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What Are the Elements of “Good Leadership”?

  Introduction To produce good crops from earth, there will be several essential elements. Farmer needs to sow the proper seeds on the superficial layer of the earth. The seeds must have plenty of sunlight and water so they can sprout, blossom and yield fruit. If any of these elements (seeds, earth, sunlight, and water) is missing, the crops will never grow from the earth. Similarly, to be a good leader, there will also be several essential elements. Without correct attitudes and proper actions, it will lead to almost certain failure. Leader is a job that lots of people long for and dream of. It is not only well paid but also can bring you a high social status. However, it is the only understanding of leader for the majority of people. They only see the extrinsic evidence. However, being a good and qualified leader is really challenging and not everyone can achieve it easily. According to Nicole Papa [1], “a leader is someone who has influence over a group of people. This can be an executive, a pop star or an employee who has the ability to influence coworkers’ thoughts, feelings and beliefs”. As far as I seen, a good leadership will need following elements: Clear Vision Famous managerialist Jim Collins [2] indicated in his book “Built to Last” that all the great companies have one common point: they all have a “vision” that is motivating and helps the employees make critical decisions. Many people mistakenly believe that the leader’s job is to put 100 percent energy on the management and control over organization structure, operations and staffs. Such mode will heavily depend on the top down command, organizing and supervising and immensely limit creativity. In contrast, building a clear, motivating and realistic vision will be more important in terms of long-term development for the organization. A good leader would be willing to share the organization’s vision with his followers. Making and sharing visions can stimulate employee’s sense of participation and enthusiasm, and make the whole team with enduring fighting will and steadfast direction. Passion A leader with passion is a necessity for all the great enterprises. Such as Wal-Mart’s Sam Walton, Apple’s Steve Jobs, GE’s Jack Welch. All these outstanding business leaders have one similarity: always full of passion and power in the work and work tirelessly. Such leaders not only know how to use passion to stimulate themselves, but also good at using their passion to increase staff’s initiative and make unexpected performance. Communication A good leadership requires good communication skills. The primary part of communication is to listen. Listening carefully to others is not only a politeness, but also an effective way of acquiring information and understanding the speaker’s true intentions. Standing up and speaking will need courage, sitting down and listening will also need courage. Improve listening skills is the start point of a successful communication. Churchill once said that God gives us one tongue but two ears, so all the words we listened from others can be doubled than the words we speak out. This means we need to listen more and speak less. Besides listening, a good leader should also be able to speak and give a lecture in public. Most of the outstanding leaders, for example, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are ingenious orators. A good leader must learn how to communicate with his team effectively, and let every member of the team feels in a way that he is critical, special and outstanding. Meredith Burgio[3] says that a leader with good communication skills will understand the importance of selecting the right words to focus his team on the goal or project at hand. For an administrative staff, if he wants to play a leading role in his company, communication skill is an essential requirement. It reflects self promoting and oral expression ability. Only by communications can a leader bridge the gap, remove the misunderstanding and finally get tacit understanding among the team. Responsibility If one never comes to the fore, he will never be a real leader. “Leadership is dangerous,” said Jim Collins [2]. When you step forward, wave your arms and say “Come this way”, it is time for you to be accountable for every possible result and plan for the worst. Once you lead the wrong way, you may no longer worthy of being a leader. However, this is an inescapable duty, because only a leader who is able to work under pressure and be brave enough to undertake responsibilities can earn respect from the team and acquire more authority. Michael Wolfe states that taking responsible, unlike taking credit, is an active process. A good leader is willing to take responsibility frequently and publicly, in the mean time, check the level of his responsibilities and continuously adjust his goals. Rhythm Control One of the vital conclusions in Jim Collins’s book “Good to Great” [4] is that the best leader is not the one that is the most vigorous and brave, that always leads in the charge and be busy with a myriad of state affairs every day, but is the one that can achieve ideal balancing between different personality levels and keep reasonable rhythm. Never be a “busy blockhead”, and never be a “slow coach”. An ideal rhythm should be like waltz [5] which is both lively and sober, which can make people feel balanced and comfortable. The leader with good rhythm control is capable of using all-around rational thinking to analyze complicated situations, and choosing different leadership styles flexibly according to different types of team or team in different stage of development. A lot of scholars summarized different leadership style from different points of view. Daniel Goleman [6], famous American scholar and author, summarized six emotional leadership styles that have different effects on the emotions of the target followers according to the samples of a 20,000 professional managers database, including the visionary leader, the coaching leader, the affiliative leader, the commanding leader, the democratic leader, and the pace-setting leader. There is no right or wrong between these six leader styles. However, as a leader of a team, learning merits and drawbacks of these different leadership styles can help creating his own and unique leadership style, and in turn influence the performance of employees and the whole team. “These are styles, not types”, said Daniel, “Any leader can use any style, and a good mix that is customized to the situation is generally the most effective approach.” A successful leader should be able to use different leadership styles according to the actual situations to guide, coach and encourage staffs, and transfer freely between each style to fully excavate and present his leadership skills.

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