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What Makes A Leader? Essay

1052 words - 4 pages

There are a myriad of qualities that form leadership. People may never agree whether leadership arises from a set of innate characteristics ("leaders are born") or from observable actions ("leaders are made"). While it would be almost impossible to come up with a definitive, all encompassing definition for leadership. However, some basic leadership qualities seem almost universal, no matter the leader or type of followers they head: Good communication skills, the ability to constructively deal with a variety of personalities, and the mental toughness to shoulder responsibility and weather criticism. Certain personality traits are also required such as having a sense of humor, trustworthiness, and interpersonal skills. I believe the traits and abilities of a leader that are common in any leadership model are the product of one of three broad bases of knowledge: knowledge of the followers, knowledge of the goals of the followers, and perhaps the most important, leader's knowledge of his or herself.
A leader must have knowledge of who he/she is leading. A leader will have a difficult time getting a team to work together without first learning how to work with each person individually. In any team, all of the followers have different personality traits, job skills, and opinions that they bring to the table. While it is the responsibility of each team member to contribute to the common goals of the team, it is the leader's task to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each member to see how they would best contribute to the goals at hand. An effective group leader will take time to learn about each individual and put in an effort to maximize each member's contribution to the group. Being an active contributor to the group's goals allows each member to experience a genuine sense of accomplishment when they are able to use their talents, as well as respect toward their leader for respecting them and recognizing their abilities. This element of respect is important, I believe it is not important that people like the leader.
Closely related to the idea of knowing one's team well, is to know the goals of the team. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership developed by Robert House stated the importance of leaders encouraging and supporting their followers in achieving the goals. All teams have common goals they set out to achieve; this is the purpose of a collective effort rather than a solitary one. The effective leader must have a clear sense of these goals and what is expected of the team. If the goals are not clear, the team leader is responsible for clarifying the goals in order to give the rest of the team direction. Once the goals are clear or agreed upon, the team can then focus on formulating a plan of action to attain these goals. Leaders have the responsibility of being able to prioritize team goals and organize methods to attain the goals once a group process, such as brainstorming, has occurred. With so many potential ideas, suggestions, and...

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