All of us have different connotations and misconceptions about leadership. We all often end up thinking that leadership is a mysterious quality and is linked to charisma and other exotic personality traits. However ,all the leaders have some characteristic traits in common like high energy, ambition and desire to lead, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, job relevant knowledge, empathy,optimism,graciousness and ability to understand non verbal cues in a social situation. These unique traits are essential for effective leadership and help in the success of an organization. Each leader has a different leadership style of approach according to the contingencies arising.
Today business environment has become highly competitive, volatile, and dynamic, and leadership has gained utmost importance. To thrive in this competitive business environment new initiatives and innovative solutions to the problems became necessary for the success of any organization. Therefore, the organizations are badly in need of leaders to embark these new initiatives and promote change. In the recent past of twentieth century, most of the organizations are over- managed or under- led. There is a crisis for leadership. Well-led organizations do not waste their time in waiting for new leaders to emerge. In spite, they seek people with leadership potential and groom them into leaders, exposing them to deliberately varied work experiences. Leadership can be institutionalized by careful selection, nurturing, and encouragement of future leaders and this reduces leadership crisis.
There is a lot of confusion between the two terms management and leadership. Both are complementary to each other, and are entirely different entities. Managers’ work to ensure stability and help to cope up with complexity and bring about order and consistency in the activities performed by the people of an organization, where as leaders strive to cope up with change. Effective leadership qualities provides a direction for change, while management deals with planning and budgeting. Moreover, leadership deals with aligning people, where as management deals with organizing and staffing. Leadership motivates people, while management controls people and solves problems.
A successful leader must have the following key attributes for effective and successful leadership. The success of a leader is nothing but a success of an organization and more over employees respond well for effective leaders
► Leader is a visionary who provide direction: Vision of a leader is a product of tough exhaustive process of gathering and analyzing information. Therefore, leaders are broad-based strategic thinkers who are ready to take risks. A vision should be created in such a way that it well serves the interests of the company stakeholders like customers, employees, stockholders etc and it gives competitive advantage. An organization without proper vision or strategy will not be having appropriate strategies to address contingencies. A right direction differentiates between relevant and irrelevant planning.
► Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is indispensable tool for an effective leader as it has numerous important components embedded in it. The components include
Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
► Self-awareness: Self- awareness is essential for all the people, especially leaders. Leaders should have deep understanding of their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. This helps them to have realistic expectations from their subordinates and keeps them honest with themselves and with others. This also makes them understand, how their feelings affect themselves and others. Self-aware leaders understand their values and goals clearly, and find their job enjoyable and energizing. They should be open enough to admit their failures and appreciate constructive criticism. They should always be ready to take calculated risk.
► Self-regulation: Self-regulation generally frees people from being stuck in their own feelings and helps them to achieve self-control from emotional out breaks and redirect them to achieve a purpose. Effective leaders should have a strong control over their emotions, this would create an environment of trust, and fairness for their followers (subordinates). In this era where change and ambiguity are critical factors that have great impact on the organizational performance, emotional stability helps to cope up with changes both internal and external to the organization and enhances integrity and personal virtue.
► Motivation: This is the most important attribute shared by all the leaders. As change is one of the functions of leadership, it is important to motivate the people and enable them to cope with the change smoothly. A leader should motivate people working with him by satisfying their needs like need for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, and self-esteem by articulating the organizations vision in the terms of their own sense of self-worth and the values, which they consider are important. Effective leaders necessarily involve in motivating people to realize the grand vision, which need high levels of commitment and energy embedded in effective and efficient leaders. Great leaders are highly energetic and often do not rest until they achieve their targets.
For example the late Steve Jobs of Apple Inc, motivates his employees by working along with them.
► Empathy: Empathy is the most visible trait of all effective leaders. Many people have different perceptions on Empathy; few think it is adopting others emotions as one’s own emotions and some people think it as an attempt of pleasing everyone. However, empathy really means considering the feelings of the employees thoughtfully along with other factors in the process of making genuine and intelligent decisions. Empathy is a must quality for leaders to bridge the gaps in this rapid pace of globalization and cross-cultural dialogue. Empathy can help in retaining talent in an information- based fast growing economy.
► Social Skills: In the context of leadership, social skills mean much more than making friends. It denotes the capability of a leader to display friendliness with a purpose, i.e. moving the people in desired direction to achieve the organizational goals. This ability helps the leaders to build rapport with people very easily and this makes them extremely good at conversations and social encounters, and finally helps them to establish a common ground for all kinds of people.
► A leader is a good communicator: Effectiveness of people at workplace depends on what they are doing and how their work helps in realizing grand vision of the company and how it helps them in their future. To ensure the effectiveness of the organization a leader should communicate repeatedly to articulate the interests of the employees with that of the organization.
If all the above things are kept in mind, all leaders would succeed in leading their people and achieving success.