Leadership Nature and Significance

“Leadership is the quality of behavior of individuals whereby they guide people or their activities in organizing efforts” — Chester I. Barnard

“Leadership is the ability of a superior to induce subordinates to work with confidence and I zeal” — Koontz and ‘Donnell

“Leadership is the process by which an executive imaginatively directs, guides and influences the work of others in attaining specified goals.” — Theo Haimann

Leadership may be defined as a position of power held by an individual in a group, which provides him with an opportunity to exercise interpersonal influence on the group members for mobilizing and directing their efforts towards certain goals. The leader is at the Centre of group’s power structure, keeps the group together, infuses life into it, moves it towards its goals and maintains its momentum.

For example, a leader of national or international standing commands widespread influence over a large number of people while the influence of the leader of a small work group in an organisation is very limited. Both are leaders in their own right and fulfill our definition of leadership.

Leadership is an influential process. The leader is in a position to shape, regulate, control and change the attitudes, behaviour and performance of his group members. The latter are supposed to comply with the former’s desires and directives and partially suspend their own judgment and discretion. There exists a particular relationship between the leader and his group members which is characterized by interpersonal and social interaction.

Nature of Leadership

  1. Leadership derives from power and is similar to, yet distinct from, management. In fact, “leadership” and “management” are different. There can be leaders of completely unorganized groups, but there can be managers only of organized groups. Thus it can be said that a manager is necessarily a leader but a leader may not be a manager.
  2. Leadership is essential for managing. The ability to lead effectively is one of the keys to being an effective manager because she/he has to combine resources and lead a group to achieve objectives.
  3. Leadership and motivation are closely interconnected. By understanding motivation, one can appreciate better what people want and why they act as they do. A leader can encourage or dampen workers motivation by creating a favorable or unfavorable working environment in the organization.
  4. The essence of leadership is followership. In other words, it is the willingness of people to follow a person that makes that person a leader. Moreover, people tend to follow those whom they see as providing a means of achieving their desires, needs and wants.
  5. Leadership involves an unequal distribution of power between leaders and group members. Group members are not powerless; they can shape group activities in some ways. Still, the leader will usually have more power than the group members.
  6. Leaders can influence the followers’ behavior in some ways. In fact, leaders can influence workers either to do ill or well for the company. The leader must be able to empower and motivate the followers to the cause.
  7. The leader must co-exist with the subordinates or followers and must have the clear idea about their demands and ambitions. This creates loyalty and trust in subordinates for their leader.
  8. Leadership is to be concerned about values. Followers learn ethics and values from their leaders. Leaders are the real teachers of ethics, and they can reinforce ideas. It is very important for leaders to make positive statements of ethics if they are not hypocritical.
  9. Leading is a very demanding job for both physically and psychologically. The leader must have the strength, power, and ability to meet the bodily requirements; zeal, energy, and patience to meet the mental requirements for leading.

Significance of Leadership

(i) Effective direction

An organisation comes into existence with certain objectives. To attain the objectives, the activities of the organisation must be directed. Direction of the activities is effected through leadership. In short, effective leadership directs the activities of an organisation towards the attainment of the specified organisational goals.

(ii) Source of motivation

Leadership is the motivating power to group efforts. Effective leadership motivates the subordinates for higher productivity.

(iii) Confidence

Leadership creates confidence in-the subordinates by giving proper guidance and advice.

(iv) High Morale

Good leadership increases the morale of the employees which, in turn, contributes to higher productivity.

(v) Development of Team Spirit

Effective leadership promotes team-spirit and team­work which is quite essential for the success of any organisation.

(vi) Encouraging initiative

A progressive, forward and democratic minded leader, always encourages initiative on the part of the followers.

(vii) Overcoming resistance to change

A leader overcomes resistance, if any on the part of followers to organizational changes; through explaining to them the utility of such changes to both—the enterprise and the employees.

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