What Is Leadership?

Leadership may be defined as a process of influencing group activities towards the achievement of certain goals. Thus, the leader is a person in a group who is capable of influencing the group to work willingly. He guides and directs other people and provides purpose and direction to their efforts. The leader is a part of the group that he leads, but he is distinct from the rest of the group. As defined by George R. Terry “Leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives”.

Leadership naturally implies the existence of a leader and followers as well as their mutual interaction. It involves inter-personal relation, which sustains the followers accepting the leader’s guidance for accomplishment of specified goals.

Managers have to guide and lead their subordinates towards the achievement of group goals. Therefore, a manager can be more effective if he is a good leader. He does not depend only on his positional power or formal authority to secure group performance but exercises leadership influence for the purpose. As a leader he influences the conduct and behaviour of the members of the work team in the interest of the organisation as well as the individual subordinates and the group as a whole. But leadership and management are not the same thing. Management involves planning, organising, coordinating and controlling operations in achieving various organisational goals. Leadership is the process which influences the people and inspires them to willingly accomplish the organisational objectives. Thus, a manager is more than a leader. On the other hand, a leader need not necessarily be a manager. For instance, in an informal group, the leader may influence the conduct of his fellow members but he may not be a manager. His leadership position is due to the acceptance of his role by his followers. But, the manager, acting as a leader, has powers delegated to him by his superiors. His leadership is an accompaniment of his position as a manager having an organised group of subordinates under his authority. Thus, managerial leadership has the following characteristics:

i)     It is a continuous process whereby the manager influences, guides and directs the behaviours of subordinates.

ii)    The manager-leader is able to influence his subordinates behaviour at work due to the quality of his own behaviour as leader.

iii)   The purpose of managerial leadership is to get willing cooperation of the work group in the achievement of specified goals.

iv)   The success of a manager as leader depends on the acceptance of his leadership by the subordinates.

v)    Managerial leadership requires that while group goals are pursued, individual goals are also achieved.

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