Probably more than at any other time in history, society is experiencing a leadership crisis. Due to various circumstances, the turnover rate for leaders has become exceptionally high. But leadership is still required and desired. In fact, people can't function without it. Leadership gives human beings directions, momentums, and ultimately, hopes.
In the organization that I work for, leadership is importance because of the following reasons:
Organizational effectiveness depends upon leaders: Organizational effectiveness is desperately dependent upon good leaders. The success or failure of all businesses rests on the shoulders of the leaders they employ.
Leaders provide purpose: The second reason why leaders are important today has to do with the tremendous amount of change that has taken place in recent years. The continuing escalation of change has left employees with complex and overwhelming choices. Leaders give people the direction, purpose, and guidance that are sorely missing during tumultuous times.
Leaders bolster integrity: The final reason why leaders are so vital today is the ongoing concern society has over integrity. There is general disillusionment with many leaders.
In some cases people are fearful of the evil power that malevolent leaders seem to possess. In other cases, frustration has surfaced when trust has been misplaced in individuals who've shirked their duties and let their constituents down. At times like these, guidance is needed to return people to their roots. People need inspiration from individuals who are willing to risk defeat, while still pursuing their ideals and principles. In other words, people crave leaders who can lead.
In such a volatile marketplace, strong leaders are more vital than ever before. It is precisely at times like these, times of great change, upheaval, and questionable integrity, that organizations need leaders and not just managers.
Having acknowledged the importance of leadership, I realize that leaders begin as individuals who work and deal with others in society. They develop themselves into successful leaders by the things that they do. As I continually strive to develop myself into a successful leader, I recognize the four general characteristics that are necessary for successful leadership, which are: nurturing ongoing and interactive relationships, being in touch with innermost thoughts, feelings, and values, walking the talk, and leading by influence.
The first characteristic that all effective leaders must develop is the ability to nurture ongoing and interactive relationships. To develop in this area, I have drawn four guidelines that I must follow:
Allow for an equal exchange of ideas: By doing so the people I work with will feel comfortable speaking up. This will help me in the long run because I will develop an effective team that can achieve its goals.
Consider the needs of the employees: Demonstrating that I care. Being inconsiderate of employees' needs puts my success as a leader at risk because the employees won't be motivated to go the extra mile when it's needed.
Meet the needs of the employees: By doing so, I will demonstrate that I am willing to take action, when necessary, to ensure that the employees are better able to do their jobs. This will ensure that I earn the respect of the staff.
Validate the employees' concerns: When employees take the time to raise an issue, I need to listen to their concerns and validate them. By doing so, I show employees that I can see things from another point of view. This action will help me to forge solid relationships with the staff.
I've gathered some strategies for becoming attuned to my inner self which are: cultivating alone time, assuming distance from the mission, meditating and thinking deeply, visualizing and relaxing, exercising regularly, and engaging in creative activities.
Walking the Talk
To walk the talk I need to act in a manner that is consistent with my words. I realize that as a leader, it's important that I practice what I preach. It is the epitome of leading when talk and actions fuse. Good leaders must truly believe in what they are doing. When leaders believe in their goals, then others will recognize this and quickly provide their support.
Leading by Influence
I've learned that in order to acquire support and motivate the employees, successful leaders use influence as opposed to force. To influence others, I realize the need to display their motivation and have a positive outlook. When I lead by influence, I am not using force as a motivator. I've learned that using force as a motivator will jeopardize long-term commitment from the employees.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of someone who led by influence. People were not forced to follow him; they chose to. He influenced people by demonstrating his knowledge of issues, showing his personal devotion to a cause, and communicating his dream in a positive way.
There is no definitive way to determine what ensures success as a leader. However, if I commit to these techniques, I'm confident that the odds that I'll emerge as an outstanding leader are high.
Leadership is the ability to influence others to cooperate enthusiastically in the successful accomplishment of a common goal. My organization's effectiveness is dependent upon my skill in setting a goal, identifying what needs to be done, creating willingness to cooperate, and bringing out the best in my employees. I find myself, in different situations, correspond to four basic leadership orientations of a director, a relater, a motivator, and a dreamer.
Director: A director is one who has the task-oriented behavior of direction setting, and hands-on guidance and feedback. The leaders who utilize the director style of leadership look at the big picture, decide what needs to be done, and communicate it to employees.
Relater: A relater is one who promotes principles and values, a relationship-oriented attitude and behavior of a leader. A relater also plays the role of concert building and collaboration. Leaders who are strong in the relater quadrant focus on their employees. They feel that the welfare of the team is of the utmost importance.
Motivator: A motivator is one who possesses the relationship-oriented attitudes and behaviors of satisfying higher-level needs and giving emotional support and encouragement. Motivators are leaders who give meaning and significance to the work their employees do. These leaders are especially cognizant of their employees' need to be challenged and to succeed. They search for opportunities to exceed previous levels and regularly set the bar higher.
Dreamer: A dreamer is one who creates inspiration and visibility, another relationship-oriented attitude and behavior. Some leaders have the ability to see what others do not see. They imagine things for their employees that are far beyond the ordinary or what was ever dreamed to be possible. Without these dreamers, little could or would happen. Most journeys begin with imagination and the belief that the imagined can be realized.
The four leadership styles or orientations give me a framework within which to operate. Undoubtedly, there are any number of combinations and situations to which these orientations can be applied. Having an understanding of the four leadership styles will better prepare me to do my best job of leading.
As a leader it is important to recognize that various situations will require different leadership skills. Regardless of my leadership style, it is likely that problems will arise because of my approach to specific situations. This is natural and unavoidable. However, successful leaders are able to correct problems generated from specific leadership styles. In order to achieve this end, I realize that I will need to evaluate my leadership style and avoid overplaying my strengths by balancing.
Evaluate My Leadership Style
When evaluating my leadership style, I realize that I need to consider both of my strengths and weaknesses. Once I've done this, I then need to decide which of the four domains, dreamer, director, relater, or motivator, accurately depicts my style. Once I have identified my leadership style, it is much easier to balance my leadership.
Avoid Overplaying My Strengths by Balancing
The second thing that I need to do in order to balance my leadership style is avoid overplaying my strengths by balancing my style. For example, if I notice that the employees constantly act independently of each other in exploring their own goals and visions, I may determine that I need to move my leadership orientation toward relater. I can help gain balance by using teams more effectively, emphasizing collaboration, and recognizing and rewarding group effort. Problems may also occur when a team becomes so important that individual efforts are no longer recognized or valued. In this case, I want to balance my leadership orientation by moving toward the dreamer style. This will require emphasizing individual excellence and recognizing and encouraging individual employees in pursuing the vision.
If I find that I overplay a directive style of leadership, I should direct less by empowering the team, emphasize improvement by enriching employees' work lives, and motivate through appreciation. These actions will help me move to the motivator style of leadership, and thus, will help me to balance my leadership style.
Recognizing my weakness as a leader is as important as recognizing my strengths. By evaluating my natural style and working on the orientation that is least comfortable, I may have entered my fundamental state of leadership which will make me a more balanced and successful leader.
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