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Eleven Essays on Leadership Elements

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  1. Emotional Intelligence Does Play an Important Role in Successful Leadership

While emotional intelligence covers the internal human qualities like self-awareness, self-confidence, commitment, self-control and integrity, and a person’s ability to communicate, influence, initiate change and accept change (Goleman, 1998), the leaders cannot do without its power. It facilitates to enhance one’s ability in decision making by raising the quality of self-awareness, communication, commitment and integrity.

Emotional intelligence is reflected in the level of competency of the leader, which can be segmented into five zones of inward activity like below:

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to recognize a feeling as it takes place or to self-assess correctly and decide about one’s own stance.
  2. Self-management or self-regulation: the ability to keep disruptive impulses in check, besides maintaining honesty and integrity or to be open to accommodate new ideas.
  • Motivation: It creates the necessary drive in humans to lead them towards their cherished goals by enhancing the processing system of humans.
  1. Empathy: It is the ability to understand others’ needs and feelings.
  2. Social Skills: This points at the ability to influence others through effective communication and generating desired response.

There is a Close Link between Emotional Intelligence and Effective Leaders. John J. Sosik and Lara E. Megerian (1999) conducted a research to ascertain the above link, where they explored and evaluated the essential components of emotional intelligence together with transformational leadership. The outcome of that research clearly substantiated the said link with empirical evidence.

  1. Transformational Leadership Model is Superior than Transactional Model

The schools of researchers are still divided into two camps, where one supports traditional leadership (transactional) and the other subscribes to the higher qualities of transformational leadership. The major complaint against the formal leadership is that it depends too much on extrinsic reward system and ignores intrinsic rewards, because extrinsic reward can be oddly extended towards bribery or it can indirectly force humans to do what they wouldn’t want to do under normal conditions. Thus its critics rightfully point at the hidden cost of such rewards, and maintain that this extrinsic reward system intends to control the will of the employees, which would eventually hinder the development of an individual and thus in turn would hinder the development of the company.

The proponents of transformational leadership say that it provides more freedom to the followers to choose their approaches towards work (Beswick, 2007). On the other hand, researchers like Hull (1943), Skinner (1953) refute such allegations and simplify the extrinsic reward system as a direct link between stimulus and response. No wonder, this view includes punishment as a stimulus too, besides subscribing to the power of stimulus, while keeping the issue of company benefit at the top.

The above state of debate, however, clears the fact that extrinsic rewards impact intrinsic motivation, and reward can reinforce the will to act at times, no matter whether it might decrease future motivation or the performance of the employees. This assumed impact, however, is referred to as hidden cost of extrinsic reward system – where the researchers like Deci and Ryan (1985) put the issue under the light of attribution theories, which suggest that humans constantly reassess the reasons for the behaviors of their own besides others.

Lepper et al. (1973) even argue that reinforcement has two effects, like gaining control over the process of activity, where it can speed up the process, and two, the backlash effect, in the absence of reinforcement, where the control vanishes and the process gets much slower, even slower than the speed it had before adopting reinforcement. Simply, the situation could be explained in this manner: A group or an individual gets a reward of x amount of money for a period y, where x+y=m, m being the increased rate of production. Before that, the situation was y=z where production was z. Now in the absence of reinforcement and with the influence of attribution theory, the situation would stand like y-x = n, where n < z.

  1. Entrepreneurial leadership: Can turn Quixotic

Entrepreneurial leadership has evolved from the need to match the rapid change in trade and commerce due to the dual impact of digital revolution and globalization. This new avatar of leadership has taken a somewhat middle of the road policy, where it wants to exploit the elements of both transactional and transformational leadership. Leaders from its rank and file are identified by four qualities like below:

  1. Overtly initiative: They would act as if they are the proprietors of the organization, and thus escalate the gravity of decision making.
  2. Demonstrative: This is an extension of the above quality, where these leaders already create a make-believe world for all.
  3. Potential risk-takers: They would venture where others would dare – they would lead from the front.
  4. Taking responsibility: They would take responsibility for any outcome of their venture and would exploit the experience for future use.

Above description of the traits of entrepreneurial leadership highlights the fact that leaders from this model don’t have a clear philosophy that would align their acts with the long-term goals of life. Instead, it seems to thrive by creating a make-believe world, which they know would never be real. Thus one cannot ignore the possibility of leaders losing their self-esteem after experiencing negative outcome from any such daring, solo venture. However, its striking plus point is courage to lead to from the front – though it is always debatable whether raw courage can supersede cultivated wisdom. (Kotelnikov, 2008)

  1. Servant leaders are driven by holistic perspective, but charismatic leaders can mislead their followers to fulfill their desires.

