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Leadership, manager motivation: equal opportunity

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion for work, and inspire team members – Steve Jobs

Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is also defined as the capacity to influence a group towards the realization of a goal. Leaders are required to develop future visions and to motivate the organizational members want to achieve the visions. In corporate world, leadership is a process by which an executive can direct, guide and influence the behavior and work of others towards accomplishment of specific goals in a given situation. Leadership is the ability of a manager to induce the subordinates to work with confidence and zeal.

Are some people born to lead? Looking at the great leaders of the past, it looks like that they do seem to differ from ordinary human beings in several aspects. They definitely possess high levels of ambition coupled with clear visions of precisely where they want to go. These leaders are cited as naturally great leaders, born with a set of personal qualities that made them effective leaders. Even today, they belief that truly great leaders are born is common. Top executives, sports personalities, and even politicians often seem to possess an aura that sets them apart from others.

According to Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish philosopher of 19th century, “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”. The great man theory of leadership states that some people are born with the necessary attributes that set them apart from others and that these traits are responsible for their assuming positions of power and authority. A leader is a hero who accomplishes goals against all odds for his followers. The theory implies that those in power deserve to be there because of their special endowment. It suggests that all great leaders share these characteristic regardless of when and where they lived or the precise role in the history they fulfilled.

A leader has got multidimensional traits which makes appealing and effective in behavior. Precisely, the basic ingredients for a good leader are, but not limited to:

  • Physical appearance
  • Vision and foresight
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Self-confidence and will-power
  • Empathy
  • Knowledge of work
  • Humanist
  • Intelligence
  • Communicative skills

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Leadership and management are the terms that are often considered synonymous. It is essential to understand that leadership is an essential part of effective management. As a crucial component of management, remarkable leadership behavior stresses upon building an environment in which each and every employee develops and excels. This influence may originate from formal sources, such as that provided by acquisition of managerial position in an organization. A manager must have traits of a leader, i.e., he must possess leadership qualities. Leaders develop and begin strategies that build and sustain competitive advantage. Organizations require robust leadership and robust management for optimal organizational efficiency.

Leadership versus managers
  • Managers lay down the structure and delegate authority & responsibility; Leaders provide direction by developing the organizational vision & communicating it to the employees and inspiring them to achieve it.
  • Managers focuses on planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling; Leaders focus on listening, building relationships, teamwork, inspiring, motivating and persuading the followers.
  • Managers gets authority by virtue of position in the organization; Leaders gets authority from followers.
  • Managers follow the organization’s policies and procedure; Leaders follow their own instinct.
  • Management is more of science; Leadership is an art.
  • Managers deal with the technical dimension in an organization or the job content; Leaders deals with the people aspect.
  • Managers evaluate people by their name, past records, present performance; Leaders evaluate individuals, deals with future and the performance of people if their potential is fully extracted.
  • If management is reactive, leadership is proactive.

Hence leadership accompanied by management sets a new direction and makes efficient use of resources to achieve it.

BasisManagerLeader
OriginA person becomes a manager by virtue of his position.A person becomes a leader on basis of his personal qualities.
Formal RightsManager has got formal rights in an organization because of his status.Rights are not available to a leader.
FollowersThe subordinates are the followers of managers.The group of employees whom the leader leads are his followers.
FunctionsA manager performs all five functions of management.Leader influences people to work willingly for group objectives.
NecessityA manager is very essential to a concern.A leader is required to create cordial relation between person working in and for organization.
StabilityIt is more stable.Leadership is temporary.
Mutual RelationshipAll managers are leaders.All leaders are not managers.
AccountabilityManagers are accountable for self and subordinates behavior and performance.Leaders have no well-defined accountability.
ConcernA manager’s concern is organizational goals.A leader’s concern is group goals and member’s satisfaction.
FollowersPeople follow manager by virtue of job description.People follow them on voluntary basis.
Role continuationA manager can continue in office till he performs his duties satisfactorily in congruence with organizational goals.A leader can maintain his position only through day to day wishes of followers.
SanctionsManager has command over allocation and distribution of sanctions.A leader has command over different sanctions and related task records. These sanctions are essentially of informal nature.

Leadership tends to create followers out of free will and choice without forcing them to accept anything thrown their way. Authority rarely provides a scope for feedback, constructive criticism or opinions of the people on whom it is exercised, however, leaders provide ample platform to their followers to voice their thoughts and feedback.

