What Makes the Difference in Leadership? Leadership is a term that is used a lot in the modern business world. Many companies emphasize the need for a strong, powerful leader. Struggling businesses prosper with the help of an effective leader and well-established ones earn even more profit and market share. A good leader can motivate his team and push his employees to their limit. He is an integral part of a successful organization. So what does it take to be a good, strong and effective leader?
What makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one? One of the key components to understanding leadership is having a clear understand hat a leader actually is. Many people believe that a leader and a manager are synonyms. It is true that they go hand in hand and are both vital parts of an organization, but they have core differences. A manager is all about the mind, whereas a leader is about the soul. Managers promote stability and structure; leaders provide vision, values and interests.
These differences are outlined in the table below: Leader Manager Visionary Rational Epistemologically Creative Persistent Flexible Problem Solving Inspiring Tough-minded Innovative Analytical Courageous Structured Imaginative Deliberate Experimental Authoritative Initiates Change Stabilizing Personal Power Position Power A leader’s job is to come up with an idea, vision or goal and inspire his subordinates to implement it. He is responsible for motivating them and getting them to give all they got to make his vision become a reality.
A good leader will present his vision in a way that it will become his employees’ personal goal to achieve what the leader wants. A manager’s job then is to provide control, monitor the progress and give suggestions along the way, making sure that everything is running smoothly and according to the strategy. He is in charge of aging sure that the vision that the leader has gets fulfilled, and the job is done in a way that is profitable to the company. The way they achieve those goals and have the authority over their subordinates is through power.
There are two main types of power: Position Power, possessed by a good manager and Personal Power, possessed by a good leader. Position power comes from the organization and the standards that it imposes on the hierarchy. This power is one of the most powerful tools in a manager’s disposal. The three forms of this power are Legitimate, Reward and Coercive. Legitimate power is very basic and comes from he understanding that a supervisor has the authority over his subordinates. This power is indisputable and is understood by all employees, as long as the company has a well-defined hierarchy.
For example, if a new regional manager is appointed, it is assumed that the factory staff understands that he is in charge and if he tells them to do something, they have to do it. Reward power comes from the manager’s ability to give out rewards for good performance, in the form of yearly bonuses or pay increases. For example, if a manager’s team beat the annual profit estimate, they may receive an end-of-year bonus room their boss, which will act as an encouraging factor for them to try even harder the following year. That promotes the manager’s overall power even further.
Coercive power is the opposite of reward power and comes from the manager’s ability to punish people for bad performance. If a manager’s team didn’t perform as well as they could have, the manager is in the position to punish them by not giving them an annual bonus, or leaving negative feedback in their file, decreasing their chances for promotion or finding a better job. The use of this power can have a negative effect on the manager, as he could be received by his employees as a tyrant, which doesn’t leave much opportunity to establish personal relationships with his team.
Personal Power is the other type of power and its two forms include Expert Power and Referent Power. Personal power is a powerful tool at a leader’s disposal and if used wisely can produce great results. It promotes respect, admiration and caring from the subordinates and establishes the leader in a company. Expert power comes from a leader’s knowledge or skill in the area that he is working in. The source of this power comes from the employees’ understanding that the leader has superior knowledge on the subject, therefore is worth listening to and following.
For example, if a leader of a car manufacturer is an expert mechanic and proposes a new modification to one of the cars, his power will be undisputed because his team understands that he knows what he’s talking about. The other power in a leader’s disposal is referent power which results from a leader’s personality and his attitude towards his subordinates. The biggest and most desirable outcome of this form of power is subordinate commitment. That means that there is a strong admiration and respect for the leader and his decisions and he employees are willing to work extra to achieve the given goal.
For a manager and leader alike, understanding and using these powers means being effective and leading the business to prosperity and profits. To further understand what makes a difference in leadership, it is important to acknowledge the two types of leaders: Autocratic and Democratic. An autocratic leader relies mostly on his own knowledge and judgment and tells people exactly what he wants them to do. He centralizes authority around himself and uses position power to enforce his rules.
He sets clear deadlines and makes sure that everyone does their work exactly how he wants them to. In some situations, this approach works best. The other leadership style is democratic, which is more lenient and promotes empowerment and freedom for employees. This style promotes creativity of the subordinates and in many cases makes them feel more like a big part of the business, making a change, as opposed to just someone following strict orders. It encourages participation, and the leader’s position is more like a guide than a boss.
He gives the destination and it’s up to his subordinates to decide which route to take to get there. There is an ongoing debate which of these styles is utter. As in many business related issues, there is no right answer, but for a give situation one of them may just work better than the other. A good example of the use of these two styles in is the Plastic Lumber Company. Alan Robins, the CEO of PAL, decided to lead the company in a democratic way, giving his employees a large degree of freedom.
He wanted to be a friend and create an atmosphere where everyone was an equal member of the team. He tried establishing personal relationships with his subordinates by bringing cold beer at the shift of the day or granting personal loans. That is an effective strategy in omen situations, but what he didn’t take into account was the fact that he was dealing with low-skilled workers, mostly from low-income areas, who proceeded to take full advantage of his forgiving leadership style by abusing it. They would show up for work late, sometimes drunk and under the influence of drugs.
