Identifying key personnel

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It must be remembered that leaders carry certain characteristics. Accordingly, leadership is the art and process of influencing the people or organized groups so that they strive willingly do what the leader wants them to do (Malloy, Michelle, 2002). It does not only mean the passion to work but also includes the passion to work with confidence. Effective leaders, therefore, need to possess the basic characteristics of a leader in order to carry out their tasks. It is not so much that they are capable of leading but that they are able to get results.

This brief discourse shall attempt to define and determine the necessary characteristics of effective leaders. In doing this, there shall be a discussion on the basic characteristics of a leader. This shall also include a discussion into the type of leadership that is needed in order to become an effective leader. Respecting the different leadership styles, the presumption in this discussion is that there are common and identifiable characteristics that allows for these effective leaders to be identified.

In determining the characteristics of an effective leader, it is important to first understand what a leader needs to do. A leader communicates directly with the individuals, develops internal relationships with them, inspires and motivates them to accomplish the company's objectives. Leadership, therefore, is the ability to increase the group's performance in line with the objectives of the corporation or company. This means that an organizational role may include different objectives but have now become non-personal in order to become more effective such as by adding a personal touch to it.

Leadership and motivation are closely interconnected. An excellent leader can understand better what the members of the group want if the leader understands how to motivate them. While this may seem difficult, there are means by which the leadership qualities of these individuals can be drawn out early on in their careers to identify them. One of these methods is by organizing working groups to test the hypothesis, so to speak. Leaders are natural born and not created. A leadership skill is developed and not taught. Leaders always stand out in working environments that require teamwork and coordination, particularly when it involves a difficult task and there are no other competent people to do the job (Maxwell, 1998). The trick therefore is to set up programs that test an individual's ability to work in teams. A superior leader will immediately exhibit leadership qualities such as organization and communication skills in these exercises that will immediately highlight or exhibit his leadership abilities.

Another method which can be applied is to create a vacuum for the leader to step into (Kelley, 2005). By creating a void in a leadership position in an organization, a superior leader will always emerge to handle the situation and resolve any chaos that results from the leadership vacuum. Leaders are born to take charge and will not miss an opportunity to take do so when presented with a chance (Kelley, 2005).

These methods are the most effective because they bring out the best in a leader by allowing him to showcase his abilities in a pressure situation and thus allowing management to determine who among the group are superior leaders and who are not superior leaders as well as weed out the false positives that were thought to have leadership abilities.

One such leadership method that has to be examined is the democratic leadership style that has been exhibited by Meg Whitman, former head of eBay. A leadership style is a particular pattern of behavior implemented by a leader. Leaders have their own different styles with which they are most comfortable with and that they prefer to use. An example would be an autocratic leadership style, which is also portrayed as dictatorial or directive, wherein leaders who are comfortable using this style usually show a high degree of concern for getting the job done. These leaders are generally task-oriented and tend to provide close supervision. They are also highly directive and are not at all comfortable with delegating their authority to others. Under this type of leadership style, people tend to be un-participative and unmotivated. This is totally different from the democratic leadership style which is used by Whitman.

While the democratic leadership style is often described as participative and is generally the style preferred by modern management and employees, the leaders who use this style tend to share authority with their employees, involving them in decision making or organizational planning. Democratic leaders show concern for their employees, especially in matters that directly affect them in the workplace. This is the leadership style that lets the employees or people participate actively and show their potential in order for them to achieve their own goals.

Another type of leadership style is the free reign or laissez-faire leadership method. It is also called the integrative style of leadership. In this form of leadership, the leaders allow their employees to more or less lead themselves, offering advice or information only when asked. Under this style, it is not hard for the leaders to either increase productivity and at the same time show concern for the needs of the employees. They may integrate the activities by delegating out tasks and closing out assignments with merely a signature at job's end. It is important to note that but for the most part they are uninvolved with directing or controlling tasks or employee's actions.

According to John C. Burkhardt "Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs to the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent." Whitman performs this process by applying her leadership characteristics; her principle, values, ethics, attitude, knowledge and skills. "The basis of a good leadership is respectable character and unselfish service to the organization. Respected leaders concentrate on what they are {be} such as beliefs and character, what they know such as job, task, and human nature, and what they do such as implementing, motivating and provide direction (Sessa, Valerie, 2002)."

People generally follow if the leader possesses good qualifications, has a good reputation and has a strong vision of the future. Being a manager necessitates an understanding of every situation as required by the many different behaviors or approaches to be applied in every case.

Meg Whitman's style of leadership is very impressive. She can is able to communicate effectively with her group despite her hierarchical place in the company. Her leadership style is very effective especially in her role as a team leader, a structural leader, a human resource leader and as a symbolic leader. Under her tenure, her employees have become more participative and cooperative. By applying the participative theory of leadership, Whitman is able to make her top priority her employees. She also helps her employees understand the company's vision, mission and business strategies. She helps them to understand how they can participate and cooperate in order to accomplish the company's objectives.

Meg Whitman is a very respected and trust worthy individual. She able to communicate her vision effectively and thus is able to make everyone within the company attuned to her goals. The leadership of Meg Whitman makes her an ideal leader because she exhibits all the fine qualities of an excellent leader such as being responsible, being technically proficient, being a good example, being capable of solving company problems and perhaps the most important, loving her employees. Meg Whitman is a good role model for her employees and for other leaders as well.

As the model of Whitman has shown, there are indeed certain characteristics that set effective leaders apart from others. According to the author of the best selling book entitled, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", in his sequel entitled, "Principle Centered Leadership", which preaches the importance principles in developing leadership skills and philosophy states, true leaders, according to Stephen Covey, should always remember that all actions of man are governed by the natural laws. Success can therefore be achieved by aligning one's self and philosophies with these natural laws to bring true power, focus, energy, compassion, and integrity into one's life and by doing so allows other to feed of that principle centered leadership style. These simple rules or principles are outlined in this book and can be attained through simple steps and focusing on the key principles of natural law such as trust, empowerment and alignment.

Despite this, it must be remembered that while there are many courses that claim to provide people with leadership skills or qualities, it has also been said that leadership is a calling. Great leaders are born; they are not created or trained. These are the reasons why the chances of becoming a leader are not very high. Leadership as a calling entails that the leader must also heed the call (Kossoff, 2005). The level of responsibility and the scope of the tasks that an excellent leader is required to perform have turned away many individuals who had the potential to become efficient and effective leaders (Reh, 2005). Considering this in the light that there aren't many leaders to begin with because of the fact that leadership is something that one is born with, then there are in effect very few good leaders and the chances of anyone becoming a leader become slim, either from the fact that they are intimidated by the responsibilities or simply not born a leader.


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