Much is written about leadership. Leaders have been said to be born, not made. Lesser mortals are supposed to examine the qualities of great leaders, and work at developing their traits. Another viewpoint is that leadership is specific to a situation rather than to a particular sort of personality, suggesting that leaders emerge as per the circumstances. Leadership has also been attributed to power and influence, and to the relationship between leaders and followers.
Managers must also be leaders
At the workplace, it is clear that a manager must also be a leader. It is said that managers who are not leaders can only be failures. The manager must be a coach, mentor and problem solver. As a leader, he must allow his people to take credit for success and he must be ready to take responsibility for failure. He must be energetic, focussed and have a desire to learn, and he should constantly reevaluate his own leadership role. The leader should have a vision, which he translates into achievement.
Warren Bennis suggested that leaders were competent at managing attention, meaning, trust and self. They command the attention and commitment of those who work with them. They provide meaning by being skilled communicators who are able to distill information and put across with simplicity, even complex issues. Trust comes with their consistency of purpose, which is admired even by those who may occasionally disagree with them. Leaders manage the self by identifying and utilizing their strengths, and by working on their weaknesses.
Great leaders are great teamworkers. They talk of “we” rather than “I”. It’s about teamwork, not selfishness. Whenever a leader achieves a great success, it is not the handiwork of a single person but that of a team. The leader gathers his team, inspires them and provides them with the necessary direction and momentum to succeed.
Leadership requirements can vary according to the situation. Simply speaking, as a leader, a manager is required to provide direction and support to his team members. Weaker members e.g., new recruits, require more direction, whereas for poorly motivated members the leader will be required to play a more supportive role. A highly competent and well motivated star performer may require very little supervision, and here the manager can adopt a delegative style.
Empowerment is a buzzword today, and it brings with it the ability to delegate effectively. Unfortunately, many managers may like to retain control by holding on to too much. However, the success of a leader depends on the collective effort of his team, and empowerment can only help to achieve more.
Life cycles for leaders
Leaders, like products, have a life cycle. We have all seen that leaders do not retain their charisma for ever. Some of the stages that leaders go through are entry, experimentation, consolidation and decline. And in this era of increasingly rapid change, life cycles for leaders are probably getting shorter and shorter.
What is certain is that leadership is constantly required. In an organsiation, the leader provides direction and purpose, and generates energy and momentum. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”
11th December 2000.
Pharma Marketing Page. http://pharmapage.tripod.com/1.html
This article appeared in Pharma Business, December 29, 2000.
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