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Leadership Skills

Develop Leadership Skills and Knowledge
Leaders are found and needed in all areas of daily life wherever people function as a group, as in the workplace, in school, in social clubs and in government. Good leadership enhances the effectiveness of group, improves efficiency, increases the likelihood of success and results in a higher level of satisfaction for all concerned. Good leadership contributes to order and improves productivity by influencing the way in which resources (human and material) are used. Poor leadership leads to ineffective use of those resources, lack of enthusiasm or commitment to a project or a group, even to counterproductive actions and attitudes, greatly reducing the likelihood of the group’s or organisation’s success.

Defining Leadership
So what is a leader?

Conservative definitions focus on the leader’s authority and ability to get things done – the leader as:

  • authority - a person with the acknowledged power to direct and control others.
  • achiever - a person who uses their power to set and achieve goals.
  • manager - a person who directs others to achieve established goals.
  • anyone who emerges as a leader and is accepted as such by the group, formally or informally.

 

Popular current concepts of leadership define the leader as:

  • an enabler - a person who enables others to experience or achieve something).
  • a motivator - a person who aspires to goals or ideals and inspires others to achieve them.
  • an innovator - a person who inspires others to adapt, change directions, try new ideas, take risks.

These concepts create a picture of leadership based on the nature of the individual’s relationship and interactions with others, rather than on official or granted authority.

Modern management theory questions the more conservative definitions of leader based on authority, explaining that in the business world, a leader may be the CEO (chief executive officer) of an organisation, a manager or a supervisor, but may also be an ordinary worker who is respected and followed by others. While a leader may manage, not all managers are leaders, and not all leaders are managers, despite their authority to establish rules and enforce orders.

According to Warren Bennis (1998), a leader is not the same as a manager. A manager’s concerns are with practical applications (operations, control, administering, maintaining processes and standards etc.) where a leader’s concerns are with defining long term goals and creating an environment conducive to their achievement (people, culture, innovation, inspiration, growth). Bennis distinguishes between a manager’s transformational view (doing the right thing) and the transactional leadership view (doing things right). Being in a position of authority does not necessarily make a person is an effective leader. The ability to influence attitudes and behaviour of others is what makes a good leader. An effective leader will be respected and his/her directions will be followed.

 

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