Leadership refers to a person’s ability to affect another person’s or group’s behavior in order to achieve a certain purpose. Leadership has always been an important aspect of teamwork. In politics, sports, corporate world and all aspects of life, leadership has an important role to play.
Today however, leadership needs to incorporate new and innovative methods to ensure that team members, groups and individuals are influenced by the decision of the team leader.
Effective leadership is when a leader is able to have an impact of his decisions, thoughts and views on other individuals. In today’s world, leadership is playing a pivotal role in shaping organizations and ensuring goal achievement. The role of a leader is pivotal in building successful teams and achieving targets. It is through an effective leadership style and middle management cooperation that targets are achieved (Tichy & Devana, 1997).
Successful leadership strategies therefore need to be implemented. According to the leadership model, a successful or effective leadership strategy include the incorporation of five basic elements; emotional intelligence, relationship, teamwork, performance and operations (ET&D). Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand others.
Relationship refers to maintaining a harmonious working rapport and managing emerging conflicts. Teamwork refers to including members from diverse backgrounds and inculcating the ability to adjust to with different people for a common purpose. Operation refers to managing resources and ensuring quality levels. Performance refers to the policies and procedures that measure the quality and level of output (ET&D).
It is the effective incorporation of all these five elements that ensures a successful leadership strategy. Other elements that should complement these basic elements include motivational tools, leadership engagement and individual development.
Emotional intelligence is the key element of leadership. It is imperative that a leader understand how the other organizational members feel about a certain subject. He needs to be able to think from their perspective to understand their stance on a specific issue. Once the leader is able to relate with other members, he can develop a rapport that is going to benefit the organization in terms of goal achievement.
The relationship aspect of leadership comes into play after emotional intelligence. The leader’s ability to understand members helps him build a relationship that forms the basis of the organization’s culture and working environment. It is this long-lasting relationship that allows an organization to continue operating successfully.
Teamwork is the result of a relationship. It ensures that all members are fully aware of the other members’ strengths and weaknesses and complement each other’s work. It is this joint effort of team members under the supervision of a leader that ensures the successful completion of a task.
The next important aspect of leadership is the ability of the leader to ensure high performance. A successful leader will not only maintain high performance standards but also appreciate the good performance of members and reward them accordingly.
The last basic element of successful leadership is operations. Under good leadership high quality output and customer satisfaction will be the main objective and a leader will integrate all other elements to ensure this.
Furthermore, motivational tools such as specific reward structures, employee appraisals and non-monetary rewards such as employee of the month can be used by leaders to motivate their employees. Moreover, leadership engagement which involves a leader’s constant interest in his employees induces a strong desire in the employees to perform well. Also a successful leadership strategy requires the leader to coach and teach the employees during the process to enhance the employees’ individual development.
Leader participation is an important tool to enhance leadership effectiveness. According to Victor Vroom’s Leader-Participation Model, there are certain rules which determine the form and amount of leader involvement in particular situations (Robbins& Judge, 2008). Therefore each situation demands a different level of leadership from the leader. An effective leader will adapt to a situation and guide his team accordingly.
Another aspect of an effective leadership style is the adaptation to the team’s readiness. According to the Situational Theory of Hersey and Blanchard, successful leadership can be achieved by the selection of the right leadership style which is dependent on the team’s inclination towards a job (Robbins& Judge, 2008).
My main leadership strength lies in my ability to resolve conflicts and maintain a harmonious team to fulfill the required objectives. However, it is also important to allow other team members to communicate their views and ideas and therefore arguments are certainly constructive. However, if these arguments endanger team unity, I have the ability to resolve the arguments. Another strength that enhances my leadership ability is my involvement with other team members.
I make sure that I apprise myself of all the activities being carried out by my team mates so that I know the progress and status of the task. I make sure that my team members understand their responsibilities and work thoroughly and carry out their assigned task keeping in consideration the final objective. Also, as a leader I sit with my team mates and share all important information regarding the project with them to ensure that they do not feel alienated.
Moreover, as a leader it becomes my responsibility to give my team mates constant feedback on their work. I ensure that I take into consideration their efforts and complement them for their work. However it is also important to identify their mistakes in order for them to correct it and avoid it in future. In doing so I have to remember to not de motivate my team mates and therefore avoid using harsh tone and stay calm when dealing with them.
