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What is Leadership

Gagan Dhillon
Are you pondering over the definition of leadership? Here's a brief description of various leadership styles and qualities. You will be surprised at how vast a subject leadership is.
Before we start to understand how closely leadership and development are linked, it's vital to understand the former. It's easy to search the web or dictionary for meaning, but to understand and grasp the traits of leadership is a slow but rewarding task. In layman's terms, a leader is someone who has the courage to lead and the humility to help others lead.

Leadership Styles

There is a vast difference in the various styles of leadership. One style is complete dictatorship and the other is just the opposite and a lot less intimidating. These are some basic, yet effective styles which help understand the concept effectively.
Autocratic Leadership: The autocratic style is old school. This is the military type of style with a touch of dictatorship that was mentioned earlier. In this style, the word of the leader is the rule and has to be followed to the 'T'.
This method is effective in certain situations that need a stern hand but the disadvantages are far too many like low morale of the workers, rebellion of followers, etc. Hitler followed this style of leadership.
Democratic Leadership: This style encourages teamwork where coming to a decision is a collective task. Every opinion is considered. The disadvantages caused by the autocratic style are ruled out in this. This style is also known as participative leadership. John F. Kennedy was an example of a democratic kind of leader.
Laissez-Faire Leadership: This French term means to 'let it be'. Under this style, the leader leaves the individuals to complete their tasks. He/she leaves goal setting and target setting in the hands of the individuals themselves.
This style involves minimum interference from the leader, and much freedom to the followers. On the downside, many tend to take advantage of such form of leadership. Some believe that Ronald Reagan practiced this type of leadership skills.

Leadership Theories

Leadership theories and principles have progressed and evolved with time. Let's take a look at some of the well-known theories, which have greatly changed the way people define a leader.
Transactional Theory: This theory is characterized by a military-like style of leadership. It is result oriented, highlighted by reward and punishment for failing to achieve the result. In this theory, there is a direct chain of command.
Functional Theory: According to this theory, the leader is responsible for the motivation and functioning of the team. If the team, as a group, has achieved its target, the leader is said to lead the team well. This theory works through these three aspects: team as a whole, individual and task to do completed.
Situational Theory: According to this school of thought, there is no set technique which is effective in all situations. It advocates that every situation is different, and thus, leadership tactics too needs to change accordingly.

Leadership Characteristics

If we look at the various skills, we will realize how leadership and management are interrelated. An organization and a team is as good as its leaders. Eventually, the qualities of a good leader shape the performance of the team. He needs to be honest and hardworking.
He needs to set an example for his team, therefore, it is important that he displays integrity and fairness in his actions. He must delegate judiciously and not burden his subordinates with his work. A leader must be skilled enough to make sound decisions. One of the main qualities is the ability to motivate the team and keep their morale at a peak.

Quotes on Being a Leader

Have a look at these inspirational leadership quotes.
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." 
―Peter F. Drucker
"A leader is a dealer in hope."
―Napoleon Bonaparte
"Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing."
―Mary D. Poole
✍ "Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too."
―Robert Half
✍ "A leader is the wave, pushed ahead by the ship."
―Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
✍ "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way."
―John C. Maxwell
✍ "One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done."
―Marie Curie
These characteristics are the backbone of a well-lead organization. For some, the definition, aside from a way of life, is a way of doing tasks and making others touch the peak of their abilities.