Leadership may be defined as a social influence process whereby a person by his actions can acquire the support and help of others in the achievement of a common goal. Leadership calls for:
- Setting a clear vision
- Communicating that vision to other people so as to get them to follow willingly in realizing it
- Making available the knowledge, techniques and information needed to bring the vision to fruition
- Balancing and coordinating the differing interests of all stakeholders and members
Jack Welch, the successful former chairman and CEO of General Electric has often been admired for his brilliant leadership skills. He did away with incompetencies, routinely rewarded the best managers while sacking underperforming ones and considerably increased his company’s value (it soared by 4000 percent during his tenure).
Irrespective of what their individual skills or impressive character traits may be, leaders may deliver their roles in any of various styles. The style adopted depends on factors such as which stage of the lifecycle the organization is in, and the particular situation. Three leadership styles are discussed here:
- Autocratic – A leader practicing this style makes decisions without welcoming input from or consulting the members of his team. It is also referred to as the authoritarian leadership style.
- Laissez Faire – Sometimes referred to as a “hands-off” leadership style, this model is characterized by conferring all the power and rights to make decisions to the worker.
- Democratic –This style involves inviting the participation of group members in the decision making process. It incorporates debate, discussion, sharing of ideas and making group members feel happy about their contribution towards the leader’s final decision.
Among other things, superior leadership calls for a willingness to take risks, self-confidence, solid communication skills, the ability to make a quick decision even in times of crisis, and the capacity for setting and accomplishing challenging goals.
The leadership style you choose will depend on your personality, and the requirements of your organization. It is best to read about different leadership styles, and experiment till you find one that works for you.