Leadership has been of utter importance to human civilizations throughout history. Since attending business school at Baruch, along with partaking in workshops, mock interviews, and networking sessions with CFOs, it has become apparent how vital leadership is in the business world. For business organizations and employees to succeed, they must possess strong leadership ability, which is a major reason it is stressed at Baruch.
So what is leadership? In the broadest sense of the word, leadership is the ability to influence a group towards achieving a common goal. While this sounds simple, breaking down what makes leadership effective is far more challenging, because good leaders do more than simply instructing people what to do and assigning tasks.
In my most recent management class at Baruch, Professor Vredenburgh spent extensive time breaking down leadership beyond its broad dictionary definition. He explained that good leaders are either task-oriented, participative, or relationship oriented. There are also various leadership styles that work, such as commanding, visionary, affiliative, democratic, pace-setting, and coaching styles.
Since there are many factors to consider, there are many ways to become a successful leader. What works for one leader may not necessarily work for another depending on circumstances and the individuals’ personality traits. However, there are several aspects about what makes leadership effective that are widely agreed on.
Leadership must inspire and motivate the team. A leader can accomplish this by setting challenging goals, providing feedback and praise, and holding people accountable. Motivation can also be enhanced naturally when leaders have another essential quality, ambition. Ambition creates hard work, determination, and a desire to achieve, which is contagious to other members of the team. A leader who lacks ambition will suck the energy out of an organization because team-members will be unmotivated.
In addition to ambition, good leaders must also have a positive attitude. A positive attitude involves holding emotions in check during difficult times and providing positive encouragement throughout the process of tackling goals. If a leader is demonstrating a negative attitude while finding people to blame when times get tough, he will drag the entire team down. If a leader does not provide positive energy, then it will make it harder for a team to accomplish goals.
In addition, good leadership is displayed when the leader understands and relates to his team-members. A good leader listens and is able to understand what each individual wants, thus being able to motivate them to achieve success. A good leader does not distance himself from his team-members, but rather engages and helps them succeed. This creates trust in the workplace, which is absolutely vital to an organization’s success.
Finally, good leaders set an example in the way they act each day. They set the tone for the team and organization by how they interact with staff, partners, and customers. These characteristics are widely shared by leaders, not only in the business world, but in politics and social settings.