While the servant leaders are driven by the innate desire of providing service to the followers, charismatic leaders can have hidden agenda to fulfill, as charismatic leaders are mostly driven by the ego to see them at the helm of affairs, and they crave for adulation or recognition. However, servant leaders are free from such individual desires and believe that “success is not achieved totally by leadership alone” (Yaverbaum, 2004). A perfect example in this regard can be the comparison between Holy Christ and Adolf Hitler. While Christ was above and beyond any personal agenda, Hitler wanted to fulfill his dream of being remembered as the architect of a particular race. Thus, if the servant leaders happen to be away from the influence of ego and are driven by the intrinsic motivation, the charismatic leaders are governed by ego and are driven by extrinsic rewards. Accordingly, two words like self-centered and selfless are sufficient to highlight the basic difference between these two types of leaders.

Another vital issue stems out of such elementary difference between them and that is about the quality of intention. While the holistic perspective wholly guides servant leaders, charismatic leaders are guided by their own desires. Thus charismatic leaders may mislead their followers for the sake fulfilling their own desires.

  1. Ignorance Plays a Major Role in Ethics

Though ethics in the context of organization confines to the knowledge of what is right or wrong in the workplace and opting for the right act, yet perception of ethics stems out of ones’ worldview and there may be several factors that can influence the ethical perspective of leaders. As for example, gender, situation, law of the land, leaders’ personal interest etc. can influence their ethics. However, at the end, ethics is a self-chosen standard of mental behavior, based on logic (Gowdy, 2006).

In other words, leaders’ philosophy of life acts as the guide to their belief-system. As for example a transactional leader would be influenced more by the extrinsic reward system, which can be governed by a “give and take” philosophy that prioritizes the acquisition of material objects. Accordingly that transactional leader might not feel any moral pressure in acquiring a desired object through means which may not be acceptable to a transformational leader, who is guided by the intrinsic motivation of rising above the material gain. The second leader would want to evaluate the need of the said desired object in the context of ultimate gain for all of the organization and if it fails to qualify that criterion, the second leader would consider the acquisition of the same as unethical.

This boils down to the inference that it is the dual impact of need structure and the intensity of motivation can influence the leaders to commit unethical acts. One might count it as a lack of vision – but vision too is shaped and sized by this duo and thus there is no reason to think that leaders dissociate their vision while committing any unethical act. However, it could be ignorance, which can narrow down the vision of the leaders and influence them involve in acts that are not aligned to the principles of collective development.

  1. Goals are Rudders of Life

Human life has many sets of goals bundled within one big goal like happiness or contentment – thus it can easily be understood that if one wants to achieve the main goal, one has to obtain the goals within it. For that matter each individual should develop individual and work-oritented goals. Researchers like Pintrich (2000) consider that goals “represent a unit of structured knowledge or personal, subjective conception or theory about the purposes of an achievement task”.

In general, goal-setting can be divided into a set of six goals within the main goal of happiness like below:

  1. Family: To achieve harmony and prosperity.
  2. Finance: To achieve source of sustenance and development and freedom of movement.
  3. Physical and mental health: To achieve healthy body and a sound mind.
  4. Social responsibility: To achieve good understanding with the world around by mutual exchange of good vibes and necessities.
  5. Spiritual standing: To achieve the understanding about the greater world and its association with self.

Goal setting is actually a detailed action plan towards achieving a particular goal, where each action has to qualify with certain justification. Thus the process of goal setting does a good many works at one go:

  1. i) It sketches the larger canvas.
  2. ii) It acts as filter before any possible action.

iii) It sets the time-frame or at least finds out the possible duration of a project.

  1. iv) It estimates the expenses .
  2. v) It brings out nuances of the mission by breaking it down into many parts.
  3. vi) It puts all actions in proper order.

However, goal-setting should be synchronized with motivation (Khera, 2004).

