What is leadership? How does people perceive leadership in their everyday Life? Can we still today, in a world oriented more an more towards individualism and commitment to achievement of personal goals, talk about leadership? Starting from with the question of what is making a person a good leader, I will analyses interviews to 5 people about leadership, then offer an excursus on selected papers about leadership and release, basing on those information the profile of a “good leader” .
STEP 1: What is a good leader? If I would have been asked to define a good leader before attending this course, loud have probably said that a leader is a person which is able to passionate people, to empower them not for the position he/she is holding but for the inner force which enables him/he to go beyond every hierarchy. As Jim Pratt says, there are plenty of good managers , but only few leaders. How to understand if we are a good manager or a leader? Just answering to a simple question “Would people follow me, if I would not be in the position I am? . It is important to answer quite frankly to this question, not trying to overestimate our position. Leadership can be learnt but, if there a re no “seeds” , no basis on which to lilt, we can be a good manager but would hardly be a good leader. A good leader is, in my perception, a person who, like Jim Collins is shy and strong at the same time, which does live, as also Bernard© did, for the achievement of the company o the society he is operating for and not for the personal achievement.
He is working for the general benefit, and not for the benefit of himself or just to achieve more money. Summing up I could say that a leader is a “human person’ who has understood his weaknesses and his strengths, who has learned to show them, without hiding them, to use them in order to bring benefits while being art of a bigger project. STEP 2 : Interviews The interviews taken (transcripts are attached as appendix), it comes out that the leader is a “special” person, which does have to have some gifts, may they be acquired or learned.
The common points which came up from the interviews were: – a leader is accepted automatically and silently by his fellows, he does not oblige other people to consider him a leader; – a leader is not a leader in every field, but only in some specific environment; – a leader pursues a common goal, not the personal achievement- a leader is able to listen to people, not simply to hear hat they are saying -a leader is able to motivate people – a leader does have the capacity of taking decisions in bad times- a leader has to be a reference point to others – a leader creates his successors, instructing them – a leader is innovative, also visionary Different leaders have been taken as example for the above given points: Giovanni Senegal, former FIAT CEO, who was able to bring FIAT to an International level;- Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, visionary leader who has been able to anticipate technological innovation; – Hitler, dictator, taken as an example of unethical leader Pope John Paul II, Christian leader who has been able to be accepted worldwide as a very charismatic person – The Tao monks, able to be “silent” leader, a great example of humility. Eve noticed that no one stressed the “ethical” aspect of a leader; as far as I could deduct this is not due to the fact that it may not be important if a leader acts ethically or not, it is rather assumed by the interviewed people that a leader has to be ethical and that there can not be an “unethical leader”. Also Hitler, is his profession, had a kind of “ethical ARIN” principle. STEP 3: Articles’ review Coffee, Robert-Jones, Garret Why should anyone be led by you? “: This article focuses on “feelings applied to business”. 1. Reveal your weaknesses; 2. Become a sensor; 3. Practice tough empathy ; 4. Dare to be different. We do not have to forget, it is stated, that a company is made of people and people are not perfect.
Coleman, Daniel Dealership that gets results”: Coleman defines the 6 leadership styles: Coercive, Democratic, Pace setter, Authoritative, Coaching, Affiliated. He suggests also that a leader should have a good combination of all the different aspects and apply them depending on the different situations. Hill, Linda- Waterier Suez јLeadership when there is no one to ask”: This essay is about determination. Bernard© showed determination, even through pressures, mobbing and political adverse situation like “main polite”: he had a clear frame of what he intended to do and he did it, showing that strategy and planning can change things and that managers have to be efficient for the job they do, i. E. That it does not exist anymore the job you enter in and you can never get fired.
Parcels, Bill “The tough work of turning around a team”: Parcel, actually a coach, was asked to write an article on his leadership style; his main points were: 1) o never lie. Be honest ; 2) defend your position. No compromises; 3) talk with people separately when commenting and do it positively; 4) move on goals per steps, coach for success. Soul, Donald N. “Why good companies go bad”: This essay investigates on the reasons which could bring and do bring a company to failure, such as 1 . Strategic frames become blinders. Managers need to recognize new options and opportunities ; 2. Processes harden routines. Always search for new, better and cheaper ways of providing goods and services ; 3. Relationships become shackles; 4. Values harden into dogmas; 5.
