Leadership Essays Examples
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Leadership is a dynamic and complex process where the focus is influencing people, rather than compelling one by persuasion in order to take a certain line of action (Grout and Fisher, 2011). The concept of leadership is currently embraced by different organizations, especially in the field of management and team building process. While the management leadership and team building concepts are different concepts they can be inter-related in some ways. Various forms of leadership and team building theories emerge and they can be similar in one aspect and distinct in another.
The majority of the leadership theories are viewed in various perspectives, such as being a process, trait, personality and behavior. Three of the most common leadership theories are the trait theory, transactional theory and transformational theory. In the trait theory, an individual is evaluated for his leadership based on his personality, social and physical qualifications or traits (Palestini, 2009). In essence, the trait theory provides that some persons may be born to become a leader while others are not, based on the qualifications of their traits. This theory on leadership seeks to establish certain inherent characteristics or traits that are crucial in developing leadership skills. Thus, the phrase “leaders are born, not made” is applied to the trait theory of leadership.
The transactional theory of leadership is highly applicable to individuals who are task oriented and use measures that will reinforce compliance from others, such as the offering of reward and punishment. This theory postulates that the leaders seldom interact with others and only interfere with the tasks at hand the moment the group begins to get off track. The main focus of the theory is on the interaction between the leader and his followers and the established structure that communicates the management expectations and the potential rewards and punishment for compliance and non-compliance.
The transformational theory views leadership as a process whereby a leader connects with others and engage them to transform their own beliefs and motivation as both a follower and a leader. The leader has the charisma to motivate and engage people, but beyond the charismatic characteristic of the leader is the fact that becoming a leader is a process that can be learned and managed (Bass and Bass, 2008). Leaders under this theory are known to be a charismatic leader whose characteristics represent the prototype character of an ideal leader for others. The leader has the skill of articulating certain visions to his followers in order to bring change among them. The leadership skills applied in this theory is being able to understand the needs of the followers and understanding what can motivate them to use as leverage in making them follow.
Leadership theories may sometimes be related to the well-known team building theories, such as the social identity theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, and the action centered leadership. A team consists of people working together in order to attain a common goal. A collective effort is given in order to organize the accomplishment of a common task, and a good command of leadership is likewise required for the team success. The social identity theory is used as a leadership theory that is applicable in team building. This theory postulates that the social association of an individual defines his attributes as a member of the group. It puts emphasis on the concept of self esteem based on the membership category of the individual. The individual categorizes himself as part of an in-group (the “us” concept) and discriminates against the out-group (the “them” concept) in order to pursue the enhancement of their self image. The social identity theory applies to team building as it encourages the group to build their own self image and to acquire attributes that can make them better than the others. As one applies the two vital sociocognitive processes of categorization and self enhancement, one develops his own leadership skills with better self esteem and motivation (Hogg and Terry, 2001).
The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory draws out the motivation process in team building. It consists of stages of five systems of needs, namely physiological, safety, belongingness, ego-status and self actualization that come in order from the greatest to the least. Maslow indicated that the unsatisfied needs of the individual become the prime source of motivation (Montana and Charnov, 2008). Team leaders can leverage of using these needs in order to encourage the members to become productive in achieving the team’s common goal. The action centered leadership is a leadership model that can be applied in all situations, by task, team or individual. The theory has multiple applicability to leadership functions, especially in the field of motivation, control, organizing, planning, team briefing, delegating, and dividing tasks. By applying the action centered leadership style, leadership skills can be learned and developed.
While the leadership theories and team building theories may have different concepts, they usually share a common factor of motivating people to become good leaders. While leadership is viewed in different contexts as a process, behavior or a trait, the same principle of leadership is applied in team building with the essence of motivation that helps improve the response of the individual towards an improved group performance. Every leader usually has their own style of leadership depending upon the situation, but the principle of leadership that aims towards the attainment of motivating people effectively is likewise used in the team building process. Moreover, individual leaders and team leaders also share the concept of vision where they focus on how to reach a common goal.
