Leadership Characteristics

Leadership Characteristics Executive summary: Since early beginning of the last century, the leadership has emerged as an important issue in the business regard of the dramatic transformation in the world economy. Thus far, the following report represents an attempt to shed the light on the leadership issue. In order to provide a hint of the leadership meaning, the report will demonstrate brief idea about some of the leadership theories which perceive the leadership skills form different view.
The report then will identify certain characteristics that should be attained in the personality of the leader which ensure his successful. The requisite of the contemporary leadership skills has appeared at the latter part of twentieth century, regard of the globalisation phenomenon as well the rapid development in technology; which resulted in the increase of the competition. As the knowledge does not stop, leaders require training and development, thus, the report will also investigate the process of leadership development. 1Chapter One: Introduction: Throughout the last century and insofar the 21st century, the mankind has undergone dramatic transformation in the whole domains, and the individuals needs and requirements significantly expended, however, many people managed to maintain successfully their life and obtained the benefit of this change, while others could not cope with this change, which resulted with dissatisfaction and pessimistic view of the life.
Significant amount of researches and investigations have been done in order to identify such a pattern or a process that can raise the performance of human beings, thus the concept of leadership appeared as a critical requisite for any entity, including an individuals, family, organisations or even countries. In the early part of 20th century, ‘Freud (1927) in his famous book the

Civilisation and It Discontents, he approached the leadership issue when he said that groups of individuals need leaders to provide them with an identity and sense of purpose’ (Higgs, 2003) With the rapid transformation in the world, the competition has become more aggrieve, and organisations urged to deal with this rapid change and the continue development has become an urgent need for the company prosper and survive. Hence, Leadership issue was put under the limelight as an important process for the company sustainability.
Although there have been momentous efforts devoted to investigate the leadership issue including theories, definitions and identification for its characteristics, till now there is no complete agreement about the notion of leadership, since these different suggestions and concepts approached the leadership from different perspectives. The following report embodies an attempt to shed the light on the leadership issues, throughout quick review of the leadership theories, and examine the leadership characterises in both the 20th and the 21st century, before dissect the reflection of the personal-experience on the leadership characteristics Chapter Two: Leadership Theories: Due to the importance of the leadership issue, many theories have been emerged throughout the time, each theory tackles with the leadership from different perspectives and aspects, and one can not determine whether this theory right and others are wrong; however the main theories of the leadership are: •Trait Theory: this theory defines specific characteristics which are existed in the successful leadership such as attitudes, personality, intelligence and decisiveness, regardless of any consideration of other assisted factors such as team work and the internal and external work environment.
However, there are two criticisms for this theory. “The first, it doesn’t specify what the most important leadership characteristics are, and the second, it ignores the contribution of the others. ” (Dessler, 1976) •Behavioural Theory: it approaches the leadership from another perspectives, it dissects the achievement of leaders and the outcomes of their contributions within the organisations. The remarkable differences between the trait and behavioural theory are that the last one emphasises on oth the accomplishment of the task as the main indications for the leader success, and employees’ satisfaction, •Situational leadership: According to this theory, the effectiveness of the leader is significantly correlated with situational factors which restrict the performance of the leader positively or negatively. In other words, “the efficiency of leader’s skills or traits are determined by the situation in which leaders exercise leadership” (Dessler,1976), These factors are: -Follower’s contributions. The availability and the utilization of the resources. However, creating the harmonisation and the collaboration between the situational factors and the leader are essential to determine leader’s effectiveness. •Contingency Theories: basically, the assumption of this theory, that the behaviour of the leader can not be standardised, instead, the leader should consider situational factors. The success of the leader in this theory is measured by the ability of leader to adopt such a style to achieve certain task with a consideration to the followers.
