Leadership refers to the process of guiding the behavior of others towards the accomplishment of certain goals. Effective leadership is the ability to influence others to willingly accomplish certain tasks at a high standard and quality that exceeds expectations. Effective leadership is an essential aspect in the success of any organization. It is generally believed that leadership is a learned skill and not inherent. Butler & Roche (2002) posits that one does not become an effective leader by being a leader, but from acquiring appropriate leadership skills that make one earn respect and acceptance from the people he/she is leading. Over the years, many leadership skills have been identified, though (Hersey, 1984) claims that there is no one leadership that is fit for every occasion. Thus, the best leadership style to use in every situation depends on the nature of the situation and if the group members are willing to assume their responsibilities. Effective leaders are able to understand their groups accordingly in terms of their ability, knowledge, passion as well as their willingness to take on the responsibilities. For instance, leadership style in corporate organizations is quite different from the leadership style for non-profit organizations. The difference is because corporate organizations are driven by profit maximization, while non-profit organizations are oriented towards satisfying the aspirations of all stakeholders involved. Thus, the leadership style that is often employed in corporate organizations is mainly tailored in a manner to exploit all the available resource in order to realize the highest profits possible without putting much consideration to the negative impacts that may accompany this process. For example, many corporate organizations often give their employees very high targets that are absurd to realize. Subsequently, such employees are exposed to great pressures that eventually make them to suffer from depressions, high blood pressure and stroke. Conversely, non-profit organizations are at all times guided by their visions, missions as well as their goals and objectives which are tailored to ensure the well being of every stakeholder concerned and the society at range. Thus, it is imperative to learn appropriate leadership skills in order to know the right skill to use in every situation.
The leadership style that I learned in week 10 was very enlightening to me as a leader. In addition, the group project that was assigned to us boosted my leadership skills as it helped me to learn more from my project colleagues as well as to test my leadership skills as a group leader. The group project involved completing a project about Leadership in Non-profit Organization as a group. In order to be more informed about leadership skills, our group decided instead of the group having one leader throughout the project to alternative the group leadership among the group members in order to give every member an opportunity to test his/her leadership skill by leading the group for a duration of approximately one week. This opportunity was meant to assess how much we have actualized from this class as well as improve our leadership skills.
Before embarking on week 10, I did not comprehend clearly what really constitute an effective leadership and especially in non-profit organizations. Most of my work experiences come from working as a counselor in the department of correction as well as from working as a professor in the university. In these organizations, the leadership styles that are mostly employed are autocratic the autocratic as well as charismatic leadership styles. Autocratic leadership involves leaders exerting a lot of pressure over their employees or team members. Autocratic leadership rarely gives the team members opportunities to share their point of views even if these opinions are for the interest of the organization. In such organizations most employees are not self motivated to pursue organization goals. The employees are also highly stressed and the rate of absenteeism as well as employee turn over is considerably high. The organization does not benefit from important initiatives as well as innovations from the team members since they are highly refrained from airing their contributions. Similarly, my previous experience had exposed me to Charismatic leadership where the leader plays a considerable role in driving the team forward. Charismatic leadership involves the leader injecting appropriate enthusiasm into the team. The leader is also committed in overseeing the realization of the organization goals and objectives. In Charismatic leadership, leaders are overconfident and rarely consult their team members for divergent point of views. In such leaderships, leaders play very significant role in the organizations they lead and the success of the organizations is entirely tied up to the leaders. Therefore, the absence of the leaders can lead to serious predicament to such organizations. Thus, Charismatic leadership calls for great responsibility and leaders who are willing to face their responsibility and also have long-term committed in order to oversee the realization of the organizations goals and objectives (Schoel, Bluemke, Mueller, &Stahlberg, 2011).
