Leadership (Part Four)

By now it should be clearer what the effects of good and poor leadership are on an organization and the difference between a boss and a leader.

The problem that many companies, teams or groups have is that authority comes from being the boss and far too often the boss does not have leadership skills and uses his/her authority to make people do what they say.

The authority exercised is a kind of legitimate power and people follow people (bosses) exercising it because their positions demand so irrespective of the person holding the position. I think we have all heard someone say “because I said so” when telling someone to do something. This is using authority, but it is not good leadership.

Leaders in organisations and elsewhere may have formal authorities but good leaders mostly rely on the informal authority that they exercise on people to influence them. Authority rarely provides scope for feedback, constructive criticism or opinions of the people on whom it is exercised, however, leaders provide ample platforms to their followers to voice their thoughts and feedback.

When dealing with adults, the sole use of authority to direct and discipline them hardly works, leadership provides a better approach of sharing and involving thus building rapports with followers and creating long term relationships. Authority can hardly make people change their attitudes and behaviours with lasting effects and results, however, a leader inspires followers to get things done and hence leadership displays greater effectiveness in addressing attitudes and behaviours of people.

Leadership encourages people to look beyond the obvious and think innovatively and sometimes emerge with radical solutions. One of the most important values of a leader is to provide overall direction. Only leaders can shape and change the context of vision – expressing passion, honesty, and integrity – providing a curious and daring exploration of what should be.

To finish off the discussion on leadership versus authority we should understand that there are times with certain people that good leadership skills do not always work and authority needs to be enforced on these type of people. This is often in the form of punishment and is generally a last resort.

We can now move on to look at the different leadership styles. The question is always asked about which is the correct leadership style to use. The answer is that there is not always only one leadership style that must be used. To be effective as a manager, you might use several different leadership styles at any given time.

By taking the time to familiarise yourself with each of these types of leadership styles, you might recognize certain areas to improve upon or expand your own leadership style. You can also identify other ways to lead that might better serve your current goals and understand how to work with managers who follow a different style than your own.

However, having a thorough understanding of various leadership styles enables leaders to not only adopt the correct characteristics for themselves but also choose better managers throughout the organisation.

Richard Bransonsaid- “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don´t want to”

The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.


E-mail: john@gmskigali.com

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