Characteristics of Leadership
Leadership is the art of influencing and directing peoples’ will, efforts, and abilities toward the achievement of a common objective. The following are the main characteristics/features of leadership.
Leaders and Followers
The relationship between leaders and followers is the essence of leadership. For leadership to be there must be a leader and followers.
In a business setting, managers or supervisors who direct and influence subordinates are leaders whereas subordinates who follow or obey the command or order of leaders are followers.
There must be followers for an individual to be a leader. No one can be a leader without having followers.
Ability to Influence
The capacity to affect the actions and efforts of followers is referred to as leadership. If a leader cannot inspire their followers, they will not be effective in their role.
Influencing people in this situation is getting them ready to immediately obey the command, instructions, and directions of the leader. A leader can affect an employee’s behavior by maintaining control, inspiring others, setting an example, etc.
This characteristic of leadership states that the leader and followers should have a common objective. If the goals of the followers and the leader contradict, there can not be leadership.
Related: Functions of Leadership
Common organizational objectives must serve as a guide for leaders and followers. To accomplish such shared objectives, leaders must be able to engage all of their followers. The capacity of leaders to motivate their followers to choose organizational objectives over personal ones is a special talent.
Leadership is a continuous process that exists till the existence of the firm. Managers as a leader have to regularly influence and motivate employees for better performance. Poor leadership results in poor performance in the organization.
Leadership is one of the important functions of management. Just like planning, organizing, directing, staffing, and controlling the managers also have to do leadership. Leadership also has a crucial role in organizational goals achievement.
Leadership can not be identical in all situations and in all organizations. In some circumstances, a certain leadership style may work well, but in other circumstances, it may not.
Consequently, it is necessary to adapt leadership styles to the situation. Successful leaders select the best leadership style after considering the circumstances, organizational culture, and workforce dynamics.
In leadership, the relationship between the leader and followers is reciprocal. The attitude, personality, and behavior of leaders influence the followers.
Similarly, loyalty, honesty, cooperativeness, and commitment of followers also influence the leader. Thus, leadership develops a mutual and reciprocal relationship.
Leadership is a motivational function. Leaders also must be able to motivate all subordinates for the organizational objectives. For permanent motivation, leaders must use positive motivational tools.
However, a single method of motivation cannot be sufficient and appropriate for every employee in every circumstance. Those who inspire their followers to achieve organizational goals rather than their own are successful leaders. In order to do this, leaders need to recognize the needs and emotions of their subordinates and treat them the same.
Rests on Power
One of the notable characteristics of leadership is that it rests on power. Leadership rests on an individual’s power instead of his position i.e. formal authority.
Power focuses on the unique personality traits that a leader possesses and uses to influence his followers. The manager has some formal authority because of their managerial position in the organization. But, at this stage, there is little value in formal authority in comparison to power i.e. personal quality.
Also Read: Difference Between Power and Authority
Unequal Distribution of Authority
There is an unequal authority distribution between the leader and followers. A leader can direct the activities of his followers. By principle, leaders hold the maximum authority of directing and commanding their subordinates. It is not possible for subordinates to command and direct their leaders.
Read Next: Styles of Leadership