Leadership is the ability to offer guidance and decision-making facilitation through the exercise of powers of giving direction and focus to an organization. It is a moderating role that requires mediation, persuasion, control and regulation of processes and procedures which lead to success in decision-making, production and service delivery. Like any other role, leadership requires the possession of certain basic characteristics that can allow an individual to be at the helm of people’s control. Highlighted below are four characteristics basic to leadership. These include candour, courage, commitment and competence. Leadership devoid of these four factors may be “leadership,” but clearly deficient leadership because the four are synonymous with good leadership as outlined below.
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Candor is the ability to be honest and open in a manner that allows people to freely share thoughts and ideas without restrictions based on fear of the unknown about the other involved parties. A candid leader is often free to speak out his or her mind regarding all issues as well as openly and objectively criticize or appraise other people’s work, ideas and expressions. Candor often makes employees to open up their minds and hearts to a leader and thus facilitating free and open communication. As a leader, there is a need to be open with people in order to be able to share in their ideas and thoughts without shame or fear. Leadership that does not facilitate the participation of those being led is indeed dictatorial and weak. As such, it cannot be referred to as leadership because it does not take into account the contribution of those below and above the hierarchy. Leadership needs to be open and free enough to permit free partaking, and as such, candor is necessary in the facilitation of this participation. Therefore, candor is a basic component of leadership and integral to good leadership. In essence, leadership is about the inclusionary participation of the leader and subjects, which is only possible through the facilitation of candor. Lack of this quality is simply an exercise of dictation and authoritarian rule which is poor leadership.
Courage is the ability to take on new unknown and potentially risky issues that may be characterized by the dilemma. A courageous leader should have no fear of the uncertain or risky situation. It requires courage to take on a challenge, break from the norm, search for opportunities and make tough decisions that challenge the status quo. It requires a leader to firmly stand behind his/her decisions and be firm about supporting them. It thus requires conviction and strength to do the appropriate things when it would be easier to act otherwise. Courage is an essential characteristic for a leader because often leaders are required to make decisions that may not be popular, but necessary for the survival of an organization or business. As such, they need the courage to stand up against a popular opinion and implement what is appropriate, and this takes nothing but courage. Additionally, the most business decisions require leaders to make decisions about uncertain situations which may be risky. In such situations, courage is required in order for the organization to move forward. Therefore, courage contributes to decisiveness, and as such is an important character in preventing uncertain situations by ending dilemmas.
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Commitment is the ability to stay focused on the goals and objectives of leadership set by a leader or an organization that he or she heads. The virtue of commitment is a basic requirement for long-term goals and objectives which require focused and persistent effort towards achieving success. A leader that lacks commitment is likely to wave from set goals and objectives and thus lead to failure of most organizational visions and missions. As a leader one of the core requirements is to stay focused and help the rest of the workforce to remain concentrated on the company’s mission and vision. In essence, there is no way one can be a leader if she/he lacks the ability to bring about such focus to an organization. Therefore, leadership and commitment are synonymous. The basic determinant of whether an organization is making success is gauged by how well it has been able to achieve its mission and vision. The basic purpose of leadership is to ensure that this is attained and the only way this can happening is through maintaining a high level of commitment. Therefore, leadership that does not have commitment is indeed not leadership.
Competence denotes the ability to perform, and as a leader, it means having all the tools and skills required for whatever occasion as well as being able to know precisely when to put the tools to use. Competence is not about moving with the tide or seeking the path of least resistance, but rather undertaking whatever is appropriate for everyone regardless of the fears of causing personal failure. Competence also entails portraying self-confidence to accept mistakes and develop one’s ability after learning from them. Competence does not rely on qualifications or emerge from them, but rather from actions undertaken in real life situations and especially difficult situations. Competence is important in leadership because it determines whether a leader is able to undertake on tough situations, based on his/her abilities to handle situations competently. Competence requires a strict application of protocols, rules, managerial skills and all appropriate leadership tools. The lack of implementing most of these may lead to a failure in most endeavours and, therefore failing the act of leadership. The fact that a leader is required to be skilled way above the rest implies that in order to attain the role of leadership one has to portray high levels of competence.
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