Reactions to Leadership Experts
Leadership Overviews and Reactions
1. Overview of Leadership based on John Adair’s Handbook of Management and Leadership edited by Neil Thomas (2005)
Leadership can be ‘specific to the particular situation’ and its ‘authority’ and is derived from: 1) position (as in job title, rank or appointment), 2) personality (as in natural qualities of influence), and 3) knowledge (as in technical professional skills).
In his book, it is clearly explained that personality and character cannot be left out. In as far as leadership is concerned, personality and character both play a vital role in realizing the meaning of the position the leader is entitled to. A position is just a rank, but its meaning is derived from how the values and qualities of the leader are carried out. Alongside is the knowledge of the leader that is often very crucial and technical especially in performing duties and responsibilities.
Adair furthers that a leader is a kind of person (with leadership qualities) who has the appropriate knowledge and skill to lead a group to achieve its ends willingly. Thus, he shared seven qualities of leadership. First is enthusiasm which is sometimes being forgotten when pressing times occur. Without enthusiasm, it would be impossible for the leader to bear or seize the day, the worst part is ending the day without accomplishing anything. Again, it comes with one’s personality to be optimistic and take challenges positively. Enthusiasm empowers the leader to look at the positive side of every situation. He can savor the day with inspiration and purposive thinking, thus influencing others to become cheerful and light-hearted in performing tasks. Next is integrity, meaning both personal wholeness and sticking to values outside oneself, primarily goodness and truth. This is such a big word that is somewhat forgotten by some when blurred by vested interests. This quality must be possessed even when no one is looking. It’s like having self-discipline in doing things and in making decisions. Integrity means keeping the trust of the people around by sticking to the acceptable norms and practices in the organization or in the society. Third is toughness – demanding, with high standards, resilient, tenacious and with the aim of being respected (not necessarily popular). This is more applicable to an organization with lousy and undisciplined people. However, it can be delicate once the leader makes lousy decisions too despite being tough in conviction. Resilience is another aspect of being a strong leader – this means becoming more and more tough and firm against challenges and varying issues along the way, and not the other way around. A leader should not give up quickly, because having things done does not mean the end of everything, but the beginning of new changes and aspirations. Fourth is fairness – impartial, rewarding, penalizing performance without “favorites”, treating individuals differently but equally. A fair leader is highly respected, as this is one qualification people would look for. Unbiased and fair treatment promotes equality in the organization, thus making everyone does his / her fair share of work. Fifth is warmth - the heart as well as the mind being engaged, loving what is being done and caring for people – cold fish do not make good leaders. People stay in the team if they feel their leader is stepping on the same ground as they are, meaning they feel his / her presence in every triumph and trial. Having a warm personality means being open and accepting others regardless of the occasion, strength or weakness. Extending a hand when the rest gets demotivated is something that will uplift the morale of the many. Sixth is humility – the opposite of arrogance, being a listener and without an overwhelming ego. This coincides with having high EQ which only few can have. For some, humility and acceptance of flaws makes others admire the leader, in the sense that he / she does not clean hands when downfall or misfortune happens. He also does not brag too much especially if he is not who worked behind the scene. Sometimes being a low-profile leader gets uplifted not by self-appraisal, but with the initiative of others. Lastly, confidence – not over confidence (which leads to arrogance), but with self-confidence which people know whether you have or have not got it. More often, even the leader lacks knowledge, his confidence will put him on top of the rest. Many aspects can be compensated by self-confidence, because not all in a group is confident enough to speak up, to move forward and perform, to make decisions due to the fear of rejection. With confidence alone, at least someone must begin, and something must be initiated.
I will elaborate my understanding on the definition of Leadership as ‘specific to the particular situation’ and its ‘authority’ that is derived from: 1) position (as in job title, rank or appointment), 2) personality (as in natural qualities of influence), and 3) knowledge (as in technical professional skills).
Truly, a leader must stand up when the situation calls him to make a step forward. A particular situation can easily label whether a leader is deserving of his title or not. He cannot be tested if he only occupies his office the whole day. He must respond to the needs of his followers and other stakeholders in the organization. He does the PDCA cycle (plan-do-check-act) and not only envisions. He realizes his vision little by little thru his mission and objectives. He initiates change and he takes ownership of both successes and failures. He stands out confidently and assertively because his followers are expecting him to represent the group and speak for them. His authority must be maximized to his full potential. He can do many things with the power and authority vested upon him, thus, he should use it properly.
