There has always been the question, are leaders born and not made?
Early thoughts suggested that the individual is more important than the situation, so if we can identify the distinguishing characteristics of successful leaders we shall have the clues to the leadership problem. Most studies single out the following traits :
– Self -assurance
– Big picture orientation
– Good health
Good leaders usually have some or all of these traits, however possession of them does not always make a good leader, the traits are so often ill-defined as to be difficult to relate to practice.
Further studies have suggested that employees will work harder and therefore more effectively for Managers who employ given styles of leadership. The styles usually range from authoritarian to democratic.
In the extreme authoritarian style power resides with the leader, authority for decision making, arbitration, control and reward or punishment is vested in the leader who alone exercises this authority.
In the democratic style, these powers and responsibilities are shared with the group in some way or other. It is commonly assumed that people produce more under a democratic leader than under an authoritarian one.
Research suggests that style alone is not the answer to effective leadership, however a more supportive style of management will lead to a higher degree of contentment and to greater involvement with the work group.
Current thinking suggests that in any situation that confronts the leader there are 3 sets of influencing factors that he/she must take into consideration :-
- The leader – their preferred style of operating and their personal characteristics.
- The subordinates – their preferred style of leadership in light of the situation.
- The situation – the job in hand, its importance, its complexity and the operating environment.
The situational approach maintains that there is no such thing as the right style of leadership, but that leadership will be most effective when the requirements of the leader, the subordinates and the situation are made to “fit together”.
Finally, the leader is a role model, he/she cannot avoid the role and it is vital for us to consider what forms of behaviour, what attitudes and values we represent.
At Profile H.R.D. we have supported all sizes of organisations over many years in defining and developing, in the context of delivering their business plan, what good leadership looks like.