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Business Management and Leadership Qualities

Introduction

Leadership can be described as the art of inspiring or moving people’s interests in performing a certain job with a common motive of achieving a set objective or goal. It’s concerned with the capability an individual has in influencing other people to commit their efforts in succeeding in a certain act. Leadership capacity therefore originates from an individuals character which can be innate or acquired over time through learning from external agents.

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A Business leader like any other leader is therefore required to motivate and influence employees and junior staff behaviors’ at the workplace, so that they will acquire an inner want in themselves to facilitate the success or achievement of the organization’s goals, which are mainly increasing productivity as well as profitability.

Distinction between a leadership and management

These two terms have been used by many people as though they have the same meaning, therefore the need to clear the fallacy before further discussions in the issue of leadership. Even though management needs some leadership qualities as leadership requires some management skills, the main distinction is that leadership is concerned with building a relationship with followers like inspiring, motivating, coaching, building trust among others. Management is a function which demands the followers to obey the set rules, structures or policies. Aspects like controlling, organizing and evaluating are involved in the management function. Leadership focuses on ‘what’ needs to be done while management focuses on how things should be done (Maccoby, 2000).

An effective Business leader therefore should have good leadership qualities as well as sound management skills for the optimal benefit of the organization. Among the most important personal leadership qualities and skills a Business leader must possess are discussed below.

Personal Leadership qualities and skills

A business leader should possess personal convincing qualities which leads other people’s morale to perform a job which will contribute to the Business’ success. An effective business leader should own positive character with personal attributes such as visionary, good and excellent communication skills, honesty, intelligence, creativity, supportive among others.

Communication

Leaders’ influences their followers’ behaviors and actions by their spoken or written words in a process commonly referred to as communication. In any organization, communication has been described as the pillar which supports its activities and accounts for almost every organizational success. A business organization therefore owes its success good communication systems which are put in place by business leaders. Drucker once said that communication is the ‘grease’ or the ‘lifeblood’ of virtually every organization which existed and it was only through communication that tasks get to be performed within organizations(Forster, 2009).

The communication qualities and skills a business leader displays greatly influence the decisions an organization makes. A business leader who is a good communicator involves every stakeholder when a decision needs to be made subject to a specific matter arising within the organization. Such leader calls for a discussion which includes an active conversation and at the end, a consensus is achieved. In the discussion the leader is supposed to make democracy prevail, so that every stake holder’s opinions are taken into account. The decision made should be mutually agreed upon by almost every party involved (Forster, 2009). According to Foster, a study involving thousands of employees was conducted in Australian companies with the question on what would greatly improve their work place more than anything else. The greatest responses were either increased effective leadership or good communication with the management.

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A good business leader should be an effective and active listener. Employees or clients grievances and suggestions should be listened to and feedback given appropriately. The leader is supposed to be a professional listener more than being a professional speaker, for a business concern is selling or servicing clients and at all the times they need to be listened to. Hence effective listening is a strong pillar which supports communication in an organization

This clearly shows that communication system within an organization is very vital and any leader who aims for success should put in place good and working systems in the organization. Since communication plays a centre stage role for success of any business organization, leaders in the organization should possess all the qualities which manifest in a good and effective communicator (Forster, 2009).

Vision

It is a quality which should be evident in good business leaders. An envisioned leader is one who has got a clear and brilliant picture in mind on where the company will be in a given period of time. Such a leader knows how success looks like and how to avail all the available relevant resources to achieve success of the organization. Now that a business leader is having vision, sharing the vision with other stakeholders in the organization is necessary, before acting upon it. The quality of good communication will play a role of making sure that the visions are communicated in a way to make the followers adopt them. A visionary business leader communicates his or her visions clearly and in the proper manner as they are highly ‘fragile’ (Hakala, 2008). For instance a business leader might have a vision of his or her company being the best in offering a certain service. Such leader should first share the vision with the company’s management and the employees, discuss the means on how the vision will be realized, then put in place all the required resources and implement the project aimed at the realization of the vision.

Visionary quality sets a difference between true and effective leaders from the rest in their ability to see new business opportunities, new customer needs and emerging ways of doing things. Vision in them comes from their ability to view the business world in a dynamic perspective (Forster, 2009).

Hakala argues that a good business leader should be disciplined in working towards the vision, directing all the actions of the employees and other staff configuring all in a team with the aim of achieving the goal. He continued arguing that all effective and successful leaders create visions, communicate the visions, own them and consistently push them to completion.

Therefore vision is a useful trait for any effective business leader especially when the visionary ideas are communicated in a manner which enables the followers to buy into it. It is important that this quality in a leader should be complimented with good communication attributes for it to be effective, and for the realization of organizations goals (Hakala, 2008).

Creativity

It is the capability of an individual to think and act in a different way. A business leader having the important skill of envisioning the future, automatically develops his or her creativity and innovative in order to remain competitive in the ever dynamic business world. He or she creates and develops new ideas to compliment the emerging new trends in the business world, currently and in the future. Such a business leader perceives the future as an oyster in it bearing numerous capabilities of creativity (Foster, 2009).

