Key Characteristics of Effective Leadership in Practice

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A leader is an individual with the major influence in a group, whose role is to get others to achieve organizational goals. But ‘leadership’ like many other key concepts in management, tends to be viewed differently. depending on whether the orientation is behavioral, economic, or managerial. Ordway Tead has defined leadership as "the activity of influencing people to co-operate towards some goal which they come to find desirable" (Anon., 1999). According to George R. Terry, "leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives". Robert Tannenbaum defines the leadership as "interpersonal influence exercised in a situation and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of a specialized goal or goals" and Koontz and O’Donnell state that "leadership is influencing people to follow in the achievement of a specialized goal" (Harold Koontz, 1959). A review of these and other writers reveals that most management writers agree that leadership is the process of providing direction in group activities and influencing others to achieve group objectives in a given situation. From this definition of leadership, it follows that the leadership process is a function of the leader, the follower, and other situational variables i.e. L= f (i,f,s) (Hersey, 2010) Although influencing others for attaining group goals is the essential function of a leader, some of the important elements which can make the process of leading effectively is that firstly, one who leads is a part of the group, and yet he must maintain his separate identity if he is to continue to lead. Secondly, leadership contemplates interpersonal influence and close man-to-man relationship. It is rooted in feelings and attitudes that have grown out of reactions of individual personalities to each other. Thirdly, it is a dynamic and ever-evolving process. a manager must lead continuously. Finally, it involves directing, guiding and influencing the behavior of individuals and groups so that future actions and behavior are modified in the right direction. These four elements lie at the heart of a strategic leadership process where a manager is a leader directs, guides and influences the behavior of the employees keeping in mind the present and future business strategies of the organization and modifying and directing the employee behavior/performance in the right direction through the right means. This assumption would imply that for an effective leadership process it is crucial that a leader must be in a position to understand and evaluate the strategic intent of the firm and a leader must have the personality and attitudinal qualities in order to lead. As stated earlier that for an effective leadership process a leader must be knowledgeable so that he can evaluate the business strategy and direct the performance of the employees, it becomes the central reason to understand why managers can make good leaders (Senge, 1990).&nbsp.