The difference between the leadership theory and team building theory lies on the theory application depending upon the situation present. Some similarities can be noted, for instance, between the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the transformational leadership theory in terms of the motivation factor that can promote self enhancement by leveraging on the needs of the individual as a source of motivation. However, the difference is in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in team building, there are various stages of needs that need to be satisfied in order to motivate a person, while the transformational theory does not follow certain stages of needs but may fulfill different areas of unsaftisfied needs of the individual without following any hierarchal category. Another difference is the application of the leadership theories and team building theories focuses on the number of persons involved. The leadership theory may be applied individually, while team building theories are usually designed to formulate a leadership approach that can engage the team or a group of individuals as team members.
Between leadership management and team building, vision is a shared element that defines the core of desire of achieving something. Academicians and literature writers agree that vision is not about predicting the future, but it is more of constructing the way we want things to be in the future. Vision takes a lot of planning and thinking, and it usually involves a long term process. Visionary leaders are those with the ability to communicate certain goals and able to create specific actions that can help initiate the attainment of such goals (Sashkin and Sashkin, 2003). In short, visionary leaders are not only good in speaking about achieving a certain goal, but also bring into action such plans that can help them attain that goal. According to Ihlenfeldt (2011), visionary leaders need a team of people in an organization who will be working together and understand the leader’s way of thinking and to have the same conviction. Academicians always emphasize the need to bring into action what a leader preaches. In an organizational setting, practicing what you preach is a good attribute of a visionary leader. In may workplace setting, however, the practice of visionary leadership constitutes giving the employees the freedom towards the decision making process, but the leader retains the authority of deciding which direction the group will take, otherwise, the organization will become disorderly and in a chaotic environment.
In organizational setting, the ideal attributes of a visionary leader that is considered to be effective should include focus of attention, displaying respect, demonstrating trustworthiness, personal communication, and taking the risks (Martini, 2009). Organization members these days are looking for great leaders who can help them find the appropriate direction to take in order to achieve their goals and one who can communicate well the management expectations. A visionary leader also applies the transformational theory of leadership that can help motivate others to embrace change in order to meet the expectations from them. Visionary leadership also involves the ability to use technology to enhance the skills and competence of the members and to help support employees’ readiness to take the challenge of accomplishing their job and responsibilities.
In conclusion, while leadership theories and team building theories are two different concepts, the same share a common element of vision. While the application of the theories involve some differences in terms of its application, such as whether it is used as a process, behavior or a trait, or to be applied individually or as a team, or applied in management or for team building, the concept of these theories will continue to be inter-related to one another. It usually involves drawing out motivation that can be used as a leverage towards self enhancement and efficiency that can bring individuals together in attaining a vision or a common goal.
Every leader, whether individual or as a team leader, will always apply the theories of leadership. Its concept will always be focused towards attaining a common goal or vision, such as aspirations and success. Every organizational needs is unique, therefore, a visionary leader should be one who has the ability to communicate management expectations to the employees and to help them meet the same. Visionary leaders are mandated to practice what they preach in order to win the trust and confidence of the people who rely on their leader to help them find the right direction to take in order to achieve their goals.
Bass, B.M. and Bass, R. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications.
Grout, J. and Fisher, L. (2011). What you need to know about leadership. West Sussex, UK: Capstone Publishing.
Hogg, M.A. and Terry, D.J. (2001). Social identity processes in organizational contexts. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Ihlenfeldt, W.A. (2011). Visionary leadership: A proven pathway to visionary change. Bloomington, IN: Author House.
Martini, P.H. (2009). Toward an integrated model of visionary leadership: A multilevel study. Ann Harbor, MI: ProQuest.
Montana, P.J. and Charnov, B.H. (2008). Management. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
Palestini, R. (2009). From leadership theory to practice: A game plan for success as a leader. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Education.
Sashkin, M. and Sashkin, M.G. (2003). Leadership that matters: The critical factors for making a difference in people’s lives and organizations’ success. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
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