What Makes an Effective Leader?
Is a Leader Born, or Can They be Made?
What makes an effective leader? Is a leader born, or can they be made? This paper will attempt to answer these questions and explain what it takes to become a truly effective leader. First we will discuss what an effective leader is exactly, and then move on to describing what it takes to become someone like that.
What makes a truly effective leader? Are effective leaders only found on the battlefield or the sports arena? No, leaders are found everywhere. Teachers, welders, students, laborers, managers, the list can go on and on. Leaders are found everywhere. According to Lussier & Achua (2013), “Leadership is the influencing process of leaders and followers to achieve organizational objectives through change.” So, in essence, you are already a leader if you influence a follower. A parent is leader to their child, a teacher to their pupil. So, now we know what a leader is, but what makes a leader effective? Hourston (2013) and Drucker (2006), as well as DeKlein & Penstone (1997) have plenty to say on this subject. Drucker (2006) tells us, in his first paragraph, that in order to become an effective executive, “…the executive is…expected to get the right things done.” But what does that mean? It means that effective executives take responsibility for their actions. That they asked, “What needs to be done, & What is right for the organization?” That they develop action plans and focus on opportunities, rather than problems. That they worked as a team, rather than on their own. And, finally, that they run productive meetings. (Drucker 2006) But, can these practices help turn your average executive into a truly effective executive? Well, there is much more than these eight simple practices. Drucker (2006) lead off with telling us that we are not effective unless we get the right things done.
A person can look really busy, working hard all day, but unless they are accomplishing the right things, they really are not all that effective, are they? Hourston (2013) gives us seven steps we can follow to become truly effective: Be bold. Be strengths savvy. Stretch your leadership style. Be “going somewhere.” Be follower-focused. Be balanced. And, be true to you. What does Hourston mean? Let us take a closer look. Be bold. Do not be timid. Show those around you that you have courage, courage to speak up, courage to apologize, courage to go your own way. Be strengths-savvy. Figure out what areas you are strongest in, what areas your personality and temperament support best and work to expand that. Keirsey & Bates’ book, Please Understand Me (1984), can help you to understand your character and temperament type and how to better use it to help you get ahead. The book starts out with a questionnaire to determine your particular personality style and then goes on to explain the different types of personality traits and how they all fit together to form different personality types. Keirsey & Bates go on to help a person see what they should, but not necessarily are, good at and where their strengths should lie. This book can also help you to understand how different temperament types view rewards and punishment, which helps to better understand your different types of followers. Stretch your leadership style. Work at using leadership styles that do not come naturally, styles that you find difficult. By becoming a well-rounded leader, it is easier to adapt your leadership technique for different situations. Leading laborers in a task will likely take a different leadership style than leading a group of accountants in completing a task. Learn different styles and when and how to apply them to different situations. Be “Going Somewhere.” All truly effective leaders have a vision, something they want to see done or some change they want to make. Think about it, this vision is...
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