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Organizational success is largely dependent on the ability of the organization to create and maintain a diverse workforce which can recognize and respond to changes in the external environment, two major components hiring practices and workplace satisfaction can contribute greatly to organizational success (Mullins 2007). An effective leadership style is integral to building and maintaining a healthy organization,in the present era of globalization and the intense competitiveness caused by it, managing business survival has become more and more complex, issues in people management have been receiving critical attention from managers, including top management as a strategy(Hucyzynski and Buchanan 2007). One of the biggest researches ever done was that by Geert Hofstede and it studied the effect of culture on management and leadership at large. He had four indexes that are Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance, Individualism/collectivism and Masculinity/Femininity (Henderson 2008) have a lot to teach leaders of the world, using the Hofstede's indices, the poem 'The Leader To Be' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, documentaries etc in discussing the world's remarkable leaders basing on the leadership approaches they used. This work also seeks to review current literature on leadership style and theory to grasp an understanding of the concept and also evaluating the leadership styles of certain leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Barrack Obama, Each of these leaders has a vital knowledge contribution to a 21st Century HR manager aspiring to work well and meet expectations of a true and right scenario of leadership and also make appropriate recommendations on what human resources managers should learn from them .
WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
Leadership according to (Sims et al2009 cited in Anon 2010) is developed from the old word laed which means to determine the course of a ship, it is an integral part of work and social life, in fact in any given situation where a group of people want to accomplish a common goal then a leader may be required. Leadership behaviour occurs in almost all formal and informal social situations even in a non formal situation such as a group of friends some sort of leadership behaviour occurs wherein one individual usually takes a lead in most of the group activities (Armstrong 2009).
Leadership is the interaction between two or more members of a group that often requires a structuring or restructuring of the situation and the perceptions and expectations of the members ,leadership occurs when one group member modifies the motivation and competencies of others in the group (Grint 1997), it is an instrument of goal achievement(Bass 1990 cited in Grint 1997).Leadership can be defined as getting things done through people, when there is an objective to be achieved or a task to be carried out and when more than one person is need to do it (Armstrong,1988). Leaders innovates, develops others, focuses more on people, inspire trust and then does the right thing (Hollingsworth 1989), one who is in the position to guide the affairs, and work of others in an organisation towards achieving a common and desired objectives is a leader, Consequently without appropriate leadership most organisations will have a lot of difficulties in attaining their goals and objectives. It is argued that leaders/managers who possess these skills are the ones that people in organizations want to follow. These skills and competencies include: honesty and integrity; competence and credibility; the ability to motivate and inspire others; the ability to create a vision/sense of direction for the future; good two-way communication skills; equity/parity and fairness; and a sense of humour (Forster 2005),the leaders discussed in this essay possess two or more of these skills which shows how effective their leadership styles works.
Obama's leadership style/Theory.
Obama went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School. It is assumed that leaders have certain qualities such as initiative, ability to accept responsibility, courage, intelligence and humour which together influence a person to be a leader Wagner (2009). According to (Greenberg, 2005) the approach that recognises that great leaders possess key traits remains stable over time and across different groups, some of these traits are drives, this means the desire and passion for a leader to achieve a common goal ,objective, ambition, tenacity and initiative, also a leader should be honest and have integrity, he or she should be trust worthy, reliable and open to co workers .self confidence is another characteristic an effective leader should posses, that is the ability to trust in his own abilities, creativity. Leadership spirit proved to be part of his life when he became the first African American president for the Harvard Law Review, Obama has had different positions in the US; he sometimes worked as a community organizer, a post which gave him chance to serve the poor community and emancipate them from the tight bonds of poverty, all these shows the leadership traits in him.
