Everyone has probably played the game "Follow the Leader" back in elementary school. It is a game where the leader stands in front of the line. He or she can say or do anything, and her followers (standing in a straight line behind her) must repeat exactly the same thing he or she does or says. Whoever was picked to be the leader must have loved the experience because one had the freedom to do whatever they please, while others followed miserably or happily depending on what the leader is saying or doing. However, if one was the follower, one would wait anxiously to be the next chosen leader. At the same time, one must somehow express his or her self in a fashion that will make them stand out from the rest of the students. Whether he or she is perfectly imitating the leader or behaving really respectfully of others. Nonetheless, who determines who should be the leader? What kind of characteristics must a leader possessed? What makes a great leader (Robbins, 2005)? Is there only one kind leadership? These questions will be answered as you continue to read on. In addition, you will come across case studies, real life experiences, and my own observation on how leaders in my work setting exhibit leadership behavior and how followers respond to it.
Leadership is the capability to influence a person or a group to achieve many goals (Robbins, 2005). To elaborate, leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, task, or objectives and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent by applying their leadership attributes such as values, ethics, knowledge, skills, and belief (Clark, 2000). Most importantly, not all leaders happen to be managers, and not all managers are leaders (Robbins, 2005). Even though one is positioned as a manager or a supervisor (he has the power to accomplish certain tasks within the organization) it does not necessarily mean he is a leader unless he makes people want to achieve high goals and objectives. He has the authority to tell his subordinates to do the task and they will do it just to complete it but is not interested in achieving higher goals. However, "leaders can emerge from within a group as well as being formally appointed [manager]" (Robbins, 2005).
What is great leadership? According to the trait theories, some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership role. After many studies and analyses, the best thing that could be said to differentiate leadership from nonleaders are the following seven traits: ambition and energy, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, high self-monitoring, and job-relevant knowledge. However, researchers have been organizing traits around the Big-Five personality framework. It was evident that most leadership traits could be summed up under the Big-Five. This approach shows strong support for trait as a predictor of leadership. Under comprehensive review, extroversion is the most important trait of effective leaders. Next would be conscientiousness and openness to experience. However, it is better to use traits to predict leadership (emergence and appearance of leader) than use it to distinguish between effective and ineffective leaders. (Robbins, 2005)
In contrast, the behavioral theories of leadership work on finding unique behaviors of effective leaders so that they would be able to provide answers about the nature of leadership. If there were specific behaviors that identified leaders, they would be able to teach leadership by designing programs. In trait theories, leaders are natural, they are born with it. However, let's examine the Ohio State studies and the University of Michigan studies. In the Ohio State studies, studies wanted to identify the dimensions of leader behavior. From a thousand dimensions, they narrowed the list down to two categories that accounted for most of the leadership behavior (told...
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