Leadership Fundamentals

Effectiveness in leadership is possible only when you know the basic rules guiding leadership; not only know them by heart but also in practice. There are a lot of books written on leadership that you could grab online or in a local bookshop. However, there are basic points that should always stay close to your heart. That is where this article comes in. Some of the fundamental things to know about leadership include the types of leadership, the different levels, and the skills that distinguish leaders. Let us know ‘Leadership Fundamentals’.

Leadership Fundamentals

Leadership Fundamentals

The highlights of leadership fundamentals in this article are aimed to keep you grounded in your role, no matter the level of leadership you are presently occupying. If you play your cards right, you could master the art of leadership so well that you rise to the top of the ladder in no time. Enjoy your read.

Types of leadership styles

Before we proceed further, it is important to point out here that leadership and management may not necessarily be the same. This is because management only provides guidance and direction to subordinates while a leader does not only manage but also provides inspiration to his followers.

That said, let’s take a brief but concise look at the four types of leadership styles presently in use all over the world.

  1. Authoritarian or Autocratic

This type of leadership style is what kings and queens of old used to govern their provinces and kingdoms in times past. Many countries still practice it today such as Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Chad, Burundi, and United Arab Emirates to mention but a few.

Jeff Bezos Career Advice
Jeff Bezos Career Advice

In modern terms, an autocratic leader takes all decisions by himself without necessarily having to consult with anybody else. They are the sole decision maker. As a principle, they do not take counsel or care about other people’s opinion

Autocratic leaders are often role models, very self-confident, and decisive in their actions. The drawback to this type of leadership is that, since they make all the decisions, subordinates have to consult them all the time before taking any action. This makes taking initiative on the part of the subordinates practically impossible.

  1. Laissez-Faire

This type of leadership fundamentals style is the complete opposite of the autocratic leadership style. Rather than micromanaging your staff or subordinates, You allow them to function freely and bring any novel ideas of their own to the table without any prejudice whatsoever. 

A leader practicing this style does not necessarily hands-off, he just chooses to let the subordinates make their own rules concerning their duties. He simply provides answers or tutorship whenever they need it but the leadership roles stop there. 

You will probably come across this leadership style in hedge fund managers and stock managers. This leadership style enables free thinking in the subordinates, encourages faster decision-making, and employees generally feel empowered.

While this leadership fundamentals style seems like the real deal, there is a drawback to it. Since people make up their own rules as they go, the original goals of the company or organization may become lost at some point. Also, if the employees are really skilled at their job, it is possible that productivity becomes low since there is no tangible oversight.

  1. Transformational

Transformational leadership style combines all the attributes required of a leader to achieve a predetermined goal. What that means is that a transformational leader sets goals and encourages the employees to put in their own quota to achieve such goals.

One major attribute of a transformational leader is the ability to encourage his employees or subordinates as well as help them to evolve in their different capacities. He is a good communicator and is able to enable his employees to see the bigger picture.

This leadership style is probably the most beloved of all. However, it can sometimes lead to burnout when employees become overworked. This becomes a problem especially when every goal has a stringent time constraint.

  1. Democratic

This leadership style is practiced in more than half of the countries in the world today. In fact, one of the rules of establishing a company is that major decisions must be voted upon and the majority always carries the vote. For example, the United States president can only make decisions allowed by the constitution and as decided by congress. He can only veto those decisions occasionally.

One major reason why this leadership style has thrived is that it takes into consideration the opinion of the majority. While the ultimate decision will come from the leader, the subordinates still feel included in the rulings. It also ensures that subordinates or employees can air their opinion and be sure that they will be heard.

However, this leadership style is only functional when all the members of the group or organization can be trusted to proffer reasonable opinions. In a situation where the majority are not skilled enough, decision-making becomes problematic for the leader.

Fundamental levels of leadership

There are 5 levels of fundamentals leadership. These levels do not depreciate your role as a leader but could mean that you are still answerable to someone else even in your leadership position. Also, how good and functional a company is will depend on the effectiveness of each of these levels.

These are:

  1. The Executive (Level 5) – this level of leadership is the ultimate decision-maker of the company or organization. Leaders in this category have the unique capability to ensure not just the success but the greatness of their company.
  2. The Effective Leader (Level 4) – this category of leaders always has a goal-oriented personality and they keep their company functioning at high levels of success compared to most.
  3. The Competent Manager (Level 3) – at this level, the leader is able to steer the employees toward a predefined direction. He does not necessarily have to encourage but the guidance he provides keeps the company going.
  4. The Contributing Team Member (Level 2) – a contributing team member will always bring actionable suggestions to the table. This level of leadership is often targeted for higher levels due to their ability to carry others along.
  5. The Highly Capable Worker (Level 1) – at the basic level of leadership exists individuals who are capable and proficient at what they do. They have control of their workspace and manage it well.

Fundamentals leadership skills to have

Now that you have an idea of the leadership styles and levels, let us take a quick look at the basic skill requirements of leaders. The list of skills is endless but can be summarized in the list below.

  1. Effective communicator. You will need to be able to communicate the goal of your company, organization, or department to your subordinates to enable them to function well in their respective capacities. Without a good communication network within the group, things begin to fall apart.
  2. Passionate. Effective leaders are passionate about their goals. It is that passion that drives them to reach the set goals.
  3. Open minded. Great leaders are open-minded and ready to take other people’s opinions into consideration. They are open to new ideas and innovations. Leaders with this attribute are always in tune with technological advancements.
  4. Empathic. While trying to dissociate yourself from the personal affairs of your employees may seem the best way, being emphatic may however work for you. When you are familiar with each of them, there is a high likelihood that they get to be more productive.
  5. Active learners. Great leaders are always learning; they never stop. This attribute stands them out of the crowd. They never claim to know it all but are always willing to learn, even from their subordinates.
  6. Dynamic. For a leader to be successful, he needs to be self-driven and motivated. A good leader does not plateau on a level of success but keeps aiming higher. He is always poised to best himself.
  7. Respectful. You cannot look down on others or make them feel less than themselves and still be regarded as a good leader. Good leaders are respectful of others’ opinions and personalities no matter their position on the rungs of the ladder.
  8. Exemplary. Great leaders are role models. People aspire to be like them because the way they live their lives is worth emulating.
  9. Confident. Simply because you take other people’s opinions into consideration does not mean you seek their validation. Great leaders do not need to be validated because they are already confident in their abilities.
  10. Relationship builders. Building relationships with great leaders is much more important than achieving a preconceived goal. In other words, a good leader is more concerned about how people can be useful to him in the future than what he stands to gain from them presently.
  11. Excellent interpersonal relationship skills. A good leader knows how best to relate to each category of people. He knows the best approach to bring out the best in each member of his team and uses it always.

Conclusion

To be a functional and great leader, you need to understand your personality and then build on your strong points. It is also important to have role models that are leaders in your sphere or area of discipline and emulate their lives where need be. Ultimately, what determines whether you are a good leader does not lie in which category you fit into but in your unique abilities to stand out from the crowd and excel.

FAQ

  1. What are the important don’ts for leaders?

Most importantly, leaders should always be humble and not know-it-alls, they should know when to delegate duties and when to handle things themselves, and they should know the best form of communication suited to their organization.

  1. What distinguishes a bad leader from a good one?

Their effectiveness and the ability to build morale in their workers. A good leader will always produce results because he can bring out the best in his subordinates by constantly encouraging them.

Leadership Fundamentals

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