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Leadership is an ability or quality of an individual to lead, guide and influence other people for the accomplishment of a specific goal. It is considered one of the most essential skills to achieve success in both personal and professional life.

What Is Leadership?

Leadership typically refers to the trait or potential of a person to motivate others, to act toward achieving a particular goal. It occurs as a process of social influence that inspires people to increase their efforts towards the achievement of a specific aim. It involves all the essentials of the ability and preparation of inspiring others. Effective leadership or guidance largely depends on both original and borrowed ideas, which can be easily communicated or transmitted to people. The ideas should be capable enough to engage people to act as the leader wants them to act. It can also refer to a continuous process of influential behavior, by which a leader directs and persuades other people to act with more confidence and passion.

A 2015 research paper 1 suggested that it is an essential combination of responsibilities, skill, behavior, potential, and attitude that makes an individual capable of bringing out the best in others. It is not about any title or designation, rather a capacity of being the kind of person who is willing to learn, take responsibilities, be accountable and courageous enough to handle difficult situations effectively. A leader is a person who offers helpful guidance, inspires others to act, directs them properly, and sets an inspiring vision to achieve a shared goal. He/she must be agreeable enough for others to follow and have critical-thinking skills to understand what is the best way to use the resources.

Understanding Leadership

Leadership can be described as the relationship between the person who leads and those who make the choice to follow the leader. A 2017 study 2 defined it as, “the behavior of directing and coordinating the activities of a team or group of people towards a common goal”. This quality or trait is often viewed as the accomplishment of a particular objective through the direction of human subordinates. The individual who gathers and guides his subordinates to achieve a particular end is known as a leader. The key aspects of a leader’s role involve influencing group activities and coping with change. According to studies 3 , leadership involves a few significant elements, such as:

  • Being assertive
  • Understanding their team members
  • Taking tough decisions
  • Having a clear vision
  • Setting practical and realistic goals
  • Providing necessary knowledge and tools for goal accomplishment

It also necessitates a few important qualities to be present in the leader which include emotional intelligence, maturity, personality, intelligence, empathy etc. Research 4 shows that it can involve two basic styles –

  • Task-oriented autocratic style
  • Relationship-oriented democratic style

However, there is no best style of leading others as it mainly depends on the individuals, the objective and the situation. It is how we, as individuals, choose to lead our lives. Though it is usually discussed in the context of business, you don’t need to be a manager or CEO to be a leader. The concept can be characterized by certain factors that include, influencing others, helping team members to become their best selves, and to build essential skills for goal accomplishment.

Importance Of Leadership

Leadership is not innate, rather a significant skill that everyone should build for their personal and professional growth. Research 5 defines it as one of the most important qualities as it makes individuals capable enough to identify, address, and solve difficult problems with empathy. It inspires people to maximize their efforts and efficiency to achieve certain goals. Effective guidance involves a mindset of continuous purpose and passion. It allows the leader to provide a clear vision and transmit it to the followers. A recent 2020 study 6 explains that it consists of a set of essential skills that we can utilize in our interpersonal relationships and also for our personal improvement.

It not only promotes the leader’s better performance but also harnesses others’ individual efforts towards the collective goal. It helps the subordinates to achieve excellence by motivating them and coordinating personal actions. Leadership even builds a trustable relationship 7 between the leader and the people being led which works as a major success factor. The relationship opens up new possibilities and efficient contributions from others.

