What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership

What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership


Leaders play an important role in almost every area of social life, Whether in industry or in the government, effectiveness of policy making and its implementation depends directly on the effectiveness of the leaders. A leader is a only single person who can make a difference. The social, cultural, economical and political environment around us has a great influence on our life. State and National policies regarding technological advancements and industrial development have a major impact on our career opportunities and future prospects. Particularly in the democratic political system, political leaders tend to be the policy makers of the country.

Leaders are those distinguished individuals in the respective fields whom follows a large number of people. The progress of any organization depends on the performance of its leader. Speed of train is equal to the speed of engine! Running an industry or an organization  involves extracting the best from the concerned people. On one side, leader has to keep an eye on the vision and goals of the organization and, on the other side; he has to manage the strengths and weaknesses of all the individual employees to reach the goal. An engineer or a supervisory technician is also required to handle a group of people for predefined tasks.

It can be accepted that each competent and successful individual may not be an effective leader. Leaders are characterized by some special qualities called leadership qualities. These qualities will be discussed later in this article. 

Types of leaders:

Depending upon the fields of work like politics, business, Sports, organizations, religion, spirituality and social activities, leaders can be classified as political, business, sports, organizational and spiritual leaders. Figure 1 depicts photographs of some eminent leaders from various fields mentioned above. 

Shivaji Maharaj, Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak, Jayprakash Narayan, Indira Gandhi, JRD Tata, Narayan Murthy, Kapil Dev are some of the eminent leaders in the various areas of social The role and performance of these great leaders in their fields of work provides a clear idea about importance of a good leader. It can be observed that these stalwarts were not only individually competent but also had the ability to influence and lead a mass of people.

It is sometimes said that a leader is born and not made. But the modern management sciences have proved this to be only a partial fact. With proper training, leadership qualities can be cultivated. 

Qualities of a Leader

Following are some of the prominent qualities of a good leader:

Clarity and commitment to goal: 

A good leader is clear as well as committed to achieve the goal. In absence of clarity of goal, efforts are not focused and hence there may be wastage of energy. If the commitment to goal is weak, insufficient efforts are exercised so that the goal cannot be reached. A very strong and persistent positive motivation is found in a good leader. Shivaji Maharaj - by taking oath for the Hindavi Swaraj at the tender age of 16 and perusing it throughout the life in spite of all odds - set an excellent example of a leader's clarity and commitment to goal.

Acceptability by followers: 

A good leader has a unique charismatic element in his personality that attracts and holds the followers even blindly. There is almost an unconditional commitment of the followers to a good leader. The relation between them is not only of respect but  also of absolute obedience. Such followers are ready to do virtually anything for the leader. Their faith in the leader is unshaken in any circumstances. Such unconditional acceptability is a great strength as well as great responsibility to a good leader.

Effective communication:

While dealing with a large variety of people at a time, a good leaper exhibits effective communication  skills to convey, convince and keep inspiring the followers. The followers can be from a variety of socio-economical background. He communicates with them by adapting to their environment. Good leader's single word can be more than a thousand eloquent sentences. The short but effective speeches of Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Brittan delivered for the soldiers on the war front have become glorious history ineffective leadership.

Inter-personal Skills:

Handling human beings is the core quality for any leader.It is ultimately the human mass that makes he leader. The leader converges the interests of all the followers to the common interest of achieving the pre-decided  goal. The needs of the followers are many changing. He has to provide them all a sound emotional assurance of concern for them. In this sense, the leader has to become even the servant of the followers at times. Open-mindedness about praising, generosity of forgiving, genuineness in serving is the interpersonal skills of a good leader.

Effective Task Management: 

Achieving goal being the ultimate target, a good leader has to apply all the skills of a task manager. In spite of the qualities mentioned above, he needs all the skills of getting work done to desired results with the given resources. He is a hardworking, intelligently foreseeing, wisely retreating, firmly rejuvenating visionary. The legendary industrialist Bharat Ratna JRD Tata's life places before us a bright example of a competent task manager. 

Leadership and Leadership Styles

In medium scale and large scale organisations, there are the posts of section heads, assistant managers and managers to complete assigned tasks and achieve desired goals. Such individuals act as leaders. Knowledge of leadership would be helpful to such heads. 

Leadership IS a complex process involving a large variety of parameters like individual competencies of the leader himself and of the group members, nature of task to be achieved, resources available, circumstantial factors. In fact every leader has his unique style of leading. Research on leadership styles has indicated a general approach to identify various styles. This approach is discussed below. 

Leadership Styles: 
Different •leaders adopt different leadership. styles. A single leader may also exercise more than one style in different situations. Leadership styles have been defined in various ways by various experts. The simple task-people matrix model is discussed below. The matrix shown below allows a simple two-dimensional classification of four typical leadership styles :

Right side represents the orientation of the leader towards people (ability communicate and establish rapport with others, strong interpersonal skills, ease of communication with various audiences). Left side represents orientation of leader towards tasks (set distance in his interaction with others, focus on hard skills, expertise and knowledge)

Upward direction represents the inclination of the team leader to take•a direct control on things (strong personal involvement, commitment to success and results through self-implication and direction setting for the team). Downward direction represents inclination of leader to allow the control to his teams (results are targeted through the team work, leader steps back).

