Leadership is critical to every company, organisation and institution. Workers need someone to look to, learn from and thrive with. Every leader has a personal style and strategy. As leadership expert Warren Bennis once stated, "leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." Further, leadership styles and methods vary because of outside influences and personal challenges. While leadership is unique to everyone, there are some common aspects to leadership. These are;
Decisiveness. Every leader must have the clarity of mind to act boldly and not dither when critical decisions have to be made
Awareness. Leaders need to have the perceptual and physical awareness of the environment they are operating in, the company they are managing, the competitive moves of other companies and the behaviour and feelings of their employees
Focus. This is the single mindedness of goal that every leader must have
Accountability. Leading requires accountability for assessment and supervision. Without it credibility may be lost
Inspiration. Leaders must be inspired individuals and their leadership must inspire others to pursue the corporate goal
Integrity and honesty. Character is essential in leadership. Good leaders are exemplary, virtuous and consistent.
According to mind tools, there are several leadership styles that can be adopted by anyone in leadership. These include coercive leadership, authoritative leadership, affiliative leadership, democratic leadership, pacesetter and coaches. These leadership styles represent the common default leadership perspective that many leaders approach their leadership mandate. Leadership style is a function of personality, past experiences, teaching, vision and nature of followers or subordinates.
An important aspect of leadership is that of emotional and spiritual intelligence. Leaders must have the spiritual consciousness and emotional stamina to weather leadership challenges and gain special insight into their assignment and mandate. Emotional intelligence is important for emotional control, empathy and motivation within a group setting. Spiritual intelligence is important for establishment of identity and purpose, value and vision and having a spiritual appreciation of the assignment to be achieved.
They are three leadership theories that are definitive and essential in modern day leadership and management. These three theories are servant leadership, transformational leadership and authentic leadership.
The servant leadership theory draws its ethos from ancient and religious figures (and texts). In Christianity, the bible states that the one who wants to be the greatest among all must be willing to serve. When the leader makes a priority to meet and serve the followers’ needs, that leader will receive trust, commitment and loyalty in return. Servant leaders have a desire and passion to serve and sacrifice for others. It is based on a foundation of humility, empathy and love for the followers. Ideally, servant leadership is best suit for leadership that intends to impact followers, the community and bring about social change in a transformational way. Different approaches to servant leadership have been written and presented both from a religious and secular perspective. While the concept is appealing, its application needs to be refined considerable to suit each situation of leadership.
Transformational leadership theory is based on charismatic and supportive leader behaviour. The leader must obtain ‘buy in’ from followers by gaining the trust, respect and commitment. It is dependent on the soft skills and empathetic demeanour. By showing compassion to the followers, the leader strives to ‘transform’ the followers’ attitude and perspective of the leader and the task to be performed. In addition, the leader must cultivate and earn followership instead of adopting a reward and punishment leader behaviour.
Authentic leadership theory is an approach to leadership that emphasizes building the leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation.
Finally, leadership at the core is a belief and a practise that is founded in achieving together. It does not say follow me or go do this but rather ‘let us go together’. This leadership ethos is the basis of most successful companies and organisations.