This theory was the beginning of new view of leadership; based on this assumption other contingency theories were emerged such as, Fiedler’s concept of situational favourability (1967), which defined position power, task structure and leader-member relation, as the main factors that determine the effectiveness of the leader’s style. Path-goal is another theory (House and Mitchell 1974) which assumes that the leader has a significant contribution on the follower to enable them to achieve their objectives. Horner, 1997) •Transactional theories: it assumes that since the task and responsibilities have been identified, the leader has a full right to do whatever it requires to achieve this task. This theory depends on praise and rewards as motivation system for followers, meanwhile, punishment is used to ensure the abidance by the roles and the request of the task. However, this theory is criticised as it assumes the behaviour of a human being is predictable without any consideration of the reflection of the environment. Transformational theories: this theory depends on the development of the vision and convinces the follower, in other words, the leader adopts the visions and does whatever it requires to encourage followers. In this case the leader will become an inspiration for followers and they create their relationship with them depending on trust. As it is clearly perceived, those theories tackle with the leadership from different perspectives. Since there is no enough room, the report will investigate the transformational theory. Transformational Theory: This theory was generated under assumption of people follow a person who has vision and passion.
He or she will inspire them to achieve the goal. Transformational leadership is the modern view of leadership that seems to match with the style of business leader in 21st century since the business competition; turbulence, unforeseen contingencies, and rapid change in technologies create such a momentous stress. Under this stress, the need for transformational leaders who are proactive is emerged as an important requisite to help follower to cope with the dramatic change. (Bass, 1997) The characteristic of transformational leaders is mainly embodied by their charisma; they inspire followers by their innovation and ability to create change.
However, the success of charismatic leader is through a belief in themselves rather than others, while transformational leaders concern with other around them such as colleagues and employees. They are not narcissistic as charismatic. This style of leader will create an important transformation to both organisation and employees. Moreover, it may impact the strategy and the structure of the organisation. The power of transformational leader is not derived by the reward system or rules and regulation, yet it is obtained from an intangible value such as their visions and the relationship among others. Draft, 2002) According to Tichy and Devanna (Lussier, 1996), there are three main activities for transformational leadership. Recognition for the need of revitalisation: leaders should understand the urgent need of the organisation for transformation, in order to create such a sustainable resource of competitive advantage to maintain the company success in such a competitive environment. Creating a new vision: by having visualise in innovation and organisation changed, leader will be able to inspire and motivate others to reach the objectives.
Institutionalising change: it is essential for transformational leaders to put an effort to convince others. Leaders need to advise and create trust among employees in the organisation in order to let them understand the idea of vision and reach the goal. The style of transformational leadership tends to match with the business world today since it is flexible and innovator. In addition, there are many business articles mentioned that workforce is the most important resource for organisation. Thus, this type of leadership takes into consideration of both business activity and relationship within organisation.
These two factors pave the passage of the company success. There are several distinctions between those theories; nevertheless, they agree that there are certain characteristics should be attained in the leader to ensure the efficiency of his contribution. 3Chapter Three: Leadership Characteristics: 3. 1Leadership Definition: As there are many theories approached the leadership, there are also many definitions have been suggested for the leadership, some authors identify the leadership as a process to achieve groups/ organisations goals, others see the notion of leadership as trait, transformation or even as management.
However, the definition of leadership by Rost (1993) can be used to dissect this notion (8). He defines the leadership as an influence relationship among leader and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes. According to Rost, leadership is: •Influence Relationship: the influence will be in both directions top-bottom and bottom-top. •Intend real changes: it means leadership includes substantial development in both leaders and followers. •Mutual purposes: both leader and followers agree about certain purposes which can be considered as missions or statements. . 2Leadership Characteristics: There is a view argues that leaders are born and other say it is a science can be taught, both of those views did not describe leadership accurately, “leadership is an art to be studied, practised, developed and lived. ” (Scott, 1996) There are certain characteristics that determine the effectiveness of leadership and shape the performance of leaders: 1. Communicative: the importance of this skill, that it provides the leader with an ability to deliver precisely the ideas, visions and objectives required to be achieved.
However, it is crucial to understand that the communications include the flow of data and information in two sides, top-bottom and bottom-top. Leaders have to consider sharing the ideas and unleash the contribution of employees, since occasionally, employees come up with innovative suggestions that might enhance or develop certain objectives. 2. Rewards and recognizes achievement: express the appreciation for others efforts, has a vital role as a motivation. Leaders could achieve that by financial rewards or even by praise the follower.
