A leader is an individual who has been given managerial responsibilities of over other people on certain grounds and activities. He or she may be chosen or appointed to represent other people in articulating their views or problems to the relevant people or authorities. Not everyone forms a leader. Leaders have certain special qualities that make them stand out from other people. They posses certain characteristics and skills that help them become better in their leadership roles.
This paper explores the qualities, characteristics and skills that make up a leader. The paper explores the attributes of an ideal leader and who actually an ideal leader is.
There are several leadership theories that have come up explaining all aspect that are related to leadership.Great man theories state that a leader is made from the internal attributes that he or she possesses. These types of theories portray leaders as mythic, heroes and rise to leadership at the right time and when needed.
Trait theories state that a leader inherits certain characteristics and qualities that make them better suited to leadership roles. These theories identify certain personality and individual characteristics that are shared by all people that make up leadership. But, these theories have received a lot of criticism. Critics have a view that there are some people who posses characteristics like those that leaders posses, but they are not leaders in any way. This has made it difficult for people to put into use this type of leadership theories. However, this is not to say that there are no characteristics or traits that are shared by a group of people who are leaders.
Contingent theories of leadership concentrate on the environmental conditions that favor leadership. They state that the environment where a person lives will determine his chances of becoming a leader whether or not he or she possesses leadership characteristics. Certain environmental attributes determine particular styles of leadership that are best suited to the circumstances at hand. This theory states that no leadership style is perfect to each and every situation. The success of leader depends on certain environmental attributes that include aspects of the situation, quality of supporters and the leadership style present.
Situational theories of leadership have a take that leaders choose the best options based on the situation at hand. It also states that different decision making requirements my need different leadership styles.
Behavioral leadership roles bring forward a belief that good leaders are made rather than born. It is the environmental attributes and experiences that people come into contact with that shapes them to become leaders. These theories are based on behaviorism and their focus on the actions of leaders is placed on their internal sates of being and not their mental attributes. According to the proponents of these theories, people are taught and learn to become leaders through observation and teaching (Schyns and Meindl, 2005).
Participative theories, on the other hand, bring in another aspect that has been ignored by the other theories. It states that an ideal leader or leadership style is that which puts in to account the views and feelings of other people. This type of theory encourages democracy into leadership. An ideal leader to the proponents of these theories is a leader encourages all members of a group or community to participate and be part of decision making and implementation practices in relevance and commitment to accountability. This is not to say that a leader who takes the participatory approach does not possess any power. He or she has the right to allow or refute the participation of other people in decision making based on his own analysis of the situation (Schyns and Meindl, 2005).
Management theories to leadership focus their attention to the role of supervision, group participation and organization. Leaders in these types of theories are given the responsibility to undertake managerial powers. Leadership is based on motivation with regard to punishments and rewards. A leader is allowed to reward or punish his subjects based on their performance on certain fields of engagement. Thus, people work putting in mind that the outcome of their actions will either benefit them or reprimand them.
Relationship theories to leadership that is also called transactional leadership place their focus on the links that exist between leaders and their subjects. A leader who takes this approach has the responsibility of motivating his subjects to bring out the best in them. The leader motivates them to see the importance and the god of whatever they undertake to do. What these leaders focus so much on is the overall performance of group members. In ensuring that the members work to the best of their ability, they ensure that they establish smooth and open relationship with those members so that they feel secure when delegating their roles. In these theories leaders must have high ethical and moral standing because they are expected to act as role models to the group members that they lead (Schyns and Meindl, 2005).
Having looked at the theories of leadership, we now look at the aspects that make up an ideal leader. An ideal leader is a person who possesses several important attributes that many leaders ignore or look at them as not that important to them. An ideal leader is a person who is ready to serve people rather than be served. He places the importance of other people important to his own. This is because a leader does not lead himself, rather he leads other people. Thus an ideal leader is one who serves the people that he leads and no vice versa. If he or she is served, then he or she becomes a master and not a leader (Davis, 2010).