  1. Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Cash Reward: Three Pillars of Motivation

Motivation in the organizations works on three layers like

    1. Direction – what a person is trying to do.
    2. Effort – how hard a person is trying.
    3. Persistence – how long a person keeps on trying. (Arnold)

The most effective ways to motivate the  employees in all those areas is to introduce a reward system that would comprise the following elements:

Intrinsic rewards – This works as a tool to evoke a sense of personal causation, i.e., an inward mechanism serving as the guiding engine for the action, where its elements are usually intangible and working on the plane of one’s perception, where the journey is being enjoyed over the outcome (Deci, 1975). The elements of intrinsic rewards are mostly intangible; its components can at best be bunched together as a package of signals that deals with the temporal activity of humans. Words of inspiration, public recognition, and stimulus from the examples of achievers – all such elements can generate a sparked response from an individual or from a group

Extrinsic rewards – Extrinsic rewards are supposed to generate perceptions of external causation (Deci, 1975). Here the nature of rewards is mostly tangible in nature – a hike in salary or status, or material gains in other forms. This reward lets everyone see what it has in its kitty – it may be a new house, car, and promotion letter, access to certain privilege, whatever. However, the significance of external motivation can directly be related to the physical existence of humans – where they decide on how they want to live, or submit to the external conditions that push them to do what they wouldn’t have opted for, had they been in a position to do so!

Cash rewards – There can be no debate on what could be the most effective item of extrinsic reward, as money needs no interpreter. Since it can fetch what one needs for sustenance, security, development and enjoyment, money supersedes all its counterparts. For example, a company can present a car to an employee as a reward, and that might make her happy, but she will be more happy if she gets the cash to buy a car of her choice or to buy any other thing according to her own priority list! It is this flexibility of money has made it number one in any extrinsic reward system. Many researchers (Locke et al., 1981; Prichard et al., 1988) support this view.

  1. Communication is the Bridge between Leaders and Followers

Communication is the greatest tool for the leaders to convince their followers about their vision and mission besides garnering their support on such issues. In their book  “The Leadership Challenge” Kouzes and Posner integrate the communication-based process of meeting the situation with the five steps of leadership, where the five steps can be considered as communication channels of the leaders to their followers

  1. Model the Way: Leaders should be role models. The fact that they are placed in position means that they have a certain characteristic that is particularly inspiring. The utilization of the said character shall help the leader set a pattern for others to follow. Once the road has been set, the reality of success is not that hard to foresee.
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision: Once each member is able to envision the real goal of the organization as to where they are actually headed to, the inspiration begins. Indeed, everyone has the right to get involved in what is happening and thus be able to understand where the direction of the group is taking them.
  3. Challenge the Process: The leaders should not be limited by fixed ideas and instead they should intervene when it is necessary.
  4. Enable Others to Act: Including other members of the group within the system of procedural arrangements is one type of motivation that makes everyone in the organization feel that they are of great use for the achievement of the group’s goal. Hence, achieving the goals with them leaves them with the satisfaction of work that they primarily expect from the group upon joining.
  5. Encourage the Heart: Simply involving the members within the job are not enough. Leaders ought to encourage their members through making them realize of their worth to the group. To do so, the leaders are expected to be able to figuratively touch the hearts of the members of the group so as to empower them to perform better not only for the organization’s sake but for their own benefit as well (Kouzes, 2002).

The above steps highlight the efficacy of communication where it covers the entire gamut of leadership operation.

From another perspective, responsible supportive communication too can impact greatly on the followers, as this model includes “acknowledgement of body, mind and soul” and intends to reduce “isolation, invisibility, anxiety and fear” (Brown, 2008). This can be highly effective as it aims to instill a sense of security among the followers and thereby makes them more open to the leader.

  1. Porter’s Business Strategy Model Rules

Michael Porter’s three successful business strategies are adopted across the globe and they are

  1. Cost Leadership Strategy: Where it sales no-frills, yet efficient product with its pricing either higher or lower than its rivals to earn more business by virtue of either higher quality at low price or same quality at low price. This strategy can invite price war and thus the competition can become tougher. Yet, there will always be the room to attract the customers with this strategy.
  2. Differentiation Strategy: This capitalizes on Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the product, where the uniqueness of it adda more value than its counterparts. Here the pricing and production depends on the factors like research, brand positioning and the appetite of the consumers, which in turn depend on the resources like research facility, creative and skilled workers, strong sales or campaign team, etc. In all, this strategy works more on utility value and snob value, and thus it makes its ground.
  3. Focus Strategy: In this the product is made for a targeted segment of consumers, who may exist at any end of the economic zone. In this case pricing and production depend on the purchasing power of the consumers. For example, Mercedes cars are made for a frugal part of the car market, yet huge money is invested behind it. This strategy works on sentiment value, and thus intends to cash on the group sentiment.

