Friday, 13 May 2016

MAJOR FUNCTIONS OF LEADERSHIP

            The model reviewed here has five major functional areas.
Ø  The first is leader assessment.  Leaders must be able to assess the dynamics occurring in the organization, the external environment, and the constraints that they face in carrying out routine functions and non-routine changes.  How well do followers understand their roles, do they have all the skills necessary, and are they motivated to work hard? Are organizational processes supportive of productivity, teamwork, and morale?  Is the organization creative and innovative enough to stay abreast of contemporary organizational practice?  Does the organization have an eye to the opportunities and threats occurring outside its boundaries, and is it able to adapt quickly and flexibly?  In addition, leaders must know their constraints: by law, by position, by resources, and by their own leadership limitations.  They must also know how to push these bounds back (with the exception of the law in the public sector), when necessary over time, in order to meet the challenges leaders face. Finally, in conducting this ongoing assessment, leaders must be able to set goals and priorities for themselves and for their organizations. 
Ø  Leaders come to various situations in varying stages of readiness.  Leader characteristics are a large part of that readiness.  While no absolute set of characteristics is necessary in all leadership situations, certain traits and skills tend to be significantly more important than others.  Traits are those characteristics that are primarily inherent and become a part of one’s personality, while skills are characteristics that are primarily learned.  This is not to say that traits cannot be enhanced, especially through training and/or indoctrination; nor is it to say that some people do not have a natural gift for some skills.  Leaders tend to be perceived as self-confident and this tends to be an innate personality characteristic; nonetheless, those with excellent technical training and substantial experience become far more self-confident.  On the other hand, while communication skills take practice and study to master, some people clearly have native abilities in oral or writing skills.
Ø  Leaders also bring a leadership “style” set to situations.  A style can be thought of as the dominant pattern of a leader behaving in a position.  Rather than referring to all aspects of leadership, style normally refers to decisional patterns of follower inclusion, although it can also refer to the communication style, individual versus group team patterns of leadership, and use of influence tactics.  People have a preferred mode of leadership.  Good leaders generally have alternate modes so that they are not dependent on a single style and can adjust to a variety of situational needs. Like leader characteristics, styles are antecedent to leadership in that they are prior aspects of the leader’s repertoire and to some degree are an explicit method of accomplishing specific goals.  Yet styles, like leader characteristics, are expressed through the concrete actions that leaders take in doing their jobs.
Ø  Leaders act.  These actions or behaviors can be thought of as occurring in three domains.  First, leaders have tasks to accomplish.  Their organization, division, or unit has work that it must produce, no matter whether that is a concrete product or a relatively nebulous service.  Second, leaders have followers and it is the followers who actually accomplish the mission of the organization.  Thus, good leaders never lose sight of the fact that they accomplish their goals through and, as importantly, with others.  Finally, leaders are expected to know more than how to design and coordinate work processes, they are expected to know how the product of these efforts will integrate and compare with other organizations and external entities.  If production and people constitute the mission of leadership, then organizational alignment and adaptability constitute the vision of leadership. Today more than ever, good leaders must not only be competent in their profession and skillful with people, they must have well articulated visions that are compelling to a wide variety of constituencies.
Ø  Finally, leaders must be able to evaluate how they have done.  This is an ongoing and complex activity. It requires balancing numerous competing interests. It also requires adjusting plans and priorities as new operational problems occur, some problems are resolved, and, less frequently but very critically, new opportunities and threats materialize suddenly.  It requires examination of one’s own performance as well as the performance of the organization. 

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