This article talks about certain traits that one must have to perform better as a leader compared to others. These traits are personal qualities that differentiate a leader from a non-leader. As explained in this article, leadership is a very demanding activity and that leaders who have the necessary traits, described as, drive, desire to lead, self-confidence, honesty and integrity, cognitive ability, and industry knowledge have a considerable advantage over those who lack these traits. The first trait, drive, refers to a high effort level and there are five aspects to this, achievement motivation, ambition, energy, tenacity and initiative. Leaders with drive, have a relatively high desire of achievement and are very ambitious about their work and careers. Leaders are more likely than non-leaders to have a high level of energy and stamina and to be generally active, lively, and often restless. Effective leaders make choices and take action that leads to change instead of just reacting to events or waiting for things to happen, that is, they show a high level of initiative.
The desire to lead helps individuals, to persuade others to work toward a common goal, involves the desire to influence and lead others and is often equated with the need for power. Self-confidence plays an important role in decision making and gaining others’ trust. Self-confident leaders are also more likely to be assertive and decisive, which helps them create consensus and the confidence of others’ in their decisions. A leader’s honesty and integrity form the foundation on which the leader gains followers’ trust and confidence, without these the leader would not be able to attract and retain followers. Successful leaders are open with their followers, but also discreet and do not abuse confidences or carelessly disclose information which could be harmful. Effective leaders are credible, with excellent reputation, and high levels of integrity. The authors also stress that leaders need to be intelligent enough to formulate suitable strategies, solve problems and make correct decisions. Cognitive ability permits leaders to accurately analyse situations and make effective decisions. Finally, knowledge of the business is needed to develop suitable strategic visions and business plans which will ensure they are better leaders.
However, traits alone are not sufficient for successful leaders; they are only a pre-condition. Leaders who possess the requisite traits must take certain actions to be successful, for example, formulating a vision, role modelling, setting goals etc. This article points out that leadership qualities are not inherited by great men or women, but they need to master these traits in order to become better leaders.
The strength of this article is the convincing way it identifies and proves traits that form the raw material for an effective leader. These traits, as explained by the authors are desire to lead, self-confidence, honesty and integrity, cognitive ability, and industry knowledge. These traits are critical in differentiating a leader from a non-leader. Anyone possessing these key qualities will be more likely to formulate a clear vision for the organization and will be able to effectively pursue this vision, which is the core job of a leader. This means individuals with possession of these traits are more likely to be good leaders and can come from within the organization or outside the organization or from higher or lower managerial ranks. These traits are not inherited but can be developed through training or experience. So, this shows that anyone can become a leader but has to develop or strengthen these key characteristics.
Although the article clearly posits the importance of some key characteristics or traits of good leader, it fails to account for the fact that these traits are not equally present in all people. In most individuals, they are found in different configurations. Identifying the relative importance of these traits would have strengthened the article. So for examples, how important drive is in comparison to self confidence.
Further, these traits could also change over time. For example, drive can change over time as can the level of energy a person possesses. In addition, the desire to lead cannot be easily judged in people. Self confidence can differ in individuals and honesty is a virtue one achieves or rejects by choice. Many of these traits cannot always be developed by training or through experience. A scale which shows how easy/difficult each of these traits are to acquire could have also added value to the arguments the article is making.
The implications of this article for leadership generally are that anyone can become a good leader but has to have these core traits or can develop them overtime by experience or training. If individuals try to improve or work on these traits it will help them to become better leaders and the difference between leaders and non-leaders will be quite clear.
Gender Issues in Leadership
Still, L. V. (2006). Where are the women in leadership in Australia?. Women in Management Review, 21(3), 180-194
This article reviews the current representation of women in leadership and decision making positions in Australia in both the private and public sectors. Women have been hovering around 25 percent general representation in management positions in Australia for many years. When rural versus metropolitan ratios are measured, the results are even more discouraging and suggest that powerful cultural and socio-economic factors are at work in rural areas in determining gender roles.
A lack of line management and profit centre experience has been cited as major drawbacks to the appointments to higher office of aspiring and ambitious women. Other recognized and related explanations for the paucity of women in management and board positions include the prescriptive nature of stereotypes such as lack of ambition in women, difficulties of accommodating work and family, the male managerial culture, women’s lack of mentors and networks and their difficulty in adjusting to, and operating within, certain organizational cultures.
Australia is renowned for its macho culture, which extends into management and the boardroom and is an important element of the executive culture. Women have usually been appointed to leadership positions through four main routes: charisma, inheritance, achievement of professional eminence and selection. It is only in recent times that a fifth route by merit has emerged as an important factor. Leadership still remains a masculine notion, being defined by subtle and deeply rooted cultural norms and values in organizations.
The authors also point out that communication plays a role in leadership as men can express themselves in an assertive, absolute way, while on the other hand women have less assertive forms of communicating which can be unacceptable ways in most organizations and board level. Despite the impressive array of legislative and policy change, systemic discrimination is still one of the biggest hurdles to women’s advancement because of the various cultural nuances and informal systems that still operate in most organizations.
To conclude, women may have the required skills, but are not seen culturally as leaders in comparison to men. The Australian executive culture as it currently exists, is thus a strong drawback to women’s advancement. While access has improved at the entry and middle levels of management, progress in the upper echelons has been remarkably slow and in a number of cases, even stagnant. 25 per cent seems to be the bench mark in Australia, especially in the private sector. The public sector performs slightly better in this respect where the 30 per cent mark has been reached, particularly with boards and committees.
