Leadership Ethics, Strategy & Styles

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Offline Shamim Ansary

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Leadership Ethics, Strategy & Styles
« on: April 22, 2012, 05:53:03 PM »
Leadership Ethics - Traits of an Ethical Leader

Ethics refer to the desirable and appropriate values and morals according to an individual or the society at large. Ethics deal with the purity of individuals and their intentions. Ethics serve as guidelines for analyzing “what is good or bad” in a specific scenario. Correlating ethics with leadership, we find that ethics is all about the leader’s identity and the leader’s role.

Ethical theories on leadership talk about two main things: (a) The actions and behaviour of leaders; and (b) the personality and character of leaders. It is essential to note that “Ethics are an essential to leadership”. A leader drives and influences the subordinates / followers to achieve a common goal, be it in case of team work, organizational quest, or any project. It is an ethical job of the leader to treat his subordinates with respect as each of them has unique personality. The ethical environment in an organization is built and developed by a leader as they have an influential role in the organization and due to the fact that leaders have an influence in developing the organizational values.

An effective and ethical leader has the following traits / characteristics:

01. Dignity and respectfulness: He respects others. An ethical leader should not use his followers as a medium to achieve his personal goals. He should respect their feelings, decision and values. Respecting the followers implies listening effectively to them, being compassionate to them, as well as being liberal in hearing opposing viewpoints. In short, it implies treating the followers in a manner that authenticate their values and beliefs.

02. Serving others: He serves others. An ethical leader should place his follower’s interests ahead of his interests. He should be humane. He must act in a manner that is always fruitful for his followers.

03. Justice: He is fair and just. An ethical leader must treat all his followers equally. There should be no personal bias. Wherever some followers are treated differently, the ground for differential treatment should be fair, clear, and built on morality.

04. Community building: He develops community. An ethical leader considers his own purpose as well as his followers’ purpose, while making efforts to achieve the goals suitable to both of them. He is considerate to the community interests. He does not overlook the followers’ intentions. He works harder for the community goals.

05. Honesty: He is loyal and honest. Honesty is essential to be an ethical and effective leader. Honest leaders can be always relied upon and depended upon. They always earn respect of their followers. An honest leader presents the fact and circumstances truly and completely, no matter how critical and harmful the fact may be. He does not misrepresent any fact.

It is essential to note that leadership is all about values, and it is impossible to be a leader if you lack the awareness and concern for your own personal values. Leadership has a moral and ethical aspect. These ethics define leadership. Leaders can use the above mentioned traits as yardsticks for influencing their own behavior.

Leadership Strategy - Which Leadership Style to Follow ?

Without an effective leadership strategy, it is believed, that the organizational strategies do not work. Best players in a team do not guarantee success without a great coach, similarly, work teams may not function effectively if leaders do not follow an appropriate leadership strategy.

To understand leadership styles here are three scenarios - Scenario 1 - A Teacher gives a question to the class full of students, however, solves it for them; Scenario 2 - A Teacher gives the question to the students and observes how students solve them; Scenario 3 - A Teacher gives a question to the students and moves around the class, observes the students, and helps wherever required. Scenario 1 was “Leading from the Front”, Scenario 2 was “Supportive Leadership Style”, and Scenario 3 was “Interactive Leadership Style”. Besides this the leadership styles / strategies could be based on personality traits like Directive Leadership, Structured Leadership, Intuitive Leadership, or Process Driven leadership.

Here are some tips while selecting leadership strategy / style:

   01. A leader must be aware of his / her personality traits and those of his team members / followers to understand which leadership style
             will be most effective.

   02. A leader may not adopt a consistent leadership all through his / her career. Situational Leadership helps addressing varied needs /
            expectations of the followers as he the leader adopts a strategy based on a situation he / she is in. In case a leader has a self-reliant
            team, he needs to be using a directive leadership style or lead form the front. He could instead delegate and provide inputs where

   03. A common mistake especially a lot of new leaders make is to copy established / well know leaders. Remember, each situation is unique
             and so are the followers. A leadership style which may be suited to a well known leader may not be appropriate for your team. Make no
             mistake here - do not try and imitate other leaders.

