Executive Leadership Foundations
A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company’s needs. This leadership definition captures the essentials of being able and prepared to inspire others.
Effective leadership is based upon ideas (whether original or borrowed), but won’t happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act. Put even more simply, the leader is the inspiration for and director of the action. They are the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills to make others want to follow their direction. In business, leadership is linked to performance, and any leadership definition has to take that into account. While it’s not solely about profit, those who are viewed as effective leaders are the ones who increase their company’s bottom lines. If an individual in a leadership role does not meet profit expectations set by boards, higher management, or shareholders, they may be terminated.
The terms “leadership” and “management” tend to be used interchangeably. Management refers to a company’s management structure as its leadership, or to individuals who are actually managers as the “leaders” of various management teams. Leadership, however, requires traits that extend beyond management duties. To be effective, a leader certainly has to manage the resources at their disposal. But leadership also involves communicating, inspiring and supervising—just to name three more of the primary skills a leader has to have to be successful. While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, anyone can learn to become a leader by improving particular skills. History is full of people who, while having no previous leadership experience, have stepped to the fore in crisis situations and persuaded others to follow their suggested course of action. They possessed traits and qualities that helped them to step into roles of leadership.
Writing in Forbes magazine, Erika Andersen, author of “Leading So People Will Follow,” says that, like most things, leadership capability falls along a bell curve. So, the fact is that most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders. Steve Jobs is a classic example of someone who learned to lead despite not being born a natural leader. After starting Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in 1976, he was fired by the board of directors in 1985 when the company was facing intense competition and internal disagreement about the future direction of the business. Later, after founding Pixar Animation Studios and NeXT Computer, he was eventually rehired by Apple in 1997 as CEO and went on to develop the revolutionary iPod, iPhone, and many other products.
By all accounts, Steve Jobs was a mercurial genius who, early in his career, routinely yelled at employees, co-workers, partners, and vendors. According to some ex-employees of Apple and NeXT, he was intolerant of anything he viewed as a failure, and his foul-mouthed tirades were the stuff of legend. He apparently believed in brutal honesty and considered other people’s feelings irrelevant. He did not conduct formal reviews with employees and was sparing with praise for a job well done. However, according to biographies, such as “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as Jobs matured his management style began to shift. He started to moderate some of his more negative traits and showed more empathy toward others, realizing that people had limits.
Good leaders are made, not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. This guide will help you through the journey. To inspire your workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and, do. These do not often come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are NOT resting on their past laurels.
Upon Completion of this course, learners will be able to:
- Identify the characteristics of an effective leader;
- Recognize a person’s personal and leadership style;
- Describe the importance of switching styles to accommodate individual differences;
- Describe the relationship between leading and following;
- Explain the importance of empowerment in the community effort;
- Describe how a shared vision is important to organizational development; and
- Many more.
SECTION 1: OVERVIEW OF LEADERSHIP
A wide range of definitions and conceptualizations of management have been offered and it is often difficult for managers to fully and clearly understand their roles within the organization; however, managers striving for effectiveness and success would do well to invest time and effort into understanding the functions, roles and skills associated with the managerial position. As with definitions of management, researchers and commentators have developed a variety of lists of managerial functions.
Concepts of Leadership
Good leaders are made, not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. To inspire your workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and, do. These do not often come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are NOT resting on their past laurels.
Management verses Leadership
While management and leadership have a great deal in common, such as working with people and accomplishing the goals of the organization, they do differ in their primary functions. Management's main function is to produce order and consistency through processes, such as planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, and problem solving. While leadership's main function is to produce movement and constructive or adaptive change through processes, such as establishing direction through visioning, aligning people, motivating, and inspiring.
What Does it Mean to Be a Leader?
The term “leader” or “leadership” is so frequently misused or misunderstood, it is important that we begin by defining what these terms mean. Unfortunately, the use of the term “leader” has been popularly broadened to include almost anyone in top management or in an elected position. Some view leadership as a series of specific traits or characteristics. Others see it as comprised of certain skills and knowledge. And some think of leadership as a
Leadership in Transition
The importance of good leadership is not a recent phenomenon. Leaders have been critical to effective organizations since people first started working together. However, the nature of this leadership has undergone some changes. The mobility of the nation’s population and the resulting loss of a “sense of community” in the last half of the 20th century into the beginning of this century have made it easier for people to identify with the more highly visible
Power and Leadership
Leadership, as noted earlier, ideally involves the act of influencing others to follow. Leaders work most effectively by influence. They act in ways that cause others to choose to act in accordance with their leader’s wishes Power has been defined as the ability to influence the actions of others, which means that leadership can be viewed as the effective use of power. Leaders are people who have and use power. While an individual may exert power without being a
The Servant Leader
Servant Leadership is more than a concept. Servant Leadership represents a philosophy in which leaders focus on increased service to others rather than on increasing their own power. The goal is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement. The best test of the Servant Leadership philosophy is whether or not those served by the organization and the organization’s staff grow as
Three Leadership Theories
In Bernard Bass’ book From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision, he sets out three basic ways people become leaders:
Trait Theory: Sometimes personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles, though this is extremely. This is also known as the “born leader” theory. We have all met a few people like this, such as a high school coach, scout leader, teacher or good boss. There are a very few people who have a natural talent for leading others.