Renewal not Revolution Collins, Jim “Level 5 Leadership: The triumph of humility and fierce resolve”: Jim Collins states that, fate one study of 5 years he has been able to identify 1 1 companies which turned out to have a great success, because they were led by “level 5 leader”, i. E. A person which is able t to “Build enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will” Trucker, Peter ” Managing Oneself”: Trucker stresses that it is important, to be able to understand how we are made, not trying to change it with force our hearten and capabilities, but focusing on the implementation of the strengths.
After having focused on the strengths, we should analyses our performance, trying to understand which “learning style” we do have. Further we have to move on to the values, either the personal one as the one of the company and to understand where we do belong to and how we can contribute to a bigger projects. Trucker suggests, however, to focus always on what we are, on how to build relationships and to be responsible for them; he points also out that we can feel satisfied in one field, such as the private, while at the job things are to going on well or vice versa. Mallet, Mark C. -Norris, Nothing “Managing the whiteface” :This articles focuses about the need of every company to have a “whiteface”, i. E. Humus where lateral thinking managers can find new business opportunities which can be used in the “blacksnake” i. E. The known and improved business field of one company. Brakeman, Greg “Right away and all at once: How we saved Continental”: This article focuses on customer attention and value. Such as strategic clarity in asking the customers the right questions, not the ones we would like to hear and understand that the company s not “ruled” by top managers, but by the employees who are, actually the first customers of one company. The leader described in this article is able to focus on the “money” return of his actions and not on the dismissal connected. Waterier, Suez Driving change.
An Interview with Ford motor company’s Jacques Masses”: The author aims to transmit, through this interview the coaching and teacher attitude a leader should have. A Leader should know how to make a company profitable (ideas), should have strong personal values which are reflected in every action, should know how to motivate and passionate people (emotional energy) and be able to take difficult decisions (edge). Wise, Richard- Banterer, Peter “Go downstream: The new profit imperative in manufacturing”: An article based on customer focus applied to leadership. The authors dos stress how important it is to look forward to the customers, trying to anticipate and create their needs in order to serve them better.
The articles review shows up the main points raised before: – a leader has to have outstanding qualities – a leader has to be human – a leader has to have a team to lead and to be able to interact with his fellows – leader has a high CEQ – a leader has a strong will – a leader risks STEP 4: A leadership model Through the readings, the interviews and the personal reflection, I have to agree to Coleman points defining the leadership model, i. E. : Emotional self awareness: As Trucker points out, a leader has to be aware of his /her emotion. He has to know ho he will react to certain situations, were his strengths are and on which values he should focus. If, on the contrary, he is hiding his feelings, pretending to be “superior” he will tend to underestimate the other’s feelings. Accurate self assessment: A leader has to place himself in a certain position. He has to be aware of the tasks required, of the goals to be achieved on his skills. How can he contribute to the bigger project? What can bring him to success? What can bring him to failure? Self confidence: This does not mean that the leader has to be convinced to have an answer to everything and to be strong, without letting others to participate. Self confidence is something which has to be present in a leader, such as seeds, which can be used and trained. This to say that also a shy person can be self confident. Self control: This is a vital aspect of a leader.
A leader can adopt different leading styles, depending on the situation, the time frame, the environment and the goals, but, in all these situations the leader has to maintain a self control. Loosing temper or not focusing anymore on the goal, shaking maybe, would bring a bigger damage. Trustworthiness: Would we like to be lead by somebody we do not trust. I hardly doubt about it. We could, at the beginning, maybe be attracted bathe possibilities of gaining more money; but, in the long term, we would follow and believe only to the person we can trust. Conscientiousness: A aspect which is, however, often missing or hard to achieve . Trucker reports the possibility of integrating Christian faith with the business world.
REGAL industries, for example, is one of the examples for this possibility Adaptability: To adapt does not mean to do something a leader does not like or something which does not fit into his attitude, it means rather, that a leaser, such stressed as per Coffee and Jones, to adapt means to be able to show weaknesses and feelings, daring to be different and going also against mainstream Achievement orientation: How could we work without a goal to achieve ? We could work, but the work would not give results. A company is based on achieving results and these results have to be achieved the group, lead by one person, not by that only person. Collins reports that many leaders do not refer the success of their company to them, but to the luck of being at the right time on the right place.