Sometime simple gestures such as approving nod, thumbs- up or even quick comment like ‘great job’, ‘you are doing well’ is enough to encourage followers to improve their performance and productivity. 3. Genuine interest in others: it is undeniable fact that financial rewards have a significant influence on followers; meanwhile, there are other motivations that should be attained. The leader should recognise the emotional support for followers since it creates loyalty.
Genuine interest does not require a lot of efforts; it might be expressed by asking about the personal health or family. For instance, in the company that I used to work, the owner asks employees about their general life before he asked about any other thing related to the work, this simple action was enough to motivate employees to work as they own the company. 4. Team orientation: the successful leader takes into account the importance of team-work; he gathers the followers and discusses with them the task or the missions.
The leader listens to their opinion, stimulates their innovation, and finally creates the harmony required to achieve the task. This gives employees more responsibility to improve their performance and productivity since they have significant role as decision- makers. 5. Visionary and idea-oriented: the long-term objectives are vital issue in the successful leadership agenda; he always seeks for new ideas and creativity. They consider the available competitive advantages and establish the stream of substantial competitive advantages.
When Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (Dubai’s ruler) unveiled the growth strategy of 2015, it was unsurprising for many economists that the city had met its 2010 GDP target two years ago. Many people argue that Dubai is only a bubble and it would diminish after it consumes its oil. However, this completely untrue, nowadays, 74% of emirits GDP derives from real-estate, tourism and retail sectors (Kerr, 2007). The rapid strides of the development of Dubai is referred to the log-term successful visions of it rulers, and his ability to create new competitive advantages for the country instead of the oil.
Similar to that in the business world, “Henry Ford by his long term vision as well as rational risk calculated he managed to predict the market and customer trend and made Ford on of the most successful organisation. ” (Grint, 2000) 6. Decisiveness, responsibility and Integrity: although, it has been mentioned that followers should be involved in decision-making process, the leader is still the ultimate decision-maker depending on the ability to consider the right decision in the proper time.
Since a decision has been made, the leader is completely responsible for the consequences of any possible risk, even if the leader is involved directly in the execution. Integrity is also very important, “leaders do not use followers as means to achieve their purpose in satisfying the shareholder; instead, they understand that their contribution should consider the whole stakeholders. ” (Bowie et al, 2000) 7. Competence: the word of competence derives from innovation, training and development, accumulated experience, and the ability of the leader to learn.
Since the leadership is an art, leaders have to consider the importance of shaping and the development of their skills; this should be attained by substantial willing for knowledge and self-development. Those characteristics are very important to be attained by the leaders because they have crucial impact on the effectiveness of leadership, moreover, the effective leaders manage to create synergy between their followers, and loyalty required for achieving certain objectives and tasks. 4Chapter Four: Leadership in the 21st Century:
Since the latter part of twentieth century the world has witnessed dramatic change in the whole domains, “due to the rapid strides of technologies development, the spread of the globalisation phenomenon, demographic shifts, migration and the rapid degradation of social and natural capital – are creating opposing tensions. ” (Connor et al, 2003, P. 59). Taking into account those challenges, the demand of leadership has been increased noticeably with an urgent requisite of organisations for framework that tates the new criteria of leadership. Some of these are an expansion for the previous characteristics of leadership and others are new, however, those could be summarised as: •Understanding the Culture Diversity: although the geographical barriers have been eliminated, the cultural barriers are still an enormous challenge for businesses. Leaders should be aware that doing business is different from nation to nation, and it is completely restricted by the national traditions and habits.
For instant: In the USA, Innovations and achievements are considered as individual effort, hence, the influence of the individual recognition will be obvious in Human Resource Management of the American firms, individual reward system, appraisal and even in the job designed. While in China the individual efforts and innovations are referred to the founder of the firm. In Chinese tradition the achievement are always referred to the collective units such as families, organisations, and the country. (Tsang, 2007) The misunderstanding in the communication is another consequence of the lack of culture appreciation.
