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Training: The art of outstanding leadership

Management is a function; it achieves a result. It can be defined as “the art of getting things done through people”.

Leadership, by contrast, is defined by Robert House (author and professor of management) as “the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members”.

A born leader

Leadership is described by words that tend to be softer than those used for management. A manager may order, dictate or force to get results; a leader, while still wanting to get the job done, will guide, initiate and commit him or herself to the cause.

There are several suggested qualities, such as initiative, optimism and charisma, that will lead to effective leadership. It could be suggested that these characteristics are innate and, therefore, mean that leaders are born and not created.

While it is true that certain personality traits make some people more natural leaders, the teaching of good practice and the effects of behaviour on team members can help influence even the most steadfast managers, and improve results.

John Adair, who was awarded the title of honorary professor by the People’s Republic of China in recognition of his “outstanding research and contribution in the field of leadership”, was one of the first people to suggest that leadership is trainable.

He says: “Leadership is different to management. All leaders are not necessarily great managers, but the best leaders will possess good management skills. One skill-set does not automatically imply the other will be present.”

Outstanding leadership styles

Experts Robert House and Philip Podsakoff (director of the Leadership Research Institute) researched the behaviour of ‘outstanding leaders’, which together characterize the most effective style of leadership.

These styles are:

  • Confidence and determination

    Leaders need a high level of faith in themselves; they also need conviction, as their vision often challenges the status quo, upsetting others

  • Expectations of others
    Leaders need to communicate expectations and have confidence in their team to meet them

  • External representation A leader is a spokesperson for their organization, and needs to represent it to others

  • Frame alignment This is the art of ensuring that the leader’s vision, and that of their team, complement each other in terms of values, beliefs and ideology

  • Image building
    A leader must be perceived by others as competent and trustworthy

  • Inspirational communication
    Outstanding leaders often communicate in an inspirational manner. They engage the listener.

  • Passion and self-sacrifice
    A leader must have passion for what they do, and be able to spread this passion to the team

  • Role-modelling
    They will be perceived in positive terms by others

  • Selective motive-arousal
    This is where leaders notice, encourage and motivate those they see as having special relevance to the success of his vision

  • Vision
    There has to be a vision that will provide a better future for all involved. The leader will have to articulate this and make sure that its values are held. A vision provides direction

    Goodwill and support

    Managers often concern themselves with the tasks involved, whereas leaders will concern themselves with the people. This does not mean that the task is irrelevant to them – far from it – but leaders realize that the task will get done through the goodwill and support of others, a process that the manager might miss.

    To a manager, people are often a resource. The worst managers treat people as an interchangeable item.

    Leaders see people as people, and will develop them and may even see them as a by-product of the task itself. For instance, the task might be to generate profit, but the leader will use good people to make their business stand out from the competition by providing a better service, which in turn leads to task completion.

    Co-leadership can have benefits

    Leadership does not have to come from one person. In fact, a pyramid system, where authority is filtered from the summit, can stifle initiative, even if that person is ‘a born leader’.

    Co-leadership often works well and has proved successful. However, where there is more than one leader, there is the opportunity for conflict.

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# The queen might not agree with the country’s day-to-day leader, the prime minister (technically her subordinate); political leaders may not share the views of religious leaders; and the company board may not see eye-to-eye with the chief executives.

    Management versus leadership

    Warren Bennis, a professor of business administration, has advised four US presidents and more than 150 CEOs. He identifies 11 differences between manager and leader:

    Managers… Leaders…
    Administer Innovate
    Focus on systems Focus on people
    Do things right Do the right things
    Maintain Develop
    Rely on control Inspire trust
    Have a short-term perspective Have a longer-term perspective
    Accept the status quo Challenge the status quo
    Have an eye on the bottom line Have an eye on the horizon
    Imitate Originate
    Emulate the classic good soldier Are their own person
    Copy Show originality
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