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Leadership

Leadership is one of the essential components inany organization today. According to Sadler, leadership is apractical skill that encompasses an individual or entity’s abilityto organize and guide others through a variety of functions, tasks,or events (5). On the other hand, Sharma and Jain defined leadershipas a procedure by which an individual utilizes his or her influenceto ensure others accomplish certain objectives while directing theorganization in a manner that is more coherent and cohesive (310).The definition of leadership is broad and varied among scholarsbecause it is a powerful concept that conveys much more thanorganization and guidance of people. This essay provides an in-depthlook into leadership, with a particular focus on the history ofleadership, different styles of leadership, theories of leadership,and qualities of a good leader.

History and background

Historically, leadership can be traced back to theadvent of a social man, and it predates agriculture (Sveiby 2). Manyhistorical studies show that the earliest societies had leadershipstructures, commencing at family level up to the community level. Ina family, men have always been viewed as the leaders or the head ofthe family. Even though this view is changing and women are gettingmore recognition in their roles as leaders of the family, the man isstill held accountable for his family and takes on most of theleadership responsibilities within the families. In the ancientcommunities, leadership was also evident in the form of chiefs,emperors, kings, lords, and Queens (O`Sullivan 23). Today, leadershiphas evolved, and communities have turned into countries, which areruled by presidents, prime ministers, kings and other collectivebodies such as parliaments and House of Commons. Leadership is notrestricted to countries, but it is also an essential component in themanagement of businesses and other social organizations (O`Sullivan33).

Leadership theories

For over a century, leadership theories have beena source of fascination to scholars and researchers. Many scholarshave attempted to understand leadership and identify factors thatmake one leader different from another. Consequently, they have comeup with theories that attempt to differentiate the different stylesof leaders and leadership they have observed over time. In themid-19th century, the scholars developed the ‘Great Man Theory,`which was a theory that explained that leadership skills areintrinsic to an individual. As such, the scholars were of the opinionthat a great leader is born rather than created (Northouse 19). Inthe 1930s, another leadership theory, known as the ‘Trait Theory’was advanced. This theory indicated that great leaders are eitherborn or created with qualities that would enhance their leadershipskills. In the 1940s, the ‘Behavioral Theory’ was advanced and itmainly focused on the behaviors of the leaders (Northouse 20). In the1960s, scholars developed the Contingency Theory, which argued that,“there is no particular way of leading and each leadership styleshould be based on the situation” (Northouse 19). Various otherleadership theories have since been advanced with transactionalleadership theory and transformational leadership theories beingadvanced in the 1970s (Northouse 21).

Styles of leadership

Leadership styles often accompany leadershiptheories. According to Adeniyi, leadership styles are approaches thatleaders use in implementing strategies, providing direction,motivating their subjects or subordinates (29). Leadership styles canfall under one of the following four styles: autocratic, democratic,free rein or relationship oriented. Autocratic leadership usuallyentails a centralized power, which is in charge of the entiredecision-making in the organization. This form of leadership iscommon in dictatorships where one leader has all the power.Democratic leadership is a participative form of leadership thatallows leaders to share decision-making. Free-rein leadership allowsleaders to pass decision-making duties to their subordinates. Lastly,“relationship oriented leadership is a form of leadership, whichallows the leaders to focus on relationship amongst members of anorganization” (Griffin and Ebert 135). This type of leadership isoften concerned with the utility that people derive from theirrelationship as well as their wellbeing (Griffin and Ebert 135).Adeniyi is of the opinion that opinion that the appropriateleadership style is often dependent on the situation.

Attributes of a good leader

Good leadership should often be associated withspecific attributes. In the opinion of O’Sullivan, a good leadershould be able to have a degree of self-assessment (56). This impliesthat leaders should periodically assess themselves and determinetheir strengths and weakness in a bid to improve their ability toorganize and guide people. Apart from this, a good leader is expectedto be responsive to the needs of his subjects or subordinates toensure that the majority of his subjects and subordinates supporthim. Good leadership also demands that one should have knowledge ofthe organization they are leading (Northouse 67). For instance,presidents are required to have knowledge of their country andmanagers ought to have comprehensive knowledge of their organization.When these three attributes are combined with leadership values suchas transparency, integrity, honesty, and passion, a successful regimeis born.

Conclusion

Leadership is an important part of today’ssociety because it provides a mean through which people receiveguidance and direction. Different scholars have conducted extensiveresearch on the issue of leadership, and their findings indicate thatleadership predates agriculture. Initially, chiefs, emperors, lords,queens, and queens ruled communities. Today, however, this haschanged with presidents, prime ministers, and sometimes queens andkings ruling nations. In business organizations, the main leaders areusually the managers. Due to the essentiality of leadership, scholarshave developed various theories to explain the different styles ofleadership. Hence, theories such as Great Man Theory, BehavioralTheory, and Contingency Theory have been developed in the lastcentury. These theories have also been accompanied by advancement ofleadership styles such as autocracy, democracy, and free reinleadership styles.

Works Cited

Adeniyi, Michael, Adewale. Effective leadership management: an integration of styles, skills &amp character for today`s CEOs. Bloomington IN: AuthorHouse, 2007. Print.

Griffin, Ronald, J and Ricky, Ebert, W. Business Essentials. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

Northouse, Peter, G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Washington DC: SAGE, 2013. Print.

O`Sullivan, June. Leadership Skills in the Early Years: Making a Difference. New York: Network Continuum, 2009. Print.

Sadler, Philip. Leadership. 2nd. London: Kogan, 2003. Print.

Sharma, Manoj, Kumar and Shilpa Jain. “Leadership Management: Principles, Models, and Theories.” Global Journal of Management and Business Studies. 3.3 (2013): 309-318. Print.

Sveiby, Kerl-Erik. The first Leadership. Helsinki: Hanken Business School, 2009. Print.