Leadership is everything, be it in an organization, a county, or a nation for when any institution lacks excellent leadership the chance for survival is limited. Warren Bennis said that “a business short on capital can borrow money and one with a poor location can move but a business short on leadership has little chance to survive”. This is a confirmation of the importance of leadership in any institution for even if one was to change the leadership, time, growth and money will definitely be lost in the process. Myles Munroe indicated that “all the money in the world can make you rich, and all the power in the world can make you strong, but these things can never make you a leader. You can inherit a fortune, but never leadership”. Many people equate leadership to riches and positions. On the contrary, the fact that one is rich and has all the power on earth, does not automatically make them leaders. The fact that one holds a position be it political or professional, does not necessarily mean they are a leader.
Whether an organization, a county, or a nation grows, succeeds, or fails is totally dependent on the quality of leadership they have. You cannot divorce the success or failure of an outfit from its leadership. Any leader who blames others for the organization’s problems is not worthy of the salt to occupy that position. There are as many definitions of leadership as there are authors and there is no single acceptable leadership definition, theory, model, or standard. What then is the meaning of leader or leadership? Is it a position, a person, a certain behavior, a style, a combination of these, or all the above? A Leader is a person who is able to motivate people to accomplish a purpose. Leaders are people who can influence the behaviors of others without having to rely on force. Leadership according to John C Maxwell is influence – nothing more, nothing less. Myles Munroe on the other hand defines leadership as the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose.
These definitions denote that a true leader influences people through what they believe in rather than coercion or bribery. A true leader inspires his followers because they have a vision that their followers are willing to buy into. A leader can only influence without force if they clearly know where they are going and they passionately believe in their destination. Leadership, Management, and Bosses are terms that are used interchangeably yet mean very different things. Leadership is about influencing your followers to want to achieve the organizational objectives whereas Management is about attaining the organizational goals through planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Leaders challenge the status quo, create a vision for the future and inspire the members. Managers on the other hand bring order and consistency. Leadership power comes from personal sources whereas management power comes from the organizational structure.
Leadership and management are however related, but they are not the same. One can be occupying a managerial position but is not a leader. However, organizations need both leadership and management if they are to be effective. This is because Leadership is necessary to create change and management is necessary to achieve orderly results. As aptly put by Stephen Covey, Management works in the system; leadership works on the system! Managers will get things done using the power they have because of the position they hold or withholding rewards. Leaders get things done by inspiring and motivating the employees. Leaders stir up people to action as can be seen from
Judges 5 where Deborah encourages and influences the people to act and do something about a bad situation. There is a difference between a leader and a boss… the leader works in the open and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives. – Theodore Roosevelt. A position as a manager does not make you a leader but a boss. Bosses are obeyed but leaders are followed. The boss is respected and obeyed because of his/her seniority. A leader is respected and looked upon as an example not only because of seniority but mainly because of the qualities of character and ability. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John C. Maxwell. Leaders innovate, focus on people, inspire trust, have a long-range view, ask what and why, have eyes on the horizon, originate, challenge the status quo and do the right thing. Managers administrate, focus on systems and structures, rely on control, have a short-range view, ask how and when, have eyes on the bottom line, accept the status quo and do things right.
The question each and every leader should ask is what will make people want to follow them. Generally, people will follow leaders that they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. No sober human being would want to follow a non-ethical leader who has no sense of direction. Respect is earned and not demanded or forced. Indeed respect is not automatic and doesn’t happen because of the position one holds. People will respect a leader after observing what the leader does rather than what a leader says. What a leader does will help the followers tell if their leader is honorable and trustworthy or a self-serving individual who misuses authority to look good and get promoted at the expense of his workers.
The followers must trust and have confidence in the leader and this trust and confidence are won through effective communication. If you are a leader who can be trusted, then those around you will grow to respect you. For you to be a trusted leader, you need to Be, Know and Do. This means that you should be a professional who possesses good character traits; Know yourself, Know human nature, Know your job, Know your organization; and Do provide direction, Do implement, and Do motivate.
Organizations need strong leadership and strong management for optimum effectiveness. The story of creation is a clear indication of the need for both leadership and management in the organization. God clearly articulated to Adam what exactly he wanted him to do and empowered and delegated to him. This was leadership and management at work. He engaged in leadership by delegating to Adam to do the naming, tender the garden and get involved in recreating other human beings. Good leaders and managers will not do everything even though they can do it but instead will delegate and empower their followers. The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization. – Fred Fiedler and Martin Chemer.
There is no one best style of leadership for all organizations. The leader should always seek to know the leadership style that suits them best and what works best in their industry. The leader should also consider what leadership style best suits the team members. In the absence of leadership, an organization experiences either drift or detachment. A drift is where the organization is sailing without a rudder. A detachment on the other hand is a psychological state where the employees lack any deep commitment and instead just go through the motions. You know you are in drift or have detachment when members of the organization cannot visualize what the leader wants and what the leader believes. The employees cannot identify any of the priorities of the organization. In conclusion, understand who you are for you have to lead yourself first before others. Next, understand the people you lead and adjust your leadership style to suit accordingly.
For more on Leadership buy a copy of DISSECTING THE HEART OF LEADERSHIP at MY SHOP or at marymugo.shopyangu.com.
Dr. Mary Mugo
Strategy, Governance and Management Consultant