Being a leader
Leadership is a common and quite simple word but rather very difficult word to define due to its complexity and multifaceted composition. According to Bass (1981) leadership can be defined in different ways: It is an act of influencing activities of an organized group in its quest to set goals and also to achieve certain goals. He also defined leadership to mean the influence that somebody exercises in a situation by means of communication in order to attain a specified goal. However in order to be a leader you require a variety of qualities. A good leader is one who doesn’t know everything: trying to imagine that effective leadership is related to knowing everything is one of the most dangerous misconceptions in the field of leadership. So as much as the final decision and responsibility lies with one individual, it is important for him/her to gather other peoples’ opinions or views and respects them before making a final decision on an issue.
To be a good leader one also need to be open to change. This is one of the obvious factors that take place in life including areas where we work but has remained strongly resisted by mankind. However effective leadership demands that we anticipate all changes whether minor or major and respond to them promptly to allow growth to take place. On other hand however, it is also important to understand some of the attributes associated with bad leadership in life so as to avoid them completely when one is aspiring to be a leader. In order to be a leader one should avoid being a buddy boss. This character is normally exhibited when a manger make buddies instead of being a leader after failing to acquire the recognition of a leader amongst employees. Experts hold it that bosses can never be buddies with their employees; in fact their power and authority are always neutralized by friendships. Such relationships are always known to cloud the objectivity of a leader and hinder his/her ability to correct behaviours, delegate and to hold employees accountable for their responsibilities, omissions or commissions. As a person strive to climb the ladder of good leadership, it is important to avoid disorganization at workplace because such behaviour always leads to having employees without direction just like their leaders. In fact disorganized leaders don’t always guide their teams properly because they don’t deliver and manage their plans and strategies appropriately.
The following essay was submitted to the Berkeley MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
One of the most difficult situations I have ever had face during my tenure as VP of my company was the decision whether to fire Jane, an experienced employee, who I had worked with closely for two years. The decision arrived at my desk after a new CEO was appointed, and I became his VP, in charge of most employees. Together, we decided that we were going to transform our small and quiet company into a leading research firm with a target of 50% sales growth over the next 2 years. For that, we needed a devoted team that was committed to this goal.
This vision did not fit Jane. She left a large corporation where she worked long hours, and one of the main reasons she chose to join us was the laid back and relaxed atmosphere of a small company- exactly what we were determined to change. Although talented, she did only the minimum necessary, and was not willing to make any sacrifices and commit to our goal.
I faced a tough decision. On the one hand, firing a talented and experienced employee, in a time when most of the employees were new (as we wanted to drive growth we recruited new people), seemed unwise. In addition, I knew that our relationships with major clients might get hurt and a substantial knowledge base would be lost
On the other hand, not firing her would mean establishing double standards for our employees – most were required to work hard, whereas Jane was leaving early and refused to contribute extra efforts. Her opposition to the change had already begun creating undesired effects, as a few of the employees resented her.
In order to solve the problem, I tried to make Jane relate to the new goals and change her attitude. In addition, we also improved the company’s bonus program, based also on her comments, in order to reward the extra efforts. When all milder measures failed, I had to make a decision.
I decided to fire Jane. Although I knew that in the short run things would be difficult, I concluded there was no other way. I needed the most dedicated team possible, a team who was personally committed to the growth of the company. Jane, as head of a major division, would have undermined this effort in the long run.
Personally, making the decision was very hard. It meant firing someone with whom I had worked with closely for a long time. However, In terms of team spirit, matters improved greatly, and we succeeded in building the right team to lead the company forward. The new division head that replaced Jane was a highly motivated manager, and with her I had a team that could reach the ambitious goals we set, and indeed, in two years we have doubled the company’s project capacity, with a great improvement of research quality and customer satisfaction.