Leadership refers to the act of helping others do what is right. Leaders are mandated to set direction, build and inspire vision, and innovate. Today’s organizations have become more diverse and as such leadership has shifted from basically setting direction to guiding people. To have a clear understanding of leadership, various models, styles, and theories have been developed(Northouse, 2016). Some of the approaches include skills approach, situational approach, behavioral approach, trait approach, and psychodynamic approach (Northouse, 2016). Employees are the most critical resource in an organization, and as thus they should be treated as such(Baporikar, 2016). Due to the complexity and dynamicity of the current business environment, organizations have to gain or retain competitive advantage in order to survive or grow. Leaders major role is to direct employees effort towards achieving set organizational goals. This essay will discuss the applicability of the various leadership theories or models and traits in the current organizations.
According to Northouse (2016) there are both learned and born leaders. Trait theory stipulates that effective leaders have common personality characteristics. According to this theory leaders are born, and as such leadership an instinctive quality that a person may or may not have. Some of the traits that make an effective leader include integrity, assertiveness, effective decision-making skill, and empathy (Northouse, 2016). Contrary, behavioral theory emphasizes on how leaders behave. According to this theory, there are certain behaviors that make an effective leader. There are three types of leader identified under this theory including autocratic leaders, Democratic leaders, and laissez-faire leaders(Mariene, 2014). Autocratic leaders do not involve their followers in decision making while democratic leaders are more open and always consult with their teams. On the other hand, laissez-faire leaders allow team members to make most of the decisions.
Leadership style in most cases is usually dictated by the situation at hand. When a leader has followers who are less experienced that him/her, he/she is more likely to use autocratic leadership. Hence he/she makes all the decisions (Baporikar, 2016). Trait theory best describes me as a leader. I have all the traits that make an effective leader. I always empathize with others, when my team is faced with a challenge I always take it as my problem and try to address it from that perspective. Also, when making decisions, I always consult with my team. I take members’ ideas seriously and incorporate them in making decision. As such I make use of democratic leadership style.
Effective leaders share common traits that distinguish them from ineffective leaders. According to the trait theory, some of these traits include, but not limited to, integrity, empathy, assertiveness, effective decision-making skill, charisma, and creativity (Northouse, 2016). As a leader, I have all the above traits. I am an effective decision maker, during the decision-making process I always incorporate my followers and as such make them feel valued. Also, I understand leadership and the various challenges which come with it. This gives me confidence in handling all my responsibilities as a leader. Creativity is within me; I never do things the same way as other. My team members are always motivated, and as such in most cases, I manage to meet both team and organizational goals. On the other hand, being assertive in most cases it has been a problem to me. I would like to learn on the best way I can stand up for both my rights and those of my team members without being aggressive.
Leadership has different meaning to different people and applies differently in different situations. However, the major role of a leader is to influence his followers towards a direction he/she thinks is right and that which can lead to the achievement of set goals (Mariene, 2014). Leaders can either be born or trained (Baporikar, 2016). The only difference between the two types of leaders is the way they perform their responsibilities. Followers are more inclined to a leader who in the best way possible caters for their needs. Followers should first accept their leader as being effective before they can follow his/her way of doing things (Mariene, 2014). Based on this fact, as a follower, I prefer leaders who use behavioral approach. The behavioral approach focuses on how a leader behaves, and it is how a leader behaves that determines the levels of motivation from his/her followers. For instance, there is leader who dictates what to be done and at the same time expect corporation. This kind of a leader is practicing autocratic leadership style, and in the current age, it cannot work well as people have become more informed(Lussier & Achua, 2015). Contrary, there are leaders who constantly involve their followers in decision making. This act motivates the followers, increases team cohesion, and the result is improved team performance.
Situational model to leadership best describes how a leader can influence his/her followers. The current working environment has become more dynamic in nature. To cope up with the changes, different situation needs different leadership styles (Northouse, 2016). The kind of leadership style, a leader, employs determines the levels of influence he/she may have on his/her followers. Different activities require different plan of action and as such leadership has to be different. To be effective in all situations, a leader should understand the interpersonal relationships within his/her team, the characteristics of the team as a whole, characteristics of the team’s environment and the respective environments from which each member comes from, and physical constraints of the team (Mariene, 2014). For instance, faced with two situations such as an implementation of a new technology and upgrading an already existing system within an organization, a leader should use different leadership styles. For the former, a leader should strictly use democratic leadership while in the latter he/she can use autocratic style.
