Leadership can be discussed from different perspectives such as organizational, political, military, religion, and business. There are also different kinds of leadership styles such as strategic, charismatic, transformational, and ethical. This paper focuses on the perspective of organizational leadership, irrespective of leadership style. Although the paper focuses on organizational leadership in general; it fits business organizations much better.Before discussing who effective leaders are, it is important to describe leadership. Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree what needs to be done and how to do it. It is about facilitating individual and collective efforts, and reaching a mutual understanding on the strategic direction of the organization to accomplish shared vision, mission, values, and objectives.
Effective leaders use traits and skills appropriately. According to Gary Yukl (2003), effective leaders have the traits of good emotional maturity, personal integrity, social power motivation, high energy level, internal locus of control orientation, moderately high achievement orientation, moderately high self-confidence, and moderately low need of affiliation.
They have a combination of conceptual (cognitive), interpersonal, and technical skills and use them appropriately in relation to the organization’s nature, time, place, and context (condition). Effective leaders have basic skills of economics, financial management (investing, financing, and business risk), marketing, operation management, and human resource (talent) management.
Effective leaders articulate the organization directions & formulate organizational strategy; monitor the external environment; and establish external networks and relationships. They are innovative and good entrepreneurs; they initiate new business development and/or organizational development concepts and approaches where they can grow and contribute for their organization, country, and the world. They work to find a strategic fit/alignment among organizational leadership, management, strategy, organizational culture, and structure.
They can identify organizational weaknesses and strengths; utilize opportunities and manage/minimize threats, as well as anticipating risks and approaching them strategically, detecting, assessing and exploiting trends for an organization’s greater benefit. In addition, they ensure that strategies are efficiently and effectively implemented, and that necessary changes are adopted. They do this through commitment, but at the same time they are flexible enough to adapt to a dynamic and fast changing world.
They also have the managerial competencies of personal intelligence, emotional intelligence (empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness), social-intelligence, and learning ability. In addition, they can manage change, manage conflict, and have good communication and reporting skills. Effective leaders manage situations properly. They listen carefully & understand; build trust and confidence; respect all stakeholders of the organization; build mutual understanding and commitment; build and develop teams; understand cross-cultural differences; respect and manage diversity; and encourage & appreciate tolerance.
On top of that, they rely more on personal power than on position power and they use power in a careful fashion that minimizes status differentials and avoids threats to the target person’s self-esteem. In addition, they have good followership principles and practices. They maintain credibility and trust, taking responsibility for their own life, and remaining true to their own values and convictions. They listen and care for their subordinates and followers.
To be effective, it is necessary for leaders to develop themselves, managers, and employees, through different kinds of development approaches such as special assignments, job rotation programs, action learning, mentoring, executive coaching, and training. They create an inspiring vision of the future and in motivating and inspiring people to engage with that vision and manage the delivery of the vision. They are self-aware; and have behavioural and technical abilities; are able to change strategy into action; and live with consciousness, authenticity, integrity (walk the walk, talk the talk), and consistency. It is necessary that they understand the external environment of the industry where the organization is operating, and the organization internal situations.
Avoiding leadership and competency traps are necessary for leaders. In order to do this, they must look within and understand where the world is heading, as well as connect the past , the present and the future, to understand how to operate within a contemporary world. They should compete successfully in the national and international market and apply leadership approaches as appropriate.
Effective leaders identify problems, explore alternative solutions, and make decisions through evidence based processes. They facilitate the use of knowledge sustainably for their leadership practices.
Organizations need to be agile in using knowledge wisely. And that role is more of organizational leadership. Contemporary leaders should have knowledge management (KM) competency among others. Effective leaders lead organizations knowledge use in effective, efficient, sustainable, productive, and result-oriented way, and have wisdom which is the collective and individual experience of applying knowledge to the solution of problems that involves where, when, and how to apply knowledge; effective leaders have good judgment and action.
These days, we live in a knowledge economy. That economy is more dependent on knowledge than the traditional means of production (labor, land, and capital). Given the contemporary science and technology advancement, given the availability of knowledge; our problems are not mainly related to lack of data, information, and knowledge. But because we are not using worldwide opportunities of knowledge; and we are not leveraging and nurturing knowledge in organizations sustainably, strategically, systematically, and comprehensively. Effective leaders own knowledge in wisdom spirit under their leadership roles and take it as their knowledge management competency.
In addition, effective leaders should have societal concerns, and integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues in their leadership processes. The CSR focus is in relation to the “triple bottom line” which is beyond the concern of the firm and argues that the survival and renewal of the greater economic system, social system, and ecosystem are important.
According to The Future Agenda Project of the World 2020 report, effective leaders are transformational with three skills: strategic thinking, innovative thinking, and situation management.
Strategic thinking provides leaders with the tools to articulate their vision and involve their team in the process so that the team members understand and buy into the process, thereby motivating them to adopt it as their own.
The process of innovation provides leaders with a tool to promote the notion of continuous improvement, which has always been a must for any organization. In this increasingly competitive world, innovation has become vital for survival.
The processes that make up situation management are key skills to master in order to deal effectively with the day-to-day issues that arise.
Finally, based on various researches and lesson learned, Gary Yukl (2003) forwarded 10 roles of effective leaders. These are most important leaders’ responsibilities to enhance collective work in teams and organizations: help people interpret events understand why they are relevant, and identify emerging threats and opportunities; help to create agreement about objectives, priorities, and strategies; increase enthusiasm for the work, commitment to task objectives, and confidence that the effort will be successful; foster mutual respect, trust, and cooperation; help create a unique identity for a group or an organization, and they resolve issues of membership in a way that is consistent with this identity; help people get organized to perform collective activities efficiently, and they help coordinate these activities as they occur; encourage and facilitate collective learning and innovation; promote and defend the interests and reputation of their unit and help to obtain necessary resources and support for it; help develop the skills and confidence of people in their work unit and empower people to become change agents and leaders themselves; and set an example of moral behaviour, and they take necessary actions to promote social justice.
7th Year • Oct.16 – Nov. 15 2018 • No. 67