PATH GOAL THEORY: LEADERSHIP
Good leaders are made, not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through never– ending process of self–study, education, training, and experience. According to the ( 1913), a Leader is one who, or that which, leads or conducts; a guide; a conductor; one who goes first; one having authority to direct; a chief; a commander. From dictionary, a leader is describe as the person who rules or guides or inspires others.
Leadership is the primary role of a leader. Leadership is a process that helps a group to achieve its goals. According to (2001), “leadership is influencing people to get things done to a standard and quality above their norm and doing it willingly”. As an element in social interaction, leadership is a complex activity involving a process of influence, actors who are both leaders and followers, and a range of possible outcome – the achievement of goals, but also the commitment of individuals to such goals, the enhancement of group cohesion and the reinforcement of change of organizational culture.
Actually, leadership came from different styles depending on what situation it has to be used. Supportive, directive, participative and achievement oriented leaderships are styles to be considered in order to attain effective leadership approach. Through path-goal model, appropriate leadership styles in certain setting or condition are easily determined.
One of the keys for a successful organization is a good leader. Can you imagine an organization, a company, a pharmaceutical company, an IT-based company, or any other organization succeeds without good governance? What really is leadership and how vital is this leadership?
According to (2002), credibility is the foundation of leadership. A leader should be credible for him to lead. In addition to this characteristic, a leader should possess honesty, competence, aspiration, and a forward-looking approach. Come to think of this, would you believe in leaders who do not practice what they preach, do not walk the talk, do not do what they say they will do, and do not keep their promises? The statistics show that majority do not.
Leadership is the secret to success in life; it is not just some individual’s business but it is everyone’s business. Leadership is also about building personal relationships. It is unquestionable to say that to have good leadership is a challenge and most people are having hard time achieving this.
In the business point of view, good leadership proves to be quite beneficial. Good leadership aids in effectively meeting job-related demands, in creating higher-performing teams, in fostering renewed loyalty and commitment, in increasing motivational level and in reducing absenteeism and turnover of employees.
Unfortunately, this so-called effective leadership is not that easy to attain; effective management is not as easy as writing down notes. Good leadership entails a lot of hard work, dedication, and many other factors. However, good leadership should not be a burden to us; we should embrace it as a challenge.
There are so many leadership philosophies that exist. Some of these are applicable and some might have flaws and misconceptions. According to the noted writers, and many others, the whole history of contemporary leadership studies has been seriously flawed (1993). One of the reasons was that even if leadership has been talked about, it still was not adequately defined. Another reason is that the studies of leadership by social scientists were primarily focused on the contexts of their fields and subfields. The essence of leadership is both more complex and deeper than the fields that were focused on. Due to the flaws of those philosophies, the scholars, and did very detailed studies (1993). These studies became the references of the latest philosophies that are currently accepted and used. Let me cite two philosophies that are being accepted.
According to (1985), “Leaders lead by pulling rather than pushing; by inspiring rather than ordering; by creating through achievable, through challenging, expectations, and rewarding progress toward them rather than by manipulating; and by enabling people to use their own initiative rather than by denying or constraining their experiences and actions.” Both these leadership experts formulated four strategies on how to become a good leader. An example of the strategy that was created was to focus with a vision of a desired future. The point they are stressing out here is that since leaders are result-oriented-- focusing their attention to a certain mental image of the company’s future thus producing very intense magnetism that draw people pay attention. To (1996), “Leadership means establishing direction by developing a vision of the future, and the strategies to create it; aligning people by communicating direction in words and deeds to everyone whose cooperation is needed to create the vision; and motivating and inspiring by energizing people to overcome major politics, bureaucratic, and resource barriers to change by satisfying basic but often unfulfilled human needs”.
With this regard, let’s try to evaluate the different styles of leadership in accordance to their effectiveness. When you become a leader, you take on great responsibility. Actually, effective leaders recognize that what they know is very little in comparison to what they still need to learn. To be more proficient in pursuing and achieving objectives, a leader should be open to new ideas, insights, and revelations that can lead to better ways to accomplishing goals. This continuous learning process can be exercised, in particular, through engaging yourself in a constant dialogue with your peers, advisers, consultants, team members, suppliers, customers, and competitors. Actually, learning things with the help of members conforms to the ability of a participative leadership. If we look to the future of leadership, especially in the fields of education, grassroots mobilization, self-management and community affairs, there is a strong tendency to advocate that we must be participative or supportive. Followers should be empowered to share in decision-making or make their own leader-free decisions. Furthermore, the distinction between leader and followers will be blurred. Leadership will be seen as a process of influence in which determining who is leading and who is following may be difficult to assess. Followers will take leadership positions as needed; leaders will become followers, as needed. Actually, both participative and supportive leadership can easily motivate individuals or groups. Since every person has a greater potential than they are exhibiting, and then as a leader, our responsibility is to maximize the potential and performance and the results of each member of the team. Motivation consists of turning up what is already there. To turn people on, we must, first, find out what they really want, and then, show them how to get it. Apparently, it’s quite amazing what we can achieve with a highly motivated team. To motivate a team, we need to establish positive working conditions, communicate your vision, establish a common goal, team identity and priorities, maintain a high energy level, make everybody a team player but remember the individual, share success, and practice motivational leadership.
