Everyone has had a leader that they thought was ineffective, but do they know what makes a leader effective? There are many qualities that go into making a good leader, and not all leaders will have every trait. There is no one right way to lead. There are many effective styles of leading, but there is a wrong way to lead. By using an example of a bad leader, the traits of an good leader will emerge. Leadership is much more than individuals and their decisions and acts.
Leadership as a quality may be more innate than acquired, but some qualities and characteristics can be identified and consciously brought to bear in difficult and complex situations. I worked with a manager that was great at the operational side of the business but he was not an effective leader. He felt that everyone should be treated the same and expected the same productivity and accuracy out of each employee. The drive that he placed on meeting the operational objectives with disregard for the human culture only backfired. Instead of getting better results they worsened.
Ineffective Leader Essay Example
Morale became an issue, as well as, absences, stress related illnesses and conflicts between co-workers. I believe these were all a result from the manager’s ineffective leadership skills. When looking at leaders it is important to remember that they come from different backgrounds. Some leaders have authority based on their expertise, which is a function of their skills, knowledge and ability. Leaders with high levels of competence are valuable to their company, particularly if they share their knowledge and skills with others. They are very knowledgeable about their work unit, technical processes or organizational goals and objectives.
They are usually labeled technical experts and may have such credentials as advanced degrees or professional certifications. They have a consistent pattern of knowing what to do at a given time. As a result, they exert much influence over others. Some of these leaders bring this authority with them at the time of production. In other cases it is developed on the job through years of repeated successes (Weiss, 1994). The personality of good leaders can be very different. Some are subdued and analytical; others are more outgoing. Different situations can call for different leaders.
Different people also respond to diverse types of leadership (Goleman, 2004). Even though leaders may have differences, one thing they mostly have in common is emotional intelligence. It is not that high IQ’s and great skills don’t matter, more it is that they add to qualities of a good leader (Goleman, 2004). Part of emotional intelligence is having self-awareness. People that are self-aware understand how feelings can effect them. This type of person knows what frustrates them, and can deal with it in a way that will not upset anyone. By being self-aware, a leader can make judgement calls on their, and other’s, abilities.
They understand how the people are feeling (Goleman, 2004). If my manager would have been more self-aware, he would have understood that pushing many people can cause them to pull back, instead of doing better. A trait of an effective leader is to be tough but fair when dealing with people. Being tough means to be firm, not overbearing. Toughness will help people know what the rules are and that they have to be followed. An effective leader treats everyone the same or fairly. When they do this, people know what to expect and what is expected of them. It is also important for people to have room to do their jobs (Knight & Dyer, 2005).
Two important traits of a leader are listening and communication. Leaders should listen to learn about others and about what is going on in the business. After a leader listens, they are able to communicate more effectively. The leader says what they feel and not just what policy dictates (Gitomer, 2004). Even a great strategy cannot be fully effective unless it is communicated to other in a way that they understand and support. My manager never seemed to make any decisions unless they were by the book, and he seemed to communicate in the same way, he really had no ideas that were his.
A good leader understands that there is more to supervising than just assigning work. To become a leader, one needs to understand that people need to be understood and be communicated with in a clear manner. To earn respect it is important to talk to people enough that they feel there is a bond, or common interests. However, showing respect doesn’t always result in favors being done for you in return. Nothing in life always works the way a leader wants it to. One way to help to get things working right is to ask for people’s advice or opinion to show that the leader is aware of their expertise in a given field. Weiss, 1994).
Setting and demanding high standards is a trait that leaders must have. These standards are not just for the people being lead, but also for the leader. If the leader does not try to achieve these standards they can not expect others to. By living up to these standards other people will not want to let them down (Knight & Dyer, 2005). Vision is important for an effective leader. They have the ability to know where they want things to go, and how to get there. Without vision a leader had nothing, they are wondering around blind.
Ideas are what get people going and get them to join in the work. To provide good vision a leader must show how the idea is going to work, and give it its own life (Goleman, 2004). My manager had no ideas of his own, they only things that happened were what he was told to do. Humility is a quality that can make an effective leader. It is not arrogance that makes people follow, as many people may think, but humility. A person that is humble knows that everyone, including themselves, has strengths and weaknesses. They will play to their strengths and try to minimize their weaknesses.
