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A brief review of leadership theory and relevent research work

Hossain, M.M., Karim, M.N. and Lema, A.C. (2006) A brief review of leadership theory and relevent research work. The Social Sciences, 1 (1). pp. 35-50.

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A close look at the history of human civilization makes it quite apparent that man has mastered the technique of surviving by forming themselves into groups. These groups invariably involve a leader who leads. He is a gifted individual who posses special qualities like strength of character, knowledge and vision and he is capable of motivating the group members to strive hard for achieving a tangible goal. In due course, he earns the respect and loyalty of the group members and the bond between the two becomes stronger than ever. Depending upon situation, leaders may be good or bad or they may be successful or failed. Notable among the failed leaders are Late Idi Amin of Uganda mad Mengistu Haile Marium of Ethiopia. In the opinion of Terry and Franklin, the successful leaders may differ in some respect but they have certain common characteristics. They set the standard and style of living. All of them are highly motivated person who determines the high objectives for their followers and fixes high standard of performance for them. They are energetic, curious and are challenged by the unresolved problems surrounding them and urgently consolidate all their strategies and resources to overcome all the hindrances that might impede the attainment of the goals. Leadership is the process of influencing and supporting others to work concertedly toward achieving objectives It is a very crucial factor that helps groups or individuals to identify its goals and then motivates and assists in attaining the stated goals. The three most important elements of leadership are influence/support, voluntary efforts and goal achievement. Without leadership, an organization would be a confusion of people and machines just as an orchestra without a conductor would be only a conglomerate of musicians and instruments. The orchestras and all other organizations are badly in need of a competent leader to develop their potentialities to the fullest extent. The leadership process is quite similar to that of the chemical that turns a caterpillar into a butterfly with all the beauty that was the caterpillar`s potential. Leadership is then the catalyst that helps in transforming hidden potential into reality. This role is often seen dramatically in giant business organizations. For example when Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Welch played the role of a leader in the transformation of General Electric Company from a sleeping giant of 1980 into a sleek machine of twenty first century. It is uniquely important in smaller organizations like Microsoft Corporation, which Bill Gates started and guided to national importance as a developer of microcomputer software and operating system. At the same time the success and failures of Al Dunlop accents the catalyst role that leaders generally play while demonstrating the fact that many leadership style has a `dark side’ in them for example the hardship to laid-off employees and dangers of a narrow focus on a single goal. In all cases, leadership is the ultimate act that identifies, develops, channels and caritas the potential that is lardy in an organization and its people. The most successful leader of an organization performs important tasks and acts in a way that provides followers with sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in performing the assigned work and reaching the goal. Leaders trigger a person’s ’will to do, show the way and guide the group members towards goal accomplishment. As the writer of Ecclesiastes astutely observed, In the Bible, the significance of vision was emphasized as follows When there is no vision, people perish. The leader invariably provides vision to the followers and thus capacity to lead is an important quality of a good manager. Notable among the leaders whose name and fame has spread across the world are Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Admiral Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill, George Washington, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Jawaharlal Nehru. The very discussion on leadership would remain incomplete if vital contributions made by unique leadrrs like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Dr. Mathis bin Mohammad of Malaysia are not put on record. They are quite gifted leaders who have demonstrated emphatically that a country would be able to attain peace and progress no matter how daunting the situations are. It is quite interesting to note that nations and communities who could not produce outstanding leaders have somehow lagged behind in the field of social and economic progress. Besides some of the corporate leaders who have radically transformed out contemporary social and economic life are Henry Ford, Jamshedji Nawsherwanji Tate, Adamjee, Ispahani, Dhirubhai Ambani, Alfred P. Sloan, Sloichiro Honda, Eastman Kodak, Akio Morita of Sony, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Air, Bill Gates of Microsoft. Last but not the least, a corporate leader who has succeeded in establishing himself, as an ideal leader is Jack Welch of General Electric Company Based on his vast experience as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the world’s largest company, he has outlined some fundamental guidelines to be followed by leaders for achieving growth and success. It has been observed that people have tendency to follow an individual (essentially leader) who, in their view, offers them a means of satisfying their own personal goal Thus every successful manager who is also required to play the role of a leader must follow some definite principles. These principles imply that managers must understand their assigned activities, the subordinates and how the different motivational factors influence them. As a result of strict adherence to these principles while carrying out its duties, a manager can groom himself up as an effective leader. A pertinent question that confronts all of us is who are these leaders and how they are made? Is there any magical rule for becoming a leader? Can we copy them or clone them as the sheep Dolly? With a view to find plausible answer to these questions relating to leadership, numerous authors and researchers have carried out extensive study. The preceding discussion makes it quite apparent that leadership is a combination of several key elements namely leader, power, style and follower. The very vital task of leadership is once again closely related with the role played by a manager. Thus the present paper seeks to investigate deeper into the concept of leadership and accordingly divided the same into nine sections In section two, the term leadership would be defined in an elaborate manner and highlight its essential elements. Part three of the paper examines the essential ingredients of the concept of leadership. The fourth, fifth and sixth part of the paper deals at length on the aspects of power, style and follower of a leader that add substance to the position and status of a leader. The seventh part of the paper evaluates the relative position and role of a leader and a manager. The section eight of the paper enumerates the various theories of leadership and evaluates their contribution to the body of literature on leadership. The ninth part tries to portray some of the new ideas that have emerged over the period and assess their practical implication. The tenth and concluding part of the paper sums up the study and puts forth some suggestion for the guidance of the future leaders. This would go a long way in fully understanding the meaning of leadership and help in creating an environment conducive to the growth and enrichment of the art of leadership.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Medwell Journals
Copyright: © Medwell Online, 2006
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