Concept of Leadership
Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Though there is no universal definition of leadership and indeed many books have been devoted to the topic of leadership, Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. James Mac Gregor Burns describes a leader as one who instills purposes, not one who controls by brute force. A leader strengthens and inspires the followers to accomplish shared goals. So leadership requires an intuitive understanding of human nature- the basic needs, wants, and abilities of people. It helps leaders direct them on the right track. So leadership should be based on the following concepts: 1) People, paradoxically, need security and independence at the same time. 2) People are sensitive to external rewards and punishments and yet are also strongly self-motivated. 3) People like to hear a kind word of praise. Catch people doing something right. 4) People can process only a few facts at a time, thus, a leader needs to keep things simple. 5) People trust their gut reaction more than statistical data. 6) They distrust the leader’s rhetoric if the words are inconsistent with the leader’s actions.
Characteristics of Quality Leaders
There are 12 behaviors or characteristics that successful quality leaders demonstrate: - 1) They give priority attention to external and internal customers and their needs. Leaders place themselves into the customers’ shoes and service their needs from that perspective. They continually evaluate the customers’ changing requirements. 2) They empower, rather than control, their subordinates. Leaders have trust and confidence in the performance of their subordinates. They provide the resources, training and work environment to help subordinates do their jobs. However, the decision to accept responsibility lies with the individual. 3) They emphasize improvement rather than maintenance. Leaders use the phrase “If it isn’t perfect, improve it” rather than “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” There is always room for improvement, even if the improvement is small. Major breakthroughs happen but it’s the little ones that keep the continuous process improvement on a positive track. 4) They emphasize prevention; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true. It is also true that perfection can be the enemy of creativity. We can’t always wait until we have created the perfect product. There must be a balance between preventing problems and developing better but not the perfect one. 5) They encourage collaboration rather than competition. When functional areas, departments or work groups are in competition, they may find subtle ways of working against each other or withholding information. Instead, there must be collaboration among and within units. 6) They train and coach rather than direct and supervise. Leaders know that the development of the human resource is a necessity. As coaches, they help their subordinates learn to do a better job. 7) They learn from problems. When a problem exists, it is treated as an opportunity rather than something to be minimized or covered up. “What caused it?” and “How can we prevent it in future?” are the questions quality leaders ask. 8) They continually try to improve communications. Leaders continually disseminate information about the TQM effort. They make sure that TQM is not just a slogan. Communication is two way- ideas will be generated by people when leaders encourage them and act upon them. 9) They continually demonstrate their commitment to quality, that is; they just do what they have committed to do. They walk their talk- their actions, rather than their words. They let the quality statements be their decision making guide. 10) They choose the suppliers on the basis of quality, not price. Suppliers are encouraged to participate...
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