Here are some of the most common and important aspects of leadership –

  • The leader not only manages the task and the team, but also provides effective guidance & instruction to their subordinates
  • It initiates crucial action, performance and promotes productivity as the leader communicates the plan of action, rules and policies about the task and goals
  • It boosts morale of the subordinates and encourages them to cooperate with each other to ensure everyone performs to the best of their abilities
  • By communicating the roles and responsibilities of the subordinates, establishing policies, listening to the issues of the team members, and by being fair, the leader instills confidence in everyone
  • It is an essential element in keeping team members motivated for the accomplishment of a collective goal based on non-economic and economic rewards
  • It helps to synchronize personal and collective or organizational goals to make sure everyone’s objectives are achieved
  • By being empathic and compassionate, the leader helps to create a positive work culture and environment

Elements Of Leadership

Elements Of Leadership

Effective leadership or guidance includes a few key elements that promote the success of the leader in inspiring others to achieve a specific objective. A leader should have a few significant qualities or elements to lead his/her life as well as other people. Some of these include –

1. Transparency

A 2010 research paper 8 suggests that it allows the leader to help those in embracing change and give credit to others when success is achieved. It prepares a leader for failures so that they are never afraid to fail and keep putting in an effort. It also makes a leader capable enough to take responsibility for a failure or mistake and learn from it.

2. Communication

Leadership can only be successful if it involves great communication 9 between the leader and the followers. A leader should find out which communication style works best for delivering the message with clarity. Communication helps to build trust, rapport, and great relationships between people.

3. Honesty

Honesty 10 is one of the most integral parts of effective guidance. It makes the followers believe their leader when he/she takes any important decisions. Dishonesty of a leader often leads to fostering an environment of distrust, followed by several other problems.

4. Confidence

A leader should be strong and confident enough to handle situations through both good and bad times. A 2014 study 11 reveals that self-assurance is extremely important for a leader as no one will be convinced enough to follow him/her otherwise. A leader must display confidence despite difficult situations. It is believed that confident leaders can create better relationships, accept feedback without any arrogance, and recognize success easily.

5. Decisiveness

Research 12 shows that it is one of the very few qualities that depicts the leader’s sense of commitment and consistency. Once a decision is taken, a leader should not be easily put off course. A leader must know which decision is helpful for everyone and when to take the right decision. Decisiveness helps the followers to trust their leader.

6. Creativity

A leader may encounter different types of situations that require more than a simple solution. People often look up to a leader for his/her capacity to think creatively 13 . According to the situational demand, a leader must be capable of creative thinking and come up with a stable solution.

Apart from these, an effective leader must also possess the following qualities –

  • Vision
  • Self-Confidence
  • Integrity
  • Resilience
  • Optimism
  • Confidence
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Empathy
  • Gratitude and humility
  • Active Listening
  • Ability to delegate
  • Flexibility
  • Strategic and critical thinking
  • Tenacity and patience

Read More About Creativity Here

How To Improve Leadership Skills

How To Improve Leadership Skills

According to studies 14, leadership skills and qualities can be learned and utilized in different aspects of life. It is very important to identify the significance of certain skills that you would like to develop in order to accomplish certain goals. Here are some simple ways through which one can build essential and effective leadership skills:

  • One must identify their leadership strengths and weaknesses first.
  • Discipline 15 is extremely important to lead people and inspire them to achieve their goals. You must learn to be disciplined and patient to become an effective leader.
  • Try to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Despite being a leader, never be overconfident regarding your success. Make a space for correction and further improvement.
  • Practice critical thinking 16 and develop situational awareness to foresee potential problems before they happen.
  • When appropriate, always take steps to follow a good decision, even if it is not yours.
  • Don’t build unnecessary expectations from others. Always set realistic and attainable goals.
  • It is extremely essential to listen to people and understand their feedback to be an effective leader.
  • Be others as well as your own support system. Motivate and inspire yourself positively.

Read More About Inspiration Here

Develop Leadership Skills

Effective leadership refers to the potential of individuals to inspire and empower others for the accomplishment of a common objective. It is usually based on both original and borrowed ideas. Although you may not be born with this trait, you can definitely develop certain leadership skills for future growth through practice and effort. As a leader, you can learn to help others in increasing their efficiency and productivity.

This quality includes several significant elements such as honesty, resilience, discipline, communication, and integrity that facilitate the successful attainment of goals. Taking small steps to develop bigger and more effective leadership skills can help one to succeed professionally and maintain better relationships.

