One of the greatest management dilemmas lies in identifying key personnel early on in their careers. The reason for this is that it is important to know the leaders in the pack at the earliest possible opportunity to be able to prepare them and properly train them. More often than not, the leaders are identified to early on, and thus the false positives and identifying people who may exhibit leadership qualities but who are not superior leaders, or identifying these leaders to late when it is already to difficult to properly train them and be able to harness their full potential to the advantage of the company (Kelley, 2005).
The key therefore lies in being able to properly identify who a leader is at the exact moment. It must be remembered that leaders carry certain characteristics. Accordingly, leadership is the art and process of influencing the people or organized groups so that they strive willingly do what the leader wants them to do (Malloy, Michelle, 2002).
It does not only mean the passion to work but also includes the passion to work with confidence.
Effective leaders, therefore, need to possess the basic characteristics of a leader in order to carry out their tasks. It is not so much that they are capable of leading but that they are able to get results. This brief discourse shall attempt to define and determine the necessary characteristics of effective leaders. In doing this, there shall be a discussion on the basic characteristics of a leader. This shall also include a discussion into the type of leadership that is needed in order to become an effective leader.
Respecting the different leadership styles, the presumption in this discussion is that there are common and identifiable characteristics that allows for these effective leaders to be identified. In determining the characteristics of an effective leader, it is important to first understand what a leader needs to do. A leader communicates directly with the individuals, develops internal relationships with them, inspires and motivates them to accomplish the company’s objectives.
Leadership, therefore, is the ability to increase the group’s performance in line with the objectives of the corporation or company. This means that an organizational role may include different objectives but have now become non-personal in order to become more effective such as by adding a personal touch to it. Leadership and motivation are closely interconnected. An excellent leader can understand better what the members of the group want if the leader understands how to motivate them.
While this may seem difficult, there are means by which the leadership qualities of these individuals can be drawn out early on in their careers to identify them. One of these methods is by organizing working groups to test the hypothesis, so to speak. Leaders are natural born and not created. A leadership skill is developed and not taught. Leaders always stand out in working environments that require teamwork and coordination, particularly when it involves a difficult task and there are no other competent people to do the job (Maxwell, 1998).
The trick therefore is to set up programs that test an individual’s ability to work in teams. A superior leader will immediately exhibit leadership qualities such as organization and communication skills in these exercises that will immediately highlight or exhibit his leadership abilities. Another method which can be applied is to create a vacuum for the leader to step into (Kelley, 2005). By creating a void in a leadership position in an organization, a superior leader will always emerge to handle the situation and resolve any chaos that results from the leadership vacuum.
Leaders are born to take charge and will not miss an opportunity to take do so when presented with a chance (Kelley, 2005). These methods are the most effective because they bring out the best in a leader by allowing him to showcase his abilities in a pressure situation and thus allowing management to determine who among the group are superior leaders and who are not superior leaders as well as weed out the false positives that were thought to have leadership abilities.
One such leadership method that has to be examined is the democratic leadership style that has been exhibited by Meg Whitman, former head of eBay. A leadership style is a particular pattern of behavior implemented by a leader. Leaders have their own different styles with which they are most comfortable with and that they prefer to use. An example would be an autocratic leadership style, which is also portrayed as dictatorial or directive, wherein leaders who are comfortable using this style usually show a high degree of concern for getting the job done.
These leaders are generally task-oriented and tend to provide close supervision. They are also highly directive and are not at all comfortable with delegating their authority to others. Under this type of leadership style, people tend to be un-participative and unmotivated. This is totally different from the democratic leadership style which is used by Whitman.
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