The application of leadership theories and insights in real-life situations is very helpful and could draw the thin line between effective leadership and poor leadership. Leadership theories are very rich with guidelines for effective leadership and insights which could be very motivational to people aspiring to be leaders. Additionally, these theories can be helpful to people who are already in leadership positions since the success of organizations depends largely on the kind of leaders that they have. The more effective their leaders are, the more successful they tend to be.
Leaders should, therefore, ensure that they effectively and appropriately apply theories and guidelines of leadership to ensure that they make positive impacts in the organizations they represent. This paper is an exploration of the possible applications of leadership theories in pragmatic leadership.
Role of ethics in leadership
Ethics is very central to leadership. Leaders can be viewed to be the representatives of organizations and thus the ethical values they uphold while undertaking their functions are taken to be a snapshot of the ethical values that the organization they represent keeps. This means that, if a certain leader lacks courtesy, this could be seen as an indication that the organization he/she represents is, kind of, disorganized (Ciulla 2004, p.
31). Additionally, if a given leader is corrupt, this could is a strong indication that the organization that he/she represents is also corrupt. Leaders should therefore try to preserve the image of their organizations by upholding ethical values since these values are a prerequisite in leadership. This, therefore, shows that to be a leader one has to be ethical in language, character etc. Any decision to be made by the leader has to be ethical in the way it is imposed to the subordinates of the organization (Cornett, 1995, p.
1). Decisions made should be in such a way that they do not oppress the subordinates. When solving organizational problems ethics comes in by coordinating the ways to solve the problem and the means to achieve the solution.
One has to decide on the choice to make from several alternatives, the standards and values required as well as the guiding principles. In this case, therefore, the most productive option that also has firm ethical backgrounds should be chosen (Ciulla, 2004, p. 51). The way one communicates to his/her followers is also an important ethical value. Use of abusive language should be avoided and courtesy should be observed at all times.
Being a leader entails making people to volitionally follow what you expect them to do but not being rude to them. Therefore, a leader must know how to convince his/her followers to follow his/her ideas using convincing language and without getting unreasonable resistance.
Effect of power and influence on leadership
Power and influence has a lot of effects on leadership.
This can be viewed in two dimensions. It could be the power and influence that the leader gains when he/she assumes leadership or the power and influence from influential stakeholders who affect the work of leaders either positively or negatively. Starting with the latter, the effectiveness of a leader depends on how well he/she is able to deal with the stated power and influence of other stakeholders (Whetten, 2006, p. 1). The corporate world is characterized with extreme pressure on the leaders of organizations. The pressure could either be coming from the owners of businesses in case the organization is owned by individuals, it could also come from directors in the case of companies or even from the government. Examples of influences that such parties could have on the leaders could be pressure to which is most likely to come from owners, intentions of such parties to strike corruption deals affecting the organization and the like.
A good leader is the one who operates on ethical principles and does not let other parties make decisions for him/her. The leader thus allows other people to advice him/her but he/she does not let them to decide for him/her (Whetten, 2006, p. 1).
This will obviously put off the aforementioned parties interested in striking corruption deals with such leaders because they will not tolerate such deals if they make their decisions based on ethical standards. On the other hand, leaders can become overwhelmed by the power and influence that they gain when they assume leadership roles. People who are not used to being in such positions may misuse such power and influence and this could prove to be detrimental to their organizations (House, 2004, p. 24). This is because such leaders could use their power to mistreat or even assault their juniors which could substantially reduce the motivation of such employees. An example of such misuse of power is leaders who use their power in organizations to get sexual favors from employees of the opposite sex.
This is a serious misuse of power and it could lead to a very hostile working environment if either of the parties is not interested in fulfilling his/her part of the deal. It could also lead to a hostile working environment if the employee who the leader pursues is not interested in the offers that the leader offers or if they are principled and cannot give in to such immorality. This could substantially affect employee output and eventually affect the productivity and profitability of the organization. It can also give the company or organization bad publicity which could substantially reduce its client/customer base and eventually affect the profitability of the organization.
Another example of how leaders can misuse the powers bestowed upon them is the leaders who make unwise decisions just because they have the power to make such decisions. If such a person is given leadership responsibilities and sufficient powers, he/she may dismiss an employee of his/her organization based on personal grievances or mere dislike. He/she may also make material financial decisions without proper consultation and planning which could make him/her run down the organization (House, 2004, p. 39).