An ideal leader is the person who acts diligently and fast to respond to the situation that needs agent attention. An ideal leader is the one who in every sense comes in quickly to contain threatening situations to make things right and not make them worse. An ideal leader is somebody who is able to solve threatening situations without having to cause unnecessary trouble (Davis, 2010).
An ideal leader is a leader who has the courage to take risks for the good of the majority if not all. There are some instances that require a leader to make important decisions that would hurt other people but be for the good of many. Sometimes decisions have to be made that are contrary to the feelings and views of the leader. When these decisions are needed an ideal leader is one who decides to take them despite their feelings and feelings of other minority groups as long as it is for the good of the majority.
An ideal leader is a leader who respects the rule of law. He or she delegates his roles without favoritism or unfairness. He or she does not use corrupt means when undertaking his roles. He should respect the rule of law and work under it at all times. He should ensure that the people he leads also work and undertake their roles under the rule of law.
An ideal leader is someone who is open-minded and intelligent. This means that he has to consider the views of other people as important but again have the competence to decide which ones to accept and which ones to turn down. He should be able to make right decisions from the views of others but not to let other people influence all decisions that he makes (Meyer, 2008).
An ideal leader has the vision to move things forward, has the integrity, intelligence and appeal needed for leadership. He has an inspiring quality that encourages others to work to the maximum on their capability. People should be able to identify him as their leader and not dictator. He should attract the admiration of other leaders and the people he serves but not demand it.
An ideal leader is one who possesses the right skills to lead people. He should possess the relevant competency and education; whether formal or informal to enable him delegate his duties without difficulty. He should provide direction to the people that he leads. The people being lead must see purpose of the direction that their leader is taking them to.
An ideal leader should command respect from the people he leads. He should maintain the leader subject respect for the benefit of the purpose of work or whatever the group is undertaking. In his relationship with the people he leads, he should have the leader versus the subject etiquette. He should not take advantage of his leadership positing to harass those under him for instance to obtain sexual favors. The led should recognize him as a person who is respectable and self responsible (Meyer, 2008).
An ideal leader is a responsible individual. He is a person who takes responsibility for his people or members of the group and whatever the group is doing. In case of failure, an ideal leader is one who first puts blame on himself before pointing fingers at other people. He should ensure that all things go according to plan.
An ideal leader is one who takes each and every member of the group as an important and valuable member. He imparts on the group members the feeling that their contribution and participation is valued even when they go off the issue of concern. He is responsible of directing people to do the right thing (Yager, 2010).
Becoming leader entails several things. A leader should be well educated in order to provide the relevant skill and information to the firm and the people he manages. His training should be able to provide the relevant skills in his area of leadership be it business or religious. For one to become a good leader, he should network with other leaders, see what they do and take the best from them in order to better himself. Mentoring is very important to the development of leadership. This helps in teaching an individual of the right leadership attributes while keeping off irrelevant leadership traits. Mentoring also provides role modeling for a leader to emulate (Daft, 2007).
In my personal leadership development I have learnt a lot through education, mentorship and networking. Now as a leader I have known that a leader should put the interests and importance of others before mine. I have realized that leadership is actually a sacrifice and not a privilege.
My strengths as a leader right now are that I can be able to put the groups responsibility on my own shoulder, respect the diversity of the people I lead, respond to the situation as first as possible when I am needed and motivate the members of my group to give the best they can in their participation and contribution.
The biggest weakness that I have currently is to accept the views of others, especially when they come from a minority group and differ with my opinion. However, with practice and learning through mistakes I will be able to overcome this and be an ideal leader to my group.
Leadership does not just entail being on top of people and ordering them around. Sometimes one has to come as low as possible to prove that he is the right leader. With practice and other important considerations to education and experience, one is able to change and become an ideal leader. Ideal leaders are those who are ready to learn and improve on their skills.