“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan
Leadership concepts are multi-dimensional. Nevertheless, all the definitions of leadership are aimed at ensuring that group objectives are attained. Effective leadership behaviour also represents the extent to which the leader shows “behavior that is indicative of friendship, mutual trust, respect and warmth”
Leadership is one of social science’s most examined phenomena. The scrutiny afforded to leadership is not surprising—leadership is a universal activity evident in humankind and in animal species (Bass, 1990). Indeed, reference to leadership is evident throughout classical Western and Eastern writings (Bass, 1990), with a common belief that leadership is vital for effective organizational and societal functioning. Leadership is easy to identify in situ; however, it is difficult to define precisely. Given the complex nature of leadership, a specific and widely accepted definition of leadership does not exist and might never be found.
Worthy to be noted is that there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are leadership theories—and there are almost as many theories of leadership as there are psychologists working in the field. Even in the absence of universal agreement, a broad definition of leadership is necessary before introducing leadership as a domain of scholarly inquiry. Most leadership scholars probably would agree, in principle, that leadership can be defined as the nature of the influencing process—and its resultant outcomes— that occurs between a leader and followers and how this influencing process is explained by the leader’s dispositional characteristics and behaviors, follower perceptions and attributions of the leader, and the context in which the influencing process occurs. For us, a necessary condition for effective and authentic leadership is the creation of empowered followers in pursuit of a moral purpose, leading to moral outcomes that are guided by moral means.
The concept of leadership
Leadership according to Chester Barnard is the ability of a superior to influence the behavior of subordinates and persuade them to follow a particular course of action.
Leadership can also be define as the ability of an individual to archive and influence the followership of others.
Ugwuegbu refers to leadership as: “The process of influencing the activities of an organised group in its efforts towards target achievement.” It involves influencing people to exert more efforts in some task or to change group member’s behaviour. An effective leader is involved in co-ordination of efforts of the group, planning the exploration of the resources, determining the goals, the ways and the means of attaining these goals. He takes into consideration the possibilities and consequences of certain decision and reduce the conflicts within the groups he leads to minimum.
Hogan, Curphy and Hogan refers to leadership a follows: “Leadership involves persuading other people to set aside for a period of time their individual concerns and to pursue a common goal that is important for the responsibilities and welfare of a group”
Prof. SBA Tende during one of his lectures defined leadership as the ability to influence followership willingly. Though this definition may seem common but the inclusion of the word “willingly” differentiates this definition from others and that defines the uniqueness of this definition.
A definition of leadership also requires that we differentiate it conceptually from power, headship and management, because these concepts are often confused with leadership. Power is an authority that is recognized . It is the ability to cause or prevent an action, make things happen; the discretion to act or not act.
Leadership is not necessarily headship. Gibb has noted that there is almost general agreement in the literature of the last few years that leadership is to be distinguished by definition from domination or headship. Headship means a position in the official hierarchy. Headship refers to a person that holds a position, office, or dignity of ahead.
A person who is the head of an organization may not have any influence over the members. He may be a head without an influence. But as he gains influence he becomes a leader because leadership basically involves the capacity to influence.
Management is a systematic way of managing people and things within the organization. A group of persons, who are employees of the organization are collectively known as management.
Leadership denotes a mutual behavior pattern between the leader and his followers. Leadership is a two way affair. The followers influence the behavior of the leader in as much as the leader influences their behavior.
The concept of leadership can be understood only in the context of followers. Without followers there can be no leader. Leadership involves the element of willing and voluntary obedience by the followers. Leadership is based on cooperation and goodwill. Sheer threat and force cannot maintain one a leader for long. Leadership is specific to a specific situation.
- Autocratic leadersmake decisions without consulting their teams. This style of leadership is considered appropriate when decisions need to be made quickly, when there’s no need for input, and when team agreement isn’t necessary for a successful outcome.
- Democratic leadersallow the team to provide input before making a decision, although the degree of input can vary from leader to leader. This style is important when team agreement matters, but it can be difficult to manage when there are lots of different perspectives and ideas.
- Laissez-faire leadersdon’t interfere; they allow people within the team to make many of the decisions. This works well when the team is highly capable, is motivated, and doesn’t need close supervision. However, this behavior can arise because the leader is lazy or distracted; and this is where this style of leadership can fail.
- Supportive leadership– Here, you focus on relationships. You show sensitivity to individual team members’ needs, and you consider your team members’ best interests. This leadership style is best when tasks are repetitive or stressful.
- Directive leadership– With this, you communicate goals and expectations, and you assign clear tasks. This style works best when tasks or projects are unstructured, or when tasks are complex and team members are inexperienced.
- Participative leadership– With participative leadership, you focus on mutual participation. You consult with your group, and you consider their ideas and expertise before making a decision. This approach works best when your team members are experienced, when the task is complex and challenging, and when your team members want to give you their input.
- Achievement-oriented leadership– Here, you set challenging goals for your team. You have confidence in your team’s abilities, so you expect your team to perform well, and you maintain high standards for everyone. This style works best when team members are unmotivated or unchallenged in their work.
- Transformational Leadership –Transformational leadership enhances the motivation, morale, and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. These include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to the project and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers that inspires them and makes them interested; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that enhance their performance.
- Transactional Leadership– The transactional leader works through creating clear structures whereby it is clear what is required of their subordinates, and the rewards that they get for following orders. Punishments are not always mentioned, but they are also well-understood and formal systems of discipline are usually in place. The early stage of Transactional Leadership is in negotiating the contract whereby the subordinate is given a salary and other benefits, and the company (and by implication the subordinate’s manager) gets authority over the subordinate.
- Situational Leadership – The best action of the leader depends on a range of situational factors. When a decision is needed, an effective leader does not just fall into a single preferred style, such as using transactionalor transformational In practice, as they say, things are not that simple.
Selected theories of Leadership
Theories can be defines as an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts, events or a phenomenon. A theory can also be said to be an assertion, believes or perceptions of authorities or scholars that are intended to explain a trend or an event.
Great Man Theory of leadership
Great Man theories assume that the capacity for leadership is inherent – that great leaders are born, not made. These theories often portray great leaders as heroic, mythic, and destined to rise to leadership when needed. The term “Great Man” was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership.
Leaders are born and not made. Great leaders will arise when there is a great need.
Trait Theory of Leadership
Similar in some ways to “Great Man” theories, trait theory assumes that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders. But if particular traits are key features of leadership, how do we explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders? This question is one of the difficulties in using trait theories to explain leadership.
People are born with inherited traits. Some traits are particularly suited to leadership.
People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits.
Behavioral Theory of Leadership
Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Rooted in behaviorism, this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders, not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation
Leaders can be made, rather than are born. Successful leadership is based in definable, learnable behavior.
Contingency Theory of Leadership
Contingency theories of leadership focus on particular variables related to the environment that might determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. According to this theory, no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers, and aspects of the situation.
The leader’s ability to lead is contingent upon various situational factors, including the leader’s preferred style, the capabilities and behaviors of followers and also various other situational factors.
You don’t have to be in a management position to be a leader; leaders are found throughout all levels in an organization. Leadership plays a major role in determining the success or failure of an organization. Leadership skills can be developed; if you want to be a successful leader you must work to develop your skills. Everyone, at some point in their life, will be asked to be a leader
“Leadership will be the most important resource an organization can possess. After all, it will be leadership that determines whether organizations successfully harness the emerging opportunities and overcome the perils that await.” Jay A. Conger- Professor, London Business School.
Today’s leaders need to exercise leadership in a multicultural context. They also need to have an understanding of individual and group dynamics based on the latest information from the behavioral and social sciences.