Leadership is one of the most important factors in the success of any organization. Many questions arise like, “What makes an effective leader?”, “How can I become a better leader?” While some people believe leaders are born and not made, others believe they can be cultivated through personal development. Some say that it is the ability to control others and direct their activities towards specific goals while encouraging them to cooperate with each other.
Leadership professional, Manfred Kets de Vries, says that being a leader takes more than just being smart or having great ideas. His definition of leadership involves understanding what motivates people with varied backgrounds and bringing them together as a team to work towards specific goals or outcomes that do not solely benefit the individual but the team as a whole.
Leadership is the process of organizing people and figuring out how they interact with each other to get things done efficiently.
Leadership Development: Are You Developing Leaders or Managers?
True leadership involves more than managing people by telling them what to do, giving them orders which require them to follow without objection. True leaders take the time to get everyone on board with any given project or idea that requires a group effort. By inspiring everyone throughout your team, you’ll be setting yourself up for the best environment possible for success.
In leadership, it’s important to be willing, selfless and sincere. Leaders need to be able to inspire others and motivate them so they will not only try their best, but work together as a team toward a common objective or goal. A leader should not simply to tell his team what to do – they need to understand the vision and feel encouraged to offer any ideas they may have because as we all know, if everyone works together toward the same goal, the achievement is that much greater.
Successful managers can do a lot to inspire or motivate their team, but they shouldn’t make the mistake of leaving it at that. People need a reason to put their heart and soul into what they’re doing, not just to do what’s expected. Giving them something other than orders is one thing that distinguishes leadership from management.
True leaders know they are there to inspire and motivate their followers, and provide guidance when needed. A great example is the captain of a sports team – like hockey, baseball, cricket, soccer or football. These captains have established their careers on an individual level (where they use their individual skills and knowledge), and they realized they can be more successful playing on the same side as their teammates.
They want to get the best from their team, but they do not put themselves above or ahead of others. Rather, they encourage and help others who need support while motivating them to use their own skills and knowledge together to achieve a common goal. They learned how to communicate with them and work together to assist each other with teamwork and cooperation towards the ultimate goal of winning. They learned how to play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back of the jersey.
Think of it this way. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things. Management is efficiency, control, managed risks. Leadership is direction, enthusiasm, inspiration and influence.
Leadership Development: Transactional Leader or Transformational Leader
A transactional manger will influence their employees by appealing to self-interest. Further, this kind of manger will offer rewards to the employee in return for compliance to organizational plans. The relationship between this type of manager and the follower is seen as a series of transactional exchanges that enable each to reach their own goals.
A transactional manager supplies all their own ideas and use rewards as their primary source of influence, motivating people with individual incentives so they will either comply with requests or follow through on agreements. Followers comply with this leader when it’s in their own interest – the relationship continues as long as the reward is desirable to the follower, and both the manager and the team member see it as a way of achieving their own objectives.
The transactional manager is usually most effective with a group of people who need direction and supervision, lacking initiative but is not very people-oriented and does not encourage innovation. These types of managers tend to rule by what’s best for the company’s bottom line and might even be considered controlling.
These types of managers usually only look at cost benefits and practices which helps achieve high profits. Such managers rely on rewards, recognition and bonuses as a way to manipulate others. However, this might hinder them from achieving one goal of “WOW”ing the client and exceeding their expectations.
Transformational leaders are the type of people who aren’t just satisfied with turning employees into productive members of their organizations, they want their employees to perform for them in an atmosphere where their workers feel wanted and valued – to be made into better persons than when they first started working at that company. Transformational leaders inspire followers to work with them as a team – these leaders motivate those who follow them to work towards something greater than themselves.
The way these leaders inspire others is by transforming individuals so that they listen to what needs to be done, act on it because it benefits not just themselves but the greater good – learning how many good things can happen for so many people through sympathetic behavior. These leaders of transformation will change the needs, values, preferences and aspirations of followers by inspiring people to make decisions and take action not based on their own personal gain but rather on the greater good which has become an overriding interest for them within their specific group or organization.
As transactional leaders take care of basic company operations, transformational leaders motivate followers beyond immediate self-interest by creating virtuous cycles that fuel growth throughout the organization; where what is right and good becomes more important than the individual’s needs or wants.
Did you know that many studies have shown that the ways women leaders approach leadership is more closely aligned with the transformational style of leading, whereas men are more likely to be considered transactional leaders? It’s interesting that research shows that women leaders use both the transformational style and the transactional style, whereas men tend to favor either one or the other. When describing their own leadership behavior, most female executives described themselves as using the transformational style which relies on inspiration and motivation to achieve results. Most men when describing their own leadership styles on the other hand tend to use words and phrases that describe the “transactional” style.
Leadership is Who You Are and Who You Can Become
Many people in the UK would typically describe Margaret Thatcher as a strong and decisive leader, but her approach to leadership was not always celebrated by everyone especially if they were on the receiving end of her “special brand” of persuasion. They might use words like ‘domineering’ or maybe even dictatorial, as she pushed her initiatives through despite massive opposition. However, some of her closest colleagues described her as ‘charismatic’, ‘motivational’, and even ‘kind’.
We can see from this breakdown of leadership that there are different ways of defining what a leader does, and how, at least in most cases, these definitions don’t match up with those for managers or others roles one might be familiar with from the business world. There are many ways to characterize what leadership is, but the most effective way to look at it is that a leader describes how they handle managing others or leading people.
At one end of the spectrum, we have Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, we have Rajiv Bajaj, a successful Indian entrepreneur who turned an Indian motorcycle manufacturer into a world leader for three difficult decades as well as help develop affordable automobiles for their country’s growing market.
Because these individuals all developed skills which they applied towards success in their respective industries, it’s safe to say that they’re successful because of this capacity to learn beyond their given talents. There are certainly other variables that come into play; all of them are necessary components for leadership.
The common factor, as it seems, is that all leaders appear to share a leadership quality that takes disparate people and brings them together as a unit – to work hard towards a common goal. Whether you have the ability to lead by nature or need to develop it with effort, there are some things you can do to strengthen your leadership capabilities.
Leadership isn’t just about setting goals for everyone involved – it’s about being proven as someone who cares about others that makes them look up to you as a leader worth following. And it involves skills that anyone can develop to become a better leader.
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