Compilation of essays on ‘Leadership’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Leadership’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Leadership
- Essay on the Introduction to Leadership
- Essay on the Definition of Leadership
- Essay on the Functions of a Leader
- Essay on the Types of Leadership
- Essay on the Features of Leadership
- Essay on the Importance of Leadership
Essay # 1. Introduction to Leadership:
It is a characteristic of every group whether small or big to have a leader. The phenomenon of leadership is evidenced in the play of children, in the games of adults, in trade unions in an industry and in several other situations. The moral is that groups need leaders if they are to pull together as a team.
How leadership evolves has been a controversial problem and students of human affairs inspite of their efforts to evaluate the role of leaders in group behaviour, have not come to any final agreement.
Leaders are either necessary or history is made by them or leaders are merely the expression of popular needs. The first view is called the “leader principle” or the “great-man theory” of history. It holds that people drift along in aimless confusion until a gifted leader assumes command and tells them what to do. He may accomplish social change for good or bad, but the truth is that he appears to accomplish much more than he actually does.
For example, Hitler is said to have killed millions of people, but literally speaking, he himself did not kill them and yet he is credited with such events as killing and conquering. The second view is the sociological view.
It says that history makes or selects the man, and not vice versa. Social and cultural developments are thought to follow their own laws, and the presence of a particular person as leader is purely coincidental.
For example, if a society is at war, a peaceful leader will not be tolerated; in other words, every leader has to follow the needs of the group. In brief, sometimes the leader acquires the leadership influence as a result of his assigned role in an already structured group according to the needs of the group. Sometimes, the group has no predetermined structure and the leader emerges from the group.
Essay # 2. Definition of Leadership:
Few terms in Organization Behaviour inspire less agreement on definition than leadership. As one expert put it, “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are present who have attempted to define the concept of leadership.”
While almost everyone seems to agree that leadership involves an influence process, differences tend to center around whether leadership must be non-coercive (as opposed to using authority, rewards and punishments to exert influence over followers) and whether it is distinct from management.
The latter issue has been a particularly heated topic of debate in recent years, with most experts arguing that leadership and management are different.
For instance, Abraham Zaleznik of the Harvard Business School argues that leaders and managers are very different kinds of people altogether. They differ in motivation, personal history, and how they think an act efficiently. Zaleznik says that managers tend to adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitudes towards goals, whereas leaders take a personal and active attitude towards goals in the company.
Managers tend to view work as an enabling process involving some combination of people and ideas interacting to establish strategies and make decisions in the organization.
Leaders work from high-risk positions indeed; they are often temperamentally disposed to seek out risk and danger, especially when opportunity and reward appear high. Managers prefer to work with people; they avoid solitary activity because it makes them anxious.
They relate to people according to the role they play in a sequence of events or in a decision-making process. Leaders, who are concerned with ideas, relate to people in more intuitive and emphatic ways.
John Kotter, a colleague of Zaleznik at Harvard, also argues that leadership is different from management, but for different reasons in any organization. Management, he proposes, is about copying with complexity the previous one.
Good management brings about order and consistency by drawing up formal plans, designing rigid organization structures, and monitoring results against the plans. Leadership, in contrast, is about copying with change.
Leaders establish direction by developing a vision of the future, then they align people by communicating this vision and inspiring them to overcome hurdles. Kotter sees both strong leadership and strong management as necessary for optimum organizational effectiveness.
But he believes that most organizations are underled and over managed. He claims we need to focus more on developing leadership in organizations because the people in charge today are too concerned with keeping things on time and on budget and with doing that was done yesterday, only doing it five per cent better.
According to Chester I Bernard, “Leadership refers to the quality of the behavior of the individual whereby they guide people on their activities in organized efforts.”
Koontz and O’Donnell define managerial leadership as “the ability to exert interpersonal influence by means of communication, towards the achievement of a goal. Since managers get things done through people, their success depends to a considerable extent, upon their ability to provide leadership.”
Terry defined, “leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives.
Fiedler defined it is “a personal relationship in which one person directs, coordinates and supervises others in the performance of a common task.”
According to Alford and Beatty, “Leadership is the ability to secure desirable actions from a group of followers voluntarily, without the use of coercion.”
Thus leadership is the art of influencing and inspiring subordinates to perform their duties, willingly, competently and enthusiastically for achievement of group objectives. Must management writers indicate that, “leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in effort towards goal achievement in a given situation.”
Essay # 3. Functions of a Leader:
The leader, whether designated or emergent, exerts influence on the members of his group in fulfilling his functions. Krech, Crutchfield and Ballachey, distinguish 13 possible functions of a leader. Table 14.1, gives the different functions which a leader is supposed to perform. It is true that not all leaders perform all these functions in every group, and the relative importance of each function varies according to the nature of each group.
