What Is Leadership?
Differences between Leaders and Managers
What Are Good/Bad Characteristics Of A Leader?
Characteristics of a Good Leader
Characteristics of a Bad Leader
What Are Problems Leaders Face In Today's Workforce?
What Are Ways To Overcome Those Problems?
What Can Lead To The Success Or Failure Of A Company Due To Good/Bad Leadership?
Leadership seems to have become a powerful tool in organizational management. This is attributable to the notion that leaders, rather than managers have significant influences in legitimate organizations. According to Bertocci (2009), one of the key reasons why leadership has become an integral element in recent years is because of the evolving nature of the business world which has become more competitive, more global and more volatile. It is also apparent that organizations are increasingly becoming technologically complex; thus, demanding a high level of expert power. Given the evolving nature of today’s workplace environment and dynamics in the business world, it is explicit that leadership enhances organizational effectiveness through improving production, flexibility, competitiveness, quality, efficiency, satisfaction, and development. This is consistent with the opinion held by social scientists and organizational management experts who believe that effective leadership results into a level of order and consistency to the profitability, as well as quality of products and services. On the other hand, Lunenburg (2012) observes that a true leader promotes organizational effectiveness through influencing others and modifying their behavior. In retrospect, leadership has not been a complex task, but the evolving workplace environment due to changes in organizational structure and design are increasingly driving evolution in leadership. In order to cope with the current organizational change, it is believed that effective leadership is essential for organizational survival. Therefore, this research paper provides a focused discussion on leadership, qualities of a leader, today’s workforce leadership challenges, and outcomes of good/bad leadership in a healthcare organization.
What Is Leadership?
From a retrospective point of view, it is apparent that different scholars view leadership from different perspectives. Therefore, the definition of leadership can be obtained from a focused reflection on these definitions.
First, the earliest definition of leadership is found in Stogdill’s publication, ‘Handbook of Leadership’ which has emerged as one of the most authoritative sources of leadership theory. In his book, Stogdill (1974) seeks to define leadership based on the actions of a leader within a group. He describes a leader as an agent of change, an individual whose acts have more effects on other individuals more than the way other individuals’ acts affect him. As such, Stogdill defines leadership as “an interaction between members or a group” (p. 43). He goes further to describe how leadership occurs. According to Stogdill (1974) leadership is manifested when a member in a group assumes the roles of modifying the competencies or motivation of other members in the group. As such, he somehow perceives leadership as the aspect of using influence. It is also suggestive that leadership can be manifested in interpersonal relationships. Overall, this definition seems to put emphasis the ability of being a change agent; that explicit ability to influence a follower’s performance, or behavior.
Second, George and Gareth (2005) provide a relatively broad definition of leadership. They define leadership as one member’s exercise of influence over other members of a group or organization with the aim of guiding the group towards achieving its goals. In this perspective, a leader is the group member who exerts this form of influence within an organization or group. Based on their perspective, these social scientists provide a distinction between informal and formal leaders. They describe an informal leader as one who exercises influence over followers through the use of their skills, friendship, or talent, but lacks formal authority. In contrast, they describe a formal leader as one who holds a virtual position within an organization, and has authority.
Third, Gibson, Ivancevich and Donnelly (2000) propose an interesting definition of leadership. They view leadership as a process through which one member of a group influences other members of the group to achieve desired goals without coercive influence. Based on this perspective, these scholars define leadership as “an attempt to use non coercive influence to motivate individuals to accomplish some goal” (p. 272).
Finally, Bertocci (2009) summarizes these definitions of leadership and comes up with what he refers to as the working definition of leadership. He defines leadership as the aspect of combining personality traits which are possessed by an individual which enables that individual to exert influence on others through inspiration to accomplish goals which would not be achieved without the leader’s motivation.
To summarize, it is explicit from these definitions that influence underpins leadership. A leader emerges as an individual who exhibits the qualities of a change agent; the ability to influence and modify other people’s behavior, as well as performance. It is also apparent that these definitions emphasize on the achievement of the group’s or organization’s set goals. In this context, a leader is projected as an individual who understands the vision and mission of an organization. He is someone who can describe the past and the current state of an organization, as well as predict where the organization is heading to in the future. This way, they understand the path towards the accomplishment of the organizational goals and objectives. As such, he guides his followers through that path to realize the desired outcomes. Therefore, a leader’s effectiveness in an organization can be measured depending on the accomplishment of the desired goals (Gibson, Ivancevich & Donnelly, 2000).