Exercising authority sometimes limits the approaches to arrive at solutions for issues and problems while leadership encourages people to look beyond the obvious and think innovatively and sometimes emerge with radical solutions.

Apart from it, the biggest difference between the two, as cited by Stephen R. Covey, the author of the famous book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, is the moral authority held by leaders over the followers, which is absent in the case of power from authority. Within the organizational setup when leaders also have moral authority on their subordinates by establishing a synchrony in their words and actions; the rest of the structure and processes of the organization also get aligned to it, thus creating a robust and transparent culture.

Authoritative way of working also encourages individuals to work in silos while in the organizations of today; the leaders need to have a complete picture and coordinate with other functions and departments as and when required. It is indeed difficult for managers and leaders to move out of their circle of authority and coordinate and interact with external people. However the need of the hour and the more effective approach to leadership and management is when leaders come out of their comfort zone and move from exercising authority on a small group to leading the entire organization.

Individuals, who do not rely on authority but lead people, are the ones who enjoy the privilege of their ideologies and thoughts practiced by later generations long after they are gone. Even with individuals who held positions of responsibilities, the ones who actually led their people are the ones remembered and followed.

Emotional intelligence for leaders

An organization is made up of people and when people are involved, emotions automatically come into play, and a workplace is no different. It would be unwise to assume that a workplace is all objective, no-emotion only performance kind of a packed room where hormones have no scope to creep in, however, the fact is that emotions alone are the biggest motivator or de-motivator of an employee. The emotions alone, govern the performance and efficiency of a worker and had it not been the case, we would have never talked about the importance of work-life balance and for the present context, the need of emotionally intelligent leaders.

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The current times are very dynamic not just economically but also socially where the social fabric is rapidly evolving due to globalization and other influences. The average age of the workforce is reducing and the leaders now look forward to managing people belonging to different cultures and backgrounds. In such a situation, it is important for a leader to be highly sensitized to the emotional aspects of his/her transactions with people. Emotional Intelligence is basically the ability to recognize and understand one’s own feelings and emotions as well as those of others and use that information to manage emotions and relationships.

Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist and science journalist proposes the four important aspects of Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Management
  3. Social Awareness
  4. Relationship Management or Social Skills

A leader tends to have a huge influence on the thoughts and motivation of people. He/she has the capacity to enthuse optimism and confidence in the followers and lead them to constructive endeavors, which is called ‘resonance’ and on the other hand they can negatively influence them to destruct, e.g. of such leaders like Adolf Hitler which is opposite to resonance called ‘dissonance’.

As a leader one also has to be aware of one’s own capabilities and weaknesses, it is difficult to accept guidance from a leader who is not self-aware. As managers, leaders have to empathize as well with the situations, emotions, aspirations and motivations of the subordinates. A decreasing performance of a team member might be because of a number of reasons, a disruptive worker might be facing motivation issues and a subordinate who uses abusive language with others might be lacking confidence in his own abilities. A leader needs to discern facts and try and reach to deeper levels and understand things beyond obvious.

Apart from the above reasons, Emotional Intelligence is also important because the followers or subordinate expect it from their leaders. A subordinate working closely with the manager would expect the manager to understand his situation and priorities. And not surprisingly, whether manger does so or not, affects his level of commitment and performance at work. A leader has to suitably know and understand when he/she needs to be directive and when he needs to delegate. He/she needs to be aware, when the team members are acting as one unit and when there are differences. The leader needs to be sensitive to the insecurities and apprehensions of the subordinates which sometimes might be expressed and sometimes kept undisclosed. So, to be able to attract and retain talented subordinates and keep them motivated, a leader needs to brush up on his people skills and emotional intelligence, as all of them are not born with the charisma to hold people. Fortunately, emotional intelligence with practice and carefully directed efforts can be increased.

Organizations need strong leadership for optimum effectiveness. Leadership is a trait, which is both inbuilt and can be acquired also. Organizational leadership deals with both human psychology as well as expert tactics. Organizational leadership emphasizes on developing leadership skills and abilities that are relevant across the organizations.

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Leadership styles

All leaders do not possess same attitude or same perspective. Some leaders adopt the carrot approach and a few adopt the stick approach. The leadership style varies with the kind of people the leader interacts and deals with. A perfect/standard leadership style is one which assists a leader in getting the best out of the people who follow him.

