Whenever I am working with clients on their leadership development we use several models and insights to establish their current state/approach.
From this and other approaches we produce a customised plan that is pragmatic and realistic for the individual involved. One set of insights considers leadership theories:
Experts have been trying to define leadership via several aspects for many years. These schools of thought are not mutually exclusive and share some common ground. Collectively, they do give you a sense of how you can define leadership for yourself and apply those that work for you in your quest for career success.
1. Traits Theory
People who believe that leaders are born are likely to buy into the Traits Theory. This theory basically centres itself on the leader. What are the qualities of a leader? Now if you look at the different leaders of the world, companies or armies they all carry certain traits. It is believed that if one carries these characteristics then one is likely to become a leader.
So, this theory defines what are the qualities that a leader should posses rather than leadership. If one is a leader then theseleadership traits should be present.
2. Behavioural Theory
How would you define leadership if you believe in the Behavioural Theory? This group of experts concentrated on what the leaders did in relation to their followers. While the previous theory spoke about qualities of a leader, this theory approached it from the angle of style.
This theory grouped different forms of behaviour leaders have towards their followers into various sections. In many management classes and leadership courses you will come across terms like leaders who are “Task Oriented” or “People Oriented”. You will also come across phrases like “Directive Leadership” and “Participative Leadership”.
3. Contingency Theory
While the first two theories define leadership via traits and styles – the Contingency Theory takes in consideration the weaknesses of the previous theories. Since leadership functions in a dynamic situation, it is only logical that different styles and traits will work in different situations. The Contingency Theory takes into consideration the context where leadership is exercised.
Core to this approach is a myriad of factors that determines whether a leader becomes effective or otherwise. If you define leadership as such, then in your course of career growth you would take into consideration what styles and traits works the best in a given situation.
4. Transformational Theory
Someone from the Transformational Theory would define leadership from the angle of the leader as a change agent. They look at the effects of the leader towards his followers. There are 3 ways how a leader can change their followers – intensifying the level of awareness about the importance of the task and how to achieve it, focusing the team on the bigger goals of the unit rather than individual goals and to motivate the followers into a higher-order need (e.g., Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs).
Charisma is seen as an important aspect in this theory. It is believed that charisma affects followers by stirring their strong emotions and allowing followers to identify with their leaders.
As you can see, there are many definitions of leadership. It is important for you to have a good understanding of what is leadership as your career grows. Eventually you will find yourself leading a project or a team and these learning will come in handy.
It is never too early to start developing leadership skills. As someone new in the workplace, you may aspire to become the leader of your organization some day. Some people believe leaders are born not made
It is possible to develop leadership skills If you accept the fact leaders behave in a certain manner, then it is possible to learn the behaviours of a leader. People follow leaders because they have gained their trust and earned their respect.
Leaders have high ethics. They are honest. If you are to gain people’s trust then it is important to learn this trait early. Some of the actual situations you can practice this behaviour is taking responsibility for your own actions. Do not play the blame game when things go wrong. Leaders take personal responsibility for their team’s actions and results.
Leaders are passionate. They are enthusiastic about their work and they even have the ability to rub this energy off on their followers. Do you take on assignments given to you enthusiastically? This is one good behaviour to start when developing leadership skills.
When developing leadership skills, look at the easiest to start. Commitment to your work is one of the easiest. Can you truly say you are willing to work hard at the job assigned? Leaders work hard and have a strong discipline in following through with their work.
If people are to follow you then as a leader you need to be courageous. Leaders are brave when they confront risks and the unknown. The ultimate test of a leader’s courage is also the courage to be open. When looking at developing leadership skills, do you have the courage to speak up on things that matter?
5. Goal Oriented
Leaders are very focused on the objectives that need to be attained. They develop a plan and strategy to achieve the objectives. In addition, they will also need to build commitment from the team and rally them to achieve the organization’s goal. When developing leadership skills, start by looking at how goal oriented you are now. Improve upon that behaviour.
6. Developing People
Developing people whether by training, coaching or teaching them is one of the main traits of a good leader. No one can achieve organisational goals alone. The team is needed in order to achieve them. Leaders develop the people to build a stronger team so that the organization is effective. Start by developing your own knowledge when developing leadership skills.
Leaders do the most urgent and important things first regardless of their interest in them. For them, whatever that needs to be done should be completed with the best possible effort. How do you fare with this trait? Do you tasks that you are uncomfortable with? Start developing leadership skills in this area by recognizing what are the important tasks to complete.
8. No Public Glory
Leaders understand that at best they will get private credit for their work. Public glory is not expected. They know whatever achievements are the result of joint effort of their units. They share glory and credit with the rest for the work. They know they are only as good as their team. When developing leadership skills, ask yourself this – are you generous enough to share the fruits of your unit’s achievements?
Developing leadership skills is a long process. Some people are born with such traits. They develop into leaders much faster. Leadership is also a set of behaviour as much as a skill. Hence, it is possible to learn leadership skills. Start now and when the opportunity arise you will be ready.
For customised leadership coaching and free exploratory chat please contact me – email@example.com
My career experience includes HR Director and senior executive roles in Barclays plc and Tesco plc leading major transformation and complex change programmes reporting at Board level .I have an MBA, BA and I am a member of the CIPD and Association for Coaching. I am an accredited coach with over 12 years of private client coaching experience and as an associate consultant with Penna (UK) dealing with career, life,executive and business coaching and counselling. I work in mentoring and coaching partnerships with executives to help achieve gains of importance to them.I help people of all ages, different cultures and job levels to understand more about themselves, their impact on others and how to develop across major dimensions in life.
I respect the integrity and confidentiality of my clients building on their existing great skills and abilities and evolving enhanced self guidance : ” No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts and abilities and possibilities.”
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