Leadership Traits and Skills
In this paper, we are going to discuss leadership traits and skills in depth. These are two very important aspects when it comes to governance either in the corporate sector or governments.
Organizations, institutions, and firms are often created with common goals. These goals are to be achieved through the cooperation between the members of the given organization. Of course, members of an organization are unable to perform duties on their own without being guided. Therefore, the process through which the members of an organization are controlled, guided, and brought together is called leadership (Yukl, 1997). Besides, the process of leadership entails making decisions which is important in the determination of the success or failure of an organization. According to Garry Yukl (1997), leadership is examined by looking at different leadership models. These models include task versus relations leadership, autocratic versus participative leadership, leadership versus management, and transformational versus transactional leadership. It should be noted that leadership is quite distinct from management. Effective leadership is an aggregate for the success of an organization. Yukl (1997) makes attribution of effective leadership to certain characteristics and skills that are possessed by the leaders. Thus, this paper aims will be discussing the leadership traits and skills that enhance effective leadership in various firms, institutions, and organizations.
Gary Yukl (1997) argues that one trait of an effective leader is the ability to influence the followers to make self-sacrifices. Followers play a key role in determining the success or failure of an organization. Self-sacrifices can involve hard work, peaceful co-existence, and proper marketing strategies. Without a doubt, self-sacrifices will improve productivity among the members of an organization. When a leader has the ability to convince his followers to make self-sacrifices, it is a clear showcase of effective leadership.
Gary Yukl (1997) goes ahead to point out that an effective leader should have the ability to influence the followers to be committed to ideological objectives. All organizations that are profit-oriented usually have objectives that everyone is looking up to achieving. Ideological objectives might vary among the members of an organization; however, their presence is a reflection of the visionary character of the members. A leader with the ability to influence his followers to commit to ideological objectives is portrayed as effective leadership traits.
According to Gary Yukl (1997), another effective leadership trait that a leader should have is the ability to integrate tasks and the concerns of the people is a way that is in line with the situation at hand. For instance, in an organization, the members can decide to focus on the profitability of the organization through the adoption of new marketing strategies. Therefore, an effective leader should be able to dwell on the integration of such matters and realize them. With this, he or she will be able to gain the confidence and trust of his subjects. It determines the kind of relationship and rapport that will exist between the leader and the people under him.
Being visionary is also another ideal leadership skill that a leader should have according to Gary Yukl (1997). This involves creating goals and objectives that an organization needs to work towards. Visions have enabled several organizations to attain greater success. However, one thing that needs to be noted is that visions are not generated from any other people apart from leaders. In fact, leaders without visions are likely to fail.
In most organizations, leaders are immoral and do not have a focus. There are bad traits that if acquired by followers may hinder an organization from being successful (Shipper, 1991). In other words, as indicated by Gary Yukl (1997), effective leaders are supposed to lead by example. They should be focused without questionable morals. This will encourage the followers to also follow in their footsteps. With this, the organization is likely to be successful.
According to Gary Yukl (1997), leadership that is focused on the success of the organization should embrace the kind of leadership that s change-oriented. He further distinguishes managers and leaders. He indicates that leaders are focused on the long-term efficiency and the existence of their institutions. On the other hand, managers are focused on the short-term efficiency of their organizations. Besides, he also argues that leaders emphasize introducing new ideas or changes despite the success that they found existing therein. Thus, change is an important element to be introduced in an organization. That is the reason why leaders who are change-oriented are referred to as leaders with effective leadership skills since they will spearhead the development and make their organizations to be more successful than they initially were.
Leadership entails decision-making. Followers find it challenging to conduct their operations without the decisions of the leaders in an organization (Vroom & Yetton, 1973). The process of decision-making is very authoritative. However, it is a determinant factor in the success of an organization. Gary Yukl argues that effective leadership characteristics are showcased by the leader’s ability in varying his or her use of decision procedures. It is not ideal for a leader to use a single decision procedure several times. This might cause the demoralization of the followers thereby resulting in instability in the work environment. Variation of decision procedures is important especially in environments where the type of leadership is authoritative. This might discourage possible opposing views from the followers.
Leaders should always be ready with solutions and management strategies for conflicts once they arise in an organization. It is confirmed that conflicts are part and parcel of the operations in organizations. They encourage the people to improve on their work and achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. Based on this, an effective leader should be one who has skills in solving problems. Sometimes, conflicts can be extreme such that they destroy property or contribute to the loss of lives. Therefore, effective leadership should be accompanied by problem-solving skills, which will be of great importance in the event of conflicts.
Good co-existence among leaders and followers is always important for the success of an organization. This has on many occasions been influenced by cohesiveness and trust among the members of an organization. Hence, the leaders of an organization should be able to win the trust and cohesiveness of the followers in order to experience effective leadership that will enhance its success.
Gary Yukl (1997) goes ahead to argue that inspirational motivation is also another important skill for effective leadership. Motivation is a key element that encourages the followers to work effectively towards achieving the objectives and goals of the organization that they belong to. Leaders achieve inspirational motivation through several avenues. They can offer inspirational guidance and material rewards among others. This will enable them to motivate their subjects (Barling, Weber & Kelloway, 1996).
Another trait that an effective leader should possess, according to Gary Yukl (1997) is confidence. This is the main factor that helps in the making and management of decisions. Confidence instills a sense of authority and gives a leader, the ability to exercise total control over an organization. A leader who does not have confidence is likely to experience failure.
To conclude, Gary Yukl (1997) has clearly pointed out that leadership skills and traits are important factors that should be considered in the choice of leaders of organizations. He further adds that leadership skills and traits are key players for making sure that the aspirations of organizations are achieved.
Barling, J., Weber, T., & Kelloway, E.K. (1996). Effects of transformational leadership training on attitudinal and financial outcomes: A field experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 827–832.
Shipper, F. (1991). Mastery and frequency of managerial behaviors relative to subunit effectiveness. Human Relations, 44, 371–388
Vroom, V.H, & Yetton, P.W. (1973). Leadership and decision-making. Pittsburgh, PA:
University of Pittsburgh Press.
Yukl, G. (1997). Effective leadership behavior: A new taxonomy and model. Paper presented at the Eastern Academy of Management International Conference. Dublin, Ireland.
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