All leadership functions are not necessarily carried out by a single person even in a well-structured group with a designated leader. When the designated leader in a well-structured group fails to perform his functions, a second leader may emerge. Bales (1950), found that in unstructured small groups, two leaders often emerged.
One person was characterized by the group as doing the most to guide and control the discussion and as having the best ideas. This person was not, however, usually best liked. The function of resolving tensions and preserving group unity fell on another member of the group who was usually chosen as one best liked by his fellow members.
In an unstructured group when the members have interacted for some period, a structure emerges, with a leader and some followers. A number of investigations studying different groups, have been carried out. Mann reviewed the literature in the field of leadership and found some traits that are mentioned consistently as characteristics of leaders. In general, leaders tend to be more intelligent, better adjusted, more dominant, more masculine, less conservative and more socially perceptive than the other members of the group.
It is important to note that this is not simply a list of personality characteristics of an individual, but a list of relationships between the individual and the group. This suggests that there is no single leader personality for all types of groups. The kind of person who becomes a leader depends on both, the characteristics of the group members and the nature of the group task. Gibb has shown that leadership ratings for the same person vary when groups are confronted with various tasks.
Essay # 4. Types of Leadership:
Basically, a leader is a person who influences a group to follow the course of action he advocates. The leader is really the major influencer because he influences the members of the groups to accept his proposals. Leadership can be either formal leadership of informal leadership.
i. Formal Leadership:
The formal leader influences the members of his group primarily because he occupies a formally recognized position. He is the president, chairman or king. His role is to attempt to influence his followers and the role of the followers is to follow him. Frequently, the followers accept the formal leader’s ideas because the leader has authority over them and dispenses rewards and punishments.
However, any influence based upon the threat of punishment is not likely to be long lasting. The followers, obviously, will obey the orders only so long as they fear getting caught. Such leadership cannot be very effective, though in some situations, such as in war or extreme economic crisis, it may be workable out of sheer necessity. Generally, a leader is most effective when his followers accept his ideas because they truly believe in them.
ii. Informal Leadership:
The informal leader does not derive his influence from a formal position and yet, he may be quite a successful influencer in his group. The group members follow his lead because his personal qualities convince them that they can satisfy their own needs by accepting his ideas. Usually, in such a situation the group members not knowing how to attain their goals on their own, they turn to the informal leader for ways and means of achieving their group goals.
The group members perceive in their informal leader the quality of proficiency in handling the tasks confronting the group. The group frequently relies on the leader’s past performance. Past performance, however, is not the only basis for accepting an informal leader’s ideas. A person who is well liked has a much better chance of having his ideas accepted, and thus of influencing people, than one who is less popular. Likes and dislikes, therefore, serve to influence the members of the group in choosing a leader.
Finally, evidence shows that the more assertive the individual is, more likely is that he will be chosen a leader than the less assertive person, at least in first stages of group’s existence. The assertive person is the individual who talks a great deal and advances a relatively large number of ideas.
If he is not arrogant and aggressive in asserting himself, his active participation makes him stand out in a group. Further, since the assertive person usually advances his ideas with confidence the members of the group come to feel that his ideas are correct.
The social influences on the individual may come from organized groups or unorganized groups. An organized group is an assembly of people physically present like a congregation in a church, or an audience in an auditorium. An unorganized group, on the other hand, is an assembly of people joined together temporarily to solve an issue but with no plans for the future.
The most striking instances of the influences upon the individual are observed in crowd and mob behaviour. A crowd may be said to be an assembly of people attracted to a common focus of the attention sharing similar emotions.
It may be a group of curious and fearful spectators of an accident, or sympathetic onlookers at a fire, or even excited fans at sports and games. If the common emotion is very intense, especially if it is anger, and if adequate action is not taken, the crowd turns into a mob.
Some of the factors, which seem to be respectable for mob action and mob behaviour are:
(1) Background Factors:
Mob behaviour is most likely to occur where there are long-standing frustrations, which arise sudden general susceptibility because of either accumulated hostility towards particular groups.
For example, people in very low socio-economic conditions can be potential mobs towards those of high socio-economic conditions. Similarly, generalized hostility of frustrated men and common antagonisms towards employers can result in mob behaviour.
(2) Precipitating Factors:
In such situations some incident occurs, which generates a crowd by focusing the attention on it and initiating common emotions. At once, there is intensification of emotion, which changes a crowd into a mob. The speeches and gestures of people expressing similar emotions serve to increase the feelings of the individual.
His increased feelings intensify the feelings of others. For example, when a person of low caste attacks a woman of high caste, this incident is sufficient to break a crowd into a mob fury.
(3) Reinforcing Factors:
Since the individuals in a crowd are excited by intense emotions, critical thought is given up thus producing psychological effects which reinforce the participants. The characteristics of mob behaviour are a sense of universality. The individual feels that everyone is with him in what he is doing.
