Understanding leadership has become a challenging and elusive task, owing to the nature of leadership itself. According to Daft (2017), leadership studies are a growing discipline, and the notion of leadership will continue to evolve. Leadership can be described as an influence connection between leaders and followers who want meaningful changes and achievements representing their expected goals (Daft, 2017). Corporate Finance Institute (2021) argues that leadership is an individual’s or an organization’s capacity to direct individuals, teams, or companies. Essentially, leadership affects change rather than keeping the status quo (Daft, 2017). Leaders do not impose the desired modifications; they demonstrate common goals shared by leaders and subordinates.
Addressing the question, ‘what is leadership?’ begins with understanding what leaders are attempting to do and their outcomes. Ulrich (n.d.) suggests that results might be internal, such as employee efficiency or organizational agility, or external, such as consumer share, investor confidence, or community image (Ulrich, n.d.). Leaders must have a vision for customers to purchase more products or for shareholders to enhance their confidence. From my perspective, they should be genuine for employees to have higher faith in them and become more effective or for communities to improve their business perception.
The conventional definition of leadership examines the implications and outcomes that a leader may achieve, their accomplishments, degree of influence, and level of respect from their colleagues (Ernst, 2019). People leaders, on the other hand, concentrate on the team. Ernst (2019) states that people leaders, like servant leaders or Level 5 leaders, invest time developing relations with colleagues, mentoring employees to maximize their potential, and coordinating teammates toward a mutual objective. By applying the following techniques, almost anybody can become a people leader (Ernst, 2019). People leaders, for instance, prioritize their teammates before themselves because they recognize that an engaged team that feels supported is the most competitive. They establish high goals for greatness, define how colleagues may get there, and provide the necessary resources and skills.
Over the last decade, the collaborative complexity of work has skyrocketed. Cross and Taylor (2018) claim that organizations and individuals bear a high, intangible cost resulting from collaborative overload. The cooperative structure has significant drawbacks and must be applied with caution and deliberation (Bidwell & Rothbard, 2017). Deadlock in communication and decision-making decreases corporate agility and reduces employee involvement; employees become reactive and have little space to analyze or explore; therefore, innovation and creativity suffer (Cross & Taylor, 2018). Proactive leaders and teams should eliminate unproductive cooperation and meetings, sending a crucial message: people do not have to choose between meaningful job involvement and collaborative overload.
It is critical to maintain open channels of communication with coworkers regularly. People leaders are transparent and upfront; they ensure that their employees obtain the knowledge they need to succeed in their responsibilities. Finally, people leaders provide real-time feedback, remove obstacles, and encourage and motivate others (Ernst, 2019). Business executives should consider how employee confidence affects organizational procedures; giving further feedback is an excellent starting point (Gerdeman, 2019). If leaders notice talent, they must reach out to ensure that the individual is supported, acknowledged, and rewarded. These practices have a favorable influence on a company’s bottom line. Being a genuine people leader may have enormous benefits, including more engaged employees who boost productivity and foster innovation.
Leader Versus Manager
Notably, not every manager is a great leader, and not every leader is a strong manager. According to most studies, a manager refers to the position, whereas leadership is more about the individual. Managers are typically in charge of day-to-day operations (WGU, 2020). They have personnel who report to them, supervise their work, and they help to ensure that all projects run successfully. Based on WGU (2020), building a vision for others to follow is central to leadership; with authority and knowledge, leaders motivate and guide. Millennials strongly believe that the firm should have a purpose and that when the company succeeds, it allows communities and its employees (Williams & Ray, 2017). Hence, they make others feel more secure and enthusiastic to follow them.
Confident leaders believe in themselves enough to employ reliable individuals. They do not implement control systems to prevent individuals from exploiting their natural intelligence and resourcefulness (Ryan, 2017). Leaders should not track every keystroke and second spent on any given task (Ryan, 2017). Tayloreque, Theory X, and command-and-control tactics that are more controlling and regulating than leading do not appear to perform well with millennials (Brown, n.d.). Such leadership is perceived as suffocating, oppressive, and unjustified. Brown (n.d.) emphasizes that the controlling approaches were never really productive. I completely agree that it is critical to creating a fear-free working atmosphere where every person feels valued.
Leadership Traits and Behaviors
The obligation of guiding activities and controlling threats comes with leadership. Leaders must have the confidence and passion to encourage people to accomplish their best even under challenging circumstances (Forbes, 2021). Smith (2016) argues that leaders should tap into their colleagues’ resources and urge them to assist in navigating the obstacles and economic instability. Employee engagement produces up to two and a half times the monetary returns (Smith, 2016). Levin (2021) admits that self-aware leaders cooperate with their employees; they inspire others to lead themselves. Self-aware leaders develop the skills of others around them, which increases confidence, dedication, self-starting ambition, and independence. I learned that a leader should encourage colleagues to discuss ideas and empower them to participate in decision-making. A frequent fallacy is that people are born with innate leadership abilities (Corporate Finance Institute, 2021). Leadership qualities, like other abilities, maybe learned with time and effort. According to Forbes (2021), leadership characteristics include flexibility, clarity, humility, accessibility, listening, empathy, energy, sense-making, growth mindset, culture building, inventiveness, hybrid-team management, and dedication to staff growth. Personal development and staff growth are incredibly crucial to becoming an exceptional leader.