This paper makes some persuasive arguments to demonstrate how in the current era, when women are better educated, experienced and trained than before, they still have to face the hardships of the “macho” culture in Australia. It is successful in establishing that in Australia, leadership is not normally associated with women and still remains a masculine notion and women are not seen culturally as leaders in comparisons to men, which explains why we don’t see many women is positions of leadership in the country. It makes a strong case for government involvement in setting policies that will encourage gender equity in leadership in Australia. There is need for Government intervention since Australia is lagging behind other development countries in the world and also because some of the constraints identified in the article are best addressed by Government enforced policies.
The paper also highlights that the image of a woman leader, in both management and communication style is another obstacle in the path of competent women. While the communicating style of women could be seen as a constraint to them being perceived as effective leaders, as a manager, I would view this as a potential strength that could be utilized for the overall benefit of the organization. The article just goes to show that women have a different style of approaching issues and communicating within a business environment. Gender balance in the management of an organization could improve the overall productivity of the organization by building on the different strengths and working styles of the two sexes for optimal results.
While access has improved in the middle level of management progress, it continues to be an issue in the upper levels. This trend is a serious cause for concern. Although the goal of 50 percent representation may be an appropriate overall long term goal and could be open to debate, the trend which sees representation of women increasing is worrisome and warrants action by the Government.
The article makes a good point that there is still a lot of noise surrounding the issue of why women aren’t becoming leaders in Australia and much more analysis needs to be done in the area before policies or interventions to encourage their participation can be designed. Any actions taken by the Government should directly address the issues that are causing this trend to be more effective or else we will see a repeat of the last few decades where Government action in the area has not produced any positive results.
Riggio, R., E. and Lee, J. (2007). Emotional and interpersonal competencies and leader development. Human Resource Management Review, 17(4), 418-426
This article reviews the importance of emotional and interpersonal competencies in leader development programs. Leaders and individuals are having difficulties in engaging in interpersonal communication to maintain effective work relations with supervisees, peers and superiors. The authors also point out that the development of emotional and interpersonal leader competencies is still very new. Research in the early and mid 1900s demonstrated that communication and social skills are very important predictors of leadership emergence and effectiveness but there has been no unified theoretical framework to guide the delivery of training programs. More recent leadership programs recognize the importance of interpersonal skill training in effective leadership, particular theories of leadership that emphasize the quality of leader-follower relationships. Models of social skills emphasize, the receiving of messages, processing of received information and the sending of the chosen response.
There is no doubt that the popularity of the construct of emotional intelligence has spurred great interest and multiple efforts in developing leader emotional competencies. Emotional intelligence focuses on four core abilities which are, identifying emotions, which is the ability accurately identify owns and other emotions and feeling. Second is using emotions, which involves enhancing the thinking process by using emotions to inform decisions, thirdly, understanding emotions and finally managing emotions, which involves the ability to control emotions so that the emotions do not overwhelm the individual or govern inappropriate or undesired actions, and integrating feelings and actions. Other emotional intelligence concentrates on four dimensions which are self awareness, relationship management, social awareness and self management. There is some research that suggests that leaders possessing high levels of emotional intelligence have a positive impact on their followers in terms of increased levels of employee satisfaction and engaging in positive organizational citizenship behaviours.
To sum up, the development of interpersonal and emotional competencies has great promise and it is very likely that successful leaders are so effective in part because they have developed these skills overtime. This article provides direction to human resources professionals for research and practice on developing leader emotional and interpersonal skills.
This article emphasizes the importance of interpersonal and emotional competencies in leadership development programs and discusses the benefits of each of the two individually by using examples from previous studies. The greatest strength of the article is that it recognizes the importance of carrying out research, which identifies the benefits of both, emotional competencies and interpersonal skills collectively in relation to leadership.
The article also points out the importance of the need for the development of not only the leader’s but also the followers’ emotional and interpersonal skills. The benefits to the organization may be increased if the followers’ skills are developed along with that of the leaders. The article also recognizes that research needs to be carried out to determine the specific emotional and interpersonal skills for the success of leaders.
The authors identify that it is difficult to train people when it comes to soft skills such as emotional and social skills, however, they have proven with the backing of a study that it is not entirely impossible. However, training for emotional and social skills is very time consuming which is why determining how emotional skills are developed and best practices to develop them is extremely important.
It is widely known that there are certain characteristics in a leader which motivate employees to work harder and produce results best to their abilities. Being able to communicate effectively, manage one’s emotions, identify the needs and emotions of others, taking another’s perspectives along with other emotional and interpersonal skills create a positive working environment which indirectly enhances the organization’s outcome. It is also extremely important to have one’s employees co-operate with you as that determines whether you will be able to achieve your goal successfully.
I have learned from my personal experiences and support the authors of this article as I feel a leader’s interpersonal and emotional skills have a significant influence on the success of the organization. From experience I know that when I had an employer (leader) who took my perspective into consideration and paid attention, motivated me to work harder and to deliver to the best of my abilities. When I worked for an employer who was unable to manage their emotions and control their negative emotions, I was de-motivated even though I enjoyed my work and felt that my quality of my work suffered because of my employer’s interpersonal and emotional skills.
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