Who is a leader? There is not a single definition that everyone agrees on.
Manfred Kets de Vries, a professor at INSEAD, says leadership is a collection of features, behavior patterns, personality traits that make it more efficient for certain people to achieve a fixed goal or objective.
Another way to describe leadership is to say that, to get the best out of people, individuals, teams, organizations, they need to be led, guided, persuaded, motivated, inspired, to be committed to doing their best work together to achieve a common objective. this, rather than the pure management approach of being told, directed, ordered and treated as subordinates.
True leaders are recognized as the leader, and their followers agree they need to be guided by that leader, but they don’t think they’re just subordinates. An excellent instance is the captain of a sports team–hockey, baseball, netball, cricket, soccer, football, athletics–these are people who have an individual position to perform, yet find time and ways to motivate and promote others to do their utmost, to use their own abilities, expertise and experience (scoring goals, defending, winning races, hitting home runs) while at the same moment working.
There are other ways of defining leadership, managers perform transactions, and leaders bring about transformations.
The transactional manager, mainly through the exchange of rewards and services, affects others by appealing to self-interest. The connection between this sort of manager and the follower is viewed as a sequence of rational exchanges that allow each individual to achieve their own objectives. Transactional managers provide all ideas and use rewards as their primary power source. Followers comply with the leader when it’s in their own interest – the connection remains as long as the follower’s reward is acceptable, and both the director and the follower see the exchange as a manner to achieve their own ends.
The transformative leader inspires followers not only to conduct as anticipated but to exceed expectations–transformative leaders motivate followers to work for objectives that go beyond instant self-interest, where what is correct and good becomes crucial–these leaders transform followers ‘ requirements, values, preferences, and ambitions. They do this so that the wider group’s interests replace the individual’s self-interest within that group.
Interestingly, a study has shown that the way women leaders describe how they conduct themselves is in line with the style of transformation, whereas most masculine rulers use words and sentences that describe the transactional style when describing themselves. There are exceptions, of course, and the leader can view distinct groups differently in certain situations. Many individuals in the UK would not define Margaret Thatcher as transformative in style, but they would be more likely to use phrases such as dictatorship, domineering, riding roughshod over opponents, and others would describe her as charismatic, motivational, inspiring, kind, helpful in her close group, for instance.
From this look at Leadership, we can see that there are distinct ways to describe what a leader is doing, and how this is distinct, at least in some respects, from how a manager is acting. Individuals recognized as rulers make it clear that there are excellent variations in the behavior of some leaders. There are big differences on the surface between Prime Minister Thatcher’s leadership style and that of the Indian industrialist Rajiv Bajaj. However, both are commonly recognized as extremely effective leaders. It seems that the prevalent factor is that everyone can convince others to follow them to succeed in their specific sector.
They all have something to bring together varied individuals, to work as a team, to pursue a common goal and to work hard. Maybe it’s a special talent, or characteristic, or personality trait, or set of circumstances they’re in, or maybe a combination of all of these. With this capacity, maybe leaders are born, maybe it’s something that can or must be taught.
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