However, Gibson, Ivancevich and Donnelly (2000) observe that the effectiveness of a leader cannot be measured, accurately due to a number of reasons. First, there is an increasing tendency in organizations through which the selection of leaders is based on the similarity with previous leaders, especially on experiences, background and qualifications. As such, individuals who posses valuable leadership characteristics, but shares little similarity with previous leaders is not chosen to lead. This mode of selecting leaders within an organization has been found to enhance self-selection bias in which existing leader choose those whom they share similarities to succeed them. The second reason why measuring leadership effectiveness is because leaders do not have the capability of controlling all the factors relating to a given situation. They can only control, or modify behaviors and performance of their followers. For instance, a leader may lack the capability to control external factors which are outside their control such as policies, environmental factors and dynamics in the labor market. Given the fact that these factors influence leadership effectiveness, and yet they are outside leaders’ control, it is implicit that measuring the effectiveness of leadership with precision is quite difficult. Finally, most leaders lack unilateral control over resources so they depend on the support of others to accomplish their leadership goals. For instance, some leaders require review, or approval of their decisions by other senior members within an organizational structure. At some circumstance, their decisions go through modifications, or even get rejected at the highest levels. This means that a leader’s ability to drive his group towards a desired goal may be challenged by influence by other decision-makers; making it difficult to measure leadership effectiveness.
Differences between Leaders and Managers
From a critical perspective, leaders and leadership are intertwined. It is not possible to discuss one and leave the other. However, leaders are quite different from managers. As such, it is worth discussing the core functional differences that put leaders and managers on two diverse paths.
George and Gareth (2005) attempt to highlight the functional differences between leaders and managers based on the effectiveness is measured. They posit that accomplishment of goals serves as a measure of a leader’s effectiveness. In contrast, a manager’s effectiveness can simply be measured through the evaluation the profit margins. Another functional difference that sets leaders and managers in different functional paths is the way they exert their influence on their followers. A leader achieves an attractive outcome only if his followers accept his directives. As such, followers are at liberty to follow the leader or not. On the management side, managers are placed over the followers, or rather employees under the hierarchical organizational structure. In this scenario, employees are subject to the manager’s directives and orders.
Another key difference between leaders and managers is that leaders focus on the organizational vision, change, big picture issues, and the future (Pierce & Robinson, 2007). In contrast, managers are concerned with complexity in personnel issues, control of input and output, staffing, and organization design (Kotter, 1992).
Bertocci (2009) explains the difference between leaders and managers from the perspective of how accomplish or cope with their primary responsibilities and functions. On the side of leadership, leaders cope with complexity at the workplace through developing a vision that addresses the change. As such, the vision guides the team towards accomplishing organizational goals while overcoming complexity challenges. To achieve this, leaders design a strategy, communicate it to their followers and empower them to implement the strategy. This way, the strategy enhances the accomplishment of the task, bringing desirable outcomes. In contrast, managers cop with complexity through different means. They plan, set goals, develop a budget, and allocate resources, especially through staffing to accomplish their plans. Additionally, they monitor employees’ adherence to the plan to ensure the accomplishment of the intended goals.
Finally, Kozak (1998) posits that both leadership and management are required for the success on any organization. Therefore, he outlines an array of characteristics that illustrate functional differences between leaders and managers. One of the key differences between leaders and managers is their orientation within an organization; leaders are usually results and goal-oriented, whereas managers are action and task-oriented. Another key difference as highlighted by Kozak (1998) is that leaders effective long-term planners, whereas managers are efficient short-term planners. He further states that leaders carry on their responsibilities through inspiring or empowering their followers, unlike it the case for managers who execute their responsibilities through directing their employees on what to do. Moreover, it is reported that leaders attract talents, whereas managers recruit talents.
Overall, it is explicit that there are significant differences between leadership and management. In this context, the key differences are associated from the way leaders and managers go about their functions within organizations, but not necessarily from themselves. However, their followers may not see the differences between leadership and management; instead, they judge their seniors based on their levels of friendliness.
Leadership can also be described through the use of leadership theories which explain the process of leadership. Over the past decades, a number of leadership theories have been proposed; thus, shaping the way leadership occurs within organizations. This implies that some leadership models are better than others. As such, organizational success in terms of effectiveness and productivity relies on the type of leadership model it adopts.