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Leadership: Definition and Key Issues

Definition

Leadership as a concept can be approached and defined form multiple perspectives. However, most of the existing definitions share a common characteristic of viewing leaders as agents of change, be it within the workplace environment or in staff members’ behaviors. From a general standpoint, leadership can be described as the process of guiding people toward a specific goal (Maxwell, 2018). Mumford and Higgs (2020) explain that locating the exact definition of leadership, as well as distilling a perfect leadership style, is barely possible since every independent observer has a specific definition of the subject matter rooted in their understanding off what a leader is expected to accomplish.

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However, there are other ways of defining the concept of leadership. For instance, the approach taken by Copeland (2014) allows envisioning leadership as a value-based process that is expected to change the behaviors and introduce them to a set of ethical standards that are expected to change their attitudes and reinforce their performance rates. The described approach toward defining leadership appears to be a more accurate one since it approaches the idea of continuous change that a leader is expected to encourage in staff members, thus helping them to adapt to new environments. Finally, it will be necessary to approach the task of defining leadership as the identification of the main principles by which a leader should be guided. Covey (1992) insists that planting specific values and developing a system of guidelines on which a leader will rely when making decisions is instrumental to defining leadership.

Based on the conclusions made above, one could claim that leadership can be defined as the process of guiding staff members through change and assisting them in building the correct attitudes by accepting relevant corporate value and standards. When guided by an effective leader, team members are typically willing to acquire new professional skills and qualities.

Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Traditionally, a leader is considered to be effective if they implement the strategy that leads to positive change and improvement in performance due to increase in employee engagement and motivation. The described goals can be achieved with the help of multiple strategies, yet effective leaders share several characteristics. However, embracing the entirety of the roles that a leader is expected to play and the responsibilities that one must meet as a leader, one will notice that the role of education remains consistent in all available explanations (Copeland, 2014; Covey, 1992). Therefore, to become particularly prolific in one’s leadership process, one must acquire the characteristic of inspiring personal and professional growth. Typically attributed to the Transformational Leadership framework, the described trait is also typical of the definition of the Value-Based Leadership strategy as Copeland (2014) explained it.

In addition to being able to encourage positive change, including both personal and professional growth, a good leader also seeks to resolve conflicts productively. Namely, as a leader, one has to understand that the avoidance strategy will inevitably lead to failure in relationships within a team, whereas the analysis of a conflict will bring team members closer to the understanding of each other’s needs and values. As a result, cooperation becomes possible. Covey (1992) approaches the specified interpretation of an effective leader in his book by outlining the key standards for a principle-centered approach. Moreover, according to Corey (1992), a leader also has to be fair and have a clear goal in mind. The identified characteristics are expected to amount to the personality that will allow one to guide a team toward effective performance and professional progress.

Alignment with Covey’s Theory

The focus on the approach that leads to a win-win situation, which Covey’s Theory promotes, can be related to the idea of a highly effective leader and the use of the leadership strategy causing an increase in staff’s motivation. Namely, Covey’s (1992) eight characteristics of a leader include continuous learning, service orientation, positivity, belief in others, personal balance, excitement, synergy, and self-renewal. The described concepts align fully with the idea of continuous learning, the ability to approach interpersonal issues objectively, and being an inspiration for others. For instance, they support the necessity to encourage team members to gain new skills, as well as mange conflicts and coordinate communication effectively in the workplace.

Mon a deeper level of understanding the role of a leader, the focus on creating a win-win scenario can be considered instrumental to a Principle-Centered Leader since it provides team members with a unique opportunity to analyze their experiences and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, a leader can infer crucial information about the further course of staff members’ professional development and the overall progress of the organization. In fact, by sharpening the focus on the issue of staff development, a Principle-Centered leader approaches the definition of a Transformational one (Maxwell, 2018). However, unlike the latter, a Principle-Centered Leader is expected to introduce a strong moral dimension into their approach. As a result, staff members acquire the necessary skills faster and manage to participate in decision-making responsibly. Overall, the idea of a Principle-Centered Leader appears to be quite effective for specific workplace environments where staff members have to accept a very rigid set of organizational values and consider the suggested tasks from a moral perspective.

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References

Copeland, M. K. (2014). The emerging significance of values based leadership: A literature review. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 8(2), 105-135.

Covey, S. R. (1992). Principle centered leadership. Simon and Schuster.

Maxwell, J. C. (2018). Developing the leader within you 2.0. HarperCollins Leadership.

Mumford, M. D., & Higgs, C. A. (Eds.). (2019). Leader thinking skills: Capacities for contemporary leadership. Routledge.

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