President Barack Obama got the attention of the American's and foreigners due to his charismatic nature., transformational leaders are highly confident in anything they do and their ability to do it and also the judgement transformational leaders when taking certain decision shows and carries out a very high level of moral reasoning Interpersonal consideration; transformational leaders interact with followers, gives them support, encouragements and attention they need to perform their job well.(Bass,1960;Kelly,1988; sergiovanni 1990) suggests that the perception of good leadership are similar to the characteristics of a good follower that the most likely way to become a leader is to become a superb follower. According to Anon(N.D) A charismatic leader has a unique ability to draw others to his side and move them to accomplish a task bigger than themselves the skill of oratory has been perfectly demonstrated recently by Barrack Obama's surge in popularity with reference to the white house, and his continued popularity being the president of America the ability to speak confidently and with connotation is a rare one also Increased influence and persuasion is just one of the positive benefits of being a leader with charisma. A charismatic approach is transformational if it invokes a permanent change in the people who embrace the leader's vision, President Obama has drawn many to his vision which has the prospective of make a huge difference in both domestic and foreign affairs.
Under the Bush Administration, America's image lost much of its shine. This was mostly due to a unilateral, ethnocentric foreign policy espoused by Bush and Cheney Obama demonstrated a cross cultural leadership by not taking America's safety needs for granted, also formulated a more cross-cultural approach to the world, thinking not only of the US's interests but also the interests of the otherÂ nations as well (Dowling et al 2008). In the first six months on the job, Obama has travelled abroad more than any other president at this point of his administration and has paid attention to cultural norms in the places where he travelled.
Not only has Obama been culturally sensitive and transformational, he has been able to respond to various situations using different types of leadership models, This theory according to (Huczynski & Buchanan, 1991) is an approach to determining effective and best style of influencing which takes into consideration and takes note the amounts of direction and support the leader gives, and the readiness of followers to perform a particular task, the different leadership style that can be used are the autocratic leadership style, the democratic/participative leadership style and the laissa-faire leadership style the styles mentioned above are exhibited depending on the situation in that organisation. When travelling abroad Obama has been pacifying, humble and able to listen before speaking. When facing the failing automobile, he does not mince words but stands tough to call for necessary changes like forcing GM and Chrysler to accept new MPG standards and pare down their long-time commitment to NASCAR. Under the heat of the current foreign and economic troubles, Obama has worked hard to accomplish what he promised understanding that each second he waits may mean a lost home or job for another group of citizens. Whether one likes what he has done or not, Obama has not left behind the challenges that faced him when he accepted the job as president.
Nelson Mandela's leadership style
Nelson Mandela considered by many as a revolutionary leader, helped organize the fight against racism and apartheid in South Africa. According to Rikpa (N.D) Mandela's leadership success was attributed to his use of consensus ,Mandela witnessed leadership at a young age when observing his guardian supervising tribal decision-making gatherings his guardian listened in silence for days never voicing his opinion even after everyone's opinion was heard after everyone had spoken, and guided the group to reach a consensus.
Mandela began displaying his ability to organize and lead others by helping to create the Youth League of African National Congress (ANCYL) which organized protests, boycotts, petitions, and strikes to end apartheid. Previously the African Nation Congress (ACN), ANCYL's parent organization, had petitioned the government for years for equality with little success. However, with increased success of the movement, the government increased violence toward nonviolent protesters and banned the ANC, Mandela and other leaders in the movement had to decide how to respond and later concluded that nonviolence would no longer be effective and that the ANC needed to continue underground these actions resulted in the imprisonment of Mandela for 27 years and many ANC leaders, but this action helped to inspire others and to prepare the country for change (Hall, 2006).
After more than twenty years in prison, Mandela decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. He realized that, as a leader, it was time to take a drastic step, and he met with the South African president in order to discuss his release and his desire to switch the nation to a democracy. Mandela was successful, and upon his release he was elected the first democratic leader of South Africa (Brink, 1998).
Throughout his battle against apartheid and helping to bring democracy to South Africa, Mandela adopted a democratic leadership style. According to Johnson and Johnson (2006) "Democratic /participative leaders set policies through group discussion and decision, encouraging and helping group members to interact, requesting the cooperation of others". He threw away his individual view upon the oppressors in his speech when he said "I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination, I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities." (Nussbaum 2003).
