Term Paper on Leadership

The paradoxical issue of leadership has been such long subject of speculation and much has been focused on the determinants s of leadership effectiveness. Much of the leadership has been centered on the different concept of leadership, different ways of evaluating its effectiveness, and different approaches for studying leadership and how it forges and affects the effectiveness and the efficiency of a particular organization.

According to The Webster Dictionary, a leader is defined as a person who by force of example, talents or qualities of leadership plays a directing role, wields commanding influence, or has a following in any sphere of activity or thought. It defines leadership as that ingredient of personality that causes people to follow. Leadership is also conveniently defined as the ability to get things done through others, the process by which a leader exerts influence over others to move towards a vision. Leadership is distinguished from management, in that leadership implies a vision, or some sense of a higher and purpose beyond the day to day task of managing the work production of an organization or agency.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000), efficiency is defined as “the quality of doing well with no waste of time or money” meanwhile effective is defined as “producing the intended result or a successful result”. As such, Leadership is an act of securing, attaining results for the organization and with the optimum utilization of its resources. This entails very imperative and a high quality of traits or characteristics that leaders should possess that contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of the particular organization.

Leadership can also be defined as the process of influencing people to direct their efforts toward the attainment of some particular goal or goals (Hodgetts and Kuratko, 1986).

Invariably in a similar note, Leadership is defined as process used by the individual to influence group of members toward the achievement of group goals, where the group members view the influence as legitimate (Howell, and Costley, 2001).

According to Howell and Costley, careful studies in organizations show that executive leadership can account for 45 percent of an organization’s performance. Leadership also tends to make a difference in follower’s satisfaction and performance and persevere the effectiveness and the efficiency of the organization.

The core characteristics of the definition of the above stated leadership are, firstly, leadership is a process or a reasonable systematic and continuous series of actions directed toward group goals. As such, leadership today should be referred as the pattern of behaviors that leaders exhibit rather than the individual or the properties or traits or qualities of the individuals. Secondly, leadership is the designed act to influence people to influence people to modify their behavior. Thirdly, leadership is characterized as a single individual who usually fulfills the role for a group. Fourthly, leadership influence is viewed by followers as reasonable and justified. Fifthly, leadership influence is directed towards achieving group goals.

Current leadership experts agree that effective leadership behavior depends on situational and follower characteristics. To be effective leaders means to be able to diagnose the situation and follower’s characteristics and this will determine the pattern of leadership behavior that will result in high performance. This suggests that leader’s behavior differ from leadership traits or skills. Nevertheless, behavior and traits or skills interact to determine a leader’s effectiveness.

Certain situational or followers characteristics can increase or decrease the effectiveness of a leader’s behavior. Nevertheless, leaders have important roles to play in organizations, and effective leaders need to be aware of three tasks the effective leadership process: diagnosing situations to determine the need for a specific leader behavior, providing the needed leader behavior and modify situations and/or follower to increase their ability to work effectively and/or independently of the leader in attaining high performance and positive attitudes.
According to Robert T. Justis, the level of leadership effectiveness is influenced strongly by the perceived task competency of the leader, by the reward dependency of the subordinate upon the leader, and by the interaction of these two variables.

Leadership in a traditional view of organization would entail strong directive and task skills, and a clear idea of the objective, usually formed by the individual independent of input from others. Leadership is deemed as a function of position, a power possessed only by the person at the top. The new context of organizations as a more complex and comprehensive call for a new paradigm in leadership. This is due to the fact that organizations and systems are now seen as interdependent, complex and diverse. The environment that the organization has to endure consists of complex network of customers, suppliers, and interlocking markets and subject to sudden, unpredictable change.

As such, a new model of leadership is needed to sustain and persevere to these new organization conditions and it entails new sets of behaviors and skills. Leaders need to have interpersonal attitude, the ability to authentically articulate core principles and a sense of meaning for oneself and for others, and the skill to tap the deep resources of creativity and passion of team members. According to Bolman & Deal (1991), this is defined as the symbolic frame of leadership who can release the deep intrinsic motivation in staff and customers to increase loyalty, passion, and creativity that cannot be tapped by other means. Invariably, the political frame of effective leadership posits leaders as astute politician that employ power constructively, and offer a review of the literature on how this might be approached.

According to Steven Covey (1990), attainment of an effective and efficient organization is warranted by leaders having built a high-trust culture where people are empowered to strive for their best, and seeking to align “strategy, style, structure and systems” with the professed mission and with the realities of the environment.

Leadership is inevitably the essence of the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization. As stated above leaders need to influence followers and he or she must use behavioral patterns in an effective manner. Failing which, followers are not influenced to achieve group goals. Types of situational and follower characteristics that leaders must consider in selecting the appropriate behavior should be identified. There are five core leader behavior patterns that should be adhered by leaders.

Firstly, the supportive behavior which entails the leader’s role in showing concern for comfort and well being of followers; demonstrating considerate, kind, and understanding attitude in dealing with followers; being friendly and informative, and encouraging open two-way communication and follower development.

Secondly, directive leadership behavior refers to the leader’s behavior in assigning followers to specific tasks, explaining the methods to be used in completing the tasks, clarifying expectations regarding quantity and quality of follower performance, setting goals for followers, planning and coordinating followers, and specifying roles and procedures to be followed.