   04. A leader will never be afraid of trying new approach to solve a work problem or address a conflicting situation. It is quite a possibility
             that a leader adopts a style that is not by the book.

   05. A leader must keep enhancing his / her leadership skills. While on the job experience matters a lot, getting enrolled into leadership
             courses after detailed evaluation of the program and feedback of the participants will help implementing a leadership style more

It is often said that good leaders are born and not made; however, good leaders are those who are aware of their personality traits and also of their followers. They know which leadership style is to be adopted in a particular situation. Once this is done, there is a little challenge left for a leader to become a “good / great” leader.

Leadership Styles - Important Leadership Styles

All leaders do not possess same attitude or same perspective. As discussed earlier, few leaders adopt the carrot approach and a few adopt the stick approach. Thus, all of the leaders do not get the things done in the same manner. Their style varies. The leadership style varies with the kind of people the leader interacts and deals with. A perfect/standard leadership style is one which assists a leader in getting the best out of the people who follow him.

Some of the important leadership styles are as follows:

   01. Autocratic leadership style: In this style of leadership, a leader has complete command and hold over their employees/team. The team cannot put forward their views even if they are best for the team’s or organizational interests. They cannot criticize or question the leader’s way of getting things done. The leader himself gets the things done. The advantage of this style is that it leads to speedy decision-making and greater productivity under leader’s supervision. Drawbacks of this leadership style are that it leads to greater employee absenteeism and turnover. This leadership style works only when the leader is the best in performing or when the job is monotonous, unskilled and routine in nature or where the project is short-term and risky.    

   02. The Laissez Faire Leadership Style: Here, the leader totally trusts their employees/team to perform the job themselves. He just concentrates on the intellectual/rational aspect of his work and does not focus on the management aspect of his work. The team/employees are welcomed to share their views and provide suggestions which are best for organizational interests. This leadership style works only when the employees are skilled, loyal, experienced and intellectual.

   03. Democrative/Participative leadership style: The leaders invite and encourage the team members to play an important role in decision-making process, though the ultimate decision-making power rests with the leader. The leader guides the employees on what to perform and how to perform, while the employees communicate to the leader their experience and the suggestions if any. The advantages of this leadership style are that it leads to satisfied, motivated and more skilled employees. It leads to an optimistic work environment and also encourages creativity. This leadership style has the only drawback that it is time-consuming.

   04. Bureaucratic leadership: Here the leaders strictly adhere to the organizational rules and policies. Also, they make sure that the employees/team also strictly follows the rules and procedures. Promotions take place on the basis of employees’ ability to adhere to organizational rules. This leadership style gradually develops over time. This leadership style is more suitable when safe work conditions and quality are required. But this leadership style discourages creativity and does not make employees self-contented.
"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"

Offline Shamim Ansary

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How to Create a Personal Leadership Brand ?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2012, 05:57:24 PM »

Every leader has a personal leadership brand which might be carefully cultivated or intuitively perceived by leaders themselves and their followers. A personal leadership brand is an exclusive and a specific approach of a leader to address challenges and manage his/her transactions with their subordinates or followers. The best part of having a leadership brand is that it allows the flexibility to the leaders to define their own leadership objectives and then position themselves appropriately as per the need and situation. For example Lee Iacocca promulgated a leadership brand which was resolute, determined, persuasive and ready to take risks which helped him turn around Chrysler similarly Gandhi’s leadership brand was that of integrity, honesty, principles, strength of character and above all truth.

It is essential for a leader to practice his/her leadership brand in thoughts and actions. How can a leader build up a leadership brand if they do not have one already. A leadership brand helps distinguish leaders and also outlines their approach, values, beliefs etc.

    01. The first step definitely is identifying and establishing the results one wants to achieve by the end of a specific time period with a focus on preserving the interests of key stakeholders.

