How Would You Define Leadership?
I would define leadership as the ability of any individual, regardless of their status or title, to influence others and achieve a final outcome via team commitment, influence and motivation. Leadership is a highly dynamic and forever changing requirement for all of society in the 21st century and has allowed society as a whole to develop and advance socially and technologically. The concept of leadership and its practice is dependent on a number of different circumstances, environments, teams, values and objectives. As such, leadership can not be restrictive and nor can it remain constant for a sustained period of time. For example, a political leader relies heavily on governance whilst a business leader may be focusing more on strategy and human resource management. Furthermore, leadership pertains to not only the requirements of a specified industry or job title, but the personality traits and individual strengths and requirements of the individual that must lead and achieve an overall outcome for the greater good of an organization or society as a whole.
Throughout my respective management and leadership experiences, I have seen leadership to vary widely, hence supporting my initial statements on its diverse nature. For centuries, academics and well known individuals have attempted to define leadership and essentially establish a structure for teaching others how to lead I believe this to be the wrong way of teaching younger people and children about leadership. Leadership can not be taught or engrained in a student or focus group. Rather, more experienced leaders in society can provide insights into different leadership scenarios and encourage people to incorporate their own traits in defining their own leadership style and how to effectively lead others.
Furthermore, in defining leadership, various leadership styles can be extensively analyzed as they are always present throughout an organization and in different forms. Each individual within an organization has a different leadership style, which vary in their effectiveness in different situations. This is significant as we can learn off the leadership styles of others and determine how certain situations should be encountered and how individuals should be led. Furthermore, leaders can improve their skills by learning off the failures of others. For example, in the corporate world, newly promoted leaders need to learn how to quickly make amends after previous leadership failures and determine how to positively influence others and instill success in their team. In a sense, good leadership is achieved through the use of initiative and individuals trying to find unique ways of achieving an outcome. Subordinates will subsequently respect leaders more if they are willing to exceed all boundaries to achieve a goal, which benefits everyone.
I also believe that leadership should always be related to success and an individual being able to influence others to effect change and achieve an overall outcome. If an individual can not achieve success, than their style needs to be further refined. As discussed earlier, there are a number of mechanism by which leaders can improve their style. The HEC program is one such means by which leaders can theoretically and practically learn how to become more effective and influential.
In conclusion, leadership is primarily based on an individual achieving success through positively influencing others and also developing and advancing further in their respective careers. Future leaders need to learn off the faults of others and be open to change, the use of initiative and listening to their subordinates. It has also been identified in this paper that the beliefs of subordinates also influence the effectiveness of a leader and how they use their team to achieve a task and ultimately, success.
The following essay was submitted to the Berkeley MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
One of the most difficult situations I have ever had face during my tenure as VP of my company was the decision whether to fire Jane, an experienced employee, who I had worked with closely for two years. The decision arrived at my desk after a new CEO was appointed, and I became his VP, in charge of most employees. Together, we decided that we were going to transform our small and quiet company into a leading research firm with a target of 50% sales growth over the next 2 years. For that, we needed a devoted team that was committed to this goal.
This vision did not fit Jane. She left a large corporation where she worked long hours, and one of the main reasons she chose to join us was the laid back and relaxed atmosphere of a small company- exactly what we were determined to change. Although talented, she did only the minimum necessary, and was not willing to make any sacrifices and commit to our goal.
I faced a tough decision. On the one hand, firing a talented and experienced employee, in a time when most of the employees were new (as we wanted to drive growth we recruited new people), seemed unwise. In addition, I knew that our relationships with major clients might get hurt and a substantial knowledge base would be lost
On the other hand, not firing her would mean establishing double standards for our employees – most were required to work hard, whereas Jane was leaving early and refused to contribute extra efforts. Her opposition to the change had already begun creating undesired effects, as a few of the employees resented her.
In order to solve the problem, I tried to make Jane relate to the new goals and change her attitude. In addition, we also improved the company’s bonus program, based also on her comments, in order to reward the extra efforts. When all milder measures failed, I had to make a decision.
I decided to fire Jane. Although I knew that in the short run things would be difficult, I concluded there was no other way. I needed the most dedicated team possible, a team who was personally committed to the growth of the company. Jane, as head of a major division, would have undermined this effort in the long run.
Personally, making the decision was very hard. It meant firing someone with whom I had worked with closely for a long time. However, In terms of team spirit, matters improved greatly, and we succeeded in building the right team to lead the company forward. The new division head that replaced Jane was a highly motivated manager, and with her I had a team that could reach the ambitious goals we set, and indeed, in two years we have doubled the company’s project capacity, with a great improvement of research quality and customer satisfaction.