Learning the ‘art’ of leadership


Organizations across the world are doing business in a highly competitive environment. Geographically, culturally, politically and in many other ways, there are always new challenges to be met and solved for, every single day. Some of these challenges can even be termed as cutthroat or ruthless. In order to establish, survive and do well, organizations need leaders who can help transcend these milestones and turn vision into reality. Moreover when we use the word ‘leader’, we do not restrict ourselves to just the one or two who sit at the helm. Leaders have to be everywhere in an organization, they have to be omnipresent to make the organization tick and function at its most optimal level.

Given the above context, leadership development has clearly taken a very critical role in organizations across the world and in fact ignoring it can result in a huge loss. Cultivating and nurturing leaders can happen in various contexts and backgrounds. It can happen informally along the way, on the job with a mentor, or through carefully crafted programmes that get executives ready for a certain role within the organization. The modern version of the executive MBA courses do well in providing the right perspective, tools and the environment where prospective leaders ‘learn the art’ of being a leader. Some of the common methods used in these programs include simulation-based training, classroom lecture, indoor training, and outdoor experiential training programmes.

Let us now take a closer look at the qualities of leaders and why encouraging the best managers to become leaders has become the mainstay for many organizations. Leadership has many definitions and interpretations. But one of the most profound definitions of a leader is someone who helps the team members discover their own potential and possibilities for recognizing and addressing issues. Leadership is action and responsibility. It supports the belief that a leader needs to act as a facilitator to help members work together, to recognize multiple perspectives, set direction, and achieve results collectively.

Leaders are people who have the ability to influence with or without authority. To be able to do this a leader has to become skilled on various fronts. Leaders need to ensure that multiple viewpoints are heard, understood, and incorporated in the action plan. In doing so they:

1.take risks

Effective leaders challenge themselves, experiment, take sensible risks, and learn from their mistakes. They deal effectively with ambiguity and have confidence in their ability to manage consequences of the actions they take.

2.recognize trends, align interests

Effective leaders strengthen people by sharing power, providing choice, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and offering visible support.

3.mentor people and motivate and encourage others

Effective leaders motivate their subordinates and help them achieve their best. An effective leader helps others to do more than they believe is possible while also dealing directly with non-performance with empathy and objectivity.

4.foster trust and openness

Effective leaders listen carefully to others, communicate an accurate understanding of others’ views, and tactfully share their own. This encourages openness and reciprocity within the organization and helps in building employee commitment and mutual trust.

5.provide and receive feedback

Effective leaders show that they care for other members of the organization by providing timely and constructive feedback. Their ability to receive feedback from others is one of their best traits.

6.strive for continual self-growth

Effective leaders do not get stuck in their pattern of leadership. Their leadership evolves as they accumulate experience.

Management researchers and practitioners argue that it is vital for any organization to develop leadership skills among its members if it aspires to succeed and take an edge over others. Scholars, working in the area of leadership development maintain that leadership skills, despite being time and people-intensive, can be developed through the methodologies adopted by the finest executive MBA programs world over and in India. Such programs clearly look at leadership development holistically by having a well-rounded curriculum that ensures the understanding of self, others, and the larger organizational protocols and systems.

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