The above aforementioned leadership styles that I was exposed to in my former leaderships were in contradiction to the participative leadership that I learnt in week 10. Whereas Charismatic as well as Autocratic leadership that I was used to stressed on one person decisions, participative leadership entails encouraging all the team members to share their point of views. Participative leadership puts into consideration the opinions of all stakeholders involved in the change process in order to come up with the best decision for the way forward. It is important to involve all stakeholders in the change process in order to make all the team members to be actively involved in the change process. Through this way, all the team members will embrace the change process and be motivated to work towards its success. Participative leadership is slow in the implementation process than other forms of leadership styles aforementioned. Nonetheless, it is most suitable where quality is more valued in the production than speed. More often, participative leadership is known to produce high quality as well as high quantity results over longer periods of time. The high quality as well as quantity production occurs because employees under such leadership style are known to be highly motivated as well as to work as a team to accomplish organization’s goals and objectives. In many cases participative leaders formulate programs that assist employees to assess their individual performances instead of the leaders evaluating employees’ performance. The privilege of evaluating their performance provokes their ego to work harder in order to live according to, or above their expectations. Similarly, the opportunity to take part in the decision process makes the employees to own the projects being pursued and in the process devote all their energy towards the accomplishing the project. Participative leadership encourages the workforce to grow on their jobs through providing them with opportunities to advance their knowledge and skills as well offering them chances to utilize their acquired skills. Participative leadership recognizes and appreciates employees’ accomplishment by rewarding their extra efforts through incentives as well as through job promotions. Nevertheless, participative leadership is not appropriate when working against time because it requires involvement of everyone which increases delays. In addition, participative leadership is not suitable where the leaders feel threatened or where businesses do not have room to make mistakes (Werther, Berman, 2001).
I was assigned the opportunity to play the first role of the group leader. This was an important opportunity for me to evaluate the extent to which I had conceptualized participative leadership skills. My first duty was to oversee that every member was assigned the role that he/she was supposed to play to finish the project. Because of the strong influence of my past experience as a corporate leader, I immediately started assigning every member the role that they were supposed to play in order to accomplish the project without consulting them. However, one of my group partner Jack who had a long experience as a leader in non-profitable organizations suggested that we use a different approach to assign duties. Initially, I objected strongly because I considered it as an interference of my responsibility. Since he was a very talented and experience leader, he did not insist but instead, he requested me to give him an opportunity to explain himself. I accepted because of his diplomacy as well as the overwhelming support that he received from the other group members. He suggested that instead of picking people and assigning responsibilities randomly, we should first identify all the roles that are required to accomplish the project at hand and then share them according to our strengths and interests. Everyone was impressed by that suggestion and we listed down all the required roles and shared them accordingly. Since all the group members were happy with their responsibility, everyone was able to finish his/her assigned part convincingly and in good time. From this experience I came to appreciate the effectiveness of participative leadership. It is our collaboration that enabled our group to come up with a very high quality piece of work that greatly impressed our professor and awarded it high score.
Another essential leadership aspect that I learned from this group is the importance of expert power in influencing the team members. Expert power is taken as the respect that a leader possesses as a result of his/her proficiency knowledge. Jack was such a leader in our group (Griffing, 2011). Because of his long experience of participative leadership as a leader of non-profit organization, he was very instrumental in helping us to conceptualize relevant aspects associated with participative leadership style. Thus, I really admired his great leadership skills and he really inspired me to extend my leadership skills to become like him in my future leadership endeavors.
Moreover, I learned very important leaderships aspects from the group members such as being; cooperative, Persistent, self-confident, adaptable to various situations, Tolerant to stressful situations, ambitious as well as willing to accept responsibility. In addition, I learned fundamental skills for effective leadership such as being socially skilled, knowledgeable, intelligent as well as diplomatic and tactful.
At first, I experienced some serious problems with my group members because of my past leadership experiences which were mainly dictatorial. I had a lot of problem as the group leader in accommodating the opinions of others in our initial group meetings.
In conclusion, leadership skills are imperative for the success of any organization. It is clear that there is no single leadership style that is applicable in every situation. Thus, leaders should learn various leadership skills in order to be in a position to address different leadership challenges accordingly. Although Charismatic as well as autocratic leadership styles are fairly effective leadership styles in corporate organizations, participative leadership is a more effective leadership style and mainly for long term goals as well as cooperation for non-profit organizations.
- Butler, K., & Roche, D.E. (2002). Succession planning: Putting an organization’s knowledge to work. Nature Biotechnology, 20, 201-202.
- Griffing, R. (2011). Principles of management. New York: Prentice Hall.
- Hersey, P. (1984).The Situational Leader. San Diego, CA, University Associates
- Schoel, C., Bluemke, M., Mueller, P., &Stahlberg D. (2011). When autocratic leaders become an option-uncertainty and self-esteem predict implicit leadership preferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(3), 521-540
- Werther, W.B., Berman, E. (2001). Third sector management: The art of managing nonprofit organizations. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.