Quadrant — 1: Persuasive Leadership

A persuasive leader engages his team through cooperation, explains projects and values, stimulates, encourages, mobilizes his resources, consults for opinions and suggestions, remains accountable for every decision, is flexible on methods, supports co-workers' initiatives and autonomy. If the persuasive leader is pulled at the far-extreme of the leader control / people-oriented quadrant, he will turn into what is commonly presented as a charismatic leader, knowing how to inspire• and energize his teams by his creativity, enthusiasm and convincing ability. 

  • While a charismatic leader will excel in motivating his followers by giving sense to their work, his followers may fall in the trap of blindly walking the path without questioning the direction, even if requesting to do so.
  • A persuasive leader is also usually less interested in closely following-up project  and related activities; obviously this may come as a barrier for junior or less experienced staff that would require a closer guidance and coaching approach. 
What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership

Quadrant — 2: Authoritative Leadership:

An authoritative leader is self-committed, gives instructions, structures the team activities, sets precise objectives, defines detailed evaluation criteria, is solely accountable for decisions. He exercises full-control -does not delegate, does not accept co-workers' requests, builds his authority exclusively his technical expertise, does not accept failure, always decides - does not listen.

  • While an authoritative leader can quickly deliver results under unstable conditions (reorganization new team being set, business downturn), this leadership style may be challenged when working with senior expert team members. 
  • Even if the strict command-and-control approach of an authoritative leader can save the company. from high-urgency crisis situation, this leadership style is not sustainable on the long-term. It can suppress the employee's will to contribute and creativity. and consequently freezing the ability of the team to change and evolve for the better.

Quadrant — 3: Delegate Leadership

A delegate leader(also called a Laissez-faire leader) defines the rules, the missions and the  responsibilities, plans and organizes the team's activities, sets an activity tracking system, delegates missions and responsibilities, gives autonomy, steps in only when required and fosters mutual respect through expertise.

  • Team respect will come through the expertise and high competency of this type of leader.  people with less skill/experience can appreciate the clarity of their duties while being guided. Nevertheless, this profile is in many cases less able for inspire his teams, to share a vision. Hence this style is not recommended for a team with low morale.
  • A delegate leader with high expectations tends to force the pace, expecting excellence and autonomy from all his staff. If this works well with motivated and experienced employees, this may be disturbing for less experienced staff who may start doubting about their own abilities and competencies for perform the job.
  • When turning bureaucratic, the leader will simply build a mediocre structure by retaining staff with low-ambition and by losing employees with high energy and who are eager to contribute in building further their company.

Quadrant — 4: Democratic Leadership

A democratic leader supports team work, offers collective projects, listens to the bottom-up flow of information, encourages teams to express freely, takes into account the individual needs, recognizes and grows his staff's fosters a positive work environment, competencies, engages his teams in the decision-making process. This leadership style is also referred as participate leadership 

  • The employees who expect or need clear guidance and close support may feel leaderless and lacking directions. This style is also often more time-consuming than other styles. 
  • There is a risk of decrease of performance on the long run by accepting mediocrity in order to preserve the stability of the team at any cost.

 Situational Leadership

A leader has to change his leadership style depending upon the abilities of subordinates. A specific leadership style is not suitable to subordinates with different abilities. Ability includes two aspect namely: capability and willingness. It is observed that there are four categories reflecting their maturity of subordinates or followers:
  • Willing and capable
  • Willing but incapable
  • Capable but unwilling
  • Incapable as well as unwilling
Situation depends upon the circumstances in which leader has to exercise his specific leadership style
for achieving the desired results. Thus the choice of a leadership style depends upon three factors:
  1. Task orientation
  2. Leader control
  3. Maturity of followers
Depending upon the maturity of the followers, the following leadership style can suit accordingly:

Leadership Style
Maturity of Followers
Capable and willing
Capable but not willing
Incapable but willing
Incapable as well as unwilling

Examples of some leadership styles:
It is difficult to specify exact examples of the leadership styles. However the following examples can be considered to have an idea of some leadership styles. Assuming that a leader is speaking the following sentences, we can guess the leadership style as given below:

Sr. No.
Leader speaking ...
Leadership Style
"You remember the training whatever I gave on that new product? I'd like you to set up and maintain a test environment with that product for next month. You can get the support from the infrastructure team when required. Simply send me a weekly progress report and don't hesitate for my guidance."
"I don't have the time for questions now. Do what I say!?'
"Guys, our sales of this product has been pretty low for the past four weeks. Can we sit all together tomorrow afternoon in order to identify how can we improve the sales? Do not forget to come with your notes on the challenges or successes you had while selling this product. Thanks"
"I think this solution is best and I feel that everyone agrees with my opinion. Don't you?"

What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership
What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership What is Leadership? Learn Types, Qualities and Style of Leadership Reviewed by Naukari Click on June 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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