Definition of leadership:
Leadership can be defined as influencing others to do what the leader wants then to do. It is the art of inspiring subordinates to perform their duties willingly, competently and
enthusiastically. Leadership is the process by which an executive imaginatively directs, guides and influences goals by mediating between the individuals and the organization in such a manner that both will obtain maximum satisfaction. A leader is one who, by example and talent performs a directing role and yields influence over others.
The method or style of leadership a manager chooses to use greatly influences his effectiveness as a leader – if the style is inappropriate, objectives are not attained and workers may feel resentful, aggressive, insecure and dissatisfied.
The most important types of leaders are as follows:
• The Charismatic Leader
He gains influence mainly from the strength of personality. Charisma is a powerful and personal quality that has strong influence over people and will make them admire you and become your willing followers e.g. Hitler, Winston Churchill etc.
• The Traditional Leader
His position is assured by birth e.g. Kings and Queens. Except in small family business, there are very few opportunities for traditional leadership at work.
• The Situational Leader
His influence can only be effective by being in the right place at the right time. This kind of leadership is too temporary in nature to be of much value in a business. What is needed to attain objectives is someone capable of assuming a leadership role in a variety of situations over a period of time. For example a bus conductor who decides to direct traffic because there are no traffic lights and police are not around.
The Functional Leader
He secures his position by what he or she does rather than by what he is i.e. functional leaders adapt their behaviour to meet the competing needs of the situation.
• The Appointed or Legitimate Leader
His influence arises directly out of his position as in the case of most managers and supervisors. This is bureaucratic leadership where legitimate power springs from the nature and scope of the position within the hierarchy. The problem here is that, although the powers of that position may be defined, the jobholder may not be able to implement them because of weak personality, lack of adequate training or other factors.
Leadership then, is something more than just personality or accident or appointment. It is intimately linked with behaviour. It is a human process at work in organizations.
Leadership is a dynamic not a static process – this implies that a range of leadership styles is preferable to any one ‘best style’. Besides, the role of the leader is to direct the group towards goals. Also, the style of leadership will be determined considerably by the situation concerned (i.e. the leader’s skills/abilities, the task/goals, the skills/motivation of the subordinates and the environment/situation).
The three main styles of leadership are
a) Autocratic: It is like dictatorship, all authority and decision-making lies with the leader.
b) Democratic or participative: Here the subordinates are allowed to take part in decision-making.
c) Laissez faire or free reign: Here workers don’t depend on the leader to provide external motivation, they are given goals and left on their own to achieve them.
NB: In reality there are not just 3 leadership styles but they could be many ranging from highly boss centred styles to highly employee centered leadership.