Leadership philosophies

Last Updated: 11 Mar 2020
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There are many types of leadership philosophies that all require a clearness of purpose to be successful. Their difference lies in their approach to dealing with the subject of leadership and followership. It is essential to define leadership philosophy first before engaging in a long discussion on the types that comprise it. So what is exactly a leadership philosophy? Encarta defines philosophy as 1. Examination of basic concepts: the branch of knowledge or academic study devoted to the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom

2. School of thought: a particular system of thought or doctrine 3. Guiding or underlying principles: a set of basic principles or concepts underlying a particular sphere of knowledge 4. Set of beliefs or aims: a precept, or set of precepts, beliefs, principles, or aims, underlying somebody’s practice or conduct Leadership philosophy is therefore based on a set of ideas and beliefs that set the example to how many people experience their lives or envision their future. Leadership philosophy is an understanding combined with a purpose for the aim of advancing the general good.

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Leaders use different and various philosophies to motivate their followers whether those are citizens or employees. The type of philosophy adopted by a leader usually depends on the outcomes desired. For instance, a common type of leadership philosophy adopted by business employers is enlightened philosophy where the ideas of the employees themselves are used to change, improve and advance the organization. The leader assumes the role of the guide and inquires into what people would like to see within the organization thereby effectively involving them in the process and making them feel useful.

The employees or followers give their opinion, suggest the ideas they would like to see in reality coming out and compose a plan through which to achieve that. This all is done under the directive leadership of a person who assumes the role of counselor, advisor and guide without imposing his views on the process and thereby securing both the involvement of the followers as well as their productive happiness since they would feel more useful when they can contribute to improving their lives with their ideas.

Not all philosophies work or achieve the desired effect. One of the less successful philosophies, in contrast to the successful enlightening type of leadership philosophy that has already been mentioned, is called the “groupthink”. It is very similar to the enlightening philosophy where the people are supported to give their opinion and share their ideas. However what makes the groupthink less desirable as a leadership philosophy is that it mainly supports the person who develops the idea but does not examine the idea in itself.

(Baird) As a consequence of this, bad policies are often made official since the leader's role was limited to supporting instead of both supporting and criticizing the ideas that were developed. It is therefore essential that a leader combines between the role of guide and critique in an open discussion of ideas exchange to both secure the inclusion of only good ideas as well as keep the atmosphere competitive and fresh which would not happen if all ideas are passed.

The next type of leadership philosophy to be examined is called the autocratic leadership and it is a style that is, as the name might suggest, full of tyranny and despotism which makes it thus very similar to dictatorship and completely different from the two types of leadership styles that have been mentioned so far and that are more democratic in nature. The autocratic leadership style is mainly seen in governments just like the enlightening leadership philosophy is mainly applied in businesses.

The autocratic style involves more negative than positive sides and that is mainly because the type of rule associated with it is one of complete control and lack of freedom which goes against human's most basic need and essential human aspect. Though this style is more likely to be found in governments businesses do have tyrants themselves. For instance a CEO may fire any employee who does not agree with him which connotes lack of diversity and a suffocated repressed atmosphere where the worker or citizen is not able to achieve his true potential.

The next example in leadership philosophy is the servant style of leading others. While most leaders tend to lead others with the assumption that that requires a certain traditional superior attitude, experience and research have proven that the inclusion of the followers in the process is more likely to produce the desired results. A more humble and less arrogant attitude is therefore more appreciated from the leader himself. It is understandable and logical to think of leaders as little bit over the top figures who are in a way part of the group but still above it.

But as stated, this approach might not produce the best environment for all and therefore a servant leadership style is the best solution for the problem. Servant leadership opposes autocratic leadership and as has been exemplified autocratic leadership usually fails. Paul McDaniel in his article How to Practice Servant Leadership illustrates the role of the servant leader very clearly and eloquently in the following words A servant leader acts as a steward to the organization's financial, human, and other resources.

Servant Leadership emphasizes trust, empathy, collaboration, and the ethical use of power. At the heart of servant leadership, the individual leader of an organization is a servant first. He or she makes a conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase his or her own power. The servant leader's objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement. It is interesting to observe these different types of leadership and to also reflect on what makes one more successful than another.

In the case of servant leadership versus autocratic leadership the leader assumes the role of a humble servant to the others in the group thereby getting closer to them and assuring them that what matters is the advancement of the goals and the achievement of their purpose. After all true leadership emerges from the true desire to help others. Through becoming more familiar with the group one assures that positive change is more assured as he can allocate the different tasks in a more effective manner to those who can perform them best.

It also guarantees the trust of the follower in the leader when the latter's personality and agenda are better understood. Servant leadership is a way through which to foster trust into each other and creates an environment where the voice of every member counts which makes a joyful working and living environment more possible. Enlightening, autocratic and servant leadership have been mentioned so far. The next types of leadership philosophy that deserve a closer inspection are the ethical leadership…..

and the collective leadership. The latter is hard to define since it is still a relatively new area which makes and many people have different theories about it. Collective leadership has been defined by Alain Gauthier as Co-leadership that embraces the diversity of people and perspectives and frees up self-initiative and collective intelligence. When practiced across sectors, it creates the conditions for societal learning and innovation through an increased sense of interdependence and a deeper trust in self-organization.

