Leadership Skills

Definition and Concept

Hughes and Ginnett (2006) define leadership as a process rather than as a position. Leadership can be defined as a process of “showing the way for others, either by example or by advocating a new direction” (McCrimmon, 2010). Leadership skills can be defined as the qualities required by a leader to successfully execute a project and the parties associated with it. Leadership is the fundamental need of every system. Its application is everywhere. Be that a home, a restaurant, a school, a hospital or a company, there has to be a leader in order for the system to run properly. A classroom would become a fish market if a teacher does not lead it. A home would run out of finances if the parent/parents don’t control the expenditures of the children. A company would lose track of the project scope, time and quality if the employees are not led by the manager. People vary in their scope of leadership, yet they have to execute certain leadership skills irrespective of the scope of leadership or the circumstances in which they have to execute the leadership.

Three Leadership Skills

Three of the most fundamental leadership skills are planning, controlling and resolving the conflicts. They are discussed below:

Planning

Planning is the first and the foremost necessity of leadership. A leader has a plan according to which he/she directs the followers. This plan is made with a view to achieving the goal that is of interest not only to the leader, but also to the whole team. People would not follow a leader until they see something coming out of it that they value. Planning is defined as choosing the course of action. From among a variety of plans, a leader is entitled to select such a plan that maximizes the benefits and convenience both for himself/herself and for the whole team and minimizes the cost of operation and the problems and risks. Since the entire project is based on the plan selected by the leader, an individual must be extremely skilled in choosing the right plan in order to be an effective leader.

Controlling

Controlling is the second most essential skill every leader should have. Controlling essentially means making the followers conform to the instructions of the leader. A leader has hundreds of ways to control the followers, but the most effective of them requires the leader to be least authoritative and dictator in his approach and nature. A leader can best control the followers by earning their confidence. Leadership exists only as long as the trust of the followers sustains. The moment that trust is shattered, the leader is gone. In order to gain that trust, a leader should make the followers aware of his/her plans and the reason he/she wants the followers to act in a certain way. Once the project has been started, the leader should make sure that the followers are provided with all materials, resources and funds they need to execute the project. Thus, a leader needs to control the expenses and resources. There has to be a balance in the cash flow and the use of resources. The leader must know what resources to release in what amount and at what time. Being at the right place at the right time is the key to effective controlling.

Conflict Resolution

Whenever there is a team, conflicts are bound to occur. Conflicts may be functional or dysfunctional. Functional conflicts are those in which the team members argue with one another in an attempt to identify the most suitable course of action. Dysfunctional conflicts are those in which the followers fight with one another over matters that are of no significance to work. A leader must ensure that the functional conflicts do not change into the dysfunctional ones and the dysfunctional conflicts do not occur at all. A leader can achieve this if he/she has adequate conflict resolution skills. There are certain exercises that can help a leader resolve conflicts among the followers. The leader should design process groups for the work and allow the followers time to spend with one another in order to interact more frequently and clarify their doubts. This promotes mutual understanding and friendship.

Leadership Skills Lead to Technical Competence

Being able to choose the right plan, control the followers and resolve their conflicts inculcates the technical competence that a leader needs to deal with all challenges that come in his/her way successfully. Planning and controlling are to much an extent technical skills. Most contemporary leaders make use of planning, estimating and resource balancing softwares like Primavera to execute the planning and controlling skills. Thus, an individual has to be competent in the use of such technical softwares to be able to lead a team. Conflict resolution requires emotional intelligence and social skills that is again quite technical.

References:

Hughes, R., and Ginnett, R. (2006). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. 6th

Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

McCrimmon, M. (2010, Aug. 16). Leadership Defined. Retrieved from

http://www.leadersdirect.com/leadership-defined.

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