“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less (Maxwell, 2007). Influence does not mean to be dominating and authoritarian but an ability to motivate and enable others to contribute towards organizational success. Leadership competency is a mere underlying characteristic that differentiates a leader from a boss and drives the organization into the cutting edge of new eco-systems. It is fast becoming a core competency essential for the sustenance of an organization in the corporate sector. Corporates function both at a domestic and global front. It thus becomes important to have effective leaders at all levels in a vertical who can deliver organizational goals without the constraint of undue influence by individual members or other stake holders. Therefore, leadership competency is the most sought after factor when recruiting and selecting employees.
To be an effective leader, Forbes magazine in the year 2014 listed six competencies that leaders need to succeed:
- Willingness to take risks
- Knowledge and expertise
- Strategic thinking
- Customer focus and understanding
- Ability to spot trends of the market and connect the dots
- Building an engaged and committed team
These competencies are the key to success. For instance, Geoghegan and Dulewicz (2008) in their study found that increased capability of project managers in leadership dimensions is strongly related to project success. Another study by Müller and Turner (2010) reviewed the leadership competency profiles of managers heading successful projects. Results indicated that in all types of projects, critical thinking, conscientiousness, motivation and influence were the primary leadership competencies of the managers. Therefore, sufficient evidence exists which supports the assumption that good leaders can bring about positive change and success in organizations.
However, leadership can sometimes be too abstract to be observed directly and therefore, there was an urgent there is a need to list down certain behaviors in the organization that may be indicative of the same. Two major studies were conducted in Ohio State University and Michigan University that focused on the behavioral styles of leadership. The studies concluded that there are mainly two broad leadership styles: Job-centered leadership style (also called Initiating Structure by researchers of Ohio State University) and Employee-centered leadership style (also called Consideration by researchers of Ohio State University). The former refers to the extent to which the leader takes charge of getting the tasks completed.The latter, on the other hand, refers to the extent to which the leader focuses on meeting the human needs of the team member while developing relationships.
The Michigan researchers have proposed the leadership styles to be one dimensional – two opposite sides of one continuum. Whereas, initiating structure and consideration are considered to be independent of each other and are thus, two dimensional. Another leadership style concluded by Michigan study as an additional finding was that of participative leadership, that is, the leader brings in a feeling of inclusion in the team and gives all the team members an equal opportunity to put forth their opinions and an equal role in decision making.
Such behaviors can become subtle indicators when mapping competencies of employees and may be a good basis to predict job performance and effectiveness of the organization. With the increased awareness of treating humans as a critical resource and not mere mediums of getting work done in the organization, the trend of leadership behavior has shifted from being job-centered to being employee-centered. Such type of leadership style has also sown the seed for greater productivity in organizations.
Current research rejects the long-term assumption that leaders are born. Rather, it holds that leaders are made. Competent leaders are made through teaching, learning and observation. They draw on their values and capabilities and do their best work without copying anyone (Quinn, 2005). Such leaders further pass the baton to their team members by influencing and guiding them and building up their confidence. With a stimulating environment, every employee can be directed towards becoming effective leaders, thus paving the way for greatness in the organization.