Some of the important leadership styles are as follows:

  • Autocratic style: In this style of leadership, a leader has complete command and hold over their employees/team. The team cannot put forward their views even if they are best for the team’s or organizational interests. They cannot criticize or question the leader’s way of getting things done. The leader himself gets the things done. The advantage of this style is that it leads to speedy decision-making and greater productivity under leader’s supervision. Drawbacks of this leadership style are that it leads to greater employee absenteeism and turnover. This leadership style works only when the leader is the best in performing or when the job is monotonous, unskilled and routine in nature or where the project is short-term and risky.
  • Democratic/participative style: The leaders invite and encourage the team members to play an important role in decision-making process, though the ultimate decision-making power rests with the leader. The leader guides the employees on what to perform and how to perform, while the employees communicate to the leader their experience and the suggestions if any. The advantages of this leadership style are that it leads to satisfied, motivated and more skilled employees. It leads to an optimistic work environment and also encourages creativity. This leadership style has the only drawback that it is time-consuming.
  • Bureaucratic leadership: Here the leaders strictly adhere to the organizational rules and policies. Also, they make sure that the employees/team also strictly follows the rules and procedures. Promotions take place on the basis of employees’ ability to adhere to organizational rules. This leadership style gradually develops over time. This leadership style is more suitable when safe work conditions and quality are required. But this leadership style discourages creativity and does not make employees self-contented.
  • The Laissez Faire style: Here, the leader totally trusts their employees/team to perform the job themselves. He just concentrates on the intellectual/rational aspect of his work and does not focus on the management aspect of his work. The team/employees are welcomed to share their views and provide suggestions which are best for organizational interests. This leadership style works only when the employees are skilled, loyal, experienced and intellectual.

 

Personal leadership brand

Every leader has a personal leadership brand which might be carefully cultivated or intuitively perceived by leaders themselves and their followers. A personal leadership brand is an exclusive and a specific approach of a leader to address challenges and manage his/her transactions with their subordinates or followers. The best part of having a leadership brand is that it allows the flexibility to the leaders to define their own leadership objectives and then position themselves appropriately as per the need and situation. For example Lee Iacocca promulgated a leadership brand which was resolute, determined, persuasive and ready to take risks which helped him turn around Chrysler similarly to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s leadership brand was that of integrity, honesty, principles, strength of character and above all truth.

It is essential for a leader to practice his/her leadership brand in thoughts and actions. How can a leader build up a leadership brand if they do not have one already. A leadership brand helps distinguish leaders and also outlines their approach, values, beliefs etc.

  1. The first step definitely is identifying and establishing the results one wants to achieve by the end of a specific time period with a focus on preserving the interests of key stakeholders.
  2. The second step becomes those distinguishing features with which one wants to be known as a leader. For e.g. one might identify drive for result as one’s core strength area and can create a leadership brand based on the same.
  3. The next step becomes defining your identity. One might chose two or three word phrases to define their approach to leadership like Innovating to Excel etc.
  4. The last step becomes coming up with a leadership statement which conjuncts what one wants to be known for and what one wants to achieve.

However, the leaders need to understand that a personal leadership brand cannot be created overnight but credibility is earned the hard way, through years of perseverance.

Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership refers to a manager’s potential to express a strategic vision for the organization, or a part of the organization, and to motivate and persuade others to acquire that vision. It is the potential to influence organizational members and to execute organizational change. Strategic leaders create organizational structure, allocate resources and express strategic vision. Strategic leaders work in an ambiguous environment on very difficult issues that influence and are influenced by occasions and organizations external to their own.

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The main objective of strategic leadership is strategic productivity. Another aim of strategic leadership is to develop an environment in which employees forecast the organization’s needs in context of their own job. Strategic leaders encourage the employees in an organization to follow their own ideas. Strategic leaders make greater use of reward and incentive system for encouraging productive and quality employees to show much better performance for their organization. Functional strategic leadership is about inventiveness, perception, and planning to assist an individual in realizing his objectives and goals.

Success of a leader depends upon:

  • How the individual or the group behaves
  • Position power
  • Close Supervision

Effectiveness of leadership depends upon:

  • Internal shape or predisposition of an individual or a group and thus, it is attitudinal in nature.
  • Personal power.
  • General Supervision.
The writer is a freelance columnist and is an educationist by profession. He could be reached at nazir_shaikh86@hotmail.com.

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