They would start fights in the factory in the middle of the shift and perform below the acceptable standard. Today, Alan has to use autocratic leadership to keep his business afloat. What a leader needs to understand is depending on the situation, one style or the other will be more effective, so one of the most liable skills a leader can posses is acknowledging what the situation is and acting accordingly. Another valuable skill for a leader is understanding the level of “business maturity” of his subordinates. There are four levels of employee maturity that call for different actions.
They are as follows: Employee Business Maturity HIGH MODERATE LOW RE RE RE RI Able and Willing or Confident Able but Unwilling or Insecure Unable but Willing or Confidentially and Unwilling or Insecure Follower Directed Leader Directed This diagram represents the Hershey and Blanchard Situational Theory, which inks a leader’s style with the business maturity of the employees. The four styles, delegating, participating, selling and telling, are used for the four levels of employee maturity. When an employee just starts out in a new job, he’s at a stage where he has to learn everything and is under constant supervision.
A good leader should be telling at this point, showing him how to do everything and giving him very specific, exact directions. As the employee gets to know the job a little better, a leader starts selling, and later on participating, which are degrees of “letting go” of the employee and letting him make some decisions on is own. These two stages prepare him for the final stage which is when a leader just delegates, which means the leader believes that the employee is ready to make important decisions himself and only “check-in” from time to time.
While delegating, a leader still stays on top of the situation, but he can focus on bigger issues and not worry about some minor tasks that now have become a worry of his subordinate. A valuable skill that a leader should posses is the ability to tell at what business maturity level his employees are, because that way he can get the most out of them and help them grow in a professional way so that they loud later on take on the post of a manager or a leader. It is also important to know yourself and distinguish what type of leader you are.
There are three major types of leaders: Transactional, Charismatic and Transformational, which all make a change in a company in their own way. Transactional leaders are very traditional in their leadership style. They are hardworking, open-minded and tolerant, have the ability to satisfy subordinates and stress the importance of deadlines and budgets. These leaders take on the manager’s position a lot more than the other two types. A Charismatic leader is more spiritual then he Transactional leader. He inspires and motivates his employees to achieve a common goal.
He has a clear vision and he delegates it very well. This type of leader is required when a business is making a radical change and has to make believers out of the employees so they would achieve the goal that it has set for them. Examples of charismatic leaders are Mother Theresa, Doll Hitler and Martin Luther King Jar. Among others. Transformational leader is the third type and is very similar to a charismatic leader. The only real difference is the fact that they can bring innovation and change to the company’s structure and employees, which is required in many situations.
They don’t rely on rules and schedules and do whatever change is necessary to achieve their goal. These are the different types of leaders and the approaches that they can use to achieve goals. But what makes a good leader stand out? What makes a difference in leadership? A good leader who wants to make an impact in a company should try and incorporate the following into his leadership style. The most important issue for a good leader is having a clear, well-defined vision or idea.
A leader has to be clear on what he wants to get achieve before he can get his subordinates excited about it. He has to define the present focus, as well as how it ties in with a long term plan. To communicate his vision to his subordinates, he has to do more then just announce it at a meeting or post it on a mission board. A leader’s vision must exist on every level of the organization. At the business level, it means having a common goal. At the department level it means having certain objectives that contribute to the common goal.
At a job level it means that every employee should be doing something that inches the overall company vision closer to reality. A team is an integral part of any organization and every deader should appreciate its significance. However, what’s even more important is to focus the group on working together towards a common purpose that is in keeping with the overall business vision. To achieve that, a leader can use a number of techniques, from arranging extra meetings to discuss the common goal to organizing out-of-work team outings, like a picnic or a BBC to establish and reinforce the team spirit.
During extra meetings, a good leader should be open to suggestions and ideas from team members and encourage people who come up with innovative suggestions. An effective leader has to posses DOD communication skills. When stating a new goal or explaining a vision, a leader has to communicate his ideas with absolute clarity and has to make sure that everyone on his team understands and agrees with his thoughts. Bad communication can lead to misunderstanding and team members pulling in different directions, which will only cause confusion and decrease productivity.
The other part of good communication skills is being available and open to suggestions. It is beneficiary to check up on the progress of the members of the team and to make sure that everyone is still on track, trying to achieve a common goal. Quick weekly meetings or progress reports might prevent members of the team going off on a tangent that is not consistent with the leader’s vision. A leader has to be a visionary, and his ideas should be innovative and productive. However, it is equally as important in how he presents them.
Enthusiasm and drive are key in getting a leader’s team on the project, giving it all they can. If the leader is excited about the new goal and projects an image of someone who really wants to make it work, his team will follow him and do whatever is necessary to achieve it. It is also important for a leader to believe that they an succeed in a task they are undertaking and communicate that belief to the subordinates. And a final component of a leader’s success is his commitment to action.
If a leader is committed to the project, his subordinates will follow. As W. H. Murray put it, “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth – the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves also. All sorts of things occur to help that otherwise never would have occurred. “