Leadership and management are represented throughout organizations in distinct ways and require expert knowledge and resources in order to establish a complementary approach to conducting business (Kotter, 2001, p. 3). From this perspective, leadership involves the identification of individuals who possess the knowledge and skillset that required to lead under a variety of circumstances, including change, with a high degree of strength and professionalism (Kotter, 2001, p. 3). Leaders must be able to continue to explore methods to manage change effectively and consistently so that organizations are able to sustain a strong competitive advantage over time (Kotter, 2001, p. 4). On the other hand, management involves a complex set of conditions that promote greater balance, order, and efficiency in business practices that impact customer service, operations, financials, and other critical areas (Kotter, 2001, p. 4).
At the managerial level, it is necessary to develop a high degree of organization and the ability to develop a structure through staffing that is timely and appropriate for the needs of the business (Kotter, 2001, p. 4). Furthermore, managers must develop significant control and a rationale for the decisions that are made in order to solve problems and to be proactive in making a difference; on the contrary, leaders must learn how to gain control and to be able to address situations with a degree of authority in order to gain the respect and support that they deserve (Zaleznik, 2004). Leaders possess the ability to attract many followers to the fold, and this reflects their enthusiasm, charisma, and support of the objectives in place (Kelley, 1988). In addition, leaders must be able to identify when change is warranted and be able to exercise emotional intelligence, using self-awareness, social skills, empathy, motivation, and self-regulation in order to be successful in these roles and in advancing the need for change when it is necessary (Goleman, 2004). When leaders possess emotional intelligence, it is possible to improve performance and to be cognizant of areas where weaknesses exist in order to be effective in addressing these needs (Goleman, 2004).
Traits and Characteristics
An effective leader possesses a responsibility to be creative in his or her role and to recognize the value of change in establishing new ideas and approaches to address problems and issues effectively (Zaleznik, 2004). Leaders often generate enthusiasm and excitement among their peers and their subordinates, and this reflects their level of passion and commitment to their craft on many levels (Zaleznik, 2004). Managers, however, may utilize strategies that are coercive in nature in order to enable their employees to do what is requested by them, and this may demonstrate a colder and perhaps harsher approach to doing business by some standards (Zaleznik, 2004). According to Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991), leaders embody a number of key traits that include energy, tenacity, motivation, and achievement in order to thrive and succeed in these roles (p. 48).
In some ways, leaders already possess these characteristics from within, but it is important to develop these characteristics through action, a vision of where the organization should go, and how to best move forward to realize this vision effectively (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991, p. 48). In addition, leaders must be charismatic because this characteristic is engaging, thoughtful, sometimes provocative, yet generates the interest and enthusiasm of the target audience (Antonakis, Fenley, & Liechti, 2012). Managers who exercise superior efficiency are likely to outperform their peers on many different levels, with a drive and tenacity that is unlike any other and which supports their desire to succeed at all costs (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991, p. 49). Many managers strive for success and believe that this is only realized through continuous advancement, demonstrating a relentless ambition (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991, p. 49). The characteristics of both leaders and managers are significant because they support individuals who are driven, enthusiastic, motivated, and committed, albeit for different reasons. Therefore, these traits must be examined closely in order to effectively respond to the demands of these professions and to support the ability to be resilient during periods of frustration and/or turmoil.
As a leader, I recognize that change is a critical component of this role, particularly as my organization is subject to new forms of regulation that require the continuous expansion of knowledge and resources in order to effectively address specific unmet needs. At the same time, I continue to learn in this role, and my inherent motivation plays an important role in my growth and development in this regard. From this perspective, I believe that I still have a long way to go as a leader because my vision is not as succinct as I believe that it should be, and there is always room for improvement within an organization where the status quo is not always desirable. Furthermore, I believe that it is important to identify areas where I may be able to contribute and improve my employees and support their growth and to recognize their true potential.
As a manager, I must continue to explore my ability to maintain a high degree of professionalism, organization, and efficiency within this role, as these traits are critical to my growth and development (Northouse, 2015). It is important to me to optimize the resources that are at my disposal and to strive for greatness at all times. However, this is also difficult for me at times because it requires a degree of egotism, which I struggle with because power and control often ruin people. I do not want to go down this path, and this has given me a challenge on both a personal and professional level because I strive to be a person who is likeable, and this is not always the case in the managerial role. These issues are puzzling and difficult for me at times, yet they also keep me motivated to improve myself and my managerial skills to bring me to an even higher level.
From a personal perspective, I have learned that 1) I must continue to explore my inner strength and my ability to work effectively with others, while also balancing my responsibility to be an effective leader with the desire to maintain a strong organization with an efficient purpose and function. In addition, 2) I must learn how to balance my desire to lead others and to set a strong example with my need to be all things to all people, which may backfire under specific circumstances. Sometimes, I stretch myself too thin and this is a continuous challenge that I face, and it often limits my effectiveness in some situations. Therefore, I must continue to overcome these weaknesses and to not be afraid to take risks in this regard. Finally, 3) I must optimize my employees’ effectiveness and skillsets in order to make a difference within the organization at a higher level. Recognizing others’ strengths can be difficult for managers, but it is essential in order to promote a more balanced approach to doing business on a continuous basis that will lead to the desired outcomes.
Finally, the areas where I must continue to enhance my leadership and my managerial effectiveness are as follows: 1) I must explore and test my commitment to the organization and to my role as a leader on a continuous basis and make decisions that will promote full engagement and enthusiasm from my employees. If I demonstrate enthusiasm that is genuine, they are likely to follow suit; and 2) I must determine how to engage my employees as a manager without using excessive coercive tactics that involve the use of power. I must minimize these occurrences in order to gain greater trust from my employees and to make an honest difference in their lives and throughout the organization.
- Antonakis, J., Fenley, M., & Liechti, S. (2012) Learning charisma. Harvard Business Review, 90(6), 127-130.
- Goleman, D. (2004) What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 82-91.
- Kelley, R.E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142-148.
- Kirkpatrick, S.A. & Locke, E.A. (1991). Leadership: Do traits matter? Academy of
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- Kotter, J.P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-96.
- Northouse, P. (2015). Leadership: Theory and Practice, 7Th Edition. SAGE Publications.
- Zaleznik, A. (2004). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review,