Thirdly, the participating leadership involves followers in decision-making by consulting and getting ideas from followers. Followers are given opportunity in disseminating and constructing their own decisions with initial effort by the leaders or assigning a particular problem to a follower to resolve.

Fourthly, leader reward and punishment behavior entails the leader to provide intrinsic and extrinsic benefits and usually and in best practices is based on the follower’s performance. Punishment is rendered for unwanted followers behaviors.

Fifthly, the charismatic leadership behavior involves the leader communicating a vision of the future that has ideological significance to the followers, arousing follower’s needs which are relevant to goal accomplishment, serving as a role model, expressing high expectations and confidence in follower’s capabilities, and projecting a high esteem degree of confidence.

The leadership behavioral patterns which are exhibited are not mutually exclusive although they are described as distinct from one another. Nevertheless, different behavioral patterns may serve different leadership patterns. There are other emerging leader behavior include the leaders role in boundary spanning, which is representing the group, protecting members from outsiders, obtaining resources, and resolving conflicts among members and with other groups. Leaders use behavioral patterns to influence followers to accomplish group or organization’s goals. It is imperative for leaders to use a variety of behaviors to obtain desired outcomes with followers. Using of different combination of behaviors are called leadership styles. Most effective leaders demonstrate all of these behavioral patterns at one time or another based on the situation.

Leaders behavior have a constructive and influencing bearing on the psychological reactions(attitudes, feelings,perceptions,motivations and expectations) on the followers which in turn has an impact on the followers satisfaction with supervision, general job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job stress, role clarity, motivation and group cohesion. As such, positive effects ensure a pleasant working environment and facilitate attainment of organization goals. Meanwhile, negative effects reduce satisfaction and may result in resentment and uncooperative followers. This will result in the organization being ineffective and inefficient. The leadership behavior patterns have bearings on the organizational outcomes. Importance outcomes include high individual and group performance; low turnover, absenteeism, lateness, and grievance rates; and high quality levels, all of which result in a production organization. This suggest that a supportive leader tends to increase followers satisfaction (a psychological reaction) and a high level of job satisfaction among workers and naturally result in lower turnover, absenteeism, and grievance rates which may impose high production costs.

Even though the deliberations so far has centered or viewed as shared influence process based on a behavioral approach, it is appreciated that leadership should also be viewed as a specialized role which focuses on the attributes that determine selection of designated leaders. Traits and skills coupled with leadership behavior emanate an effective leadership and justify effective and efficient organization. It helps to say that positive trait and skills gives and added advantage to the leadership effectiveness.

Firstly, leaders should have a visionary mind or has the ability to give clear direction. Leaders are always engaged in the implementation of a change in complex systems and agencies. It is a critical element in this effort and the imitative to succeed and leaders will be needed to articulate a vision and motivate the aligned energy of groups of people, negotiate resources, resolves conflicts, keep the change process moving in the desired direction, and stimulate appropriate adjustment to ever-changing conditions. Leaders are attentive to visions by paying attention, synthesizing vision into a choice of direction and focusing attention by developing commitment. Leaders should be able to scan the horizon, identify future trends, and position the agency or system to meet future needs and basically inspire a shared vision.

Secondly, leadership entails the need of an interpersonal aptitude of the leader, the ability to authentically articulate core principles and a sense of meaning for oneself and for others, and the skill to tap the deep resources of creativity and passion of team members. Leadership is the willingness to coach and support people and have the tendency to reward a diversify set of skills, creatively aligned towards one outcome.

Thirdly, knowledge-sharing leadership involves the need for leaders to possess knowledge of the subject they are involved and should be sufficient to command the respect of his followers. In absence, the leadership’s credibility is disputed and questioned. This will tend to construct an ineffectiveness and inefficiencies in the organization. Employees tend to be disoriented and lack the confidence in executing their work.

Fourthly, leadership needs the capacity and the tenacity to communicate with their followers especially in conveying their thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Leadership involves the competency to influence people to do what they want them to do. This is imperative so that goals and objectives of organizations are attained. It ensures the effectiveness of the organization to realize its goals.

In conclusion, evaluation of leadership effectiveness is coined in terms of the consequences of the leader’s actions for followers and other organizational stakeholders. The different outcomes dictate the extent of organizational effectiveness and efficiency that the organization is nurtured, molded and strategised to enable the attainment of the organizational goals and objectives. Outcomes could be in the form of the performance and growth of the leader’s group or organization, its preparedness to deal with challenges or crises, follower satisfaction with the leader, follower commitment to the group objectives, the psychological well being and development of the followers. Nevertheless, the most important should be the attainment of the organizational goals and performance effectively and efficiently. This is measured in terms of profits, profit margin, sales increase, market share, sales relative to targeted sales, return on investment, productivity, cost per unit of output and cost in relative to budget expenditures. Leadership must condone to a continuous effort to enhance group cohesiveness by improving the quality of work life, build the self-confidence of followers, increasing their skills, and contribute to the psychological development growth and development. This will eventually ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization when goals and performance of the organization is attained.


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