By Bhudeb Chakrabarti
Leadership is the projection of personality; It is a combination of persuasion, compulsion and example that makes other people do what the leader wants them to do. ~ Field-Marshal Sir William Slim, outstanding British and Allied commanders of World War II.
Leading is the art of influencing and motivating people to perform in a manner to achieve a common goal. The sum total of a leader’s roles, tasks and responsibilities and interpersonal influences constitutes leadership.
A leader should not only be intelligent (with general problem-solving capacity) but should also possess high integrity and character, equally concerned with ends (doing the right thing) and means (doing rightly).
Effective leaders have to work ceaselessly and communicate with the people to motivate them in an efficient manner.
Numerous studies have been conducted and a considerable amount of research has been done to find out how a leader becomes effective. Various theories have been postulated from time to time to zero in on the factors that influence the effectiveness of leaders.
Trait Theories emphasize the traits or qualities of leaders, which lead to their lead to their effectiveness. The Trait Theories, however, could not establish the traits that should be common to all leaders. Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were all great leaders but their personalities had distinctly different characteristics. It also fails to explain the instances of leadership failures, where leaders failed despite possessing the required traits.
So while certain traits such as confidence, charisma, knowledge etc may help leaders to become more effective, relying entirely on those traits may not always help them to motivate their people to achieve the stated goal.
The Behavioural Theories sought to identify the specific behaviours of leaders that lead to their leadership success.
Leaders may demonstrate task-oriented or people-oriented behaviours and may make decisions using authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire styles. However, it was seen that the preferred behavioural styles of leaders produced varied result under different circumstances. It appeared the Behavioural Theories overlooked the situational factors and the environment in which behaviours are demonstrated.
The limitations of the Trait Theories and the Behavioural Theories led to the transition to the Contingency Theories and development of contingency models.
Contingency theories state that effectiveness of leadership is related to the interplay of a leader’s traits, behaviours and other situational factors.
Fred Fiedler Model assumes that performance of a group depends upon leadership style and favourableness of the situation. Some leadership styles work better in certain situations.
For example, task-oriented leaders appeared to perform better in very favourable and very unfavourable situations. In contrast, the relationship-oriented leaders tended to perform better in moderately favourable situations.
When confronted by the Axis Forces during the Second World War, The British faced a tough situation. Field Marshal Montgomery, a task-oriented leader instituted a regime of continuous training, insisted on high levels of physical fitness and was ruthless in sacking officers he considered would be unfit for command in action. He proved to be the best British Field Commander in such an unfavourable situation.
In very favourable situations too, such as during the times of peace, the Armed Forces always need a Task-oriented leader to keep the rank and file battle – ready.
Fiedler believed that since a person’s natural leadership style is fixed, and certain leadership styles work better in certain situations, the most effective way to handle a changing situation is to change the leader. So, Fed Fiedler’s Model did not allow for flexibility in leaders.
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Hersey-Blanchard Situational Model suggests that leadership style should be matched to the maturity of the subordinates. Depending on the subordinates’ level of maturity (from highly immature to highly mature), a leader may adopt any of these styles:
While dealing with new entrants to an organisation, a leader would need to adopt a Telling style and Tell them exactly what to do and how to do. At the same time, the leader would need to adopt a delegating style while interfacing with persons at the higher echelons.
Read: 8 Theories of Motivation
Path-Goal Model (by Robert House) suggest that a leader can affect the motivation and performance of a group by:
The model identified four leadership behaviours (directive, supportive, participative and achievement-oriented) and assumed that the leaders could be flexible to adopt any style according to situations.
Vroom- Yetton Model suggests that leadership style (autocratic, consultative, group) may be chosen by consideration of a number of situation variables in the form of questions forming a decision tree.
A Charismatic leader commands authority not by the virtue of a formal position but by the virtue of charismatic personality. Envisioning, empathy and empowerment are the three core components of charismatic leadership. The Theory states that people would attribute heroic or extraordinary qualities to the Charismatic Leaders who had an idealized goal and a strong commitment.
This theory bases leadership on a system of rewards and punishments that are contingent upon the performance of the followers. Transactional leadership is often used in business and Transactional leaders are task and outcome-oriented.
Transformational leaders are able to inspire followers with their vision and personality to change expectations, perceptions, and motivations for working towards common goals. Four components of Transformational Leadership are:
An excerpt from Transformational Leadership by Bass and Riggio
Transformational leaders…are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.
Transformational leadership is best suited for knowledge workers, where leaders and followers can take each other to a higher level of moral and motivation.
Finally, it won’t be out of context to mention here that leaders with character and integrity, who work towards a greater goal with conviction, inspire their followers.
Enlightened leadership is service, not selfishness. ~ Lao Tzu.
Men of stainless character and self-purification will easily inspire confidence and automatically purify the atmosphere around them. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.
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Bass, B. M. & Riggio, R. E. (2008). Transformational Leadership. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.