My leadership weaknesses involve my inability to be rigid when required. My team mates often take me for granted due to my extremely flexible nature. Moreover, my negative attitude and outlook reduces my leadership potential. It prevents me from handling stressful situations effectively and managing team through these situations. This hinders my ability to look at possible solutions. Furthermore, my highly demanding nature may put constant pressure on myself and my team mates making them stressful and unable to deliver according to expectations.
In order to build on my strengths a certain plan needs to be followed. The existing strengths need to be capitalized in order to make up for the weaknesses. My ability to resolve conflicts can become very useful in gaining ideas and opinions. My team mates can be allowed to openly discuss and criticize the ideas presented. This will ensure that the idea implemented is the best possible alternative. My involvement with team member can also prove to be beneficial for the team.
This is because I am always aware of what task each member is performing and hence I can detect and correct errors in time. This will not only deliver the objectives in time but also result in cost saving. The sharing of information with all the team members gives them the confidence that they play an important role in the team. It also inculcates in them a sense of responsibility towards the team and also gives them a certain level of autonomy since information sharing allows them to make decisions.
On the other hand, besides utilizing my strengths I also need to correct my weaknesses in order to enhance leadership skills. First I need to inculcate the habit of saying ‘No’ to team members when necessary. It is important for them to realize that there are certain rules and practices to be followed and in order for them to work accordingly, I need to communicate to them that not everything can be done according to their convenience.
Furthermore, I need to think positively. As a leader it is essential that I handle difficult situations calmly and to do so I have to look at the positive side of everything. My team members look up to me for solutions in times of difficulty, therefore I have to maintain a positive perspective. Moreover, my highly demanding nature needs to be customized according to my team members’ abilities and skills. I need to understand what they can deliver in their capacity. Expectations need to be realistic and communicated to them so that they can set achievable goals.
According to Fiedler’s Cognitive Resource Theory, stress has a negative impact on a situation but experience and knowledge can reduce the impact of stress on the leader (Robbins& Judge, 2008). Therefore it is necessary that I as a leader continue to expand my experience and knowledge base to avoid falling into stressful situations that can hamper the quality of the team’s work.
At present my leadership lacks proper focus and direction. As a leader, I am unable to clearly set my target. However I want to become much more goal oriented as a leader. This is one of the major gaps between my current leadership and what I want to become in future. Also as a leader, my listening skills are not so effective. My impatience hinders my ability to pay full attention to what my team members say. I am quick to give my response without letting them apprise me of their views.
I would like to become a leader who is creative and can continuously inspire and motivate team mates to do something new. This dynamism is what I would like to incorporate in my leadership style. Furthermore I would to inculcate in myself the ability to accept my mistakes to ensure credibility. I would want to make sure that I am not so pushy when it comes to making members work.
Knowing the difference between too much work and the required amount of work is the ability that I would want to inculcate as a leader. Instead of being authoritative and demanding all the time, I would want to be more considerate and appealing. A successful leader does not only need to involve his brain in his work but his heart and soul to ensure the team is delivering (Gallos, 2008).
In addition, I also want to be able to motivate my team so that they remain interested in their work. At present, I lack the skill to maintain my team’s enthusiasm.
Therefore in order to be a successful leader, the gaps between the leader I am and the leader I want to be need to be closed. Firstly in order to remain focused, what needs to be done is to set a goal and then study the process required to achieve that goal. Every task needs to be subdivided to make it simpler and understandable to the team members. Next I need to improve my listening skills.
It is important to make the team members realize that they are being heard and their ideas being considered. Only then will they continue to effectively participate in decision making. In order to do this, I first need to stay alert in posture and facial expression (Credit Research Foundation). Second, I have to try to avoid distraction in order to pay attention to what my team is saying.
Participation from both the leader and the team in decision making is critical to leadership success therefore participative decision making should be welcomed (Nahavandi, 2008).
