Leadership: Everything you need to know

What is Leadership?
Leadership can be explained in many different ways, such as:
  • A way of influencing people beyond routine compliance
  • An act that causes others to act or respond in a shared direction
  • A force that motivates and coordinates an organization to achieve its objectives
  • An ability to inspire confidence and support among people who are needed to attain organizational goals
Following are the important skills for a leader:
  • Inspiration: You need to inspire your team, and this can be done by setting examples.
  • Persuasion: Getting people to change their minds by suggesting an alternate route they had not considered.
  • Influence: Influencing group members to accomplish things as: Taking on more responsibility and shooting for higher standards.
  • Motivation: To motivate another person is to get that person to put added effort into the job.
  • Change: To ask questions such as: What is the best way to handle a crisis situation? What could be improved? What changes would help us rise above competition?
Along with the above mention skills, a leader must also have creative skills, communication skills, motivating skills and team working skills.
  • Creative Skills- Here are some things that you can do to foster creative problem solving:
  • Keep track of your original ideas by maintaining an idea notebook. Few people have uncluttered minds and they can recall all their past ideas when required.
  • Stay updated in your field and hunt for ideas. This gives you the raw material to link information creatively. Creativity often takes the form of associating ideas.
  • Adopt a risk-taking attitude to find creative solutions. You will fail a few times, but do not worry, keep going.
  • Be curious about your environment. The person, who routinely questions how things work, or why they do not work often heads for improvement.
  • Sometimes to make decisions, intuition is used. It is an experience based way of reasoning in which weighing and balancing evidence is done automatically.
To develop intuition, you need to:
  • Achievement: People with a strong achievement drive find joy in task accomplishment like building something from scratch or completing a major project.
  • Power: People with a high power need, feel compelled to control resources and people. To truly satisfy this, a person would have to hold a significant managerial or leadership position. However, the leader might be able to appeal to a group member's power need by giving the person a chance to control a task.
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  • Affiliation: People with a strong affiliation need to seek out close relationships with others and tend to be loyal as friends or employees.
  • Recognition: People who seek recognition want to be acknowledged for their contribution and efforts. This can be satisfied through winning contests, receiving awards, and seeing one's name in print.
  • Dominance: People with a strong need for dominance want to influence others to comply with their way of thinking. People driven by dominance often take over in meetings and volunteer to be leaders. A leader can appeal to person's need for dominance by rewarding the person with a chance to be in charge of something important.
  • Order: The need for order is recognized with an urge to organize things. Such people want to achieve arrangement, balance, neatness and precision.
  • Thrill-seeking: People with a strong thrill-seeking motive crave excitement and are driven to a life of stimulation and risk-taking
  • Security: Most people have a strong need to work in a safe environment that is free from both physical and emotional injury, and have relatively stable employment. The need for security can be satisfied by a safe, friendly work environment and a full-time or permanent job.
Skills required for team work
To develop effective skills required for team work:
  • Make members responsible for their results. They take credit for a job well done and blame for a poor job.
  • Design the team so that everybody views their job as challenging and enriching.
  • Make the team members interact with a client. Serving a client, whether internal or external, is more satisfying than performing work solely for a leader.
  • Encourage learning capacity in team members.
  • Team members should receive evaluation of their work.
  • Allow members to control scheduling of their own time.
  • Bury the first person singular "I", instead use "We"
What is your Leadership Style?
A starting point in understanding your leadership style is by asking people who have seen you in any leadership role to describe how you act as a leader. Tell them you are not looking for compliments. If asking open-ended questions does not furnish you the information you can try the following probes:
  • In your opinion, do I put more emphasis on the relationships with people, or do I focus more on the task at hand?
  • Do I come across as a taskmaster?
  • Do I come across as too easy-going with people?
  • How much direction do I provide?
  • How responsive am I to the needs of the group members?
  • Does my leadership inspire you, or anybody else?
  • As a leader, do I come across as a hard-core bureaucrat?
  • How warm and supportive am I as a leader?
Another way to understand Leadership styles is to go through the following list:
  • Autocratic Leadership: Command and Control approach.
  • Authoritative Leadership: Visionary leaders and practice a follow me approach.
  • Pacesetting Leadership: “ Do as I do” approach and they set high standards of work achievement.
  • Democratic Leadership: These leaders have a “participative approach”. They are open to suggestions and opinions from employees or team-members.
  • Affiliative Leadership: Such leaders have a “people come first” approach. They connect with their employees on an emotional level and provide support and guidance.
  • Laissez- Faire Style: Such leaders allow employees to exercise their creativity. Team-members take initiative and handle assignments independently.
The following table illustrates the type of feedback on leadership practices a person might gather from the 360-degree technique. Using this technique feedback is derived from a full sampling of parties who interact with the leader. As you can see the leader in question thinks more highly of his effectiveness than does the group.
Behavior or Attitude Self-Rating Average/Group rating Gap
Gives right amount of structure 9 7.5 -1.5
Considerate of people 10 6.2 -3.8
Sets direction 9 3.9 -5.1
Sets high standards 7 9.0 +2.0
Gives frequent feedback 10 6.3 -3.7
Gets people pulling together 9 5.1 -3.9
Inspires people 10 2.8 -7.2
Gives emotional support 8 3.7 -4.3
Is a helpful coach 10 4.5 -5.5
Encourages people to be self-reliant 6 9.4 +3.4
To decide how much authority to retain, we have to examine the situations given below. Generally, group members can be granted more decision making latitude if they:
  • Are independent
  • Can get through an unclear task
  • Are competent to perform the task at hand
  • Identify with the goal of the unit and the organization
  • Participate in the decision making process
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All of us can develop the skills required to become a leader. The first step is to sort oneself out by adopting an array of self-oriented mechanisms. The second step is "to walk the talk", which means to follow the advice that you give to others. Thirdly, involve others in the process, include them in your goal-setting and encourage them in their own goals. Finally, it is important to develop systems that encourage learning. Teamwork and self leading culture need to be promoted if the system is to become self-sustaining. The whole message is summarized in a poem by Lao-Tzu, which goes as:

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists
Not so good when people obey and acclaim him
Worse when they despise him
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say:
We did it ourselves."
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