Consequently, true leaders will mobilize their team and look for methods to assist others in growing and expanding their leadership. According to the Corporate Finance Institute (2021), an excellent leader possesses seven characteristics. First, leaders are outstanding communicators, capable of explaining issues and solutions clearly and straightforwardly. Second, leaders hold themselves responsible and accept responsibility for their mistakes. As follows, they are visionaries; leaders see the importance of constant change and are willing to attempt new ways to improve procedures. Fourth, leaders are self-motivated and can persevere and achieve goals despite failures. Next, almost all good leaders possess the leadership quality of confidence. People-orientation is the sixth trait; leaders are generally team players. Finally, emotional stability is vital; professionals have strong self-control and regulation and can bear stress. Courage is an essential quality for becoming a true leader and achieving success. According to Gerge (2017), courageous leaders take risks that go against the core of their organizations. They make judgments that can cause a revolution in their industries (George, 2017). Hence, their audacity motivates, energizes, and inspires staff for a change.
One of the vital questions is what distinguishes exceptional leaders from mediocre ones. Kost (2020) questioned Harvard Business School’s General Management Unit academics; they noted that excellent leaders simplify complex issues, accept new ideas, and strike a mix between confidence and humility while unifying colleagues around a common goal. Furthermore, exceptional leaders maintain high standards and avoid distractions. Botelho et al. (2017) add that successful chief executives exhibit four distinct traits crucial to their success. For example, influential leaders make decisions quickly and with conviction. Great performers engage for impact, balancing vital insight into the interests of their stakeholders with an unwavering focus on delivering business outcomes. Leaders must also be able to adjust proactively (Botelho et al., 2017). Finally, they provide reliability, the most potent of the four fundamental CEO traits.
On the other hand, bad leaders are domineering, frightened of change, and lack empathy. Corporate Finance Institute (2021) claims that they cannot communicate effectively and are inconsistent. Kets de Vries (2014) acknowledges that some leaders have mental issues that can harm the organization. Pathological narcissists, for example, are selfish and arrogant, have exaggerated aspirations, and seek power at all costs. Manic depressives can generate a negative emotional impact in their wake. Passive-aggressive avoid conflict yet are obstructive and deceptive. The emotionally detached leaders are literal-minded individuals who cannot define or even understand their own emotions. These people have the ability to distort the relationships, plans, and processes of teams and even companies. Thus, I will focus on fostering emotional intelligence, ethics, and self-consciousness to avoid harmful traits in my leadership style.
The Significance of Ethics
Adherence to ethics, in my opinion, is one of the core behaviors of a leader. According to Mahatma Gandhi, seven elements will ruin people (Rao, 2014). Examples are wealth without effort, enjoyment without conscience, knowledge without character, religion without devotion, politics without principles, science without humanism, and business without ethics. Leaders must understand that it is difficult to ascend the success ladder; nonetheless, it is easy to tumble from the top due to misbehavior (Rao, 2014). According to Carucci (2016), corporate ethical failures have become too regular; in the previous decade, corporations accused of ethical violations have paid billions of dollars in fines. Creating a culture in which workers are free to voice their concerns is thus critical to ensure that people do not cooperate with or provoke misbehavior (Carucci, 2016). Leaders need to listen; if a leader reacts with even the slightest displeasure, it indicates that they do not want to hear problems.
Good performers integrate ethical considerations into everyday actions and create rules and practices that keep ethics at the forefront of their minds. Carucci (2016) acknowledges that leaders must embrace the fact that they are held to a higher standard than others and be highly cautious not only about their goals but also about how others may interpret their actions. Daft (2017) indicates that leaders bear enormous responsibility for establishing an ethical atmosphere and serving as positive role models for others. Leaders convey what matters by their conduct, and when they operate on selfish and greedy beliefs, many workers tend to support that behavior. Offermann (2007) assumes that followers mirror themselves like their leaders, and the transparent leader is less likely to have deceptive followers. Behaving as a positive role model is a powerful approach to influencing group members (Dubrin, 2004). Ethical leaders are not focused on their prominence; instead, they concentrate on their workers and customers rather than seizing every chance to satisfy their self-interest or feed their egos (Daft, 2017). I believe that leaders should accept responsibility for being ethical in their actions and persuade others to do the same.
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
Effective leadership is strongly interconnected with emotional intelligence. Without a doubt, emotional intelligence is a basis of professional success (Knowledge at Wharton Staff, 2016). According to Segal et al. (2020), emotional intelligence, often known as emotional quotient or EQ, is the capacity to comprehend, use, and control one’s own emotions in a constructive manner. It aids in stress reduction, effective communication, empathizing with others, overcoming obstacles, and defusing conflict. Four characteristics generally describe EQ: self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management (Goleman &Boyatzis, 2017; Segal et al., 2020). As a result, the abilities that comprise emotional intelligence can be taught at any moment.
