Pradhumn Kumar
Research Associate
ICFAI HQ Hyderabad

Concept of leadership

Leadership is a term used for a man who has the qualities to persuade people to do what they don't want to do, or do what they're too lazy to do, and like it.. Leadership is the quality of a superior to influence the behavior of a subordinate or group working under him and persuade them to follow a particular course of action for achieving the organizational goals. Leadership is the art to of influencing and directing people in such a way that will win their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in achieving common objectives. The first job of a leader is to define a vision for the organization.

The world leadership refers

1. The process of leading
2. The concept of leading
3. Those entities that perform one or more acts of leading.

Leadership Characteristics

Self-Esteem – A leader need high self-esteem to persuade its team. A leader without high self-esteem will never be able to get good out-put from its team. So a excellent leader needs high amount of self-esteem.

Need to Achieve – A good leader need to continually keep realistic goals and need to achieve them in specified time-period.

Screening for Opportunity – A leader need to be in continuous search of opportunities, and as the opportunity comes into way, he needs to take it not immediately but after quickly analyzing it.

Locus of Control – A successful leader needs high internal locus of control to get more success in his profession. External locus of control is not so much useful now days.

Goal Orientation - Businesses come and go, but those that last always share a common characteristic with their founder—a relentless drive to accomplish goals. They understand what the priorities are and continue to work at toward that goal, day in and day out. A leader need to be goal oriented to become successful.

Optimism – A leader need to be optimistic to become persuade his team members. Until and unless a leader is not optimistic, the team will not get good results. Here the optimistic means to see an opportunity in every difficult situation.

Courage – A leader need to have high level of courage because a leader come across many difficulty situations continuously and to face these problems he needs high level of courage.

Tolerance to Ambiguity - This term refers to a person's tolerance to uncertainty and risk. A leader needs to be tolerable to face the difficult situations. Some time such situations come before the leaders that it is difficult for the leaders to control their emotions and motivate but they need to do so to keep the moral of their team at high level.

Strong Internal Motivation - The motivation that drives our behavior comes from two sources: internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic). Intrinsic factors include constructs like needs, desires, motives, and will power. Extrinsic factors include any type of motivational influence from the environment such as rewards and punishments. A leader needs to be highly motivated from inside to face the current days business difficulties.

Power and Leadership

Al Capone once said that "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Almost anyone can use power, but it takes skill to use leadership. Leadership power is much more than the use of force...it is influencing others to truly WANT to achieve a goal. Plain power forces others to achieve a goal.

Power refers to a capacity that person A has to influence the behavior of another (person B), so that he or she (person B) acts in accordance with A ís wishes. This power is a capacity or potential as it implies a potential that need not be actualized to be effective. That is, a power may exist, but does not have to be used to be effective. For example, an officer in the Army has certain powers over enlisted personal, but that power does not have to used to be effective. The mere knowledge of an officer's power by an enlisted person has some influence over him or her.

Leadership Styles

From Mahatma Gandhi to Jack Welch and Martin Luther King to Rudolph Giuliani, there are as many leadership styles as there are leaders. Fortunately, business people and psychologists have developed useful, shorthand ways of describing the main leadership styles that can help aspiring leaders to understand and adapt their own styles and leadership impact.

Types of leadership styles

Classic Leadership Styles

  • Autocratic leadership
  • Democratic leadership or Participative leadership
  • Laissez-faire leadership
  • Bureaucratic leadership

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where leader has absolute power over his or her employees or team. Employees and team members have little opportunity for making suggestions, even if these would be in the team or organization's interest.

Most people tend to resent being treated like this. Because of this, autocratic leadership usually leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. For some routine and unskilled jobs, the style can remain effective where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages.

Democratic Leadership or Participative Leadership

Although a democratic leader will make the final decision, he or she invites other members of the team to contribute to the decision-making process. This not only increases job satisfaction by involving employees or team members in what's going on, but it also helps to develop people's skills. Employees and team members feel in control of their own destiny, such as the promotion they desire, and so are motivated to work. Hard by more than just a financial reward.

As participation takes time, this approach can take more time, but often the end result is better. The approach can be most suitable where team working is essential, and quality is more important than speed to market or productivity.

Laissez-faire Leadership

This French phrase means "leave it be" and is used to describe a leader who leaves his or her colleagues to get on with their work. It can be effective if the leader monitors what is being achieved and communicates this back to his or her team regularly. Most often, laissez-faire leadership works for teams in which the individuals are very experienced and skilled self-starters. Unfortunately, it can also refer to situations where managers are not exerting sufficient control.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders work "by the book", ensuring that their staff follow procedures exactly. This is a very appropriate style for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with machinery, with toxic substances or at heights) or where large sums of money are involved (such as cash handling

Determining the Best Leadership Style

Situational Leadership

A good leader will find him- or herself switching instinctively between styles according to the people and work they are dealing with. This is often referred to as "situational leadership". For example, the manager of a small factory trains new machine operatives using a bureaucratic style to ensure operatives know the procedures that achieve the right standards of product quality and workplace safety. The same manager may adopt a more participative style of leadership when working on production line improvement with his or her team of supervisors.