From the discussion in this paragraph, it is of essence that organizations choose leaders wisely and make sure that the leaders are competent enough to handle the pressure and influence that comes with leadership roles.
Role of leadership in initiating and managing change in organizations
Another important role of leadership is its role in initiating and managing change within organizations. This is because, for an organization to be continually successful, it has to keep on adapting to the dynamism characteristic of contemporary industries. The stated dynamism is brought about by the unending need to keep on innovating and the changes in customer preferences characteristic of contemporary industries. Change may also be brought about by an increase in the scale of operations.
When change is imminent in an organization, leaders are supposed to prepare and plan carefully to ensure that it achieves its intended purpose. In organizations with good leadership, employees will have a positive attitude towards change. They will have faith in the planning abilities of their leaders and they will therefore trust that their leaders will make decisions that cater for their welfare (Bacal, 1996, p. 1). This trust is very beneficial to the organization since drastic changes can be implemented easily. On the other hand, organizations that have poor leadership are characterized by employees who do not trust in the leadership methods of their leaders. They therefore hold the idea that their leaders act in ways that are not in their interests. In this case, the employees become increasingly resistant to change and they may give their leaders a hard time as they try to implement change.
This will in turn have negative effects on the leaders since failure to initiate and manage change in a number of organizations will make them doubt their abilities and bring them frustrations that will ultimately affect their leadership capabilities (Kinnear, 2010, p. 1). Organizations with such leadership will also suffer since the inability of their leaders to effectively manage change will affect them lose a lot of revenue that could be otherwise realized from invention, innovation and increment of scale of operations.
Helpfulness of theories and insights of leadership
The most inspirational theories of leadership that are definitely bound to have a positive impact in my life are behavioral theories which are based on the stipulation that leadership skills are acquired in the course of the life of a person. The theories state that leadership is not an inborn characteristic and thus anyone can become a leader if he/she is observant enough and willing to copy good leadership skills and if he/she learns to be ethical, decisive, influential and a good communicator (Smith, 2007, p.
1). Insights gained from the relationship theories of leadership will, particularly, be helpful. This is because this group of theories helped me to realize that being a leader is not just about being the leader. It involves valuing every member of the group that the leader represents and ensuring that each one of them achieves their maximum potential while gaining optimum benefits for their efforts. I believe that this will be very helpful in my career because many leaders fail, not because they do not have leadership but because the people they represent are not motivated enough.
Another insight gained in this course that will be commendably helpful is the realization of the importance of preparing workers psychologically before any given task to make them realize the productivity and importance of the tasks that they are assigned to perform (Michelson, 2001, p. 3). Without the use of this strategy, employees are likely to get bored by repetitive work and undergo stress and burnout which may work in unison to lower employee productivity. This will affect the overall productivity of the organization which will mostly be blamed on the leaders.
This will have negative effects on the organization and the professional and individual lives of the leaders.
As evidenced in the discussion above, leadership is a profession that requires well rounded individuals. Therefore a leader must possess both the relevant skills related to leadership and a will to make a difference. Some of the qualities of leadership that are required in order to make a good leader are an ability to interact and influence people and a strong character coupled with intelligence. On the other hand, a leader should be willing to do good and influence people’s lives and the welfare of organizations positively. This will ensure that the leader does things that are for the benefit of his/her followers and the organization and thus he/she is bound to have a successful leadership career due to trust and support that he/she will definitely get from administrators and employees.
On the contrary, leaders should not be the kind of people who are easily influenced by others. This is because if a leader can easily be influenced, it is likely that other people will take advantage of that characteristic to make them misuse their power. This could be very destructive to organizations.
Ethics are very important to leaders and a leader who does not uphold ethical values is likely to bring shame to his/her organization or make the organization lose a considerable number of its customers. As discussed above, innovative changes and other changes are very instrumental in ensuring organizational performance. Leaders, therefore, have an active role in initiating and steering positive changes in their organizations in a bid to increase the productivity and profitability of their organizations. In initiating and managing these changes, a leader must be very wise to ensure that the changes are bound to bring positive changes to the organization.
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