Mandela believed in the value of the democratic process, even thought he did not always initially agree with the result. In conclusion, Nelson Mandela is viewed as a revolutionary leader for his ability to empower and motivate others using his strong regard for consensus and the democratic /participative process.
Mahatma Gandhi's leadership style
One of the main traits that Mahatma possessed was his 'definite of purpose'. His vision and how he was to achieve this, was the guiding light for the choices that he made, his main goal was to set India free and to fight for the rights of the repressed, through the use of NON violent means.
It was Africa that Gandhi learnt that in life the goodness of an individual is only contained in common good and that all work has the same value, the greatest of all, he understood that life of labour is the life worth living (Nair 1994). He left South Africa in 1915 for the sake of the love he had for his people to India to joins arms to fight for freedom, his total commitment to this at times caused great tribulations for him and his people, but his principle that non violence was the correct way to accomplish the goal of freeing India was always at the fore front of everything he did. Mahatma believed that challenging his self discipline heightened his commitment to achieving his goals. He was a focused leader that had a "Do or Die" attitude. He 'would free India or die in the process. He would not accept any deviation to this principle of Non Violence. He would rather go to jail (which he did often) rather than go back on his word about non violence. His word was his power and his weapon.
Ghandi made an effort to truly understand his people, takes into consideration of their point of view from what motivated them. he did not put himself on a pedestal and segregate himself from his people, he had great empathy, he did not let his ego come between him and his people. He was approachable to his people, he connected to his masses because he loved and took a stand for them.
He not only had self belief but he had the ability to INSPIRE the Indian people to believe in themselves and their goal of freedom, even through all the hardships that they faced. At times Gandhi had to be quite flexible leader. At times he had to change his plans around to counter British rules and tactics. One thing that stayed the same was his values and principles. He was unwavering when it came to his values.
The first time Mahatma got up to speak in court, when he was working as a lawyer, he could not speak one word out loud due to fear. This caused him great humiliation. Even though he failed miserably, those failures eventually lead to him becoming one of the best public speakers of all time. There were quite a number of times Gandhi failed; each time he used the failure to improve his leadership skills and to improve himself and the task at hand.
Mahatma shows us that the even the best leaders still fail and make mistakes. He also shows that the difference between good leaders and great leaders is that the great leaders acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.Gandhi was able to successfully bring spirituality into his leadership style. He promoted love and peace in times when another leader would have made a call to arms. Gandhi's leadership skills were the perfect example of a principle driven leadership style. Gandhi's life shows that living by integrity and having a strong unmovable sense of belief and faith, means that anyone can make a positive impact in this world that we live in(Stogdill 1974).
MARGARETH THATCHER'S LEADERSHIP STYLE
Margaret Thatcher demonstrated the authoritative leadership style, she was a woman of war during her reign with so many oppositions who demonstrated her ability to fight and defeat her opponents. As a leader of the opposition, she also demonstrated a unitary attitude when she accepted to unite the party and reflect all opinions in her shade of the cabinet when the party due to leadership crisis was deeply divided. As a leader she worked closely with her enemies as friends. According to the case study (the cosmopolitan IHRM manager & cross cultural relativity of leadership 2009) the leadership approach that was displayed by Margaret Thatcher was an 'action centred and task oriented leadership approach, cannon management and autocratic leadership style , thatcher led with 'an iron fist'. According to Armstrong and Stephens (2005) an autocratic leader is one who impose his/her decision on subordinates with a certain amount of strictness as indicated in two. She a tough leader who was disliked by most She even dared to ban the survival of the unions by saying that they where a threat to National security ,she did not have pity on her people e.g. in Thatcher: The Downing Street Years' She refused to compromise with the workers in the mine sector, miners pains were not her pains, she did not think on them as part and parcel of her family, a thing which lead to strikes. According to Ella (2003)In Wilcox poem that says, in one united see of purpose lies the course of our freedom, never did she think of these words. She enforced the Poll tax, a thing which was contrary to UK citizens' expectations and this lead to huge demonstrations with big hostility in the middle class voters as well as the anti-conservative protestors in 1990 ending with big violence and clashes.