It is commonly agreed that it incorporates cultural and technological resources in a manner that allows people to work together better for the advancement of the community's prosperity. Collective leadership is only possible when the members of a group have formed a closer bond with each other and therefore can work better together. Collectivity after all is more about the "we" than the "I". Ethical Leadership is when the leader is very familiar with the essential values of his convictions and has the vision and courage to live up to them and include them in his work and realization of his goals.

Ethical leadership combines between the inner values and beliefs of the leader in question and the behavior and external conditions of the outside world. People who want to make a difference need to combine between their vision, and all that comes along with it in terms of integrity and clearness of purpose, and their commitment to do well and make a difference. Ethical leadership assumes that only through embracing the inner journey one can really express and realize the outer one. To understand what makes a person a leader it is essential to first grasp what differentiates him from a follower.

A person does not need to be a hero to be a leader. Leadership does not come in one form or type and different type of people suit different forms of leadership. Leadership does not have a gender requirement. Men and women can both lead. The secret lies in convincing others of your ability to realize their dreams and advance the common good. As stated leadership comes in many forms just like the leader does. People naturally differ in how they define the word in itself and nobody can say that their vision is right or wrong since the issue is broad and left to different interpretations.

Followers naturally expect leaders to show them things and set for them an example. They expect the leader to take care of their needs and therefore it follows that being a leader is neither an easy job nor one that anyone can conduct regarding the many responsibilities attached to it. Leadership philosophies are based on the vision and experiences of the leader. Leadership is never stagnant as it is always a subject of continues development depending on the circumstances and the different ideas the leader himself might develop over time.

Leadership philosophy is therefore a subject of continues growth regarding its attachment to the human nature who is never stagnant and always seeks change and new ideas. Many of the leadership philosophies that are practiced nowadays were used by the Marine Corps and involve "Justice, judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, integrity, loyalty and enthusiasm"(Leadership Philosophies). Each of these terms will be given a ore thoughtful explanation in the following regarding the importance of each word in defining the various leadership philosophies and understanding them.

Justice makes an individual more consistent and better valued. It makes the leader avoid criticism of favoritism and therefore decreases the tension in the group. The ability to use judgment to avoid being accused of favoring one person above the other is therefore very important for a leader. Dependability on the other hand is “is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command” (Wright, 1984/2002). Being dependable means being reliable and therefore trustworthy which are obviously great and essential characteristic in a leader.

Along with this goes initiative that shows enthusiasm and sets the example. A good leader needs to always set the right and best example to inspire the followers. (Leadership Philosophies) Decisiveness shows the ability to make a decision and therefore the ability to lead. This again increases the trust of the group in the leader and secures success. Loyalty on the other hand shows commitment to the group and its goals and enhances the trust of the people in the leader. It shows integrity and honesty and these are essential traits of a good leadership philosophy.

Leadership philosophies are very different but at the core they have the same purpose in mind which is leading. Leaders are thus guided by their leadership philosophy. The question that might arise in relevance to the different types of leadership is whether it is better as a leader to be feared or loved. As has been discussed previously autocratic leadership is less successful than the enlightening or servant form of leadership. However, Harvard professor Scott Snook provides a different interpretation of the issue.

He illustrates through two examples that different leadership styles do not necessarily result in the success of one above the other. He argues that leadership is essentially influenced by human nature and therefore by the philosophy of the person in charge. Though different in approach both leaders still have the same vision which is success and achievement of goals. He provides the following two examples to enhance this theory further. Bobby Knight Bobby Knight, also known as “The General,” is the head coach at Texas Tech University.

He’s a fiery, in-your-face taskmaster who leads through discipline and intimidation, which some critics say goes too far. Knight was fired from a long career at Indiana University for grabbing a student, and prior to that he was filmed clutching one of his own players by the neck. And then there was the infamous incident during a game when Knight tossed a folding chair across the court to protest a referee’s call. Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski, also known as Coach K, leads the men’s basketball program at Duke University.

Instead of fear, Krzyzewski relies heavily on positive reinforcement, open and warm communication, and caring support. For Coach K, “It’s about the heart, it’s about family, it’s about seeing the good in people and bringing the most out of them,” says Snook. (Ambler) Both coaches achieved desirable results with their teams despite the different leadership philosophies they believed in. To be successful in one of these types of leadership it is however essential to be fully convinced of it being the right style for you.

Ones actions have to be in harmony with one's words and that is only guaranteed if the leader knows where he stands. The success of a leadership philosophy therefore depends on the leader's full awareness and adherence to it which is the only way through which to guarantee the right implementation of it. Leadership is about inspiring others. This leads the discussion to creative leadership where leaders search for opportunities and introduce change through discovering them.

Creative leadership is about solving problems no matter what they are as it evolves around finding new and creative methods to approach things. Creative leadership inspires people to do great things and encourages them to always improve their performance and keep their attitude at all times positive and forward-looking. People perform the required task for a manager but an inspirational leader makes them do their entire best and put all their effort in, not only for financial reasons but because they feel inspired. The following picture illustrates the working dimension of inspirational or creative leadership.

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Leadership philosophies. (2016, Aug 14). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/leadership-philosophies/

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