Leaders play a vital role in many aspects of our everyday lives. In politics, religion, business and many other arenas, we see that leaders are dealing with current situations so as to shape the future. They are the people whom others look up to for guidance and direction. They organise resources and influence people to use the resources to achieve their goals.
Definition of leadership
According to Kotter (1996), leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles. Leadership is about showing people the cherished future and marshalling them towards achieving it. According to Plunkett and Attner (1994), leadership in its management application, is the process of influencing individuals and groups to set and achieve goals.
There are many styles of leadership which leaders use depending on the circumstance and context. Some of the styles are e.g. democratic, autocratic and participative. This classification is largely attributed to Kurt Lewin. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, democratic style is best applied in normal situation while many people argue that autocratic style is best applied in crisis situation.
Skills of a good leader
A good leader needs to possess a number of skills and qualities. Leading by examples, capacity to inspire others, courage, integrity, intelligence, honesty, excellent interpersonal skills, and empathy are some of the skills and qualities of a good leader. The article ‘skills and qualities of a good leader‘ has more information on the skills of a leader.
Examples of good leaders
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was a great business leader. He was a manifestation of innovation. His leadership and passion for innovation have led Apple to where we see it now. There are some other leaders in different fields who are also remembered not only by their followers, but also by people in general. In this category, we have leaders like Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi.
However, there are some drawbacks of leadership in business. Sometime leaders and employees cannot see eye to eye. Conflict may occur between them resulting in reduction of productivity, time waste, and occasionally industrial strikes. Therefore, leaders need to ensure that conflicts are dealt with appropriately.
Finally, leadership is important in all walks of life. However, leaders are not without limitations, and followers are not always easy-going either. It is therefore important for organisations to put right people in the leadership positions.
The article publication date: 06 September 2016
Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change, 1st edition, Harvard Business School Press
Plunkett, W., & Attner, R. (1994), Introduction to Management, 5th Edition, International Thomson Publishing
Photo credit: Pixabay
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management and marketing. He is a graduate of both Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.