Sample Leadership Studies Research Proposal on Leadership Theory

Leadership Theory

Introduction

Leaders set direction, build motivational teams, inspire vision, and bring new concepts. Theoretically, it is about charting a direction towards accomplishing a given task. It is inspiring, exciting, dynamic, and direction oriented. Leaders utilize management skills to offer guidelines to team members towards a given direction and destination, in an efficient and smooth way. Effective leadership offers vision and brings change, unlike the management process designed more towards maintaining a status quo and improving existing performance. Leadership may mean different things to different people, such as leadership relating to political bodies, religious leadership, community leadership, and campaign leadership. An effective leadership creates and inspires a vision for a future, manages accomplishment of the vision, build and coaches an effective team towards achieving the vision. While leadership focuses on offering direction and vision oriented performance, it also puts together the necessary qualities required to achieve the set objectives of a given organization or group of people. It is a vital aspect of an organization helping in maximizing efficiency in order to achieve organizational objectives.

Importance of Leadership

Pamfilie et al (2009) maintains that the action and role of a leader in an organization cannot be underestimated. Despite a sluggish economy, redundant market performance, difficult working environment, unfavorable business conditions, the rise, and fall of an organization rests upon leadership. It is not something outside the leadership spectrum. It is not the market, it is not the people, it is not the challenges in the environment, and it is all about the leadership. The success and failure of an organization are determined by the person in charge instead of external factors in the working environment. Leaders write history through their actions, thoughts, inspiration, and guidelines. Military leaders have guided countries and offered a defense against enemies (Kotter, 2008). Business leaders have established corporations, provided employment opportunities, and changed the lives of millions of people. Spiritual leaders, on the other hand, have changed people’s perspectives, worldviews, perceptions, and culture. They have influenced values, beliefs, behaviors, and changed the course of historical events. In every key event in history, there has been a leader.

Initiates action; through policies, and guidelines, leaders’ show people within an organization where to start working, how to go about the work, and how to accomplish a task. People in an organization often and always look up to the leader for a sense of direction, even on mundane tasks because the people believe that, the leader hold the key to their destination through the strategies and plans outlined. While it rests upon the people to do the tasks, it is the sole responsibility of the leader to show direction and accomplishing a given task in order to realize set objectives (Daft, 2014). For example, in a family situation, it is upon the parents to show direction to avoid family isolation from the society in activities such as attending church and partaking in social activities.

Motivation: A leader sets the goals and objectives. The employees accomplish the work. In between the work and the goal of the task, the leader offers motivation, inspiration, and encouragement to the subordinates in order to accomplish the set objective. In as much as the leader may not be involved directly in taking on the task directly, playing the role as a motivator plays a significant role in achieving success in an organization.

Providing guidance: Guidance means showing employees or subordinates how to work effectively and efficiently. It involves supervision and offering guiding principles towards achieving a given outlined tasks. By setting direction, the leader takes on the sole responsibility of ensuring the project or task achieves its purpose. Either directly or indirectly, leaders offer guidelines to ensure delivery of a set vision by building and coaching a team in addition to making them stronger and resilient toward accomplishing a task (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013).

Creating Confidence: Through guidelines and strategizing on the key objectives clearly, and motivating subordinates, a leader instills confidence and a sense of self-assurance in the subordinates by expressing set accomplishment, encouraging the subordinates on how to achieve the goals efficiently and effectively. Additionally, it encourages the subordinates and followers when their problems and complaints are heard and addressed. By building confidence in the employees, a leader instills the positive belief amongst the followers or subordinates a factor that plays an important role in helping them give their best towards the set project or task (Boyce et al, 2010).

Co-ordination: Co-ordination is attained through and by reconciling an organization’s key objectives and personal interest. The leader synchronizes these two aspects by effective co-ordination in order to achieve a balance of work amongst the subordinates or followers. Co-ordination comes along with building morale amongst the workers, a key component that ensures that the subordinates work by the set guideline. Building morale sets the mood of the subordinates on self-assurance and trust, which helps in achieving full co-operation to help them perform to their level best towards achieving set goals (Pamfilie et al, 2009). Additionally, by building on morale, leaders play the important role of creating a well-organized work environment. A well-organized work environment creates a stable and sound atmosphere for high performance, further building on good human relations. The leader thus plays the part of ensuring that the work environment remains in accordance with the general objective of the set objectives (Goleman et al, 2013).

Leadership Practices

Zhang & Bartol (2010) argue that leadership involves planning resources, risks, projects, scheduling work plans, managing budgets, responding and dealing with change, managing stakeholder’s interests and prospects, in addition to creating and breaking down structure as and when needed. In order to inspire change, good work ethics, and instill values that are in line with an organization’s objectives and key mission, a leader need to put in place practices that will help in achieving the best. According to Savage-Austin and Honeycutt, (2011), positive character traits in leaders help bring the best in terms of practices that instill growth, change, high-level performance, and motivation. The practices below have helped world leaders in addition to managers and management to establish the best work environment in organizations (Finkelstein et al, 2009).