On the other hand, directive leadership is easy to distinguish in an organization since in directive leadership, the leader initiates action, structures activities, motivates others, delegates responsibility, and praises or reprimands subordinates. Apparently, in goal-oriented leadership, different abilities of a leader need to blend in a situation. In any situation, certain qualities are very strong and, therefore, also visible. By analyzing the goals and objectives of a process, one can plan out the abilities necessary to attain these goals.
As a leader, how your subordinates see you is important because their feelings may be reflected in their degree of cooperation and their productivity. Your success as a leader depends on whether your people consider you an effective leader.
Therefore, we need to know the different skills required so we can learn how to use them effectively. People aren't born to lead; rather it is a skill that is learned ( 2004). Thus, most major roles and skills of leadership can be learned, if one desires.
There are five (5) equally essential skills needed for an effective leadership and these are outlined hereunder:
1. Communication. Basically, being an effective communicator is a very important factor for leaders to function effectively for them to be able to communicate what they know, or think they know. The best way for leaders to encourage communication from his or her subordinates is through discussion or small group work. There has always been the notion that you learn best when you actually have to teach or explain a concept to someone else. This means being able to verbalize what you know.
In a large organization, communication is very crucial. A leader must listen, consult, involve, and explain why as well as what needs to be done. Leaders also set the example for open communication. They use their heads, say what they feel, and speak from their heart, not from their policy. We tend to think of a good communicator as a good speaker. This is only partly true. Good communicators can express themselves clearly and with confidence. However, a key and often forgotten component of effective communication is still listening.
So basically, no important leadership skills and assets will work for a leader if he or she can’t speak or write in a way to convince others that they should follow along, join the team and get on board. Leaders must therefore have the ability to act in an interpersonally competent manner, yet they also need to learn the techniques of good listening, honest and open communication, delegating, conflict resolution skills, etc., to actually get work done and keep the whole movement/organization/project together.
2. Motivation. It is basically the ability of getting others to do something because they want to do it. As a leader, you have the power to influence motivation. To motivate others is one of the most important management tasks. It comprises the abilities to understand what drives people to do a certain tasks. Motivation of individuals is very important since team performance is highly dependent upon the individual. Therefore, acknowledging good performance cultivates effectiveness. This type of positive reinforcement also moderates the stress inherent in operational teams. According to (2001), “motivation is about cultivating your human capital. The challenge lies not it the work itself, but in you, the person who creates and manages the work environment."
3. Empowerment. Leaders share responsibility and likewise they don't dictate. They set examples for others to follow. Leaders encourage growth in others by challenging them to take new responsibility, encouraging them to succeed, and supporting them if they fail. Leaders understand that mistakes are lessons on the way to success.
Empowerment is the oil that lubricates the exercise of learning. Talented and empowered human capital is becoming the prime ingredient of organizational success. A critical feature of successful teams, especially in knowledge-based enterprises, is that they are invested with a significant degree of empowerment, or decision-making authority.
Consequently, employee empowerment changes the managers' mind-set and leaves them with more time to engage in broad-based thinking, visioning, and nurturing. This intelligent and productive division of duties between visionary leaders, focusing on emerging opportunities, and empowered employees, running the business unit day to day (with oversight on the leader's part) provides for a well-managed enterprise with strong growth potential.
4. Controlling. Another essential leadership competency is to control group performance. A leader influences the performance of the group and individual members through his or her actions. Setting the example is the most effective way of the controlling the group. Here are some suggestions for controlling group performance. First, continually observe the group. Make your instructions clear and pertinent. A leader should help when necessary and a quick deal with disruption.
Briefly stating, controlling consists of observing the group, making instructions that fit the situation, helping where necessary, examining completed work and reacting to the quality of work.
5. Emotional Intelligence. Applying the principles of emotional intelligence is also an essential skill of an effective leader. Basically, the emotional intelligence or the EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.
As the global economy expands and the world shrinks, leaders with the ability to understand other people, and then interact with them so that each is able to achieve their goals, will be the success stories of the future. Therefore, most people realize that a high EQ is the key to an effective leadership. A high EQ suggests that you are not easily threatened by criticism, so you don't feel the need to defend yourself or attack the other person. Instead, you are always willing to listen and learn from other people.
Thus, a successful leader makes an effort to learn and practice skills. Leadership skills are subject to training and development in order to elevate the leadership performance to the highest levels of competence, mastery and prominence. A more systematic approach to developing the requisite skills for assuming leadership roles may be helpful.
