Much has been said and written about the topic of leadership. Numerous studies have looked into the correlation between leadership skills and organisational performance and, not surprisingly, concluded that the success of a business or organisation raises and falls with the quality of leadership that is present. People simply perform better when they understand why they are doing what they are doing. Commitment and motivation are also much stronger once they feel they are part of something bigger and their contribution is meaningful.
Are leaders born or made?
When reference is made to great leaders, images of charismatic personalities tend to pop up or of persons in crucial positions high up in hierarchy. But leadership exists and is needed on every level in an organisation, and leadership capabilities can be built. What qualities constitute an effective leader? For one, there is the ability to recognise the present situation of an organisation, the way forward and what it takes to achieve that goal. A good understanding of the people and their needs within the organisation is another essential requirement.
Leadership and Management
Though these two go hand in hand, when looking at the bigger picture, by definition there is a distinct difference. As Dr. John P. Kotter, Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International, passionately points out in his Harvard Business Review article.
“ There is a crucial difference between Leadership and Management and the vital roles each play. Management is a set of well-known processes, which help an organisation to predictably do what it knows how to do well. Leadership is entirely different. It is associated with taking an organisation into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change.”
And then, there are leadership styles – great tools to effectively manage different situations:
An organisation that faces major changes going into a different direction needs visionary leadership. A leader, who understands the existing dynamics, conveys the vision in an engaging and compelling way, is able to present a new mutual dream and get a commitment. Visionary leadership style empowers people, allows them to experiment and innovate and take calculated risks.
This style works very well when there is a need to re-connect people, improve overall communication, morale and team work. People’s individual skills, know-how and experience are combined to achieve a mutual goal in team-work.
Little to no guidance is provided, and the decision making process is left to the group members. This style works well with highly qualified team members asked to produce a certain result.
Even the classic model of “Follow instructions” style leadership still has its place, especially in times of crisis, when quick, important decisions have to be made.
Do you think leaders are born or made?
Which leadership style works best for your business?