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The term leadership has been defined differently by different people depending from the point of view that one views the term. However, there has been a general definition that takes into all these definitions together. In general, leadership can be defined as the process through which one uses his/ her social capabilities to put together the support and aid of other people for the purpose of accomplishing a task for the common good of all (Northouse & Northouse, 2009, p. 2). Leadership is thus a product of the leader's ability to influence the people he is leading. While it may sound obvious that everyone is born a leader, it is practice and exposure matters a lot on how one can effectively handle the people under his control.
Leadership is well described when the leader displays some features that will make those people he is leading to have confidence in him/her. Such features will also help the leader to make sound decision, interact well with his people as well as be able to smoothly run the activities of the organization. There are several characteristics that are expected of a leader if s/he has to be effective in what s/he is doing. Some of these include; determination, exceptional communication skills, integrity, open-minded and confidence (Roka, 2006, p. 45).
Determination is the ability of the leader to work tielessly and with passion and diligence. This will enable the leader persist and keep on trying even when the situation is persisting (Roka, 2006, p. 48). A leader without this trait has got high chances of quitting when the situations are worsening. Thus determination will not only help him/ her to be carry on, but will also help him to be focused and have a positive attitude towards the intuitions regardless of how difficult they are to handle.
Another trait that is essential for leaders to be effective is the possession of exceptional communication skills. A leader can not lead his/her team effectively if he can not express himself in an intellectual manner. Good public relations play a key role in boosting the communication skills. An effective leader must therefore be able to communicate fluently and avoid using words that are hurting to others (Roka, 2006, p. 46).
An effective leader must also display some integrity in his deeds and words. Members of staff and the people that he leads must have confidence on their leader and one of the ways through which one can gain trust from his people is by being honest to his words and actions (Roka, 2006, p. 49). This is because, once the people have lost trust in you, they will not respect you and all the decisions you make will be taken frivolously and this may consequentlly result to deterioration of the organization's performance.
Open-mindedness is also another trait that an effective leader must possess. An effective leader must be open to and welcome new ideas that are helpful for the growth of the organization. S/he should be flexible to decision making and allow inventory of new technology and should not be fixed to traditional ways of doing things (Roka, 2006).
The last but not least trait of an effective leader is confidence. A leader must have confidence in the decisions s/he makes and always encourage himself that the decisions s/he is making are the best (Roka, 2006, p. 47). However, he should stand to be corrected when a member of the team feels that some of the decisions made lead into poor performance of the organization.
The effectiveness of a leader can be evaluated by the following question; how does s/he interact with other people n the team? How does s/he handle issues; does s/he quit when situation become tough? How does he react to new ideas; is s/he conservative? How does he make decisions? Is he confident for what he is and what he does? Abraham Lincoln exhibited all of these qualities as he led the Americans. This showed how effective he was in leading the country. He was not just a leader; he was a person whose leadership has inspired many throughout history.