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Organisational success as well as survival, particularly in the current economic climate ultimately depends on effective leaders. But leaders are born. It is not possible to train a person to become an effective leader.
It is true that the British economy in stalled in its biggest and longest recession on record as government figures out that it shocked 0.4% drop in gross domestic product (GDP) at the beginning of the year. Records say that there have been no such contractions in a row since the last 50 years.
But recession is not likely the same with every organisation. To them it is an opportunity coupled with danger. The path to economic recovery is stretched wide and it's full of potholes and uncertain trials. Leaders who steer it successfully will be heroes and legends and the ones making the wrong moves will find it fatal. Leadership being the central feature of any organisational performance plays the most important role for any organisational success.
According to Lord Sieff, 'leadership is important at all levels. It is Vital that leaders create a team spirit. An effective leader has to be seen, and is best seen in action".
It is found that organisations that have coped with recession with balance sheets intact and cash in hand, acquisitions can be made at bargain prices. A recession period is usually recognised as the best time to launch new products and venture new markets as long as you find the right time and understand the needs and wants of the customer. But only if efficient leaders guide or run the organisation effectively can recession be handled smartly and tactfully.
A fine Example for the above note is of Mr. Andy Bond, President and CEO, ASDA group. He changed his leadership style by adapting to changes with the changing market demands in UK's supermarkets. He started his career in Asda as a marketing manager during the year 1994 shortly after Archie Norman began the turnaround of their chain. He roused rapidly and took his mark when he took over the clothing business in 2000. Andy Bond predicted that the credit crunch will fundamentally affect the consumer behaviour and market trends and retailers who fall short to adapt to the reality won't survive.
The recession has affected the consumer behaviour to a large extent. At the present scenario it's obvious that consumers are not ready to spend a premium price shopping when they cannot taste the difference. According to Bond, "saving money by cutting out on waste and unwanted part of all kinds will be top most priority". The whole idea being that he saw a fundamental shift pattern in consumer behaviour leading to a new breed of consumers as a result of recession.
The new breed of consumer will want more value for money and only organisation with authentic low cost operating models, who embrace sustainability and who are transparent about how they pass savings onward to their customers will be the successful. Organisations who continue with high/low pricing will become increasingly distrusted.
The UK's second largest supermarket seems to buck the recession with bigger profits, higher sales, higher customer demand and boost in market share. Asda's like-for-like sales were up in 2008 by 7.2% and their grocer's sector has increased from 16.7% to 17%. (Guardian.co.uk, 2009)
His leadership style is based on getting things done well and through others willingly. The outcome of a result can only be extraordinary if employees tend to start liking what they are good at. The leadership styles he practices are similar to that of the people-oriented leadership styles where the leader is focused on developing, supporting and organising the people in the team. This approach tends to create a full participation of all members within the team to leading to a creative collaboration.
Here it is very clear and has been proved by many successful businessmen and organisations that only a leader who has a vision to lead the change and gain the trust of the customers through integrity, competence and courage can be successful.
Successful leaders create an excitement atmosphere within and outside the organisation which enables people to believe in management strategies, management decisions & their work.
A leader is somebody who influences people and understands the factors that determine relationships with other people. He will be an effective leader only if he is able Innovate, Develop, Focuses on people, Inspire trust, Have his eye on the horizon, and Does the right thing.
McGregor identified four major variables which are to be present in a leader for successful leadership relationship.
Characteristics present in the leader.
Personal characteristics including the attitude & the needs of the followers.
The purpose, structure and the tasks to be performed by the organisation
The Social, economic & political environment of the organisation.
According to McGregor, "Leadership is not a property of the individual but a complex relationship among their variables."As leadership is complex and variable in nature there are different approaches in analysing leadership.
Different leaders lead their people in different approaches
The traits or the qualities approach The functional approach Behavioural approach Styles of leadership Situational leaders Transitional or transformational leadership
Leadership in contemporary organisation life has become a insidious phenomenon. It has been assured and emphasised that leadership is the answer to the whole array of challenges faced by organisations. It is now a non negotiable factor that all the qualities that all the desirable members of the top management in an organisation should possess the basic leadership qualities of like clarity of vision, a performance focus, flexibility & innovation, HR capability & Winning commitment. Its value is simply asserted and its nature assumed. Attention then typically switches to what are commonly seen as the apparent training and development ' needs' in order to attain these desirable needs.