In most situations, who usually makes a move, it’s the leader. Having him in the group gives pride and confidence to the members, it’s like having their backbone to keep them strong and intact; therefore, a group without a leader is somewhat shaky and unstable. Even if there are times that the members do not conform with the rules set by the leader, the majority will still abide, and thus the group remains standing.
On the other hand, a leader without an admirable personality will not last, as majority will resort to ousting him from the position. I believe that personality is more important that position, and attitude is carried out as part of the sumtotal of the leader’s qualities. Modesty in words and actions and power of dialoguing in front of the crowd or inside the office, for me are powerful in influencing the minds of the members. They look up to the leader with the wholesome personality which exudes through relating with the rest of the team without bragging the position nor the kind of power he got. For me, a leader without personality is like a statue with engravement but is dead.
Same goes with a leader without the required knowledge to lead. Some idle minds are rooted with evil spirits which eventually drive the leader to corrupt. If he is not thinking straight to make decisions, he might get tempted to do evil deeds. If he does not have the knowledge and skills, his plans are weak and hasty, thus creating nuisance and disagreement among the members. A knowledgeable leader does not stop learning; he continuously seeks for wisdom through trainings, conferences and further studies. He goes to places to do benchmarking, improves and innovates ideas to exceed expectations. He does not settle in status quo, but rather is dynamic in extracting strategies that will work best.
2. Overview of Leadership by Ner Le'Elef in his book, Leadership and Management (2004)
Ner Le ‘Elef explains leadership using the Torah view. (Torah is the body of wisdom and law contained in Jewish scripture and other sacred literature and oral tradition). Here, he mentioned that we are all leaders in the sense that a concern for the broader welfare of our fellow is an absolute obligation on all of us. Thus, it comes with a deeper sense of responsibility when the welfare of the entire group is the main goal. It is not easy to lead a group, but if somebody will stand up and do something, that is actually exceeding what it takes to be a leader. One should not wait to be chosen, he must act if the group is in need especially during pressing times. More often, the ability to lead comes out naturally, and this is because of the situation that calls for it. Therefore, the sprouting of a leader is context-based, and it is true that there are some people who are born with “natural leadership qualities”.
Ner Le’Elef also mentioned that most of the people who are usually perceived as leaders by the people are not usually the real leaders, they are usually high-profile lecturers and speakers. But without them knowing, many behind the scene are the real contributors of good deeds for humanity, those who are not recognized because of their being humble and simple, or better called hidden figures in the society.
The Torah view of leadership calls for consciousness with what’s happening around, and this is supported by Mahatma Gandhi, saying “We have to be the change we want the world to see.” If every individual starts the change that the world needs, then there will be peace on earth, and everyone can be a leader amid serenity and tranquility. Every citizen has the role to play, and the share of work to do. Each is called to work hard not only for himself but for others. It is every person’s obligation to do his role in preserving peace and order; and by that, a leader will sprout, will grow and will become stronger in the passing of times.
I support the idea “everyone can be a leader,” as leadership qualities are innate of us. We just need to be aware of the qualities we have, and we just need to learn how to use the talents and skills we naturally have. We need to discover what we are capable of, and to what extent we can share the potential within us.
I strongly agree when Ner Le’Elef said that some are not recognized in their contributions to humanities. Who stays in the limelight are those vocal enough to claim credits, those who are assertive enough with the gift of tongue to speak in front of the crowd. Therefore, not all leaders in the society under certain entitlements do not deserve their positions; they just happen to be the best speakers among all and the most charismatic individuals in their era. Sometimes, it is in the culture of one nation to enthrone someone who is next in the familial hierarchy, thus, it does not give a democratic chance for everyone to hold a position.
When one’s personality is low and fears of speaking, then he will remain to be a leader in his own. He may not be speaking much but does the work efficiently and silently shares creative ideas and sound judgments, then I believe he can be useful in the society and can even be more useful when recognized. Some hidden figures, I believe, must be given due credits and tell the world of their wonders. Only then that the rest of the hidden figures and even the simplest of the men in all corners of the world will be inspired to do better, to share talents, and to be role models of innovation and change.