Following are the styles of leadership one adopts. People as a leader adopt different styles for different kind of jobs according to the circumstances. The styles are briefly described below
Autocratic Leadership (The Boss)
Unequivocal initiative is the place choices are taken rapidly and halfway by one individual. Choices seem to be
Entrepreneurship Leadership Styles
An overwhelming undertaking introduction consolidates with an immediate methodology in offering guidelines to representatives. An alluring identity, that inspires others to work with them. Emphatically hate bureaucratic tenets and regulations.
Using the Appropriate Style of Leadership in Different Circumstances
Authority includes overseeing, planning and managing, assuming liability for individuals; coordinating, sorting out and persuading them. A decent pioneer will utilize an assortment of styles of initiative as indicated by the circumstance while terrible pioneers tend to fall into only one style. By and by, most pioneers use both errands situated and individuals arranged styles of initiative. At college, a participative style might be generally fitting, while a generation director in a processing plant might need to utilize a procedural or legitimate style much or the time. So,
SECTION 2: LEADERSHIP VISION
Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style
Much is written about what makes successful leaders. These articles focus on the characteristics, traits, and actions that are key to successful leadership.
- Choose to lead.
- Be the person others choose to follow.
- Provide inspiration.
Much ado is made of senior organizational leaders, they are both lionized and vilified for their personal actions, strategic pursuits, and for the success (or failure) of the organizations they lead.
Roles, Tasks, and Functions of Executive Leadership
The roles, tasks, and functions associated with leadership at the executive level have been noted and described by a number of researchers over the past 75 years using a variety of approaches. These various research approaches have resulted in the characterization of executive leadership in somewhat different ways, yet although different tasks, roles, and functions are emphasized and noted by different researchers, a general picture of the nature of executive
How is Executive Leadership Different?
The preponderance of evidence is that, although leaders at various levels may enact roles and functions associated with senior executives, there appear to be systematic differences in the nature of leadership at the executive level when compared with leadership at other levels.
Do Executive Leaders Actually Matter?
The decisions and actions of senior executives can lead an organization to failure. And the adept leadership of a senior executive team can place an organization in a position to be wildly successful. Entering a new market, navigating crisis, and dealing with environmental shifts are critical tasks that executives can handle well, or poorly.
Organizational Outcomes Associated with Senior Executive Leadership
Just as the nature of executive leadership tasks, roles, and functions is different in some important ways from leadership at lower organizational levels, so is the nature of the criterion variables that are possible (and relevant) at the executive level. The primary difference is that senior executives have the potential to impact the organization’s overall strategy and, ultimately, performance. Positional leadership at the lowest managerial level (e.g., a foreman)
Predicting Organizational Level Outcomes
One of the primary ways that research on senior executive leadership has sought to understand the effects that leaders can have is through examining stable individual difference variables. Researchers have studied personality characteristics, background and prior experiences, values, and a host of related visible and underlying characteristics of both individuals and top management teams.
Executive Personality and Values
A more clearly psychological approach to understanding executive leadership comes in utilizing stable dispositional characteristics as predictors of executive strategic action and firm outcomes. In contrast with a general indifference about the substantive use of demographic variables by many current executive leadership scholars, research examining the impact of executive personality, values, and beliefs has been of significant interest since the birth of strategic leadership research and is gaining momentum these variables generally allow for a deeper and richer conceptual explanation of executive decisions and actions.
When Do Executives Matter More or Less?
Thus far in this section, we have considered some of the general evidence about whether executive leadership appears to matter to organizational outcomes and how it appears to matter. Yet there is an important caveat about executive effects that is critical to understanding the potential impact of senior executive leadership.
Top Management Teams
While significant research (and media) attention is often paid to the CEO, the CEO does not decide and act in isolation. Other senior executives, usually known as the top management team, can be involved in a variety of ways. Specific individuals or the team collectively may be consulted when framing and making actual decisions, or their influence can sometimes be more indirect. TMT members are also often critical for the implementation of strategy, which may again take the form of a top-down process or a more collective shared process. From a core leadership
Executive Transformational Leadership
Of the empirical examinations of transformational leadership, several studies have examined an overarching transformational leadership factor and in other cases, researchers have separated out two of the components of transformational leadership: charisma and intellectual stimulation. There appears to be building evidence that executive transformational leadership (and the facets) is predictive of organizational-level outcomes.
SECTION 3: LEADERSHIP SECTORS
Boards of Directors
Beyond CEOs and top management teams, boards of directors are another group that is part of the landscape of executive leadership. A review of the vast and varied literature on boards of directors and the effects they can have is beyond the scope of this brief section, but here we describe some of the key features and functions of boards and some of the general findings and approaches from research in this area.