  1. Motivate employees to try out new growth opportunities: The best leaders respond with enthusiasm towards an employee’s move to new opportunities. Often, they understand that the move may come along with new business partners, relations, and roles (Selznick, 2011). On the other hand, reports from employees who have moved to new environments in many cases expand the network of the organization, therefore, a leader or the leaders respond to such an opportunity with positivity instead of bitterness or anger.
  2. They build master-apprentice relations both at the workplace and within their social circles. Through and by these relations, a leader provides personal growth tasks that transcend conventional training courses. Additionally, they are in a position to recognize potential, talent, and best working staff members and customize their coaching to fit them.
  3. They take chances on exceptional potentials and talents. Great leaders take chances with unconventional capabilities with potential employees or candidates. Great leaders know that this approach helps the employees accomplish greater tasks beyond their expectations (Chhokar et al, 2013). On the other hand, leaders have the confidence and ability to look continually out for potential in employees and individuals. The ultimate objective is to have a backup plan in order to facilitate current development opportunities.
  4. Leaders understand that they have to focus on the outcome rather than on the activities. Through and by focusing on outcomes, leaders understand how to get to critical shortcuts and paths while focusing on the activities only concentrates on throwing time at things without achieving results. By focusing on the goal, leaders are able to get clarity on the present challenge and then focusing on the means and ways to finding a meaningful way to a solution (Schein, 2010).
  5. The old school ideology of command-and-control is not an attribute of corporate leaders. Leaders understand that the best and only way to rise to the top and achieve a set objective is by asking good questions. The inquiry thus forms the basis for finding solutions to everyday challenges and problems. Questions such as “who is the client?”, “what is the challenge?”, “What are you looking forward to?” form important aspects of arriving at a solution.

The “Soft Skills” of Leadership

Commonly referred to as interpersonal skills, Mitchell et al (2010) argues, “Soft skills involve character attributes such as negotiation, emotional intelligence, maintaining relationships, building morale, and self-awareness. These attributes tend to focus on the ability to deal with people, connect with people, and get along with others even in difficult situations. Attributes such as practicing good etiquette, maintaining professionalism, giving and accepting criticism, and effective non-verbal communication often helps leaders achieve organizational goals. Communication plays a key role in maintaining and forming strong business and social relationship that help create effective teamwork within a work environment (Othman & Rahman, 2014). Additionally, the ability to look up to God for guidance in times of crisis in an organization or situation forms a key aspect of good leadership practice as it affirms to the leader and others that wisdom comes from God. By acknowledging God’s ability to show the way and help in a situation, a leader submits to the powers above his or her ability to understand every situation. On the other hand, it is important for a leader to build a close and stable rapport with the subordinates to help realign a given process. The realignment process helps a leader to bring back employees or group of people to a common and central understanding. It helps in dysfunction situations or levels where people do not have a common understanding.

Summary

Leaders play an important role in an organization. Not only do they inspire change and growth, they also lay down structures that organizations work under in order to utilize opportunities, potential, and talent within an organization. They are the guideposts and shining lights of organizations, they are the benchmarks that employees depend on, and above all, they are the figureheads upon which an organization looks up to. Through and by their attributes, employees and followers design their niche, give their best, organizations make changes, and adapt to structural plans as outlined by the leaders. In success and failure, they are held accountable. In opportunities and challenges, leaders are looked up to in order to establish a lasting legacy.

References

Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (Eds.). (2013). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Bradford, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Boyce, L. A., Zaccaro, S. J. & Wisecarver, M. Z. (2010). Propensity for self-development of leadership attributes: Understanding, predicting, and supporting performance of leader self-development. The Leadership Quarterly21(1), 159-178.

Chhokar, J. S., Brodbeck, F. C., & House, R. J. (Eds.). (2013). Culture and leadership across the world: The GLOBE book of in-depth studies of 25 societies. London: Routledge.

Daft, R. L. (2014). The leadership experience. Bsoston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W. L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R. C., & Hu, J. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. The Leadership Quarterly25(1), 36-62.

Finkelstein, S., Hambrick, D. C., & Cannella, A. A. (2009). Strategic leadership: Theory and research on executives, top management teams, and boards. Oxford University Press, USA.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Brighton, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Kotter, J. P. (2008). Force for change: How leadership differs from management. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2013). Leadership practices inventory: LPI. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-VCH.

Mitchell, G. W., Skinner, L. B., & White, B. J. (2010). Essential soft skills for success in the twenty-first-century workforce as perceived by business educators. The Journal of Research in Business Education52(1), 43.

Nahavandi, A. (2009). The art and science of leadership (pp. 103-104). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Neck, C. P., & Manz, C. C. (2010). Mastering self-leadership: Empowering yourself for personal excellence. London: Pearson.

Othman, Z., & Rahman, R. A. (2014). Attributes of ethical leadership in leading good governance. International Journal of Business and Society15(2), 359.

Pamfilie, R., Petcu, A. J., & Draghici, M. (2012). The importance of leadership in driving a strategic Lean Six Sigma management. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences58, 187-196.

Savage-Austin, A. R., & Honeycutt, A. (2011). Servant leadership: A phenomenological study of practices, experiences, organizational effectiveness, and barriers. Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER)9(1).

Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2). John Wiley & Sons.

Selznick, P. (2011). Leadership in administration: A sociological interpretation. New Orleans, LA: Quid Pro Books.

Zhang, X., & Bartol, K. M. (2010). Linking empowering leadership and employee creativity: The influence of psychological empowerment, intrinsic motivation, and creative process engagement. Academy of Management Journal53(1), 107-128.