3. Overview of Leadership based on the book, Leadership Skills by MTD Training, written by Sean McPheat (2010)
McPheat focused on three traits every successful leader must have; and the best thing in his presentation is that he emphasized in the beginning of his book the misfortune that will happen if these traits are not seen in the leader. These problems are 1: Your will be miserable that you will burnout. 2) Your team will fail in completing their work. 3) Your team members will leave. 4) Your team will lose respect for you.
The traits he referred to are the following:
- 1. The Desire to Lead. This is one’s willingness to fulfill and exceed all the job descriptions attached to his title in the leadership or management position. Willingness comes with passion to excel, not just to perform and satisfy the daily operations. Such desire to lead comes with conviction of reaching the goals of the organization, and it entails more work. It also takes initiative and enthusiasm to do the P-D-C-A cycle (PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT) where members are well-informed of the results and achievements. The desire to lead requires the leader to put his life and heart in the organization, making it grow and continuously grow, and he must not stop envisioning for innovation and never-ending success. The desire to lead is reflected in the acts and personality of the leader if he 1) Enjoys when others seek his ideas and opinions 2) Likes supporting others in his team; 3) He is comfortable putting others’ interest before his own interest 4) He is working with the group, facilitating strong team spirit 5) Resolves conflicts with the group rather than leave them alone. All these characteristics promote the spirit of unselfishness and dedication, and surely with all these the leader nor the members of the team will not leave but stay as inspired by the vision and mission of the organization.
- 2. Commitment to the Vision and Mission of the Organization. The vision and mission of the organization as well as philosophy are the guiding paths that dictate every leader what and how to effectively deliver results and achievements. The persons who created these guiding principles transfer to every single employee or members of the team the essence as well as ways and means of achieving them. The leader must show his own dedication to the vision and mission through his speeches, meeting deliverables, series of trainings and seminars, and strategic plans. The Key Performance Indicators that he set must be S-M-A-R-T so that the employees can also do their share of work and participation towards the realization of the vision and mission. If the leader himself does not promote and does not make his own vision and mission for his own department as inspired by the whole institution’s, then he is not genuine in the service of others.
- 3. Integrity. It is the most important trait among all traits because it can tell whether the leader is deserving or not. McPheat defines integrity as being true to your word, authentic in your actions and speech, and demonstrate the kind of behavior that you would like to see in your employees. Showing good examples to the employees takes effort in the part of the leader, and it entails careful and genuine manifestations of actions and words with sincerity, consistency and substance whether he’s in good shape during the day or under stress. If the leader does not have integrity or loses integrity in a blink of an eye, the workplace will be a house of disrespectful and lousy employees, there will be gossip everywhere, and everybody will become disloyal to the organization.
McPheat has a very precise way of explaining the important traits of a leader. I agree with him in these traits 1) Desire to lead 2) Commitment to the vision and mission of the organization, and 3) Integrity. As known to many, some politicians and leaders in specific discipline in the world have been stained by some controversial issues, though some are hearsays, and some are proven true. I wonder how they can still manage to face the crowd and shake hands with them. Is it maybe the crowd just wants to play the game also? Some leaders have already lost their integrity, but they still have the desire to lead, particularly politicians. Apparently, they have a different drive which is influenced by their vested interest. They also can articulate the vision and mission of their organization, but will that compensate their not having integrity? McPheat wants that the three traits are possessed altogether, and not leaving integrity behind. The question is, who among the many got these three?
Every individual has his gray areas; though sometimes the sad part is that, people got no other choice but to accept who has been leading them despite having no integrity at all. A leader must have a wholesome personal and employment background; though again, I really doubt if we have that kind among the leaders of the country today.
Adair, J. (2005). The handbook of management and leadership. Retrieved from https://zodml.org/sites/default/files/John_Adair_The_Handbook_of_Management_and_Leadership.pdf (July 5, 2018).
Le'Elef, N. (2004). Leadership and management. Retrieved from http://www.nerleelef.com/books/leadership.pdf (July 5, 2018).
McPheat, S. (2010). Leadership skills by MTD training. Retrieved from http://promeng.eu/downloads/training-materials/ebooks/soft-skills/leadership-skills.pdf (July 5, 2018).
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