A company which is completely led on one person (as we had the example of EASY LTD), risks to loose the goal and the possibility to achieve it. Initiative: A leader has to know when to act and has to dare to take the initiative . Franco Bernard© had the capacity of going against all the “ministerial” trustees of the company, taking initiatives no one would have dears to do it before. The same happened with Continental Airlines. There no opportunities knocking on the door a leader seeks and creates them Empathy: Coffee stresses the importance of empathy. I do always recall the story of the CEO who, after the disaster of September 1 lath, asked the people to go to work, but only to express their feelings .
This CEO shared their fears, make them feel to be understood . Of course if does become more and more difficult to be empathic with everybody being part of a bigger company, but, honestly: How would we exact if a “so called” leader would not take care about the feelings, cause there are more important things to take care after? Every employee is the face of the company he/she is working for: understanding needs, showing interest and empathy, creates a better image also outside the company. As Citibank CEO says: “You can not have happy customers if you have unhappy employees”. Organizational awareness: There has to be an organization and a hierarchy .
It is unthinkable to consider the possibility of having more people cooperating without the definition of specific tasks. A leader has to be aware of the skills, the trenches and the weaknesses of the people working with him; not paying attention to it would mean to place a person in a wrong position, mining the entire structure. Service orientation: The leader is the first to serve . Serving however, is not intended as being slave of others, but as showing them that it is an internal attitude orientated towards service . A leader can hardly create a cooperative team if he is reluctant to cooperate. One of the main differences in the today’s world is made of service. The service orientation should go up>>> down and not bottom>>>up. Visionary leadership: Not every leader can be seminary as Gandhi, but , at least, they should have a capacity to envision other people in order to bring them to believe in something and to achieve it Influence: This aspect is vital. A leader influences either consciously , in defining which directions to go, either unconsciously, i. E. By the way he is acting. People working around Darwin Smith at Kimberly and Clarke, were under his influence, even if he was a rather shy guy. Developing others: If in a company there is one person without who the company would collapse, then there is a problem. A leader can not focus the entire attention on himself, on the way he is operating, e must try to transmit his knowledge to others , to instruct them and to make them get acquainted with the different tasks.
He has to become a teacher and try to transfer everything which is teachable. Communication: This is vital . There is no human being which can live without communication. Communication is vital and has to be effected on a regular basis, paying attention to the different communication tools. A leader should pay attention to internal communication, involving employees either in good as in bad news, as well as to external communication paying attention to the PR rules. It is hard and a long work to establish a reputation and an image, but it is very easy to destroy everything in few seconds. The Enron scandal of couple of years ago s a good example for it .
Change catalyst: A leader has to be able to promote a change when he does recognizes that there are some situations, some blinders which do actually create inertia or even damage the company. Bernard© did it with EN, despite the inertia typical of Italian companies. Conflict management: Let’s face the truth: it is unthinkable to assume that everybody would go on well with everybody. Sooner or later a conflict will come up. It is important that the leader is aware of this situation and that he does see in the conflict a possibility to be constructive. Building bonds: A leader can not be a leader of himself: he does need people to lead. So a company does need suppliers and customers to live.
Without bonds, partnerships and cooperation not a single company would survive. A leader has to show negotiation skills which enable him to make his company’s position better Teamwork and collaboration: As said before a leader has to lead a team , and has to cooperate with it; rather than assuming a coercive style, which would dead the team to disrupt, a coaching and affiliated style is perfect adapted to the team, cause it would improve collaboration. Appendix: Interviews (transcripts) 2. 1. Interview (LEG- female, professional of the nautical field, 40 years old) This is what I feel to be the leadership: In a big company, with all the departments which it does consists of, should have one person per department.
That person should be highly qualified in that specific field and sensitive to changes and innovations. This person should also be able to be delegated and rewarded for the responsibility taken. A real entrepreneur is, in my opinion, a leader not when he is able to all the work which is being done in a company, but when he is able to put the right people in the right places and on the right time and when he possesses the capability of a good relationship. The goal should be to have always a clear reference and one person responsible in case of a problem or a serious error but also in case of a profit and a growth. It is important to focus the responsibilities if a customer is claiming and use Leadership as the key to find a solution.
