It used to be thought that leaders were born, not made. Thankfully, that myth has been busted. Leadership today is viewed more and more as a skill that can be learned and developed. The trick to good leadership is knowing what each unique situation requires to obtain the maximum outcome.
There have been an enormous number of academic studies on the effects of leadership style on performance and job satisfaction over the past fifty years. Various leadership models have emerged, each with their own unique spin on what it takes to become an exceptional leader.
Trait theory tries to explain what type of person makes a good leader. The list of traits includes being empathetic, assertive, good at decision-making, and likeable. These traits are external behaviours that a leader expresses based on their internal beliefs, values, and knowledge. Without a clear understanding of ones own biases and preferences, a leader runs the risk of myopic thinking, whereby its their way or the highway.
Behavioural theories move into the realm of what a leader does that makes them effective or ineffective. Are they autocratic, making decisions in isolation? Are they democratic, allowing staff to give input into the decision-making process? Or, do they leave their staff alone to make all decisions themselves, a more liaise faire style?
Transformational leadership focuses on not only attribute, behaviours, and influences, but also on the leader’s own set of abilities to bring about change effectively. Transformational leaders help their staff see beyond today, to create a better tomorrow. They are supportive, encouraging, and have a high degree of integrity; their workforce is willing to follow the leader into the unknown because they trust the leader to do the right thing.
Other styles include contingency theory, or situational leadership; power and influence theory; action-centered leadership; and servant leadership theory. With so many theories, it is understandable that today’s leader may be confused as to what to do in any given situation.
It is less important that a leader understand the theory, than for the leader to put best practices into action. As mentioned previously, leadership is a learnable skill. For leaders and managers who wish to excel and create harmonious, well-functioning work teams, the time spent learning about leadership and assimilating learning into action, the rewards are limitless.
Effective leadership does not just happen. It takes thought, time to develop, and a willingness to let go of beliefs that may not serve the leader in today’s work environment. Making an investment in leadership training and coaching today will pay off in spades down the road. When other companies are scrambling to find skilled workers, respond to changing attitudes towards work, and compete in the global arena, the skilled leader will be inspiring commitment, innovation, and a shared sense of pride to the benefit of their company.
Interested to learn how CBHM can work with your organization to help bring about positive and lasting change? Contact our office to arrange a consult by calling toll free 1.866.461.CBHM (2246) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted January 12, 2012, 11:40AM