Leaders are transformative, seek challenge & change systems, create new visions and new meanings, empower, seek to inspire and transcend, have a long term focus and focuses on the strategic big picture.
The organisational success of Emirates Airlines is fine example of the same.
When the Lengthy global recession had replaced record high oil prices it was confirmed to be the single biggest challenge faced by the airline industry. The significant reduction in oil price, the airline industry faced an "unprecedented weakness in revenue and air travel", which wiped out the most benefits from the fallback in fuel prices. The result of which had an adverse effect in financing new aircrafts.
According to the IATA Director General, Giovanni Bisignani, the year 2009 was predicted to be a very difficult year for airlines, with revenues expected to fall much more dramatically than they did in the downturn following a fall in revenue from $536 billion in 2008 to $500 billion in 2009.
During this specific time, Emirates Airlines made a net profit of Dhs 752 million (US$205 million), for the first six months of its current financial year ending 30th September 2009. This represents a 165 percent improvement compared to Dhs 284 million (US$77 million) net profits for the same period in 2008.
It was only due to the thorough planning and brave and calculated decision making of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive,The Founder of Emirates Airlines, Building a vast empire at such astounding speed was possible.Today Emirates Airlines is rated as the fastest growing aviation industry in the world and the Middle East's largest provider of airport and travel services.
Sheikh Ahmed is truly a visionary as his prudence and leadership that has enabled Emirates to grow from being a regional airline with just two leased aircraft and three destinations, to an acclaimed international airline with a fleet of more than 100 aircraft and as many destinations across six continents.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline, The Founder of Emirates Airlines.
During the first half of its current financial year, Emirates airline expanded its fleet with eight new aircraft added. with
•Strong business growth continues with 18% more passengers carried •165% increase in net profit over same period last year •Contribution to U.A.E economy in first six months estimated at Dhs 24 billion
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates airline and Group said:"Emirates remained focused on its long-term strategy despite the global economic slowdown. We have continued to invest in our eco-efficient aircraft fleet by strengthening our global route network and also in supporting the infrastructure for our growing business.
Unlike others in the industry, Emirates did not cut back on its product, service or people. Instead, they invested in these areas and looked at their people to develop ever more innovative ways to manage costs, improve efficiencies, reallocate resources and drive alternative strategies for the business. Emirates' latest half-year performance testifies to the airline's strong business foundations and agility in adapting to the challenging global economic environment."
His leadership styles can be more related to that of a visionary, an authoritarian coupled with task-oriented style. The leader defines the work to be done and the roles required and put structures to monitor, plan and organise the work. These styles of leadership will help leaders in identifying areas that need development and that will involve more people.
Leadership Traits and Qualities consists of characters inherited by leaders like Intergrity,Justice,Enthusiasm,Bearing,Endurance,Unselfishness,Loyalty,Judgemental,Tactics,Initiative,Dependability,Decisivesness,Courage ,Knowledge. In short , To Gain the Trust of followers through Integrity, Competence, Courage Display and To Lead Change through Vision and inspiration are the most critical traits to be a successful leader today.
Some of the leadership traits can be traced from the past and the best example being Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi - One of the strongest and the most powerful leader in the world history is an classic example that strongly reflects that Leaders are created or formed on the basis of their life experience and the knowledge that they acquire during their life time. He was naturally a Charismatic and analytical individual. He was called both "Mahatma", meaning great soul, and "Bapu", meaning Father. He was both to his native India and also to the millions of people around the world.
Gandhi being born into a minor Hindu political family, spend his childhood in a small province of Gujarat after being trained as a lawyer in London. He moved to South Africa in 1893, to work as advisor to the Muslim Indian community.
Gandhi had transformed into a leader or rather learned to be a leader in South Africa. He was an individual who had a strong 'feel' for his followers. He developed himself with formal training & methods to be become a better leader with time. Gandhi is a Classic example for a leadership model. Totally interdependent relationship with his follower's .Used the 4 Es of Life - Envision, Enable, Empower and Energize.His entire action was firmly on his moral code. He was surely a learner and experimenter in every aspect of his activities & throughout his life. Religion for Gandhi was what one did and not what one believed, action was everything. Spiritual renewal was to Gandhi the key to personal freedom. His entire life story is about action to bring about positive change. He had faced failures as well but he has always moved forward & never gave up the quest for improvement both spiritual & social - both for individuals & for nations as a whole.