   02.  The second step becomes those distinguishing features with which one wants to be known as a leader. For e.g. one might identify drive for result as one’s core strength area and can create a leadership brand based on the same

    03. The next step becomes defining your identity. One might chose two or three word phrases to define their approach to leadership like Innovating to Excel etc

    04. The last step becomes coming up with a leadership statement which conjuncts what one wants to be known for and what one wants to achieve

It is also important for leaders to check their leadership brand with seniors, subordinates and other stake-holders to understand their expectations from the role; and if any disconnect is pointed out, it needs to be incorporated.

Apart from the above aspects, leaders need to role model themselves and redefine their perceptions and ambitions to encompass the entire institution, which they represent. A leader needs to put the interests of the organization and stakeholders before his/her personal ambition and goals and strive to create success which is sustainable and does not need their constant presence.

The leaders need to understand that a personal leadership brand cannot be created overnight but credibility is earned the hard way, through years of perseverance. Once a leadership brand is created its acceptance and stability is established only after results are achieved. So, if a leader identifies certain goals but fails to achieve them, there are no takers for that leadership brand, similarly if a leader displays behaviors contradictory to what is outlined by his brand values, then also the credibility and respect of the brand is lost.
"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"

Offline Shamim Ansary

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Influence of Situational Leadership Styles on Subordinate Development
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 06:00:39 PM »

As we know that the situational leadership theory proposes that a leader needs to change his/her leadership style as per the situation and environment. Leaders also need to consider the level of their followers; to decide on a particular leadership style. Let us now try to explore, whether the leadership style practiced by the leader influences the subordinates at all and if they do then how does it happen?

In the organizational context a manager is not just a superior for his team of subordinates but is also their leader. This implies that as a manager he/she has to make sure that the subordinates are working cohesively as a unit to achieve department or function goals, and if a problem arises the manager has to step up and take the responsibility as a leader.

How would a manager ensure that each member and the team collectively are working towards that common goal? Sometimes, the contribution from each member is not equal, some are working and some are not, which often leads to imbalances and negativities in the team and work environment.

It is the leadership style practiced by the manager which to quite an extent is responsible for such a situation to arise. Every team has people who have different level of competence and commitment towards the work they do, some are pro-active and others need to be pushed. In either case, the role of the manager as a leader becomes all the more important where he/she needs to be flexible with the kind of leadership style they can practice with each subordinate.

Let’s try to understand the relationship between leadership styles and subordinate development in a little detail. Recall the four situational leadership styles identified by Hersey and Blanchard. They were:

   > Telling
   > Selling
   > Participating
   > Delegating

Now, have a look at the following diagram which depicts the development level of the followers based on their competence and commitment towards their work.
Development Level of Followers

So, which leadership style would be appropriate with each of these levels? A manager as a leader has to partner in the developmental journey of his/her subordinate. For a subordinate who is at a level D1, where he has low competence but high motivation, the leadership style could be Participative where the leader involves the subordinate and further motivates him to build on his competence to increase his/her effectiveness at tasks.

For a subordinate, who stands at a level D2 where he has some competence but lacks or shows inconsistent commitment, the leader can resort to the Telling style. In this case, the subordinate cannot be relied upon to complete the task without instructions and guidance. For the subordinates who fall into the category of D3 or high competence but variable commitment, the leadership style could be Selling as the leader would have to create a buy in from these subordinates to secure their commitment towards the task. Since they have the necessary competence to do the task, instructions are not required but such subordinates wish to see the value of the work they are doing to get committed to it.

And lastly, if the subordinate fall into the category of D4 where they have both high commitment and high motivation, the leadership style best suited could be Delegating, where the leaders need to understand, acknowledge and appreciate the competence and commitment of the subordinates and entrust them with responsibilities.

Leaders have to be aware of their surroundings and sensitized to the abilities and motivations of their followers/subordinates in order to be able to take effective decisions.

"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"