Many conflicts were occurred, contracts were rejected and negotiations failed at the last stage because of the lack of communication with other culture. Thus far, the comprehensive understanding for influence of the culture on business is vital, because the world has become more united under the umbrella of globalisation. •Strategic thinking: An organisation can not be considered as an individual entity, instead it is influenced by external factors, such as competitors, suppliers, customers, critical financers and fluctuation in the market demand.
From this view the needs of substantial change in the corporate strategy emerges as an important requisite to enable the company to cope with change of the business environment. However, “the ways-of-thinking of the leader have continues impact on corporate reorientation. ” (Hendry et al,1993). However, it is important to understand that strategic thinking is different from the strategic planning, “Mintzberg argues that strategic planning derives from strategic thinking” (Bonn, 2001, P63). The first aspect of the strategic thinking is observation and company knowledge.
The leader observes the company daily life with its complexity and understands the drivers of the organisation performance and the influence of the external factors on this performance. The second aspect of the strategic thinking is creativity; it is the core of strategic thinking. The leader seeks the substantial development for his organisation; he identifies solutions for the company problems and creates vision which will determine the future of firm. Thereafter, the strategic thinking of the leader establishes the implementation required to achieve the company vision.
Sharing vision with others is another significant element for the strategic thinking successful, since it generates loyalty and encourage them because they participate in decision-making process. Jeffery Bezos the founder of Amazon is considered as an important example of a successful leader, in such a high competitive business sector like the online, where other companies struggle to cope with the rapid stride of technology, Amazon imposes itself as the leader of the online industries and especially the e- retailers, there is no doubt that the strategic thinking of Bezos is an ultimate key of the Amazon success.
Bezos always has one eye on the future, in order to build the company long term objectives, however, his strategic thinking embodies by creating the Amazon vision and establishing the strategy needed to achieve the company objectives. Innovation is one of most important aspect of Bezos strategic thinking, since Amazon invests huge amount of money to provide the world with amazing technologies such as Elastic Compute Cloud (ECC) to ensure that the company is still the leader of the dot-com race. Hof, 2006) Whenever the world doubts, if Amazon can fulfil its promise to revolutionise retailing, Bezos wonders the people with such an innovative idea to reinforce Amazon position as being the e-retailer leader. With his strategic thinking as well as his creative working-team, Amazon never stops building its substantial competitive advantages. Humanistic awareness: as workforce constitutes the most value asset of the firm, the leader has significant responsibility to ensure their satisfaction; considerable motivation system, training and development, praise, empowerment, participation in decision-making process are samples to obtain employees satisfaction. Since they have impact on employees’ productivity and innovation. However, employees’ retention reflects the level of their satisfaction, and appreciation for company leader. Learning and self-awareness: the leader has to have a profound knowledge about his organisation to be able to recognise its capability in order to create the vision and framework and means needed to achieve this vision, moreover, the successful leader is knowledge seeker to cope with rapid change in the business world. Self-awareness is another issue that leaders should take into consideration; they distinguish their weaknesses and strengths, and use the last one to eliminate the weaknesses to improve the effectiveness of their leadership.
Hence, leaders empower their ability to inspire and unite employees around themselves to maintain the company performance. 5Chapter Five: Leadership Development: The increase of the competition in the business world urges organisations to search more for competitive advantages in order to be able to survive and conquer their competitors in such a hostile business environment. Nowadays organisations eventually start to concern about leadership development and devote tangible efforts to improve efficiencies of its individuals.
However, the leadership development program should be prepared comprehensively in order to attain its purpose. The 360 degree appraisal system is an important step to initiate this program, since it provides feedback about the employee performance from different resources which helps to determine the improvement required regard to his strengths and weaknesses. (Ladyshewsky, 2007). Thereafter, the priority of the leadership development will be for the higher level managers, regard to their expected contribution on their subordinates, yet the improvement of the subordinate should be in the leadership development agenda.
