INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered what the magic is behind successful organizations or institutions? In this series, you will uncover the importance of good leadership and management and the role they play in the success of an organization.
Leadership is the act of leading people in an organization towards achieving goals while management involves getting things done through and with people in a formally organized setting. A leader sets a clear vision for the organization, motivates employees, guides employees through the work process and builds morale.
With these introductory lines, i want to specially welcome you to this leadership series. This column is created to acquaint readers with the basic elements of leadership. It is conceived to make the readers develop interest in leadership; improves their leadership skills and ultimately contribute to the success of their organizations by providing effective leadership.
Who are those for whom this column is created? The column is created for every person in some form of leadership position either at the work place, business area etc as well as those who are aspiring to leadership or management positions.
The overall aim of this series is to improve our organizations/institutions through the provision of effective leadership. Many observers have attributed the many problems prevalent in our country to lack of leadership or better still, the failure to provide effective leadership by those who should. It is my hope that people who read this column will get sufficient information, skill and motivation to become great leaders in their organizations. Some of the topics that will be addressed in this column include definition of leadership, theories of leadership, factors in leadership, management styles; management theories; roles of managers in organizations; difference between leaders and managers; staff motivation; major concepts in building and leading a team ; decision making and its types; improving staff performance; etc
We will try as much as possible to keep the vocabulary of these discussions at the level at which everybody will understand and relate to what is being discussed. As usual, we will appreciate regular feedbacks from the readers.
BASIC CONCEPTS IN LEADERSHIP
We will start this column with the most important concept in leadership and that is ‘Good leaders are made not born. It is crucial that we understand this standpoint as it will become evident in the course of these discussions that some people believe that leaders are born. That is to say that some individuals are born with special attributes that enables them become great leaders. It is important to know that if you have the desire and willpower, you can become a great leader. Great leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience (Jago, 1982).
To inspire your workers and followers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must know, do and eventually become. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are NOT resting on their laurels.
DEFINITION OF LEADERSHIP
Leadership is defined as an influence process oriented toward achieving shared purposes (Rost 1991:53). Leadership is influencing people — by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and objectives of the organization.
While leadership is learned, the skills and knowledge processed by the leader can be influenced by his or her attributes or traits such as beliefs, values, ethics, and character. Knowledge and skills contribute directly to the process of leadership, while the other attributes give the leader certain characteristics that make him or her unique.
Skills, knowledge, and attributes make the Leader.
FACTORS IN LEADERSHIP
There are four major factors in leadership. These are the leader, the followers, communication and situations.
Leader: As a leader, you must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. If they do not trust, or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed.
Followers: Different people require different styles of leadership. For example, a new hire requires more supervision than an experienced employee. A person who lacks motivation requires a different approach than one with a high degree of motivation. You must know your people! The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of your employees or followers including their needs, emotions, skills and motivation.
You must know them personally.
Communication: A leader must devise an effective way of communicating with the people he or she is leading. Much of the communication should be nonverbal. The leader must be an example of what he/she wants from the staff or followers. For instance, your actions and body language can communicate to your people that you would not ask them to perform anything that you would not be willing to do. It’s important to note that what and how you communicate either builds or harms the relationship between you and your employees.
Situations: All situations are different. Therefore, what you do in one situation will not always work in another. You must use your judgment to decide the best course of action and the leadership style needed for each situation. A leader must be flexible in his/her approaches to situations and issues.
LEADERSHIP VERSUS MANAGEMENT
Since this series will be dwelling on leadership and management, it is important to differentiate between the two key terms. The question is ‘are all managers leaders? And ‘are all leaders managers?’ we will answer these questions shortly.
Who is a Manager?
Simply put, a manager is a person in an organization who is responsible for carrying out the four functions of management. This includes planning, organizing, leading and controlling.
From the above, you will have noticed that one of the functions of a manager is leadership. So you might ask yourself if it would be safe to assume that all managers are leaders. Theoretically, yes – all managers would be leaders if (and this is a big ‘if’) they effectively carry out their leadership responsibilities to communicate, motivate, inspire and encourage employees towards a higher level of productivity. In reality, not all managers are leaders. An employee will usually follow the directives of a manager because they have to, but an employee will voluntarily follow the directives of a leader because they believe in who he/she is as a person and what he/she stands for.
Who is a Leader?