To develop their communication skills, leaders who are found weak in this particular aspect could be provided with actual training like opportunities for rapid sharing so that they will learn skills for communicating powerfully, sending clear messages, and conducting challenging conversations while maintaining effective working relationships with subordinates and other persons. The focus of the training would be to assess the effects of communication behaviors to others, accurately listen to, assess, and react to what you hear, select a style of responding to achieve your communication goals, sustain positive rapport during difficult discussions and identifying the impact of emotions on communication.
In terms of motivation, it is fair to say that most leaders especially the new ones start from a position of high motivation. Therefore, such motivation must be maintained by ensuring that their effort is recognized, that they are given responsibility and be allowed to grow as effective leaders. This motivation must not be diminished by failure to support them. Therefore, part of enhancing their motivation to be able to effectively lead is to provide the needed moral support and an atmosphere of good relationships and friendship.
With regards to Emotional intelligence, developing the EQ of a person is basically more of a personal responsibility. Hence, training would basically start from the perspective of the person itself. Emotional intelligence theory makes it clear that we must take responsibility for our emotions if we are to be happy. Thus, you will be able to enhance your EQ by frequently asking yourself how you feel to track down daily self–emotional status and longings. So basically, you have to work on raising your self-esteem. Take responsibility for the feelings and let your feelings teach you what your needs are and acknowledge, accept, respect, and validate your feelings.
Leadership skills are needed at every level in the organization. Consistent training and approach from the executive level through managers and supervisors will help all in the organization develop their leadership skills.
Increasingly, organizations are realizing the need for leadership to be dynamic and progressive. Because people want to be led, not managed, managers need to develop as leaders in addition to being highly competent in management. There is an impressive body of knowledge regarding leadership, and the skills of an effective leader can be learned, trained and be developed.
Development of leadership skills and leadership qualities can start at very early ages. There are a large number of youth groups that will assist young people with leadership training so they can develop critical leadership skills. Too few adults spend the time to take leadership skills and leadership qualities training to understand and work on development of the leadership skills and qualities learned in their youth. Some chose to ignore much of the leadership training once they move out side these organizations. Opportunities to develop leadership skills and leadership qualities outside work are not limited to youth groups. Social service organizations, church and local government offer a wealth of opportunities for those interested in developing leadership skills. Even if you never have any intention of aspiring to a management position in your organization opportunities abound for the application of leadership skills. Every organization needs people with leadership qualities.
These observations about career
experiences and organizational
influences point to a broader conclusion, specifically, skills of the sort described above develop rather slowly, emerging over a period of time as a function of
certain abilities and experiences. This point is consistent with the observations of (1994) who note that it typically takes people seven to ten years to acquire the skills needed at the top levels in a career field. In the case of organizational leaders, however, where multiple skill sets and a variety of different forms of expertise are required, this developmental period may be significantly longer.
The time needed to acquire requisite
leadership skills has a number of
noteworthy implications. Without appropriate developmental experience, even the most intelligent and motivated individual is unlikely to be an effective leader in
organizational settings. Along similar lines, people who lack the abilities needed to develop these skills in a timely fashion are unlikely ever to become effective leaders. Thus, leaders are not born, nor are they made; instead, their inherent potentials are shaped by experiences enabling them to develop the capabilities needed to solve significant social problems.
If I were to sum it all up, I would say a good leader has to have a purpose that is larger than he or she is, and the balanced personality and skills to put that purpose into action. To be an effective leader, a leader must understand that his/her function in every situation is to clear the path towards the goal of the group, by meeting the needs of subordinates. As indicated in Theory, it assumes that leaders are flexible and that they can change their style, as situations require.
Let me end this by saying, what is the use of creating these leadership styles if they are not taken to action? They would look like mere words, mere sentences that gives idea. If these are not taken into action, nothing will take effect. No results will be achieved.
Let leadership be a challenge for us: a challenge not just for sake of the success of any organization but for each of our own sake. People in the top position are not the only people who need to acquire the traits of being a great leader. I am encouraging ourselves to become effective leaders and let the transformation be done s soon as possible.
Leading others, therefore, is not simply a matter of style, or following some how-to guides or recipes. Ineffectiveness of leaders seldom results from a lack of know-how or how-to, nor is it typically due to inadequate managerial skills. Leadership is even not about creating a great vision. It is about creating conditions under which all your followers can perform independently and effectively toward a common objective.
Leadership is imperative for molding a group of people into a team, shaping them into a force that serves as a competitive business advantage. Leaders know how to make people function in a collaborative fashion, and how to motivate them to excel their performance. Leaders also know how to balance the individual team member's quest with the goal of producing synergy – an outcome that exceeds the sum of individual inputs. Leaders require that their team members forego the quest for personal best in concert with the team effort.