The leadership development program should cover the weakness of the employees that has listed in the 360 degree appraisal; meanwhile, it should depend on modern techniques and case studies from other companies, rather than depending on the literatures and theories only. The final step in the leadership development program is the evaluation which derived from many criteria, such as the feedback of the program, the examination of the participant’s understanding, and the tangible outcomes that the company will acquire which is the decisive for the program evaluation. Leskiw et al, 2007) However, there is another view should be deemed in the issue of leadership development, individuals perseverance is ultimate criteria for development, leader should have enough credibility to admit there weaknesses and finds the appropriate strategy to mitigate the impact of this weakness, moreover, the leader should be knowledge seeker to obtain the benefit of the others experience. 6Chapter Eight: Conclusion: The leadership an old requisite in the human beings life, nevertheless, it has become a considerable obsession for the organisations, regard to the substantial transformation in the world business.
Although the theories of the leadership are different, they agree that there are several characteristic that should be attain by a person in order to be such a successful leader. Most of the leadership theories concern about the characteristic needed to reinforce two main things, creating competitive advantages and the workforce. As the workforce is the most important asset for the firm, the leader should consider employee alignment around the company objectives throughout the leader humanistic consideration as followers need inspiration, different kind of motivation in order to enhance their performance.
Meanwhile, the leader should eventually find the resource of the competitive advantages. Due to the dissemination of the globalisation phenomenon as well as the rapid development in technology, organisations require new leadership characteristic to cope with change in the business environment. However, the new leadership characteristics have emerged from the need for crossing the culture barriers, since it is an enormous obstacle for organisation. Creating the long-term planning depends on the strategic thinking of the leader to identify new vision for the company.
The increase in the world competition is accomplished with raise of the leadership demand, thus far organisations should invest considerably in improving their leadership capability, since the world development will never stop. References Bass, B. M. , (1998), Stress and Transactional-Transformational Leadership, Transformational Leadership: Industrial, Military, and Educational Impact, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Bonn, I. , (2001) Developing Strategic Thinking as a Core Competency, Management Decision, Vol. 39, No. , pp. 63-71 Bowie, N and Elmer, L. , (2000), Kantian Theory of Leadership, Leadership & organisation Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 185-193 Connor, R. and Mackenzie-Smith, P. (2003), The Leadership Jigsaw -finding the Missing Piece, Business Strategy Review, Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp 59-66 Dessler, G. , (1976) Leadership and Supervision, Organisation and Management: Contingency Approach, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Publication. Draft, R. L. , (2002), Management, 6th Ed. Mason, OH: South-Western Publication. Grint, K. (2000), Henry Ford: The Blind Business Visionary, The Arts of Leadership, Oxford: Oxford University Press Hendry, J (ed) and Johnson, G (ed) with Newton, J (1993), Strategic Thinking: Leadership and the Management of Change, England: John Wiley Publication Higgs, M. , (2003) How can we make sense of leadership in the 21st century? , Leadership & organisation Development Journal, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 273-284 Hof, R. D. , (13/10/2006), Jeff Bezos’ Risky Bet, Business week magazine [Online]. Available from Business week: http://www. businessweek. com/magazine/content/06_46/b4009001. tm Accessed (20/04/2007)) Horner, M. , (1997) Leadership Theory: Past, Present and Future, Team Performance Management, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 270-287 Kerr, S. , (24/07/2007), Emirate Sets its Sights on Trebled GDP by 2015, The Financial Times. Economy, pp. 2 Ladyshewsky, K. R, () A Strategic Approach for Integrating Theory to Practice in Leadership Development, Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, Vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 426-443 Leskiw, S and Singh, P. , (2007), Leadedrship Development: Learning from Best Practices, Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, Vol. 8, No. 5, pp. 444-464 Lussier, R. N. , (1996), Human relations in organizations: A skill-building approach. 2nd Ed. Chicago, IL: Irwin, Inc Rost, J. C, (1993), Leadership definition, Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, London: Praeger Publication. Scott , E. D. and Kleiner, B. H, (1996), Good? Leadership, Management Development Review, Vol. 9, No. 5, pp. 30-33 Tsang, D. , (2007), Leadership, National Culture and Performance Management in The Chinese Software Industry, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 56, No. 4, pp. 270-284

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