Business Leadership Essay Example
Leadership refers to the ability and will to guide or give direction to an individual or group of individuals to achieve a common target (Maxwell, 2005). For leadership to be recognized there must be people willing to be led (Kadalie, 2006). Leadership comprises of many features that include leadership skills and leadership qualities. Some of the best attributes for a good competent leader include honesty, focused, competence, inspirational and posse’s qualities of intelligence. A good leader should pose a good skill of understanding of trends, environment, possible threats and opportunities. Vision is also another important attribute that a good leader must portray in terms of decision making and methodological approach of issues. A competent leader should have and uphold certain principles that stand out from the rest (Sadler, 2006). Principles are important in earning respect and trust from followers. Reliability is one important attribute that every leader has to possess. Reliability should be both in terms of keeping time, decision making, trust, management just to mention a few (Schein, 2010). Above all, a leader must show that component of authority that is essential for earning respect, rendering judgment and create a sense of security for his or her followers (Bolden et al, 2003).
One important role of a leader is assessing both people and situations (Sadler, 2006). This enables leaders to make informed decisions on a range of issues. Planning is an inevitable duty by all leaders and is more frequent and demanding (Schein, 2010). A good leader should be able to communicate effectively to send out a message to followers. This involves the right choice of language and vocabulary (Koter, 2013). The role of leadership comes along with challenges since human being to be led are have the ability to make their own decisions (Schein, 2010). Leadership challenges that existed in the past may not be exactly the same as challenges present leaders face (Sadler, 2006; Adair, 2013). According to Bolden et al, (2003), the challenges also vary depending on institutions.
To understand the diversity of opinions surrounding the concept of leadership, one leader, Mr. Juma, a co-operative bank branch manager and consultant, was interviewed in the United States and his opinion compared against relevant literature and personal opinion. The interview was an informal one that involved broad conversation of issues surrounding leadership in various fields. The main fields of concern included co-operate leadership, various institutional leadership and informal sector leadership. The chosen respondent is a native in United States who shares a different cultural background from China. The responded addressed issues concerning; the qualities of a good leader; attributes of a good leader; how to become a good leader; and the challenges good leaders have to face in a leadership position.
The interviewee responded to the issue broadly including personal experiences in leadership, other experiences of leaders from other field. His wide range of information on how leadership is perceived was obtained. Mr. Juma had wide experience that he had amassed for many years serving as a leader in many organizations. He explained that the roles and values varied depending on the field, organization or setting in which one leads. Mr. Juma narrated how many leaders in the informal sector have a belief that leadership comprise of set of values, principles and qualities that an individual is born with. Such leaders have an opinion that leadership cannot be acquired through training. In stressing the point, he stated that a value like exercising authority cannot be gained as one grows. Cowards cannot have this quality hence will fail in leadership. Mr. Juma explained how perception of corporate leadership contradicts from the informal sector perception. In the corporate world, leadership comes with confidence gained from one’s academic qualification. He explained how hard it is to exercise authority over a junior staff with a higher academic qualification than a leader. According to Mr. Jumna, ability and courage to exercise authority is also derived from leaders past experience and performance trend. It is hard for a leader with a poor record of accomplishment to exercise authority over the rest of the personnel. Poor performance especially in decision-making lowers the respect a leader has among followers. Generally, Mr. Juma insisted on how formal education process and technical training is important in nurturing leadership skills and civilization.
Mr. Juma indicated that political leadership comprises more of one’s influence over groups. A political leader has to win the hearts and votes of the people. In some instances, one can have natural influence to move a group and that is the true leadership. He clarified that political leader who ascend to power due to manipulation will stumble at one point. He insisted that one could manipulate the public for some time and not all the time. The respondent also insisted that spiritual leaders have to posses the perfect qualities that the rest of the community can emulate. They serve as the indicators of moral quality. However this is challenging since people are some distance away from perfection.
The respondent stated that, good leaders should be quick and accurate thinkers when it comes to decision making and problem solving. Accuracy in the outcome of a leader’s decision is an important source of respect for leaders. It is also necessary for a leader to have outstanding principles with which he or she can be identified with. He explained that these principles are an important tool of setting a good example for others to follow.
Mr. Juma also explained the various challenges various leaders face. Challenges associated with leadership were relatively similar regardless of the field of leadership. However, all the challenges fall under managerial challenges that has various aspects. The aspect of technology was more of a challenge to corporate and institutional leadership. Evolution in technology meant that managerial skills of personnel evolve to match technology. Some technological challenges stated included the use of computer and internet that creates a new concept of online human resource management. Other challenges that were common among all fields of leadership included; building cohesion among individuals of different cultural background; initiating change to maintain grounds of competition; thinking strategically; maintaining standards especially after overseeing great achievements. The respondent however stated that, with a rational approach, experience and understanding any leader can overcome these challenges.