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Creativity develops leaders’ ability to think outside the box which confines ideas and solutions. An effective business leader should be able to think differently from what is expected normally of a leader. His or her visions should be far beyond where other leaders can see, should lead the followers in new and different directions not yet known by other stakeholders in the field (Hakala, 2008). For example a creative business leader will have an edge over competitors in the field by thinking of new way of maybe improving a product or service. A smart business leader usually scans the environment to ascertain a certain weakness or need and creatively thinks of an innovative way of satisfying the need or weakness. This gives the organization an advantage over others if the leader successfully put in place measures for satisfaction of the need.

Creativity also involves lateral thinking, where ones thought requires analysis of ideas in new ways. This is opposed to the traditional way of linear thinking where ones thought lacks analysis of ideas in to a new way. An effective business leader should have the qualities of a lateral thinker, since the survival chances for those in the linear thinking school of thought are minimal in the ever dynamic business world. A creative business leader will fit in the business environment, since he or she is cautious and concerned with changes, innovations and setting a path for the organization to tread on. These leaders perceive their businesses future in a new dimension and are interested in finding different ways of counteracting their business challenges. Creative business leaders dissociate themselves with thinking within restricted frameworks but are characterized with openness and ability to think outside the box (Foster, 2009).

Integrity and Honesty

A person of integrity is one who displays the true inner self in the outside. Such person is characterized by an integration of his or her outward actions with values inside him or her. A person of integrity posses values such as honesty, trustworthy, respect, polite, courtesy, and truthful among others. A leader who displays integrity usually wins the trust of the followers (Hakala, 2009).

A business leader should be a person of integrity in order to command the will of the employees to follow him or her. Business leaders ought to be truthful in what they say and do in regard of the business or in their interactions with clients, employees, junior staff members or any other stakeholder. Integrity is considered the pivot of business ethics, since an honest business leader is void of unethical behaviors such as hypocrisy, fraudulent and corruption. Virtually for any business to succeed, its practices should be transparent, free from all unethical practices. This transparent business environment is greatly influenced and shaped by the drivers of the business organization who are mainly the senior leaders in leadership and management activities. Integrity of a business leader is crucial especially in money matters as it’s the focal point of every stake holder in the organization. Cases of frauds and corruption which can be leading causes of business fall are minimal if the leaders exercise their duties with e sense of honesty (Forster, 2009).

Hakala believes that business leaders who are confined in integrity are honest in their dealings, trusted and respected by their employees and in turn the employees are free with the leader. This freedom and trust makes the employees perform their duties better even with minimal supervision. This increases productivity and profitability of the business.

Fairness is another value which characterizes business leader who has the attribute of integrity. This means that such leader performs duties with a sense of justice, consistently. Such leader is fair enough to incorporate everyone’s decision, listens to both sides of an argument before making conclusions. If the employees in a certain company have got the feeling of being treated, they will definitely reciprocate by being dedicated and loyal to their leader (Hakala, 2009).

Intelligence

Business leaders should have the ability to reason in a smart way and apply knowledge they have got, to successfully better the performance of their organizations in the business environment. Such leaders are characterized by innate emotional intelligence within themselves, facilitative skills, charisma, and integrity and are outgoing.

Intelligent business leaders are great thinkers and are generally characterized by great cognitive skills. They have the capability of synthesizing and analyzing very complex business information in making sound and well informed decisions. For instance when a conflict starts in the business, intelligent leader approaches decision making with an intelligent move to make sure that the dispute is solved diplomatically without making negativities arise between the conflicting parties.

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Business leaders who have got this trait are primarily concerned with providing their workers with the opportunities and strategies for them to achieve the set goals but not confining workers to the traditional frameworks and structures set in the organizational policies. For example they can provide their workers with opportunities to achieve something, but not eight- to-four jobs (Hakala, 2009).

Support

A business leader should be dedicated in putting in place all the necessary resources in accomplishing a task at hand. The leader is supposed to be supportive to all visions, ideas and actions in the organization aimed at achieving a specified target. A supportive business leader does all what it takes to sustain the projects established, gathers the followers (employees and junior staff) back up, as well as availing all the required resources for successful projects and the business organization in the long run. A business leader is supposed to motivate, inspire and coach the workers on a regular basis. This gives employees a sense of being supported in their tasks, therefore giving them pleasure, commitment and fulfilment at the workplace, and the benefits of these in an increased productivity (Forster, 2009).

Now that majority of business leaders are innately in possession of the above personal qualities, some might lack them, therefore a quest to learn and enhance the skills through education or personal self development.

Learning Leadership skills through Education and Personal Development

The question as to whether or not leader are ‘made’ or ‘born’ is one that that has been debated over for a long time now. Perhaps the reason why this issue has taken so long to be resolved is because the idea of leadership being innate in principal still underlines how individuals have come to view the effectiveness of leadership, the beliefs that they harbour about their ability to become leaders, in addition to the potential levels of their followers (Forster, 2009). This notion has transcended into the organizations so that when the management is making time of hiring, promoting or firing decisions, they unconsciously tend to presume that the potential of their employees with regard to ‘innate’ leadership characteristics should play a significant role.

