Leadership: Meaning, Importance And Styles Of Leadership

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Leadership
  • The Importance Of Leadership
  • Styles Of Leadership
  • Leadership Qualities
  • The Roles Of Leadership

Definition Of Leadership

Leadership is the ability of a superior to influence the behaviour of subordinates and persuade them to follow a desired course of action.

The concept of leadership can be explained by identifying the traits or characteristics possessed by leaders. However, some of the traits identified in leaders are also found in non-leaders. Another approach to explaining effective leadership is to concentrate on their activities and behaviour. Leaders often show the tendency to adopting certain pattersn of behaviour toward group members which we refer to as leadership styles and could be commonly classified as autocratic, democratic or laissez-faire.

The Importance Of Leadership

Effective leadership is the key factor in the life and success of an organization. In any endeavour involving human beings, there is need for a leader in order to coordinate human efforst among other things.

Every organization is subject to both internal and external conflicting pressures and influences. To meet these pressures, effective and appropriate leadership is paramount importance.

The importance of leadership is highlighted by the fact that:

1. Leaders define the goals of the organization.

2. They develop the planning and control systems that guide and monitor the organization’s direction.

3. They construct an organizational structure appropriate for the tasks undertaken.

4. They motivate their subordinates to complete these tasks.

Styles Of Leadership

The distinctive behaviour patterns associated with a leader is termed leadership style. A leader’s style is influenced by his past experience and personal convictions. The type of leadership that is an individual exercises is very often than the kind which is most admired and respected in the person’s own life experience.

The following are the styles of leadershi manifested by persons in leadership:

1. Democratic leadership
2. Autocratic leadership
3. Laissez faire leadership
4. Charismatic leadership

1. Democratic Leadership Style

Democratci leadership demonstrates respect for every person in the organization. Leadership responsibilities are shared. Decision making and communication are based on consultation, deliberation and participation of subordinates.

2. Autocratic Leadership Style

An autocratic leader gets others to follow instructions through actual or implied threats. Those who are led have very little or no say at all about the way things ought to be done. This type of leadership exalts the leader at the expense of the others in the group. There is no encouragement of individual initiative among subordinates. There is little or no flow of communication and the subordinates are insecure in their relationship with the leader.

3. Laissez-faire Leadership Style

The leadership takes a passive stance toward the problems of the organization. There is a tendency to avoid power and the responsibilities of leadership. The leade is suposed to be very tolerant and the subordinates are free to do what they want, and when they want. The leader in this respect does not have authority. He is just a symbolic leader. Under this leadershiip style, people frequently work at cross purposes as a result of conflicting interests and ideas.

4. Charismatic Leadership Style

This type of leadership depends on people’s faith and devotion to a certain person who has demonstrated unusual ability to lead through eloquent speeches and deeds of heroism for the welfares of the group. The leadership is loved, adored and the command is unchallengeable. Whatever he says is accepted as absolute truth.

Leadership Qualities

Different situations and different groups or organization require different leadership abilities. There are variation in the personality, ability, capabilities and skills of successful leaders. Some of the qualities which are commonly found in most successful leaders include:

1. Intelligence
2. Initiative
3. Emotional maturity
4. Sense of direction
5. Mastery of work
6. Personality capable of inspiring confidence
7. Human relations attitudes empathy
8. Communications skill
9. Spirit of understanding
10. Forecasting power
11. Patience/Endurance

1. Intelligence: A leader is generally intelligent and always above the led. He does not necessarily have to possess excess of intelligence over his subordinates. Intelligence takes the form of ability to communicate and the ability to apply the proper external motivation to elicit cooperation from members.

2. Initiative: A successful leader tends to initiate action for others.

3. Emotional Maturity: An emotionally mature leader is able to overcome a sense of frustration and to cope with psychological stresses, risks and conflicts.

4. Sense Of Maturity: A leader should have a sense of direction in carrying out his leadership roles in accordance with the laid down rule and procedures.

5. Mastery Of Work: No one can lead successfully unless he himself can claim mastery of the work which the organization is set to achieve.

6. Personality: This refers to the whole nature and character of the leader. A leader could have a weak personality or a forceful personality. Good personality is necessary for effective leadershi.

7. Human Relation Attitude (Empathy): This implies that the leader recognizes that the cooperation of people is necessary if the organization is to be effective. He should be people-orientated as well as task-oriented.

8. Communication Skills: A leader must be an effective communicator as he interacts with his subordinates and with people outside the organization. He needs not to be a silver-tongued or smooth-tongued orator, but he must have sufficient range of communication abilities to transmit his message accurately. So fluency of speech is especially important.

The Role Of Leadership

The success or failure of an organization can be greatly determined by how well a leader performed his role. The role of leadership include:

1. Arbitrating
2. Suggesting
3. Supplying Objectives
4. Catalyzing
5. Providing security
6. Representing
7. Inspiring
8. Praising

1. Arbitrating: In any organization, members are bound to disagree on the course of action to be taken. The leader may sometime resolve the problem by deciding on the solution. It is important that issues are resolved as soon as possible so that the organization can continue operations without undue interruptions.

2. Suggesting: Suggestions by the leader permits him to get his ideas across to his subordinates without resorting to a direct order. At the same time, the subordinates dignity and sense of participation are maintained.

3. Supplying Objectives: The leader supplies the objectives of the organization which the subordinates work to achieve. For effectiveness, the objectiveness must be suitable for the organization and allow the members to work together.

4. Catalyzing: A force is needed to start and, or increase movement in an organization. This force can be supplied by the leader acting as a catalyst to arouse his followers to action.

5. Providing Security: By maintaining a positive, optimistic attitude when facing problems, a leader can provide security for his followers. He must be seen to protect the interests of members. Provision of security is important to organization members and the attitude of the leader can enhance or jeopardize it.

6. Representing: The leader usually represents his organization to others and also serves as a symbol of the organization.

7. Inspiring: A leader inspires his followers to accept organizational goals with enthusiasm and to work effectively toward their achievement. This, the leader can do by letting the followers know that their work is worthwhile and important. This is because of the human needs in life is the need of doing something that is worthwhile and important.

8. Praising: Every human being has the felt need for recognition and esteem of others. A leader can assist in satisfying these needs through sincere praise by letting the employees to know that they are important, that their work is appreciated and that the leadership has their best interest at heart.

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