Based self-assessment I have two major leadership goals to achieve. These include improving my strategic thinking and coaching skills. Strategic thinking is very important in leadership. Effective leaders should be able to think ahead and have the ability to foresee eventualities and come up with solutions (Baporikar, 2016). There are currently very many risks involved in leadership, a leader who is not in a position to foresee and constitute effective mitigation measures can hardly survive. Coaching skills are also very important as followers have to be trained on the best ways of achieving both personal and organizational goals (Lussier & Achua, 2015). To improve my leadership, I will have to shift my leadership style from basically directing and learn how to develop and keep my direct reports. I will make use of my direct reports to assist my team to make their own development plans. To improve my leadership, I will also implement a platform to enable me acquire cross-functional knowledge and perspective. This will enable me to learn about other businesses or departmental activities other than my docket.
Motivation is very important for every leader. Motivated leaders are more able to achieve personal, team, and organizational goals (Northouse, 2016). To improve my motivation, I will implement financial strategies such as financial acumen. This will allow me to learn how to understand, interpret, and use accounting systems to improve performance. Having a smooth running team is always a source of motivation for a leader (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Leaders should remain motivated at all times; this is translated to the entire team. To assist me to achieve my goals, I will make use of the situational model. My leadership style will be dictated by the current situation or problem. This will allow for flexibility, and as such I will be able to achieve my goals.
To complete the above self-improvement goals I will employ six steps. These steps will include engaging my motivation to grow, assessing my current strengths and weaknesses, develop cognitive and social skills, measure the goals, get feedback, and continuous improvement (Lussier & Achua, 2015). My two major goals; improving strategic thinking and coaching skills will be achieved through following the above six steps. Engaging my motivation to grow will be the first step. I will agree to take up my responsibility as a leader and be prepared to improve it. As such I will remain focused to achieve the goals. Secondly, I will assess my current strengths and weaknesses. Ways to improve weaknesses will be developed, and the strengths will be used to mobilize support from my team and the entire organization. Thirdly, I will have to develop my cognitive and social skills. This will enable my team members and other employees to give me feedback on my progress. As I interact with my team, I will constantly brainstorm to gain new perspectives on how to best achieve my goals.
The fourth and the most important step will be to measure the goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, and time bound (Baporikar, 2016). For instance, the coaching skills are diverse, and as such, they should be made specific in a way that they can be measured and achieved within the specified period. After the goals a measured the process of achieving them will begin, to ensure efficiency of the process the feedback will sort from team members. Frequently, team members will be asked to comment on the progress made. Areas of improvement will be noted and rectified accordingly. At this point, the goals will have been attained after which a continuous improvement process will follow. Self-improvement goal takes a continuous process to develop; there is no particular time that a leader will have all the skill he/she needs.
In conclusion, leadership entails directing other people’s efforts towards the accomplishment of a course that one deems important or right. Over the years, due to group or team dynamics leadership has completely changed. For a leader be effective he/she must practice a combination of both leadership and management skills. Due to the complexity of current leadership, various models or theories and styles have been developed to help create a better understanding of what leadership entails. The mostly used models or approaches include, but not limited to, skills approach, situational approach, behavioral approach, trait approach, and psychodynamic approach. Leadership has different meaning to different people, and it applies differently in different situation. There is no single approach that can be said to be effective in all situations. It is the responsibility of a leader to know what type of leadership style or approach is best for him/her. This is determined by the situation at hand. Effective leaders share a common set of traits which distinguishes them from the rest of leaders. According to trait theory, these characteristics are in-born and as such the theory suggests that leaders are born. On the other hand, situational model stipulates that leadership depended on the situation being addresses. Therefore, in the current workplace environment, situational model is the most appropriate leadership model to use.
Baporikar, N. (2016). Management Education for Global Leadership. Hershey: Business Science Reference
Lussier, R. N & Achua, C. F (2015). Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development. 6th Ed. New York: Cengage Learning
Mariene, J.G (2014). Critical Aspects of Leadership and Training in the 21st Century and Beyond: A Resource for Organizational Growth. New York: Eureka Publishers
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. 7th Ed. Thousand Oaks: SAGE