The issue of whether leadership is “innate” or “learnt’ takes yet another angle, when we take into account that corporations the world over have sought to enrol their employees into management/leadership training courses. A lot of companies are today realizing that the ensuing benefits of developing leadership skills amongst its workforce is greater than the cost incurred in the training programs. In turn, the leaders so trained ends up transforming their respective organizations into so me of the best performing organizations (Colvin, 2007: 64; 65-66).

Leadership may be defined in many different ways. Some experts view it as a set of innate characteristics the born leader, while others see it as a combination of management and communication skills that can be learned through training.

In one way or another, communication has an impact on the various facets of our lives. It is quiet possible to relate communication with the various strategies and practices that are there in business. Little wonder then, that once in a while, our bosses shall often implore on us to enhance our communication skills. The issue of whether communication skills in business leadership are innate or learnt may be tackled from two points of view (Manning & Curtis, 2002). First, we may indicate here that communication skills are learnt. We attend numerous conferences and leadership building sessions so that we can be able to enhance this vital; element of business leadership. Like many other skill, communication skills requires to be periodically upgraded lest an individual loses his/her proficiency (Elmuti, 2005).

Personal self-development may also be said to be a contributing factor to enhanced communication skills. For example, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, was born as stutter. However, his mother believed that he was a good orator, which is why he enlisted him to a communication skills course. Today, he is amongst one of the most accomplished communicators in the business arena. On the other hand, one could argue that communication skills are an innate characteristic of certain individuals. That is why despite prolonged training sessions in communication, there are those of us who will never become proficient (Kouzes & Posner 2001). On the other hand, we have those who will be already experts in this field, without appearing to try too hard to master communication skills.

In terms of visionary as a trait in leadership, there are those amongst us whom we have come to regards as leadership heroes, be they from our generation, or from the past generations, appear to embrace include a number of elements (Kouzes & Posner 2001). In spite of an observation that the elements of being a visionary leader is desirable in the various organisations, and programs have been set to try and identify them, nevertheless we still have example of visionary leaders in the traditional setting, some of whom were never taught on how to enhance these skills. As such, it may be implied here that visionary elements in a business leadership may be said to be more innate, as opposed to being learned or developed in an educational setting. In as much as courses on visionary leadership may be offered, it is those amongst us who are blessed with innate visionary elements who stands a chance to benefits the most, as they will have the opportunity to add learned ‘visionary’, in addition to the innate one.

Another trait of business leadership that is worth exploring is creativity. Not all the business leaders that we know of today are creative in what they do. Yet, those who dare to be creative ends up transforming their organisations, thereby moving them to greater heights. It is worth of note here that not all leaders may be supportive of business decisions. More often than not, visionary leaders shall also be quick to support viable business decisions, as opposed to those among them that have no vision. Intelligence is normally enhanced through education, self development or learning.

A point worth of note here is that we talk of enhanced knowledge, or acquired knowledge. This means therefore that there is an element of knowledge that may be said to be innate in business leaders. It is this innate intelligence that is magnified and expounded through education, learning and self development. There are a number of sources that looks at creativity on the basis of an innate capability (Manning & Curtis, 2002). In as much as this trait may be learnt formally, again it is important to appreciate that those of us who are born with this trait, benefits the most when we attend say, an institution of higher learning. Here, we have an opportunity to sharpen our creativity, thereby unleashing the giant from within ourselves. On the other hand, honesty may be said to be more of an innate characteristic, as opposed to being taught. However, a child may be brought up by the parents to be an honest person. The home environment in this case acts as a reinforcement to the attainment of honesty. Still, there are children who are totally dishonest, while their parents are the exact opposite.

Conclusion

Success of any business organization is the aim of every business leadership. Leadership is usually effective, if its leaders have within themselves most of the innate leadership qualities, which should be complimented with learning experiences. Learning these skills can be from educational media or from role models who have excelled in the business world. Business leaders ought to have leadership skills and qualities which will enable them realize this success (Manning & Curtis, 2002). There have been numerous questions that have been put forth as regards the issue of whether the aforementioned mentioned leadership qualities are innate, self taught, enhanced through education, or leaned. Regardless of the way in which one may wish to approach this issue, what is important to note here is that there are those qualities that shall be innate in nature, while others are not. Still, innate qualities of leadership have also been shown to be reliant upon self-development or learning, in order to reinforce their application.

References

Colvin, G. (2007), ‘Leader machines’, Fortune, 6-67.

Forster, N (2009), Maximum performance: A Practical Guide to Leading and Managing People at Work (2nd Ed.). Dubai. www.maximumperformanc.ae.

Hakala, D. 2009. Web.

Kouzes, J & Posner, B (2001) leadership challenge. Palo Alto. Davies-Black.

Maccoby, M (2000).Understanding the Difference between Management and Leadership. Research Technology Management; Volume 43. (01), pp 57-59.

Manning, G & Curtis, K (2002). New York: McGraw-Hill International Press.

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