By doing this for themselves, humble leaders understand that all people need this to be productive (Walsh, 2004). My manager did not do this, if he would have realized that people need to be treated differently and not the same, our office would have ran much smoother. A trait that almost every good leader has is the ability to motivate. They want everyone to achieve beyond expectations. The leader will be motivated, not by money, but by passion for what they doing, and to do a great job. A leader is also motivated to make sure everyone does a good job and participates.
These leaders are optimistic, which motivates others to think more positively. They have social skills, trust and focus on results. It includes providing awareness that balance the merit of the individual with the needs and stability of the group (Goleman, 2004). A personal ability that is important for leaders is to have good social skills. This is not just being friendly, it is friendliness with a purpose. Leaders can motivate people in the direction they wish to go. Social skills allow a leader to find common ground with most people. The common ground helps get people to agree.
These leaders have a network of people that can help them get a task finished (Goleman, 2004). My ineffective leader did not seem to have the social skills need to get everything done. He never took the time to get to know everyone, which in turn made many people not seem to care much about what he wanted done. To be an effective leader one must be committed to success. They will know that a task needs to be completed, and will stay until it is finished. The perseverance of getting things done is contagious, because everyone wants to be on a team that does well.
A leader will make a daily commitment to redirection (Knight & Dyer, 2005). A successful leader also needs to possess empathy. This does not mean to take on how everyone feels. Empathy in the business world means that they understand how people are feeling and why. By using empathy, a leader is able to make decisions that everyone can go along with, and be okay with (Goleman, 2004). Finally, it is very important to remember that before a person can take any action to lead their followers, they must be able to recognize approximately where their followers are in the developmental cycle.
To do this, he or she must watch closely the actions of his or her followers and determine to what degree their actions are being influenced dominantly by either confidence or competence. Once the leader knows the point of confidence vs. competence in his or her followers, he or she will know which factor to build on. When the leader feels they have successfully motivated their followers to be both very confident and competent, and that the followers are ready and have the responsibility to lead themselves to their goal, then they know that at that point, the followers are ready to accept some leadership themselves.
Once the followers are ready for some leadership of their own, the next problem at hand becomes how to go about empowering them with the leadership responsibilities (Knight & Dyer, 2005). Needless to say, the leader cannot simply step away and allow the responsibility to dump onto the followers; surely if that happened, they would quickly lose confidence and possibly competence too. Instead, the leadership and responsibility of the followers should be increased gradually as they are steadily empowered, and at a rate that depends on how well the newly gained leadership is handled.
At all times though, the leader must be prepared to guide or even realign the direction the newly independent followers take (Goleman, 2004). The leader must also realize the risk of failure in the complete empowerment of his or her followers, as starting over completely is hardly possible. Were that to occur, the subject would near definitely experience a severe loss of confidence as a major consequence to a premature empowerment situation.
And lastly, if a leader is completely successful in empowering his or her subjects and has sent them well off on their way to their ultimate goal, the leader must realize that he/she has completed his or her own (Walsh, 2004). Effective leaders create a spirit of performance by doing the right thing and getting the right things done. They possess integrity of character, possess a vision for the purpose, and focus primarily outwardly, on opportunities to achieve satisfaction and meet goals. They pay special attention to people decisions (Maciariello, 2007).
If my ineffective manager would have taken more time to understand how to be a leader, the job situation would have been more pleasant. But instead he was just a manager, someone who tells people what to do without caring about the person. The functions of a leader are many and varied. Its hard to say the one theory is better. Each situation, each environment, and each group of people requires a different approach. If a leader is trained to understand that different approaches are needed for different situations, then an leader can succeed. Being a leader is never an easy task, and only a select few have the ability to lead.
Not many people can take an organization, a team, or their local neighborhood and get them to work together toward a single goal. They have to be stern but at the same time sympathetic, they have to be able to delegate power without causing uproar. So many things go into being a leader that when everything is said and done, most people shy away from being a leader and feel as though they need to follow. However, that is the difference between a leader and a follower. When crunch time comes, the true leader will stand forward and guide his/her team, organization, or what have to victory.