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. Although this commentary focuses on the perspective of organizational leadership, the main point will be who effective leaders irrespective of their leadership style are. Before discussing who effective leaders are, it is important to describe leadership. Leadership is the process of influencing others to reach an understanding about what needs to be done and how to do it. It is about facilitating individual and collective efforts by arriving at mutual perceptive of the strategic direction of the organization and accomplish a shared vision, mission, values, and objectives.
Today, business entities and various organizations around the world are expected to manage future outcomes in favor of their organization. In this context, “effective leadership” is essential to enabling organizations to cope with change, as well as be proactive in shaping their future. It is no different in Ethiopia. As a country that has witnessing an increasing number of local and foreign investments, the essentiality of effective leadership cannot be overlooked. On top of this, the country needs effective leaders, who use traits and skills appropriately.
According to Gary Yukl, a renowned expert in leadership, effective leaders have traits of good emotional maturity, personal integrity, social power motivation, high energy level, and internal loci of control, moderately high achievement orientation, moderately high self-confidence, and moderately low need of affiliation. They also have a combination of conceptual (cognitive), interpersonal, and technical skills to make use of in relation to the organization nature, time, place, and context (condition).
It should be noted that these days, organizations are nothing but knowledge houses. We are living 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 and the availability of knowledge; our problems are not mainly related to a lack of data, information, and knowledge. But because we are not using worldwide opportunities for knowledge, we are not leveraging and nurturing knowledge in organizations sustainably, strategically, systematically, and comprehensively. In this respect, effective leaders must own knowledge with wisdom in their leadership roles and take it as their own managerial competency. Here, knowing the various features of effective leaders is essential.
Effective leaders create an inspiring vision of the future; motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision and manage the delivery of the vision. They are self-aware; build good relationships; have good operational competencies that include behavioral and technical abilities; change strategy into action; and they live with consciousness, authenticity, integrity (walk the walk, talk the talk), and consistency.
Effective leaders must also have societal concerns. They integrate corporate social responsibility issues in their leadership role. Effective leaders have basic skills of economics, financial management (investing, financing, and business risk), marketing, operation management, and human resource (talent) management.
Effective leaders have the managerial competencies of personal, emotional (empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness) and social intelligences as well as learning ability. And, they can adopt and manage change.
Effective leaders listen carefully and 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 mange diversity; and encourage and appreciate tolerance. 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.
Effective leaders 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. They develop themselves, managers, and employees. Effective leaders develop leaders by using different kinds of leadership development approaches such as special assignments, job rotation programs, action learning, mentoring, executive coaching, and training.
Not only that, effective leaders avoid the leadership and competency traps. They master themselves, look inside, and understand where the world is heading. They follow and apply contemporary issues of management and leadership capabilities and competencies.
What’s more, they connect the past, the present and the future. They don’t dwell in the past success; as the past doesn’t necessary predict the future. But effective leaders appreciate the past and learn from the past; look into the future; understands that we are living in very dynamic and complex world; they cope up with contemporary changes and challenges; and learn daily.
Most importantly, effective leaders are transformational with three skills: strategic thinking, innovative thinking, and situation management. Particularly, the strategic thinking process 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. On the other hand, innovation provides leaders with the tools to promote the notion of continuous improvement, which has always been a must for any organization while 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.
6th Year • Sep.16 – Oct. 15 2018 • No. 66