Thatcher said for something to be done there has to some amount of toughness and confidence. she was always against any suggestion of compromise which meant that she had a confrontational style and the idea that someone could have a valid point of view was not of any concern to her. she also displayed a trait of a diplomatic leader when she exhibited good negotiable style where she said that crisis should be resolved by an integrative (collaboration) win-win approach and probably reaching compromise if the need arises ( Tannenbaum and Schmidt,1958) .
Lessons to a twenty first century manager
It should be borne in the minds of a 21st century leader that when you stand up for what you believe is right, you must have the courage to acknowledge your actions and face consequences regardless of the big barriers before you, examples could be your fellow leaders who maybe are corrupt, the rich who want to act for their own benefit etc. Managers should be aware that rank means northing unless employee's spirit is of the same stature. They should thus understand that people do not work purely for money; dignity, pride, belonging and freedom, to my view would be the greatest incentive to employees.A range of activities have to be done by a 21st Century manager towards change in behaviour to facilitate change in people centred organizations, and to ensure smooth and mutual relations between employers and employees.(Elkin and Sharma 2007).Also one of the biggest researches ever done was that by Geert Hofstede and it studied the effect of culture on management and leadership at large. He had four dimensions. I personally find that this indexes that are Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance, Individualism/collectivism and Masculinity/Femininity (Henderson 2008) have a lot to teach leaders of the world
A twenty first century manager should be open minded and flexible, respect contributions by cultures, equipped with ability to deal with complexities, being resilient, resourceful, optimistic, and energetic, however he should operate with honesty and integrity, demonstrate a stable personal life, and posses value added to technical or business skills.(Mendenhall 2007).
One particular trait that can be attributed to the leaders under study; Obama, Mandela, Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher is their concern for the people around them and humanity generally with Margaret Thatcher expressing hers in a very blunt and military style. Obama's childhood experience of the abject poverty in his short stay in Jakarta, Mandela and Ghandi's experience of prejudice among their people all shaped them in becoming leaders, it also in a way defined their non violent approach of leadership, this cannot however be said of Margaret Thatcher ,this can also be transposed into the view of Blake and Mouton in the Blake and Mouton managerial grid where they opined that a high concern for both employees and production is the most effective type of leadership behaviour (Hucznski and Buchanan 2001).
Each leaders under review has displayed diverse characteristics that cannot be pinned only to an individual; this supports the view of the contingency/situational school of leadership that opined that the leadership style to use is dependent on the situation that arises, the people, the task, the organisation and other environmental factors. Much of the consultative, persuasive and democratic style cannot however be said of Thatcher rather she can be said to be autocratic ,many researchers have proved that Africa has the greatest root to the best human resource management basing on fact that they have true understanding that humanity can only be defined through interaction, and that a person becomes ''wholly human'' through other people. There is thus vitality for 21stCentuary managers to take this as a lesson in this magic culture to make working places as homes
It is therefore recommended that the Adair's auctioned centred leadership model (1973) which postulates that work gets done best through team work and relationship with followers/staff be adhered to.
It is also recommended the following traits and skills be imbibed as postulated by Stodgill, (1974) Adaptable to situations ,Ambitious and achievement-orientated ,Assertive ,Cooperative ,Decisive ,Dependable , Dominant (desire to influence others) ,Energetic (high activity level), Persistent , Self-confident , Tolerant of stress ,Willing to assume responsibility and the skills of Clever (intelligent), Creative ,Diplomatic and tactful ,Knowledgeable about group task , Organised (administrative ability).These skills and traits were exhibited by the various leaders discussed in this write up and they contributed to their success as we know today.
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