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Published by Sharjahman

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Published by: Sharjahman on Apr 27, 2008
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Business - Leadership
Though a brief study on the subject and topic of leadership reveals that itsdefinitions are as many as the number of individuals who have attempted todefine the same, yet the primary concept emerges from a definition of traitsof a leader to the more complex processes such as interpersonalrelationships, emotions, and learning. In addition, there has been practicallythousands of books and literature published on the topic of leadership,majority of which addresses this particular discipline from an equally variedviewpoint, and according to the need of the respective organization whereverapplicable.For example the Dietetics Association of America (ADA) states that leadershipis the "ability to inspire and guide other towards building and achieving ashared vision". In addition the ADA has moved one step ahead andsomewhat merged the disciplines of management and leadership, thusbringing out a breed of leader-managers with the responsibility as both aleader as well as a manager. However, later studies researches havepractically dismissed this earlier approach as management and leadershiphave been clearly addressed as two distinct and totally separate disciplines.Thus, where management seeks to address the ability to perform a numberof managerial and supervisory functions by their ability to communicate avision to the subordinates, leaders take the responsibility for the decisionsand actions on the part of their subordinates. A deeper study of the twodisciplines reveals that managers seek order and control in order to excel intheir respective responsibilities not only for diffusing conflicts, butaccomplishing the day-to-day responsibilities falling under their respectivedomain. Leaders on the other hand prosper and surge ahead by capitalizingand gaining from the chaotic environment, as well as ever on the search outfor newer opportunities and variations for accomplishing the goals of theorganization. This line of differentiation between managers and leaders wasfirst presented by Zaleznik writing in the famous Harvard Business Review,and later confirmed by Kotter J., writing in the equally famous HarvardBusiness School Press. Yet another clear distinction between managers andleaders was that leadership addressed the core issues of coping with changein respective organizations as well as serving to motivate and energize theirsubordinates, whereas managers practically controlled the employees byguiding them through correct directions (Barker et al, 1994; Zaleznik, 1977;Kotter, 1999).Leadership As A TraitResearches into the discipline of leadership have revealed that the number of definitions are perhaps as many as the number of concepts, yet the singlecommon aspect which evolved has been the trait of individuals, laterprogressing to such complex processes as interpersonal relations, emotionsand learning to the more advanced studies to the behavior patterns of individuals. Thus studies carried out in the early part of the 19th century
show that the trait approach to leadership was more pronounced andremained concentrated to five leading traits amongst leaders. These included'surgency, conscientiousness, agreeableness, adjustment and intelligence'. Inaddition, these traits served not only as a basis for further studies in thediscipline of leadership, they also provided a primary framework fortheoretical studies in the same discipline.Leadership As A Behavioral ApproachFrom the theoretical approach and the five traits of leadership, as discussedin the preceding paragraph, one may observe that studies of this particulardiscipline further progressed in the decades of 1950s and onwardsencompassing certain behavioral patterns. In this respect, one of the mostfamous of studies was carried out by the Universities of Michigan and Ohio,both of which presented its findings on behavior pattern in leadership. Whilethe first study emphasized on the human interaction aspect of leadership,whereas the second study focused on the job element. Further studies intothese two disciplines opened up new vistas as leadership behavior was giventerms such as 'managerial grid', and 'leadership grid', suggesting that asuccessful leader not only cared for the people around him, but alsoexhibited equal concern for the nature of the job or work.Power and Influence in LeadershipYet another avenue found in a good leader included aspects of power andinfluence. These two characteristics gave emphasis on both the type as wellas amount of power yielded by a leader and the influence exerted over thesubordinates or those around the leader. In this respect, researches carriedout by French and Raven are notable where both the gentlemen categorizedvarious types of power, with each emerging because of the respectiveposition held by the leader in an organization. These included power of legitimacy, reward, coerciveness, power of information, and ecological power.In similar context, other types included power of the expertise, and of referent or 'personal power', as each evolved from the respective individual'spersonal characteristics. Recent studies have however focused on the newmethods or tactics as the term is commonly used. These include for exampletactics of persuasion, consultation, ingratiation, coalition, either or all of which are effectively used by the new breed of leaders to influence thosearound or the work itself. (French and Raven, 1959).Leadership - The Situational AspectHaving discussed traits and behaviors, researches on leadership furtherprogressed after realizing that both traits and behaviors provided only apartial solution, simply because of the absence of situational factors. Hence,situational factors opened up additional avenues to learn about leadership,resulting in such aspects as the role of the managers, subordinates, and theoverall situation surrounding a particular organization. In turn, these studiesled to findings that a particular type of leadership was not at all effective andapplicable for all situations, as different situations demanded differentapproaches from the leaders. In this respect, works of Tannenbaum andSchmidt carried out in 1958 is of considerable significance; both of whosuggested the idea of situational approaches to effectively handle the

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