Gandhi possessed an exclusive vision and clearly knew how to get people in the right place to do the right thing. From his dedication to a life of action, everything he did enabled his followers to follow and act. This was also his great energiser. He could write the most complex, intellectual work; to be sure his point was understood.
His vision of the future was a combination of the spiritual, the moral and the practical, and it was through his consistent application of his vision that he led. In every case it was not philosophical statements but he laid out concrete objectives which people could buy into and then act upon.
Gandhi had an immense effect on the world. He helped create the world's largest democracy and also gave the world a way of thinking and acting upon our value systems. Many great leaders were influenced by his actions which included Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.Gandhi directly influenced the American Civil Rights movement, and thus the broader Human Rights concerns and activities of today. Martin Luther King was highly inspired by Gandhi's success with non-violent activism and dedicated himself to the principles of non-violence. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity"
Albert Einstein, in tribute, said Gandhi, "Demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and trickeries, but through the cogent example of a morally superior life".
In all things he did as a Leader, he put forward a powerful and appropriate vision to the world. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi personified in his life certain universal principles that are inbuilt in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are inevitable.
As all individuals are different from each other so are the styles in which the functions are carried out by the leaders. Some leaders are Doctorial where as some are Unitary. There are different leadership styles follow which include Bureaucratic Type, Benevolent Type, Charismatic, Consultative, Participative Type, etc
But in spite of all the personality traits present in an individual it has been proven by many famous and successful leaders in the world that Effective leadership is about continues learning and leadership development.
It is from trait theories of leadership that development efforts were identified and certain qualities and attributes associated with good leaders nurtured (J.Gargner 1989 & Wright 1996).The behavioural theories of leadership inspired development efforts directed at identifying and developing those behaviours that were most appropriate to each combination The leader, follower and situational characteristics were identified and numerous efforts was promoted towards the development of the physical ,mental and spiritual dimensions of inner awareness. (Ferris & Fanelli 1996)
There is an undeniable statement of belief that leadership and leadership development as solutions to the identified problems of current business policing.
It is clear from the study that all leaders are not necessarily born but made with right raw materials. Successful leaders have the intrinsic ability in them to have members in a group to believe and pursue their directives or command. This ability takes a strong, dominant extrovert personality and oodles of charisma. Researchers states that, they are psychological and character traits that the person who emerges into adulthood from adolescence will demonstrate for the rest of their life. Knowledge of products and techniques is acquired through schooling, training and experience.
Despite the inborn qualities which make for a good leader, these natural talents need encouragement and development. Even though leadership traits relates to more art, it still requires the application of special skills and techniques. Leaders are born, then made is more appropriate way of saying it. Athletes for example are not born, despite the fact that some are born with a natural ability that gives them more promise than the rest of us. But all of us need development to progress to the level of competence and character our potential allows. Michael Jordan, one of the most effectively marked athlete during his generation never really made into his very own school team for 5 years. It was his determination and strong will power which made him one of the famous basketball players of all time. That idea leads to the premise that it is incumbent on each of us to develop these characteristics in ourselves.
Further, research proves that effective leadership behaviour is a learning process. A Developing leader must choose to change how they conduct themselves and such changes need to be learned and embraced. The 'learning leadership' process can often engage recognition of new attitudes and styles of communication-not always easy transitions to make, as they involve fundamental behaviour changes.
Furthermore to become an effective leader, you must be able to efficiently self-examine yourself. Only once you 'step out of yourself' on time and view your own behaviour with from another person point of view then you will be able to evaluate yourself. Leadership skills development requires hard efforts into more complex areas such as relationship skills, personal development and a continues mental flexibility to tolerate extra rational and emotional human complexities. The bottom line in learning to be a leader is that traditional information or competency training must be enhanced by extra rational, experiential and personal development processes.
Hence it can be argued that leaders are born with qualities and traits but only if they combine this with their skills, knowledge, values and aspirations they can become Effective Leaders. Onlywell-developed traits of integrity, competence, courage and interpersonal skills give the Leader the self-confidence to take risks and to deal with major leadership challenges and issues.