Furthermore, to keep my team interested and passionate about a certain project, I need to remain creative. I need to be able to welcome new ways of doing the old job. I also have to learn to take risks so that as a team, we can come across new ideas making our work highly productive. It is important for a leader to welcome changes (Yukl, 1981). The main idea behind this is to discourage team members from fearing to make mistakes because only through risk and mistakes will the team learn and it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that his team learns while performing.
Also, I have to understand the capacity of each individual in my team. It is necessary that I know who is strong in what area and therefore allow each member to enhance his particular skill by working on a task he is good at. Moreover, to keep my team motivated I have to give them challenging work to allow them to grow (Credit Research Foundation). Positive reinforcement through compliments and recognition greatly enhances their morale. Recognizing an individual’s accomplishments stimulates in them a positive attitude towards their leader and their job.
In order to prevent my team from taking advantage of my flexibility, I have to constantly remind them of the rules that need to be followed and also develop a habit of strictly dealing with them when necessary. In case of misconduct, I have to talk to the individual privately rather than making things worse by insulting him amidst other team members.
Individual empowerment is another action element that can fulfill the gaps between the leader I am and the leader I would like to be. Empowerment refers to an individual’s complete control over his task. He needs to complete his assignment within a certain period and is accountable to the leader. However, how he accomplishes his task is for him to decide. This self autonomy gives an individual the confidence to take risks and decisions based on his own experience and abilities.
It takes time to build an effective team under strong and successful leadership. Consequently it becomes a leader’s job to implement each action item at regular intervals to enhance his leadership effectiveness and the team’s productivity.
Goal setting is the first action item in the leadership plan. As soon as a task is assigned, the leader should set a goal and prioritize the work. Goal setting is a major milestone and therefore careful attention should be given while defining goals and designing work break down structure. The time required for this action item may vary from project to project. Nonetheless, since it plays a pivotal role, at least two weeks should be devoted to goal setting.
Next I need to alter my personal characteristics. Leadership is not only about changing the way others should work but also changing oneself to prove to be influential (Clawson, 2005). Another week is required for me to train myself to maintain a strict aura so that team members are fully aware of their liberties. Individual empowerment requires another two weeks as it takes time to understand if members are capable of taking decisions on their own without constant guidance.
Furthermore, I may also allocate another week to improve my listening skills while getting know my team mates. This week will allow me to understand their background and previous work experience.
Positive reinforcement through constant feedback, involvement, monetary and non-monetary rewards is implemented throughout the time period during which a task is being accomplished. Also, it is during the process that the leader should search and explore to find out ways of motivating the team. Specific programs such as team involvement programs that allow the members to give in their feedback on concerned issues are introduced at constant intervals throughout the learning process. Therefore there is not specific deadline allocated to this action item aimed at improving leadership effectiveness.
It is essential to realize there can be no specific deadline for each action item and that most of these activities are carried out simultaneously and hence one activity may be overlapping the other during a certain time period.
A successful or effective leadership strategy therefore integrates a leader’s personal characteristics with his ability to adapt to his team’s requirements. A leadership strategy is successful only when it is received positively by the team and the team is influenced to work towards the achievement of the goal or objectives. Moreover, a leadership strategy is successful not only when the objectives are achieved but also when the output is of the highest quality and both the team and leader are satisfied with the end result.
Clawson, J.G. (2005) Level Three Leadership 3 rd Edn. Prentice Hall.
Credit Research Foundation. (n.d.).Improving Your Leadership Skills .Retrieved on July 22, 2008 from http://www.crfonline.org/orc/ca/ca-2.html.
ET&D (n.d.). Leadership Effectiveness Model (n.d.). Retrieved on July 21, 2008 from http://www.ldi.umd.edu/LDIpages/model.htm
Gallos, J.V. (2008) Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader (The Jossey-Bass Business and Management Reader Series). 2 nd Edn, Jossey-Bass.
Nahavandi, A. (2008) Art and Science of Leadership. 5th Edn, Prentice Hall.
Robbins, S.P. & Judge, T.A.(2008). Organizational Behavior. 13th Edn.
Tichy, N.M. & Devana, M.A. (1997) Transformational Leader.2 nd Edn, Wiley.
Yukl, G.A. (1981). Leadership in Organizations 1st Edn. Prentice Hall.
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