A leader inspires and motivates people towards a higher productivity. While management is about efficiency and getting results through systems, processes, procedures, controls and structure, leadership improves the organization and achieve result by motivating, influencing and inspiring employees to put in their best. Perhaps the greatest separation between management and leadership is that leaders do not have to hold management positions. That is, a person can become a leader without a formal title. A manager becomes a manager by virtue of their position, and leaders become leaders because they motivate and inspire people to put in more into the organization. They must not necessarily hold a management position.
Any person can become a leader because the basis of leadership is on the personal qualities of the leader and people are willing to follow the leader because of who he or she is and what the leader stands for, not because they have to, due to the authority bestowed onto him or her by the organization. While managers have subordinates, leaders have followers. Leadership is about effectiveness through trust, inspiration and people. Leaders often challenge the status quo (that managers spend much of their time upholding) in order to bring innovation to organizations. Leadership is visionary, creative, motivating and adaptive. Managers are concerned with the bottom line, while leaders are looking at the future.
Leadership in Organizations
Having discussed the differences between a manager and a leader, we shall now conclude this session by looking at the roles of a leader in an organization. These roles can be formal or informal and include setting a clear vision, motivating and guiding employees and building morale among the staff.
A leader’s role in an organization can be formally assigned by his or her position, like manager or department head, and it can also be informally assumed by an employee who possesses a certain charisma that attracts others to follow. A formal leadership role is an officially assigned position given to someone based on his or her ability to perform the job. It generally involves organizing and directing people to perform tasks, like the job of a unit head in a hospital. The unit head is in charge of the day to day activities of his/her unit and creates and supervises the work schedule. He/she holds the highest level of authority over the unit. However, an informal leadership role is an unofficial role a person takes on based on his or her charismatic influence over a group of people. For instance, a hardworking, inspiring and dedicated nurse in a ward can convince others to put an extra hour into the job if the occasion warrants. She is able to do this based on her personality traits. This emergent leader gains the confidence of the followers because she has a good relationship with the other staff. They trust her and feel confident that she has their best interest at heart.
The main roles of a leader in an organization
Setting a clear vision: This means influencing employees to understand and accept the future state of the organization. A leader must envision a future and better future for the organization and inspire the people to believe in the vision. Motivating employees means to find out enough about the needs and wants of employees, giving them what they need and providing praise for a job well done. For instance, being far from home is lonely for a young soldier. A good leader knows this and will communicate with his unit to learn more about their needs and wants. It may be as simple as giving the soldiers a sweet treat for their efforts. When guiding employees, it is important to define their role in the work process and provide them with tools needed to perform and participate in their efforts along the way. Some jobs are complex and tasking and a good leader will explain the tasks, provide the tools, direct the work and be available to assist the staff if they run into a problem. Building morale involves pulling everyone together to work towards a common goal. Let’s face it – fighting in a war is stressful. Soldiers are often placed in high-stress situations. This can cause the unit to lose their focus or, worse yet, shut down emotionally. A good leader will let the soldiers know how much their work is appreciated. A simple gesture like throwing an impromptu party to recognize the unit’s small victories can reignite the soldiers’ spirits.
We will continue next week by looking at some theories of leadership and management. Enjoy your week!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Ugboaja Joseph is an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist by training and currently Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi and Director, Clinical services, Research & Training as well as chairman, Taskforce on Covid-19 of the hospital. He holds Postgraduate fellowships in Obstetrics & Gynaecology of National Postgraduate Medical College, Nigeria (FMCOG), West Africa College of Surgeons (FWACS) and International College of Surgeons (FICS). He joined the Hospital management in 2014 as the deputy CMAC, a position he held for 4 years. He was subsequently appointed the CMAC in 2017 for the initial tenure of 2 years which ended in 2019. He was reappointed in 2019 for the final tenure of 2 years as the CMAC of the hospital. His tenure as the CMAC of the hospital brought a lot of innovative changes and improvement in services under the leadership of the CMD, Prof AO Igwegbe. These include the formation of the NAUTH Research Society; the Quality improvement committee; the Clinicopathologic series; the Cancer Society; Laboratory Quality Management system as well as the introduction of the Annual NAUTH Scientific Conferences.
Dr Ugboaja has attended several workshops, trainings and conferences on Strategic leadership and healthcare management including those organized by the administrative staff College of Nigeria (ASCON). He is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria.(IMCON). He believes in transformational leadership and also believes, strongly that leaders should be altruistic, inspiring, motivational, transparent and accountable.
Dr Ugboaja Joe. MBBS, FMCOG, FWACS, FICS, FMAS, DMAS, AIMCON
CMAC, NAUTH Nnewi