I will learn to regulate my emotions and respond rationally and correctly to enhance my emotional intelligence. I will comprehend how to receive distressing information without allowing it to overpower my thinking and self-control if I can manage stress and be emotionally present. For instance, Moore (2019) asserts that the current and prospective leaders integrate logic and emotion. They apply EQ in ways beyond assessing how workers feel and successfully handling complex business issues. To comprehend the feelings of others, one must first be in tune with oneself (Moore, 2019). Goleman (2020) determines that a leader can have dynamic, productive dialogues that increase their capacity to influence across relationships by knowing how emotional intelligence works. Significantly, emotional intelligence is a skill that can help with efficient conflict resolution (Goleman, 2020). My ability to regulate my emotions will help me become a better leader who can adapt to changing situations, build and maintain positive relationships, communicate effectively, and inspire and motivate others.
I learned that servant leadership helps businesses prosper and operate at their best during the course. According to Daft (2017), servant leaders put people ahead of themselves to service their needs, help others grow and progress, and provide an opportunity to earn financially and emotionally. Cable (2018) acknowledges that top-down leadership is obsolete and destructive. Leaders make it increasingly challenging to attain their intended outcomes by concentrating too much on control and end objectives and not enough on their employees (Cable, 2018). One of the most effective methods is to embrace the modest mindset of a servant leader. According to Cable (2018), servant leaders perceive their primary responsibility as supporting employees as they explore and develop, both physically and emotionally. They continuously seek the distinctive thoughts and talents of the employees they serve.
To develop self-awareness, I will meditate, establish daily plans, stick to goals to boost self-confidence, and get regular feedback from my coworkers. In addition, I plan to improve my relationship management abilities by improving communication with my subordinates, spending more time with them, and planning team events. When employees understand that their leader genuinely cares about their well-being, they devote more time and energy to tasks to help the business achieve its goals.
Leading Change: Creating Vision
People are typically apprehensive about change for a variety of understandable reasons. The doubts may cause them to resist and oppose changes. Anand & Barsoux (2017) acknowledge that corporate transformations continue to have a poor success record; around three-quarters of change initiatives either fail to provide the expected advantages or are discontinued outright. Therefore, I will employ Bridges’ Transition Model while directing a transformation. The concept highlights three stages of transformation that individuals go through when they encounter change: ending, losing, and letting go, a neutral zone, and a new beginning (Mind Tools, n.d.). At the start, an empowered servant leadership style will assist me in accepting employee resistance and understanding their emotions.
Essentially, I will allow them to think about the present situation before asking that they let it go. People affected by the transition are frequently puzzled, unsure, and irritable during the second stage (Mind Tools, n.d.). I will lead colleagues through this transition phase by offering my guidance and support. It is critical to convince subordinates of team goals and encourage them to express their feelings. Giving them feedback and creating short-term goals will boost their motivation. According to Mind Tools (n.d.), the last transition stage is a moment of acceptance and enthusiasm. Employees are starting to support the transformation initiative. I will take some time to celebrate our progress and reward my colleagues for their efforts. Schwartz et al. (2019) argue that leaders should include employee input when deciding on and planning future moves. Therefore, I will be open to employees’ ideas and thoughts on how to progress further.
A leadership strategy that instructs leaders on implementing corporate initiatives is essential. According to Leading Effectively Staff (2020a), building a strategic framework begins with identifying the main leadership drivers that will determine the organization’s long-term performance. Leaders should foster a culture of continual improvement and be receptive to training programs to maintain operational efficiency (Leading Effectively Staff, 2020a). Because servant leadership is necessary to succeed, I will foster a sense of community among employees, encourage employee involvement, and build confidence and trust in the company culture.
If employees genuinely want to see change, they must take the initiative to suggest ways to improve their surroundings. Based on Knowledge at Wharton Staff (2019), aside from employees resigning, the biggest issue for the organization’s success is that people sit on their hands, do not show action, and may watch the leader’s plans fail. The solution is for the community to unite to develop new standards on which everyone can agree. Higher leadership can foster an environment in which risk and failure are not just accepted but embraced. To be creative, a group must develop ideas and make mistakes. I understand that some employees will hesitate to share their thoughts; therefore, as individuals contribute ideas, I can encourage anonymity. Additionally, I plan to use the concept of respectful inquiry: leaders should ask staff questions and listen carefully to their responses (Knowledge at Wharton Staff, 2019). This strategy boosts employees’ sense of autonomy and purpose at work. As a servant leader, the most vital aspect for me is to listen, inspire, and unite my colleagues.
As a servant leader, I ask myself how to influence employees and direct them. According to Leading Effectively Staff (2020b), influencing tactics are classified into three types: logical, emotional, and cooperative appeals. These are referred to as influencing others with the brain, heart, or hands. I will use an emotional strategy to link my message, aim, or project to individual goals and values (Leading Effectively Staff, 2020b). The concept that enhances a person’s sentiments of well-being, service, or belonging touches the heart and is likely to acquire support.
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