Leadership is the process of directing the behavior of others toward the accomplishment of some common objectives.

“Leadership is influencing people to get things done to a standard and quality above their norm. And doing it willingly.”

As an element in social interaction, leadership is a complex activity involving:

1.  a process of influence
2.  actors who are both leaders and followers
3.  a range of possible outcomes – the achievement of goals, but also the commitment of individuals to such goals, the enhancement of group cohesion and the reinforcement of change of organizational culture.

Being a leader and being successful at the same time, at the workplace, requires some characteristics.

Excellent communicator: This helps in making points clearly and being comprehensible to all.

Motivated and innovative: Leaders have to be charged up always so that they can motivate others to do better. They must be innovative and be able to think out of the box. Also, they must have quick fix answers for small problems.

Confident: The confidence of the leader instils confidence in the people. But confidence should not be mixed with arrogance. Leaders are essentially humble and ready to help always, which makes them approachable.

Trust: Last but not the least, the leader has to have the repute of being trusted and on whom the people can keep their faith. Similarly, leaders should always trust and repose faith in the people.

Leadership Characteristics

Defining leadership characteristics is not simple. This is because each leader has his\her own characteristics. However there are some common features required for an exemplary leader. A typical leader should know how to influence his team members to work harder and committed to achieve the overall organizational goals. A leader can be either task oriented or people oriented. Task oriented leader will be interested in training, performance and in winning. Whereas people oriented leader will concentrate more on inter personal relationship.

A leader must have the characteristics which he\she wants to incorporate into his\her team. Discipline, self confidence etc are the essential qualities of a leader. As he\she is the role model for the followers, his\her movement will be keenly watched by others. Therefore a leader must be careful in doing things.

Leaders are not born and they are made by hard work. Hence hard work and intelligence are the important leadership characteristics. A leader must take decisions after analyzing each and every aspect of the situation and must be able to use common sense in accomplishing complex tasks. He must also know how to select right strategy to tackle the situation. Adaptability to various situations and willingness to accept changes are crucial to leadership.

A good leader must be able to motivate his\her team members to get success. He must create task excitement and confidence in accomplishing a task. He must be easily approachable to his subordinates. A great leader is one who is a master in the art of communication. He\she must be ready to listen to the words of his\her team members. Two way communications is therefore essential in leadership.

A leader must be able to push the entire effort of his team members. He should have the capacity to use the full potentiality of the members. He must give opportunities to the team members to prove their skills. A good leader should motivate his team people to use the opportunities correctly.

A great leader is one who guides a team and not rules the team. Providing a trusting and open environment to the team members is one of the crucial leadership characteristics. He should offer an environment to the team members where they can learn and grow. An excellent leader will have the strong sense of vision.

Apart from the above characteristics mentioned, a good leader must have the following characteristics:

1. Self esteem; Self esteem is an important quality of a leader which will help to face tough challenges.

2. Need to achieve; a leader must be goal oriented and must be able to strive hard to achieve the goals. He\she should be ready to take risks. A good leader is one who takes moderate risks and not extreme risks.

3. Screening for opportunity; a leader must have the ability to screen the opportunities as useful and useless. He must also be able to grasp any small opportunity missed by the competitors.

4. Optimism; a good leader must be an optimist. He should be able to see problems as challenges. A great leader will always view an obstacle as a way to new direction.

5. Courage; an outstanding leader is one who has courage to face challenges. Risk taking is a crucial characteristic of a leader. He must be able to make changes and to accept changes.

Factors of leadership

There are four major factors in leadership:

Different people require different styles of leadership. For example, a new hire requires more supervision than an experienced employee. A person who lacks motivation requires a different approach than one with a high degree of motivation. You must know your people! The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of human nature, such as needs, emotions, and motivation. You must come to know your employees’ be, know, and do attributes.

You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader who determines if a leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed.

You lead through two-way communication. Much of it is nonverbal. For instance, when you “set the example,” that communicates to your people that you would not ask them to perform anything that you would not be willing to do. What and how you communicate either builds or harms the relationship between you and your employees.
All are different. What you do in one situation will not always work in another. You must use your judgment to decide the best course of action and the leadership style needed for each situation. For example, you may need to confront an employee for inappropriate behavior, but if the confrontation is too late or too early, too harsh or too weak, then the results may prove ineffective.
Various forces will affect these factors. Examples of forces are your relationship with your seniors, the skill of your people, the informal leaders within your organization, and how your company is organized.

Effective Leadership Styles

Leadership style differs from person to person according to the tasks, team and individual capabilities. However the following tips will help to achieve effective leadership styles.

* Whenever possible, delegate the work to the employee as a whole. But be sure that the employee understands the whole process. You can also connect them in a group if possible.
* Ensure that the employees understand what you exactly want them to do. You can ask questions and watch their work time to time in order to confirm that they understand the work fully.
* If you have any clear idea about successful outcome, share it with employees. You make the employees to do right things to accomplish tasks successfully.
* Identify the key points when you want feed back about progress.
* Decide in advance in what way you want to reward the employees after he achieves the task.

Effective leadership styles take time and energy but they provide more benefits. Leadership style model helps to achieve effective leadership styles. It includes how to involve employees in decision making and discussions with their supervisors time to time. The leadership style will have great impact on others. Therefore courses and programs are offered for leaders to set a good role model for their team members.

Effective leadership style courses are suitable for middle level managers who want to enhance the team spirit and effectiveness among team members. They will learn to identify preferred management styles. The course will also help the manager to choose the appropriate leadership styles that will help in facing any situations. This will also increase the ability to motivate others.

Benefits of effective leadership styles:

Any organizational success depends upon the leadership style. The well chosen leadership style will bring proper accomplishment of goals and objectives. It helps to understand human behavior in wider perspective. It also helps in developing positive self awareness.

Though there are number of leadership styles, the three main effective leadership styles are discussed below:
1. Authoritarian leadership; an authoritarian leader will clearly define what are the organizational needs and what should be done and how it should be done. He will make decisions independently. Rarely does he allow others to help in decision making. Therefore the decision making in this type is less creative than other styles. Abused leader can be viewed in this style. However this style is applicable where little group decision is required.

2. Participative leadership; this is the most important and effective leadership style. This is also known as democratic leadership. Here the leader offers guidance to his team members and he motivates his group members. The leader encourages group discussion and allows team members in decision making. As the group members will feel happy to participate, they will provide higher potentiality.

3. Delegative; Delegative leaders offer no guidance to the group members and allow them to take decision on their own. This style will be suitable when the group members are highly qualified and efficient. However this style lacks motivation. The group member may lack commitment in the later stage.