various factors cause us it. A good leader is one who is able to put himself in the shoes of his people and understand what they are going through. It let the leader understand the reals situation of his followers and later it is used to make decisions that best fit the followers.

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