Literature review on the concept of leadership
According to Maxwell (2005), leadership can be taught and is not a character that is inherent. Leadership qualities can be gradually gained through training, experience and interest. Leadership has been characterized into; a leading leader; the learned leader; latent leader; and limited leader. A leading leader is one who has been modeled for leadership all life and portrays interest in leadership (Bolden, 2004; Bolden et al, 2003). A learned leader is one who has developed leadership through training that can be either formal or informal training. A latent leader is one trained leader with less experience on the concept of leadership and the related skills (Bolden et al, 2003). A limited leader is one who lacks experience and training on leadership. Whatever the case, it is important to understand that; it is a broad subject which requires a lot of innovation to succeed (Kadalie, 2006). Various values are considered for one to be considered a good leader. Creative thinking, innovative thinking, problem solving ability, influential and motivators are some of the most recognized values that leaders ought to have (Bolden et al, 2003; Koter, 2013). Leaders should be good predictors and planners for the future prospects and uncertainties.
There are five levels of leadership that include position, permission, production, people development and personhood (Maxwell, 2005; Schein, 2010). These are the stages one undergoes through from the moment he or she is given a leadership position. At the beginning the leader is only recognized with the title. The second level is getting people to follow a leader’s ideas and work along set plans which are then followed by getting the desired output from the people led (Adair, 2013). All levels of leadership must uphold the importance of integrity and honesty. The two values in leadership build trust and increases influence value (Kadalie, 2006).
On a personal point of view, absolute leadership is one of the most difficult things to achieve. It requires perfection of the highest level. Most of the modern day leaders lack many values that can be attributed to a good leader. For instance, technology and civilization has been one important evolution that has changed how the concept of leadership is viewed. Academic power and financial power has become an important source of powers for leaders. These are the two most important sources of power for modern leaders. It is a power that many political and institutional leaders take advantage of. The role of leadership in most fields is similar if all factors are to be considered constant. Such factors include money and education.
A good leader has to be able to bring unity and motivate people to work. He or she has to be rational, obedient, a good thinker, excellent decision maker, a good problem solver and reliable. It may be hard to have all this qualities at once but some develop with time through experience. A leader should be able to understand his or her surrounding well that includes the composition, activities and processes. This understanding varies in modern world since many fields exist like financial fields, political field learning institutions among others. This is the point at which formal education is considered a crucial factor in modeling leadership. Formal education has become as essential as many recognized leaders of the modern world have succeeded in this area. Other leadership skills and techniques can be gained through informal training and apprenticeship. Most of the challenges in leadership are due to human error, ignorance or arrogance which can be countered through smart thinking.
Comparisons of personal, literature and respondents view on leadership
There are several similarities of opinion concerning leadership. All the two parties agree with personal opinion that the concept of leadership is broad with so many values that are related. Some values must be accompanied by other values in leadership. For instance, integrity must be accompanied by honesty, consciousness, accountability, loyalty and respect. If one lacks honesty the integrity is striped off from the quality profiles of a leader. This is common to all the suggested values of leadership.
Leadership can be gained through training and experience; however, the respondent gave a situation where this fact is contradicted. Literatures provided the methods and levels through which leadership can be achieved. Mr. Juma shared a similar personal opinion that leadership skills can be gained through learning or training which can be formal or informal. Academics were specifically identified as one important tool of leadership qualities in modern world. For instance, it is hard for a political to effectively lead a production unit in a factory since there is deficiency of knowledge about the surrounding environment.
Leadership is so challenging in a way that a leader must experience some challenges. The challenges can be social, economical, political or technological evolution. All the two sources of information agree with the personal opinion. The types of challenges a leader faces depend on the field. The causes of challenges may also vary from, ignorance to arrogance. Smart thinking and experience of a leader is essential to overcome these challenges. There can be some challenges such as maintaining standards which are unique especially in business fields.
Leadership is one element that has been important for many years now. Over time, most of the qualities of leadership have remained constant despite the numerous evolutions that have taken place. The concept of leadership is broad that it requires all round and right thinking individuals to make competent leaders. In trying to understand what leadership entails, personal opinion was compared against literature and M. Juma a U.S.A citizen of a different cultural background from China. Several areas of interest included; the qualities of good leader; attributes of a good leader; how to become a good leader; and the challenges good leaders have to face in a leadership position. It was established that most of the leadership attributes are same regardless of time and field of leadership. Apart from the opinion of one example by the respondent, it was established that leadership qualities can be gained through training and education. Leadership has to be faced by various challenges since managing human beings is challenging. The challenges may be varied but can be overcome through an intelligent approach.
List of References
Adair J, 2013, Develop Your Leadership Skills, Kogan Page Publishers, London.
Bolden R., Gosling J., Marturano A. & Dennison P., 2003, A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks. Edited Version of a Report for Chase Consulting and the Management Standards Centre, Retrieved on October 24th, 2015 from <http://www2.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/luisrodrigues/textos/Lideran%C3%A7a.pdf>
Bolden R, 2004, What is Leadership? Leadership South West Research Report 1, Retrieved on October 24th, 2015 from
Koter J.P, 2013, Leadership: What Is It? Retrieved on October 24th, 2015 from
Kadalie D, 2006, Leader’s Resource Kit: Tools and Techniques to develop your leadership. Evangel Publishing House.
Maxwell C.J,2005,. Developing the Leader Within You, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc
Sadler P, 2006, Leadership, Kogan Page Publishers, London.
Schein E.H, 2010, Organizational Culture and Leadership, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
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