Leadership, Power and Politics
Leadership is the process of influencing others to act to accomplish specific objectives.Leaders are the key movers of an organization and they are able to inspire and motivate their members to work towards the attainment of goals.In the past, leadership have been thought of as a quality that only the elite managers possess, however reality is, each one of us possess and may develop our leadership skills.
Being a leader is not an easy job, it takes creativity, innovativeness, discipline, passion and an open mind.
It is said that leaders emerge in times of change and turmoil; it is a fact that when the going gets tough, leaders are there to get things done.
Opportunities for change however must be sought out and seized by the leader. It is a necessary element in the exercise of leadership, for leadership is at its best when there is an opportunity to grow, innovate and to improve. A leader can accomplish this by treating every job as an adventure, by deciding that each day is an opportunity to learn something new or to discover better ways of accomplishing things, the leader is more able to initiate changes that would be for the greater good of the group.
When a leader seeks meaningful challenges, it allows the leader to work with passion and commitment that is personally gratifying and hence is able to effectively work for the group. With that, the leader also find and create meaningful challenges for others, when members feel that they are valued and trusted by their leaders to be able to accomplish realistic and challenging goals, they become more committed and become better workers. This means that the leader provides his/her members too become intrinsically motivated to rise to the challenge.
As a leader, it is important that he/she make the workplace fun, happy people are more productive and they like going to work everyday because it is a happy place. as such, when an organization is so used to doing things in the same way, it leads to complacency and even deterioration, thus a leader must be able to question the status quo, this would mean that as a leader he/she must actively look for systems or programs that have outlived its usefulness and be creative enough to provide new ideas.
Renewing teams in any organization is necessary in order to breathe new life to the team, a shuffling of departments or the movement of positions would reenergize the team and possibly generate new ideas and opportunities. Lastly, the leader should adopt an open approach to searching for opportunities. It is an acceptance of the leader that he/she does not have the monopoly of ideas and it is necessary to be aware of what is happening outside and inside the organization.
Being an effective leader also takes the ability to experiment and takes risks and to learn from mistakes. Leaders if for some twist of fate have always been thought of as someone who can transform any organization form the brink of death to greater heights. But in reality, it is the scientific and objective leader who is able to appreciate the importance of carrying out mini experiments of new processes that would in the end be more cost-effective than to rush and implement a program or process that have not been tested.
Experiments are for introducing new products while creating or developing models in specific departments of new processes will give the leader an objective assessment of the possibility of success or failure of the new process. The leader is not the sole experimenter, he/she must encourage other to experiment also, but at times it is faced with fear and apprehension, thus the leader should assure the members that it is safe to experiment. When a person is so set in his/her ways then it is difficult to initiate change, the leader therefore must be able to break the mind set of its people, to become more open to new ideas and change.
An enormous change may be anxiety provoking for members, the leader thus should break up the changes into small challenges that members can accomplish one at a time. People work better if they know that their ideas and feelings are respected and that if what they are doing is of their own choice, a leader should give each person the opportunity to make their own choices. A leader must learn how to say yes to the ideas and opinions of its members, by saying yes more frequently than but or no, it would be easier for the leader to also solicit the cooperation of its people. A leader is not a Greek hero who has supernatural powers, he/she can make mistakes and a true leader has the grace and humility to accept his/her mistakes and to learn from it.
Lastly, a leader should also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the new programs or changes that he/she has carried out in the company and this exercise should be a collaborative effort with input from the different members of the organization. Knowing what may cause the failure of an innovation would go a long way in improving that product or process.
It is true that leaders emerge out of the difficulties or major changes in an organization, and being a leader is no easy job, and one can always make use of information that would help enhance or develop our leadership skills. I found this as the advantage of the concepts, it provides true-to-life examples of how a leader is able to seize opportunities for change and why it is important to experiment and learn from mistakes.
The disadvantages of the concepts however is that it is too abstract and sometimes it is difficult to relate to a job as mundane as selling cigarettes and that most of the examples involve large organizations wherein leaders are often the head of the department or the organization. Although the chapters do provide pointers on what an ordinary person could do to become a leader and it is a practical guide. The chapters present the concept as a series of things to do or things to learn, and not all could be applied at the same time to a single organization. In my experience as a cigarette store owner, I am limited by the products that sell the most; I may provide my customers with new brands or novel cigarettes but since smokers tend to stick to one brand.
I may be able to innovate probably in giving freebies to loyal customers or be creative by using bonus coupons that they could exchange for premium brands. Moreover, I do not have a staff and hence my leadership skills are not harnessed. On the other hand I work part time in a gasoline station and work with other people but again a gasoline station is one of the most normal and stable organization there is. Thus, unless if the gasoline station gets sold or merged with another store, then maybe it would be time for me to rise to that challenge.
On the other hand, learning about leadership has been exciting and very challenging, it tells me that I can be a leader someday; it also made me become aware of some of my personal characteristics that is akin to leaders. I would like to share to others what I have learned about leadership, sometimes we do not know that we possess the ability to be leaders if other people don’t acknowledge it, I would also tell them of the things that a good leader should be able to accomplish.
That said, there are different leadership styles which a person may favor and use in different situations. Leadership styles include autocratic leadership, bureaucratic leadership charismatic leadership, participative leadership, Laissez-faire leadership, relations-oriented leadership, servant leadership, task-oriented leadership, transactional leadership and transformational leadership.
Personally, I think that participative leadership is the best among the styles because although the leader has the final say in the decisions concerning issues on organizational change; it allows the members of the organization to contribute their ideas and thoughts. This communicate that the leader value and respects its members and thus increase job satisfaction of members and cultivates a culture of collaboration and cooperation that every organization needs to get things done.
Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2002). The Leadership Challenge. California: Jossey-Bass