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Understanding of Leadership
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Understanding of Leadership
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The discussion about leadership has lasted for many hundreds of years, but until now, it is still difficult to find a universal definition to state what leadership is. And moreover, the value of leadership in real life is more comprehensive and complex than that we learnt from books. However, after compare those definitions from books, magazines and internet, my most surprising finding was that all definitions about leadership focused on suffix '-ship'. What '-ship'defined in oxford dictionary is 'state of being or proficiency as'. Combining this definition with my personally comprehension, I draw a conclusion as following--there are a certain group of people that others are willing to follow, for whatever reasons, and meantime, they are more willing to tell others what to do and direct them to achieve organization objectives but have the respect of other people as well. One enigmatic definition by Tolstoy is that 'leadership suggests that leaders are mere figureheads, propelled by events which are beyond their control, even though it appears that events are controlled by them.' (Grint, 1997) His understanding of leadership brought out a point of view that leaders must be in front of those they lead, that is to say, leaders have to have the foresight to plan organization's expansion. However, Tolstoy's definition is not all-sided, being a good leader, in my opinion, is not all about leader's own capability or far-sight, it is actually more about the way of leading people. Leadership no longer belongs to individuals like in dynamic period. To be effective at almost every job nowadays, leader must be able to get along with people. Effective and successful leaders enjoy working with people and helping them succeed for building good relationship with them or gaining respect from them as a return. (Lussier & Achua, 2001) According to this viewpoint, leadership can be described as the use of leader's influence, which is the result of effective interpersonal communication, to motive people to achieve the organization's or group's goals.

The world today is too complex and fast changing, and we should look leadership as international phenomenon. To my own perspective, leadership is one of the core factors for the success of the contemporary organization. A leader, who acts as figurehead and role model, has strongly influencing power towards the success or even survival of organizations and groups. The coach of a football team, for example, is obviously a spirit of each team. It is not exaggeration to say that coach dominate the performance of the whole team. As the esprit de corps of a football team is awfully crucial, an employable coach, as is known by all, is able to spirit up his player timely and moderately. A failed coach, on the other hand, will end the performance very soon, which incarnates the importance of leader in a group.

It has become extremely fashionable over recent years to distinguish leadership from management. People are usually confused the function of managers with leaders. Actually, managers and leaders share a number of qualities in common. My comprehension is that leaders are more focus 'do the right things', but conversely, manager can be described as an operator, so managers paid more attentions on 'do the things right'. In short, leaders are the person who set a vision; bring about change and direct followers to turn the version into reality. By contrast, mangers are the people who acts on the way of turning version into reality. A leader is willing to influence others, but a manager may not. To sum up, the point is 'leaders bring about change; create a vision to direct the organization. The key function of the manager is to implement the version. The manager and his/her team thus choose the means to achieve the end that the leader formulates.' (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller, 2006) But anyhow, effective leaders also manage and effective managers also lead, both of them can not be separated and are necessary for the success in today's increasing complex and inconstant business environment.

Related links: Heart of Leadership

Ten definitions of leaders