This would be a professional attitude. A leader should also have a great knowledge of matters such as politics, cultural aspects etc. Culture, at least is Italy, is where the history begins and we do not have to forget it when we are talking about leadership. Considering this I do think that it is very difficult to be leader, cause it is very difficult to please everybody; there seems always to be lacking something and that people is looking to earn more money and/or to produce more. Thinking about how I described a leader I assume that it is rather difficult to find him in a real world. I could say that Giovanni Senegal could have been that kind of leader. 2. Interview (AT- female, pharmaceutical informer, 26 years old) I think dervish is nowadays a necessary quality for people that cover many responsibilities at their work and deal with other people. I consider leadership as the ability of influencing people and cooperate with them in order to reach a common goal. A leader should be a communicative, visionary and self confident person who wants to influence the world with its intuitions in order to create a better world. A leader person doesn’t impose its ideas but shares them with other people. The leader never stands alone, he actually collaborates with a team of people motivating them to persevere for the reaching of a big common achievement. Leadership is the main characteristic of innovative people that tend to influence the world with their visionary thinking.
A typical example of a contemporary leader is Bill Gates (Microsoft founder). Bill Gates is a self made man who conquered the masses with his innovative ideas in a period of changes and creative thinking. He was the first person who understood the importance of personal computers for daily life and made them usable by the mass. In a time when personal computers were used only by scientists, he created a standard for PC’s which made their use easier reaching every field of our life (school, work, assure time, etc) and every part of the world. Bill Gates can be considered as a visionary leader because he had an idea, he believed in it and he influenced the world with the aim of improving life’s quality.
He is a positive and optimistic person who likes to share its opinions with the rest of the world and he is not scared by the comparison with its competitors. After becoming one of the richest man in the world, he still cares about the poor people. Every year he invests a lot of money not only for research and innovation in its company, but he also donates big sums for charity. 2. 3. Interview (SMS- female, tourism professional, 29 years old) Leadership means to lead. I consider a leader one person which does have certain characteristics which allows him to reach a concrete goal or to fulfill a concrete task. He (or she) should be able to lead others, so that these others can give backbone for the same goal and do also partially contribute to achieve it (finding solutions, for example).
A leader must be able to convince the group that the goal is an important and correct goal. The leader must be able to identify a group and should be able to know well the members of his team: he should be aware of the abilities of each team member. He should support every single member, given them force and motivation and enable them, this way to achieve the maximum results. The leader should be taken as a friend, a partner but also as a boss. He should glance with his knowledge, experience and skills. When we are talking about a company a leader should be able to manage the employees; politicians, on the other hand, should lead their followers inside the society. We would find a leader position also inside a family.
Thinking about a leader brings me to Hitler, a negative example. Hitler has been able to influence people actively in order to achieve his foolish goals, to make his ideology become true. He has been able to influence the masses by simply talking to them, he has been able to manipulate them and bring them to follow him. Millions of people believed in him and many died for him. Bringing the concept of leader to a business environment have just to stress again that a leader has to be able, over all, to passionate others. 2. 4. Interview (MGM- female, accountant, 26 years old) Leadership is something people are born with. Not everybody can be a leader.
To be a leader is a gift which requires high communication skills, commitment to goal and the fact to be aware that one can become a reference point for other people. It is not the leader who applies his leadership to others, but the others are those who accept and recognize, in a explicit or implicit manner, that one can be or not a leader in a certain field. My leader has to be: – able to listen to others – determined – able to take decisions in critical situation without getting worried -able to stay calm and make other people feel calm – be a reference point without making it become hierarchical – makes you responsible for your actions. Pope John Paul the II may have been a leader of this kind. . 5.
Interview (MS- male, Hush instructor, 24 years old) Leadership is strictly connected to the knowledge of the inner force. A good leader has to be a good Strategist, above all of himself. If he is not able to acknowledge his inner force, to become aware to his weaknesses he will never be able to pursue a goal, to strive towards a direction. People around him would notice it and hardly he could bring people to follow him. The Asian philosophy and the martial at of hush derive from this inner knowledge: knowing where the weaknesses are, we have to work on them, make them our strength and achieve our inner piece. If we got it, like the Tao monks, then we are able to lead people through our actions and our life, not simply with our words.
We are then able to lead people towards personal achievement conceived in a bigger project, we can make them become responsible for their actions and make them conscious of the common goal. This is something a good leader does not need to say or provoke with force: it is something which is searched by other; the important thing is that other perceive it as an own goal, not as an obligation.