  1. Actions Speak Louder than Words: Leaders’ Respect for Other Cultures

The journey of every organization is ideally poised to reach multicultural stage from monocultural stage, and the leaders have huge role to smoothen that process by their actions like below:

  1. Ensuring equal access in information: The leaders should see to it that each employee understands the directives and other messages where language should not be a barrier.
  2. Ensuring equal treatment to all under identical conditions: Leaders should practice same set of instructions for the employees under identical conditions.
  3. Ensuring implementation of equal scopes to access benefits from the company: All employees should be benefited under identical conditions and leaders must take necessary actions towards that.
  4. Reflecting a clear stand of maintaining distance from the private organizations that “have room only for those who are totally aligned to their own secret aims and objectives” (d’Errico, 1990). This would stamp on leaders’ unbiased stand in personal life and that would instill confidence among employees belonging to different culture.
  5. Preventing any formation of undercover monocultural dominance in the company: The leaders should diffuse any such group at the first instance, which would serve the message to all.

To take the above steps, the leaders need to learn about the nuances of various cultures, as there remain several items among cultures that carry even contrasting connotations. These items are spread into behavioral and religious practices, communication processes and in the worldviews of the people. Thus the leaders should know about such items and omit them from his activities. Not doing some things perhaps makes a bigger statement here.

  1. Variety is the Spices of Learning

Stamping elements that can play on emotion and influence the cognition create powerful learning experiences in humans, where they can stem from sudden situations, systematic learning process or even from informal situations conducive to the learning process. According to the researchers like Greenaway (1995), variety rules the proceedings like below:

  1. Variety of valued experience: This can take lace within a single group with people carrying varied experiences.
  2. Variety in patterns and sequences of learning: This deal with setting of learning atmosphere like space, opportunity, climate, etc., besides the content of learning.
  3. Re-learning process: This is important in the process that includes reaffirming, retuning.
  4. Support from others: This develops trust and teamwork. Group learning is definitely a powerful experience.
  5. Level of processing: Some might like easy processing, some might love it only when the learning looks complicated.
  6. Inexplicable understanding: This experience is a personal realization, which highly impacts the learner.
  7. Holistic perspective: This experience is triggers the emotion routed in one’s culture and thus evokes a powerful response.

Powerful learning experiences can help the leaders in the ways like below:

  1. Using life-experience as an example to convince the followers about a certain idea.
  2. Exploiting the knowledge base in evaluating a situation before decision-making.
  3. Exploring the new horizon of adventure with the support of such knowledge base.
  4. Envisioning the future with the help of it.
  5. Preventing untoward situations by utilizing it.


Brown, D. (2008). Supportive Communication. Web article. Retrieved 7 August 2008,   from http://www.abreastinthewest.ca/healthy2.cfm?Num=62

Deci, E. and Ryan, R. (1985) Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human       Behaviour (New York: Plenum Press).

d’Errico, K.H. (1990). From a Monocultural to a Multicultural Organization. Research    article. Retrieved 24 July 2008, from      http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/articles/index.php?id=91

Goleman, D. (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Goudy, L.N. (2006). Definition of Ethics, Morals, Virtue, and Quality. Web       document. Retrieved 7 July 2008, from      http://www.angelfire.com/home/sesquiq/2007sesethics.html

Greenaway, R. (1995). Powerful Learning Experiences in Management Learning            and Development. Research document. Retrieved 7 July 2008, from    http://reviewing.co.uk/research/ple_sum.htm#main

Khera, S. You Can Win: Macmillan India, 2004

Kotelnikov, V. (2008). Entrepreneurial Leadership. Web document. Retrieved 5 August            2008, from             http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/leadership_entrepren           eurial.html

Kouzes, J. M, & Posner, B.Z. (2002). The Leadership Challenge, Third Edition   (Hardcover), Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-0787956783

Locke, E. A., Shaw, K.N., Saari, L. M. and Latham, G. P. (1981) Goal setting and task performance.1969-1980. Psychological Bulletin, 90(1), pp. 125-152.

Pintrich, P.R. (2000). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In M Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (eds) The handbook of self-regulation (pp. 451-502). San Diego: Academic Press

Porter’s Generic Strategies. Web document. Retrieved 7 August 2008, from             http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/generic.shtml

Pritchard, R. D., Jones, S., Roth, P., Stuebing, K.,and Ekeberg, S. (1988) Effects of group        feedback, goal setting, and incentives on organizational productivity. Journal of   Applied Psychology, 73(2),pp. 337.

Sosik, J. J., Megerian, L. E. (1999) Understanding Leader Emotional Intelligence and    Performance. Group & Oraganization Management, 24 No.3, pp. 367-390.

Yaverbaum, E. (2004). Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs.             Derborn Financial Publishing. ISBN 0793180619

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