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Sunday, September 30, 2012


A leader is a person who guides or leads, and is at the helm of a group, an organization, a community, a state or a country.  Leaders are in the forefront of our society. They are everywhere, in the political or public sector or in the business or private sector. They are the civic leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, world leaders, industry leaders, technology leaders, corporate leaders, business leaders.  Leaders are said to have the power to charm and inspire people, has great influence, and possesses a compelling force on the opinions, actions, and behaviors of a big majority of the population. Leaders however are either respected, revered, well liked, even admired or hated, feared, disliked, frowned upon depending on the leadership traits, qualities, skills and leadership styles. Oftentimes, a leader is confused with the word manager. A leader is different from a manager. A manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate while a leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. Nevertheless a manager can be a leader if he or she possesses basic traits and personal leadership qualities, skills and developed leadership style.

Leadership on the other hand is the position or function of a leader. There are different versions written about the basic traits of leadership. However, here we want to focus on the basic innate traits of leadership which are desire, motivation, charisma, energy-level, and ambition.

Warren Bennis, a modern leadership guru identified six personal qualities of leadership as follows:

1.  Integrity
2. Dedication
3. Magnanimity
4. Humility
5. Openness
6. Creativity

In 1985, in his book titled: Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, Warren Bennis interviewed 60 corporate leaders in America and found four common leadership skills as follows:

1. Management of Attention
2. Management of Meaning
3. Management of Trust
4. Management of Self

Just as the word leader is confused with the word manager, leadership is also confused with the word management. Leadership is an important part of management. Leadership is different from management. However they are both linked and complementary.  Management produces a degree of predictability and order while leadership produces change.  John Kotter, a former professor of Harvard Business School believes most organizations are under led and over managed. Effective organizations need both strong leadership and strong management.

There are different leadership styles. A leader’s beliefs, values and assumptions definitely have a bearing on overall leadership style. More importantly how a leader approaches the elements of motivation, decision making and task orientation will also affect the style of leadership.
In 1939, psychologist Kurt Lewin led a group of researchers and identified three leadership styles:

1. Authoritarian or Autocratic
2. Participative or Democratic
3. Delegative or Free Reign

Among the three styles of leadership the participative or democratic was found to be the most effective style of leadership.

Do you know how good are your leadership skills? Find out by taking this brief Leadership Skills questionnaire.

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