Last updated 25th Apr 2022
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 April 2021
Leadership Theory Studies
Leadership Qualities versus StylesLeadership qualities are not the same as leadership styles. In fact, the basic study of this topic includes the following hierarchy:
- Qualities: characteristics that are the fundamental building blocks of a leader's persona.
- Leadership Style: the logical bundling of qualities that, when assembled, help to define a style the leader practices.
- Situational Leadership: alignment of styles to the social, political or work environment surrounding the leader.
Fundamental Qualities of a LeaderFiguring out if someone has the right qualities to be considered a leader in an organization then becomes one of sorting through the literature to develop the list of the most important qualities found in leaders. Fortunately, the five components of emotional intelligence seem to cover the majority of these characteristics except one: intelligence. In the story told by Goleman in his book, he talks about the components of emotional intelligence. Goleman argued this theory accounts for characteristics that are beyond pure intellect. It is therefore fitting to include intelligence as the first, and essential, quality of a leader.
IntelligenceBusiness acumen, political savvy, a deep understanding of social issues, knowledge - these are all ways to describe intelligence. Effective leaders have a good understanding of what needs to get done, and how to go about changing things.
Emotional IntelligenceA form of intelligence that goes a long way in describing what separates smart people from leaders is emotional intelligence. That is to say, there are more smart people in this world than there are effective leaders. Scholars might not agree with everything written about emotional intelligence, but it is hard to find a quality of a leader that is not described in these five components:
- Self Awareness: the ability to recognize and understand one's own emotions, moods, and motivations. Self awareness is the talent of understanding oneself, which leaders must be able to do before they can begin to understand the motivation, moods, and emotions of others.
- Self Regulation: the ability to control one's own emotions, counterproductive impulses, and moods. Self regulation is the leadership quality of remaining in control of emotions.
- Motivation: a drive and passion that goes beyond money or status. Motivation and leadership are often tightly coupled when an organization is realizing above-average results.
- Empathy: the ability to really understand another person's point of view. Empathy is different than sympathy, which is the emotion of feeling sorry for someone else.
- Social Skills: the ability to manage relationships and networking. "Social skills" is used to describe a leader's ability to get along with others in the organization.
Final ThoughtsKeep in mind that being a leader often involves striking a balance, and the same can be said about the qualities that are described above. While it's possible to study this topic in more detail, the components described by emotional intelligence and intellect will be themes throughout the literature. Anyone that thinks they're a leader can measure themselves against the above components; with the understanding that life presents many learning opportunities and that leaders are made, not born.
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