Leadership is a process in which one person, who is the leader, has an influence on the other people in order to achieve a set common goal. Leadership is important, as it ensures a cohesive and coherent environment. A leader is therefore, responsible for the leadership role in a group. The leader will practise their leadership responsibilities by making use of the skills and knowledge they possess. There is a common belief that leaders are born, however, leaders can also be made through training and learning of the leadership skills. A person’s beliefs, values, character, and ethics play a big role in determining what kind of a leader they will be. Today, we experience both good and bad leadership in different situations. Bad leadership is harmful to the society in many ways, therefore, should be avoided. Good leadership is what the society should adopt, as this is beneficial in many ways (Gene 12). This essay will therefore, address the concept of good leadership, and some of the steps one must follow to ensure good leadership.
Knowledge and skills contribute to the leadership process. However, personal attributes such as values, and character, are the ones that make a leader to stand out among all the others. For instance, in order for one to practise good leadership, they must be impartial. This enhances trust and credibility of the leader by the people. These are aspects that are earned by the leader, and do not merely come with the position. However, if a leader acts ethically and professionally, they will be able to win trust of the people. Impartiality mainly refers to the treatment of everyone in an equal manner, devoid of favouritism. This improves relationships between the leader and the people, since the people will be sure that their leader does not have hidden outcomes in their position, neither will they question motivation. In this case, a leader must therefore, apply equal standards to all people and perform unbiased evaluation (Gene 25).
Good leadership requires strong confidence. A good leader must therefore, be confident in themselves. Confidence includes a leader having an honest understanding of who they are, their skills and knowledge, as well as their capabilities. This is the first step of confidence on the leader’s side. Similarly, the people must have strong confidence in their leader, as this will prove that the leader is effective. It is the people who judge and determine the effectiveness of their leaders. Therefore, if people do not trust their leader or lack confidence in them, this means the leader is poor. Therefore, a good leader must work toward building their confidence, as well as the confidence of the people they lead. This is because; one must prove to people that they are capable of good leadership (Manning and Curtis 44).
For good leadership, a person must be capable of learning from their mistakes. Normally, it is always hard for people to accept their mistakes and take lessons from them. However, as a leader, one must be ready to accept their mistakes and learn lessons from them. This is an important step in learning, growing, and improving in the leadership position. A good leader must therefore, not blame their mistakes on the people, but admit them, as this is known to accelerate immense progress. If a leader made a few failures in the past, this should not deter them from moving on. They must have the confidence and courage of learning from their failures, and using the failures to produce success. Mistakes and failures are crucial in leadership, as they offer the leader more experience in specific situations. It becomes probable that after making a certain mistake, or failing terribly in a specific situation, a leader might not repeat the same mistakes in the future, and they will not fail if the same situation presents itself in future. Therefore, accepting past mistakes and learning from them, makes a good leader (Manning and Curtis 53).
Good leadership involves putting the needs of others first. This is the virtue of selflessness. True leadership requires putting the people and their causes ahead of one’s own causes. In the past, the world has witnessed great leaders such as King, Gandhi, Lincoln, among others, who were selfless. A selfless leader does not seek to be rewarded or getting any kind of personal gain. Such leaders will also be accountable for their actions, bearing in mind that being a leader does not guarantee them careless mistakes, instead; they are aware that their actions too have consequences. Unlike the past influential leaders, most leaders today do not exhibit a high level of selflessness, as these are concerned with their personal rewards, instead of prioritizing the needs of the people they serve. However, selflessness does not mean that a leader loses their sense of self or will. A selfless leader might have a great ego and strong will but will always know that the needs of the people come first. This requires a considerable level of self-sacrifice, patience, hard work, and love (Gächter et al 33).
Leaders in the contemporary world still have a chance to learn how to be good leaders. They have great examples of influential leaders in the past, whom they can learn from. For instance, King was one of America’s greatest leaders, with an impressive leadership style. He possessed many personal attributes, skills, and knowledge, which enabled him perform in his position of leadership. Some of the major factors that shaped King to be an influential civil rights leader is the fact that he lived in a highly racist period, as well as the nature of his background. As a leader, King portrayed all the above mentioned characteristics of good leadership. His self-confidence was high, as he knew what he was capable of doing, and did exactly that. He also put the needs of his people first. In this case, King fought for the liberation of the blacks from racism. He therefore, struggled to achieve equal treatment of both blacks and whites. Although this could get him arrested at times, he knew he was doing it for the black community, and therefore, did not give up. This also depicts the height of selflessness King possessed (Flora, Hardwick and Taylor 417).
The “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” provides a good example of how leaders should address important issues. Even though he was arrested alongside other members of his organization, King chose to use the non-violent method to bring to the authorities the issue of racism and injustice. He quotes Paul in the Bible and the other prophets, as having also moved from their hometowns to spread the gospel to far away cities, but his was a message of freedom. Although the clergymen had condemned King of the bold step he had taken and had negatively criticized him, King did not rattle back at them in the letter. Instead, he received the criticism in a cool manner, and took his time to respond to the criticism effectively. King in his letter is also confident about the non-violent method he used; as he defends and justifies it to the clergymen, the letter is addressed to. This therefore, shows that a good leader must stand for what is right, despite the negative criticisms they face (Flora, Hardwick and Taylor 434).
Leaders serve as role models to the people they lead, even though this may not be obvious to them. As a leader, a person has great influence on the people they lead, and their actions and decisions can have great effects on the people. For instance, in the book Acts of Faith, Patel explains how role models and early influences affect people’s behaviour and personality. Children are good at aping what their role models do, either good or bad. In this book, Patel mainly focuses on how positive or negative influence on young people can make them contribute positively or negatively in the society in future. Using different accounts, Patel shows some leaders influence young people negatively, leading to them becoming bad people in society. This therefore, shows that a good leader must be cautious of the kind of influence they have on the people. Good leaders must ensure they have a positive influence on all the people they lead, for the good of the society (Patel 28).
Flora, Joseph, Hardwick, Lucinda and Taylor, Todd. “The Companion to Southern Literature:
Themes, Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs.” New York: LSU Press, 2002. Print.
Gächter, Simon, Nosenzo, Daniele, Renner, Elke and Sefton, Martin. “Who Makes a Good
Leader? Social Preferences and Leading-by-Example.” Discussion Paper No. 3914, December 2008. Web.
Gene, Klann. “Building Character: Strengthening the Heart of Good Leadership.” New York:
John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Print.
Manning, George and Curtis, Kent. “The Art of Leadership.” London: McGraw-Hill
International, 2003. Print.
Patel, Eboo. “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a
Generation.” New Jersey: Beacon Press, 2010. Print.
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