Leadership is very important to organizations, especially teams or in companies. Good leadership could ensure that the members are going in the right direction, and that the business is successful. In the past, research has focused on the difference between leadership and management, whereas nowadays the potential advantage of leadership is more important, especially to the organizational performance and improved employee behavior. A number of recent articles (Cappelli et al. 2010; Ladkin and Weber 2011; Useem 2010) have explored the characteristics of a successful leader.
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The three articles all examine the leadership issues and challenges regarding what characterises attribute to be a successful leader. While the study by Ladkin and Weber focuses on leadership issues specific to the tourism industry, the article by Cappelli et al. focuses on leadership lessons from India companies. However, the reflection by Useem apply military leadership to business. A major concern of all three articles is that leaders require a variety of leadership skills.
This review will compare these articles in relation to three specific skills: decision-making, communication and adaptive leadership. All the authors concur that an essential characteristic for leadership is decision-making. Cappelli et al. point out that India leaders tend to own the strategy function, setting the agenda and taking a visible role in strategy development (p. 92). Similarly, according to Useem, leaders have to make ‘good and timely call’ (p. 3), which is a focus of responsibility in a leadership position.
Useem recommends that a leader should make fast and effective decisions after consulting staff, and should not expect perfection (p. 3). Ladkin and Weber state that the leader has to be very resilient in decision-making and has to make the decision in a confident manner, which is similar to the finding of Useem. However, Ladkin and Weber focus on being determined, whereas Useem focuses on more input from staff. All three articles state that communication is a specific leadership requirement although there is a difference in their methods.
Cappelli et al. point out that India leader helps employees to find their own solutions by motivation and
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by fostering a closer relationship with them, even though this challenges the traditional India deference to hierarchy (p. 95). Cappelli et al. also note that India leader creates a sense of social mission, which is central to the company culture, and provide transparency on developing and personal modeling systems to encourage openness. They also enable communication and push making decision through the ranks, and invest in training (p. 95).
Similarly, Useem asserts that it is important to create a personal link with employee and leading them through challenging times, which means employees need a direct connection to reinforce the leader’s message. Moreover, Useem recommends that the leader needs to find common ground and to set the direction, but avoid micromanaging that gives employee the freedom to improvise (p. 76). According to Ladkin and Weber, communication is identified with trust, perseverance and vision as the main components of leadership, and are connected with ‘credibility, dependability, accountability, self-confidence, loyalty and decisiveness’ (p.273). In addition, Ladkin and Weber also note that the leader needs to be very clear about aims and objectives, and they have to communicate with their subordinates clearly, if the leader gives the employee an equivocal direction, then staff will start to wonder. Both Cappelli et al. and Useem refer to a reciprocal relationship, which means employees have more influence of their leader, and the leader usually offers employees increased financial incentives to increase revenue.
In contrast, Ladkin and Weber focus on one-way communication, and refer to motivating employees in non-financial ways, such as inspiring them to identify with the company’s mission. All three articles analyse the adaptive leadership skills. Ladkin and Weber point out that the current industry trends required changing leadership skills (p. 21). Ladkin and Weber recommend that as a leader need to not only prepare for the effect of future changes, but also to adapt to new technologies, different type of employees and new customer expectations (p. 285). Cappelli et al.describe India leaders have been trained in uncertain environments, and they have much greater ability to deal with uncertainty. Similar to Ladkin and Weber, Cappelli et al. mention that India leaders tend to be more creative, because they have to face different sorts of difficult situations (p. 97). Both articles emphasize that as a leader, they need to adapt to different uncertainties. Useem point out that ‘a culture of adaptability is vital to survival’ (p. 2), and as business leaders deal with more uncertainties, they can learn from military’s book.
Useem believes that adaptive skills are needed in a fast-changing world of unprecedented uncertainty (p. 2). In contrast to the other authors, Useem’s idea comes from military and as a result it does not take into account the commercial reality and practicality into consideration. These three studies make significant contributions to the understanding of the requirements of becoming successful leaders. They provide the key requirements for a leader to possess detailed business knowledge. It is recommended that future researches are based on the balance between profit perusing and relationship building.See More on Communication, Leadership