The emergent leadership styles

  • Transactional leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • Charismatic leadership
  • Visionary leadership style

Transactional Leadership

This style of leadership starts with the idea that team members agree to obey their leader totally, when they take on a job: the "transaction" is (usually) that the organization pays the team members in return for their effort and compliance. You have a right to "punish" the team members if their work doesn't meet the pre-determined standard.

Team members can do little to improve their job satisfaction under transactional leadership. The leader could give team members some control of their income/reward by using incentives that encourage even higher standards or greater productivity. Alternatively a transactional leader could practice "management by exception", whereby, rather than rewarding better work, he or she would take corrective action if the required standards were not met.

Transactional leadership is really just a way of managing rather a true leadership style as the focus is on short-term tasks. It has serious limitations for knowledge-based or creative work, but remains a common style in many organizations.

Transformational Leadership

A person with this leadership style is a true leader who inspires his or her team constantly with a shared vision of the future. Transformational leaders are highly visible, and spend a lot of time communicating. They do not necessarily lead from the front, as they tend to delegate responsibility amongst their team. While their enthusiasm is often infectious, they generally need to be supported by "details people".

In many organizations, both transactional and transformational leadership are needed. The transactional leaders (or managers) ensure that routine work is done reliably, while the transformational leaders look after initiatives that add value.

Charismatic Leadership

A charismatic leadership style can appear similar to a transformational leadership style, in that the leader injects huge doses of enthusiasm into his or her team, and is very energetic in driving others forward. However, a charismatic leader tends to believe more in him- or herself than in their team. This can create a risk that a project, or even an entire organization, might collapse if the leader were to leave: In the eyes of their followers, success is tied up with the presence of the charismatic leader. As such, charismatic leadership carries great responsibility, and needs long-term commitment from the leader.

Visionary leadership

The leadership style focuses on how the leader defines the future for followers and moves them toward it.

Some Other leadership styles include

  • Strategic Leadership
  • Influence Oriented Leadership Styles
  • Cross-Cultural Leadership
  • Coaching
  • People-oriented leadership or Relations-Oriented leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Task-oriented leadership

Strategic Leadership

This style is practiced by the military services such as the US army, air force  and many large corporations . It stresses the competitive nature of running an organization and being able to out fox and out wit the competition.

Influence Oriented Leadership Styles

Here one looks at the behaviors associated how one exercises influence. For example, does the person mostly punish? Do they know how to reward?

Cross-Cultural Leadership

Not all individuals can adapt to the leadership styles expected in a different culture; whether that culture is organizational or national.


A great coach is definitely a leader who also possess a unique gift--the ability to teach and train.

People-Oriented Leadership or Relations-Oriented Leadership

The style of leadership is the opposite of task-oriented leadership the leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting and developing the people in the leader's team. A participative style, it tends to lead to good teamwork and creative collaboration. In practice, most leaders use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership. 

Servant Leadership

This term, coined by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s, describes a leader who is often not formally recognized as such. When someone, at any level within an organization, leads simply by virtue of meeting the needs of his or her team, he or she is described as a "servant leader".

In many ways, servant leadership is a form of democratic leadership, as the whole team tends to be involved in decision-making.

Supporters of the servant leadership model suggest it is an important way ahead in a world where values are increasingly important, in which servant leaders achieve power on the basis of their values and ideals. Others believe that in competitive leadership situations, people practicing servant leadership will often find themselves left behind by leaders using other leadership styles.

Task-Oriented Leadership

A highly task-oriented leader focuses only on getting the job done, and can be quite autocratic. He or she will actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize and monitor. However, as task-oriented leaders spare little thought for the well-being of their teams, this approach can suffer many of the flaws of autocratic leadership, with difficulties in motivating and retaining staff.

Which leadership is good after analyzing all these leadership styles?

In my opinion, situational leadership is best among all these leadership styles, because a leader need to change his leadership according to the situation. Some time he needs to be tough with his subordinates if they are not doing well, some time he need to teach his subordinates, some time when there is some conflict arises between two subordinates than he need to take democratic approach to deal with their problem. Like this, he needs to change his leadership styles according to the situation.

Top 25 corporate leaders of the world according to the CNN in 2005.

1. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
2. Sam Walton, former CEO of Wal-Mart
3. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
4. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
5. Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler
6. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple
7. Herb Kelleher, chairman of Southwest Airlines
8. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer
9. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve
10. Carl Icahn, 1980s corporate raider
11. Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel
12. Michael Milken, former junk-bond wizard
13. John Reed, former CEO of Citigroup
14. Ted Turner, founder of CNN
15. Jim Clark, former CEO of Netscape
16. Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay
17. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
18. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney
19. Peter Lynch, manager of Fidelity's Magellan Fund
20. Phil Knight, CEO of Nike
21. Katharine Graham, late CEO of Washington Post Co.
22. W. Edwards Deming, influential business consultant
23. Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron
24. Shawn Fanning, founder of Napster
25. Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM


ICFAI Organizational behavior book

Pradhumn Kumar
Research Associate
ICFAI HQ Hyderabad

Source: E-mail July 14, 2006


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