There is much discussion on the definition of leadership and there are many
different definitions and descriptions one can refer to. In fact the debate around defining leadership and leadership traits seems endless.
However most people agree that
leadership involves an influence process, so here we use a broad
definition that encompasses many of the current approaches to the
concept of leadership.
The general definition of leadership is:
"Leadership is the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of goals"
Leadership is not a "one size fits all" approach but a matter of adapting your approach to best fit a specific situation, follower or group.
Although an individual will have a basic leadership style a good understanding of the common styles of leadership allows the development of the style of leadership that effectively fits the circumstances.
Authoritarian or Authoritative Leadership Style
This can be appropriate if the followers are inexperienced and lack confidence (new employees) and when explicit instructions and quick decisions are required such as in times of crisis or where time is critical.
Participative or Democratic Leadership Style
It is effective when followers are skilled and confident, willing to share knowledge and there is sufficient time for a democratic process to take place.
Delegative Leadership Style
This style is appropriate when followers are highly skilled, experienced, secure and motivated and have proven to be reliable and trustworthy.
The most effective leadership style is the one that is most appropriate for the situation and followers. For example:
Transactional leaders guide their followers towards established goals by
clarifying role and task requirements and providing structure. Motivation is
provided through a system of reward and punishment.
These leaders pay close attention to the concerns and needs of individual followers. They motivate and encourage followers to make the extra effort to achieve group goals by inspiring passion and commitment.
The answer to this question lies in the identification of the most important leadership skills, characteristics and traits.
Effective leadership traits
Research has attempted to identify traits that are consistently associated with leadership. Eight traits that appear to differentiate leaders from non leaders are:
However it has proved difficult to conclusively establish the traits that characterize leaders. Instead leadership research has sought to identify the behavioral styles that leaders exhibit.
The primary behaviors identified are:
What are your Strengths and Weaknesses as a leader?
Leadership versus management
Not all leaders are managers and not all managers are leaders. The definition of leadership differs from the definition of management.
Just because managers are given formal authority by an organization does not mean that a manager is able to lead effectively. These are some of the main differences that researchers have found between managers and leaders:
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things" - Peter Drucker
Leadership is a much debated concept but the definition of leadership generally includes the keywords:
These 3 skills will be required of all leaders in 2023.
Self awareness and insight - the leaders of today need to know their own strengths and weaknesses and have clear insight into how they are perceived by their followers. The move to a more open, empathetic and honest workplace in 2023 starts with a leader displaying self awareness.
Able to adapt quickly and effectively to change - adaptability has never been more important for leadership. Work is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. The pandemic and global upheaval have clearly shown that a leader has to be able to develop a culture of agility and flexibility in the workplace.
Be a servant leader - leaders should display a service-based approach clearly displaying an understanding of and a focus on the needs of their followers. The emphasis will be on developing their followers and facilitating the optimization of their potential. Empowerment, engagement and growth are key needs of the workforce of 2023.
A basic understanding of the definition of leadership will help you to answer these typical leadership interview questions