Essential Characteristic of Effective Leader

Essential Characteristic of Effective Leader

Leadership is a topic which has evinced great interest since times immemorial. There is a plethora of literature written on the subject and continues to be churned out. There are debates on whether leadership can be taught, or it is just an inborn quality. I, for one would not even listen to supporters of the school of thought of ‘born leaders’. This is the philosophy of fatalists, believing in destiny with little credence to individual effort. All such stuff defies rational thought and scientific inquiry. We thus start this discussion with the assumption that leadership can be learned. Let us see a definition of leadership:
“Leadership is motivating and organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”.

Essential Characteristic of Effective Leader

Essential characteristic of any effective leader is “setting personal example”. So long as a leader can set a personal example he will be an effective leader. If he cannot do that he is an ineffective leader.

Personal Example in Trust

The prime glue in interpersonal relations is trust. A leader has to become trustworthy by setting personal example consistently and reposing trust in his followers.

Personal Example in Conduct

A leader’s personal conduct and performance has to be exemplary and inspiring. The moment he fails to perform and his conduct is not exemplary his effectiveness will be degraded. The conduct should consistently display subordination of personal interest to organisational interest. Whenever a leader will be guided by selfish interest his leadership will be degraded.
 

Why Confusion about Leadership Characteristic?

We have confusion about leadership characteristics because we seek qualities in the leadership we see around us, primarily political, or business. The sample chosen for seeking the qualities is itself flawed because they are not genuinely effective leaders. Majority are in the positions of power because of birth (this is no leadership characteristic, but very relevant in India; hence the belief in destiny!). Other than birth, a common trait among powerful people is ‘ability to manipulate’ their way through. This is another characteristic which will not be listed in leadership qualities, but is very relevant in India!
Another major problem in understanding the genuine characteristics of an effective leader is the social acceptance of ends justifying the means. In simple words becoming rich and powerful quickly is considered a legitimate aim by our society by using ethical or unethical means.

What we should do to Become Effective Leaders?

To become effective leaders it is essential to set a personal example always. All personal qualities needed to be developed to do so must be developed and unwanted ones eliminated. Thus we should be consistently honest, reliable, competent, trusting and visionary and pursue group goals selflessly.
 
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