Leadership At A Glance

  1. Leadership refers to the trait or potential of a person to motivate others for the accomplishment of a specific goal.
  2. Leadership is considered one of the most essential skills to achieve success in both personal and professional fields.
  3. It makes individuals capable enough to identify, address, and solve difficult problems with empathy.
  4. It includes a few key elements, such as honesty, communication, confidence, decisiveness, etc.
  5. It not only promotes better performance but also helps people in maintaining better interpersonal relationships.

Take This Free Leadership Style Test

👇 References:
  1. Vender R. J. (2015). Leadership: an overview. The American journal of gastroenterology, 110(3), 362–367. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2014.199 []
  2. Sfantou, D. F., Laliotis, A., Patelarou, A. E., Sifaki-Pistolla, D., Matalliotakis, M., & Patelarou, E. (2017). Importance of Leadership Style towards Quality of Care Measures in Healthcare Settings: A Systematic Review. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 5(4), 73. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare5040073 []
  3. Dine, C. J., Kahn, J. M., Abella, B. S., Asch, D. A., & Shea, J. A. (2011). Key elements of clinical physician leadership at an academic medical center. Journal of graduate medical education, 3(1), 31–36. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-10-00017.1 []
  4. Waller, D. J., Smith, S. R., & Warnock, J. T. (1989). Situational theory of leadership. American journal of hospital pharmacy, 46(11), 2335–2341. []
  5. Ratka A. (2018). Empathy and the Development of Affective Skills. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 82(10), 7192. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe7192 []
  6. Campos, J. A., Aubert, A., Guo, M., & Joanpere, M. (2020). Improved Leadership Skills and Aptitudes in an Excellence EMBA Program: Creating Synergies With Dialogic Leadership to Achieve Social Impact. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 17. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00017 []
  7. Stedham, Y., & Skaar, T. B. (2019). Mindfulness, Trust, and Leader Effectiveness: A Conceptual Framework. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1588. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01588 []
  8. Norman, S. M., Avolio, B. J., & Luthans, F. (2010). The impact of positivity and transparency on trust in leaders and their perceived effectiveness. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 350-364. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.03.002 []
  9. Jankelová, N., & Joniaková, Z. (2021). Communication Skills and Transformational Leadership Style of First-Line Nurse Managers in Relation to Job Satisfaction of Nurses and Moderators of This Relationship. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 9(3), 346. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9030346 []
  10. Engelbrecht, A. S., Heine, G., & Mahembe, B. (2017). Integrity, ethical leadership, trust and work engagement. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 38(3), 368-379. https://doi.org/10.1108/lodj-11-2015-0237 []
  11. Papathanasiou, I. V., Fradelos, E. C., Kleisiaris, C. F., Tsaras, K., Kalota, M. A., & Kourkouta, L. (2014). Motivation, leadership, empowerment and confidence: their relation with nurses’ burnout. Materia socio-medica, 26(6), 405–410. https://doi.org/10.5455/msm.2014.26.405-410 []
  12. Evans T. W. (2015). Leadership and decision making: a skill for all?. Future hospital journal, 2(3), 155–156. https://doi.org/10.7861/futurehosp.2-3-155 []
  13. Amabile, T. M., & Khaire, M. (2008). Creativity and the role of the leader. Harvard business review, 86(10), 100–142. []
  14. Moodie R. (2016). Learning About Self: Leadership Skills for Public Health. Journal of public health research, 5(1), 679. https://doi.org/10.4081/jphr.2016.679 []
  15. Haddock C. C. (1989). Transformational leadership and the employee discipline process. Hospital & health services administration, 34(2), 185–194. []
  16. Werner, S. H., & Bleich, M. R. (2017). Critical Thinking as a Leadership Attribute. Journal of continuing education in nursing, 48(1), 9–11. https://doi.org/10.3928/00220124-20170110-03 []
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