Secondly, he experiences a sense of power in the sense that he can do whatever he likes and nothing can stop him. Finally, there is a sense of anonymity because he can get out of the mob and claim no responsibility for the violence and fury.
Essay # 5. Features of Leadership:
1. It is a process of influence exercised by a leader on group members. A leader is one who influences the behavior, attitudes and beliefs of his followers.
2. It is a function of stimulation. It involves motivating people to strive willingly towards organizational goals.
3. It gives a feeling of contributing to common objectives. The leader recognizes the efforts and activities of every individual in the organization.
4. It is related to a particular situation at a given point of time and under a specific set of circumstances. Leadership style will change from one situation to another.
5. It is a shared experience. A good leader shares ideas, experience and credit with his followers. He lets the subordinates influence his behavior so that they are satisfied with the type of leadership provided.
6. It is not headship or bossism. Headship implies exercise of formal authority and control whereas leadership involves use of persuasion to influence behavior.
7. It implies existence of followers; subordinates formalize the leader’s authority and make the leadership process possible.
8. It leads to goal accomplishment; leader’s efforts are aimed at some level of achievement.
Essay # 6. Importance of Leadership:
Think of all the groups you have joined in your life clubs, student associations, religious groups, teams. Do they have anything in common? Social psychologists would suggest that they do, because they probably all meet the requirements of the following definition- they consist of two or more persons who interact with one another, have shared goals, are somehow interdependent (what happens to one affects what happens to the other), and view themselves as members of the group.
In other words, the groups you brought to mind are what psychologists describe as true social groups. In contrast, mere gatherings of people who are not interdependent, don’t have common goals, and don’t perceive themselves as members of a group (e.g., people standing at a bus stop or waiting outside a theater) are not true social groups—and probably weren’t included in your list.
Why do we make this distinction? Because true social groups, in contrast to mere gatherings of people, often exert powerful effects on their members. Such groups affect their members’ task performance, the extent to which members coordinate their efforts (i.e., cooperate), the decisions members make, and many other processes. Obviously, we can’t consider all of these effects here. As an example of how groups influence their members, therefore, we focus on one such effect leadership.
For starters, try this simple demonstration with your friends. Ask them to rate themselves, on a seven-point scale ranging from 1 (very low) to 7 (very high), on leadership potential. Unless your friends are a very unusual group, here’s what you’ll find. Most will rate themselves as average or above on this dimension. This suggests that they view leadership very favorably.
But what exactly is leadership? Definitions vary, but most psychologists view leadership as the process through which one member of a group (its leader) influences other group members toward attainment of shared group goals. In other words, being a leader involves influence—a leader is the group member who exerts most influence within the group.
Research on leadership has long been part of social psychology, but it is also studied by other fields too.
In this discussion we’ll focus on two issues that have received a great deal of attention:
(1) Why some individuals, but not others, become leaders, and
(2) The nature of charismatic leadership.
Who Becomes a Leader? The Role of Traits and Situations:
Are some people born to lead? Common sense suggests that this is so. Famous leaders such as Alexander the Great, Queen Elizabeth I, and Abraham Lincoln seem to differ from ordinary people in several respects. Such observations led early researchers to formulate the great person theory of leadership: the view that great leaders possess certain traits that set them apart from most human beings traits that are possessed by all such leaders, no matter when or where they live.
These are intriguing ideas, but until about 1980 research offered little support for them. Try as they might, researchers could not come up with a short list of key traits shared by all great leaders. In recent years, however, this situation has changed. More sophisticated research methods, coupled with a better understanding of the basic dimensions of human personality, have led many researchers to conclude that leaders do differ from other persons in several important ways.
What special characteristics do leaders possess? Research findings point to the conclusion that leaders rate higher than most people on the following traits: drive the desire for achievement coupled with high energy and resolution; self- confidence; creativity, and leadership motivation the desire to be in charge and exercise authority over others. In addition, and perhaps most important of all, leaders or at least successful ones are high in flexibility the ability to recognize what actions or approaches are required in a given situation and then to act accordingly.
While certain traits do seem to be related to leadership, however, it is also clear that leaders do not operate in a social vacuum. On the contrary, different groups, facing different tasks and problems, seem to require different types of leaders—or at least leaders who demonstrate different styles. So yes, traits do matter where leadership is concerned; but traits are definitely only part of the total picture, and it is misleading to conclude that all leaders, everywhere and at all times, share precisely the same traits.
Charismatic Leaders: Leaders Who Change the World:
Have you ever seen films of John F. Kennedy? Franklin D. Roosevelt? Martin Luther King Jr.? If so, you may have noticed that there seemed to be something special about these leaders. As you listened to their speeches, you may have found yourself being moved by their Words and stirred by the vigor of their presentations. You are definitely not alone in such reactions: These leaders exerted powerful effects on many millions of persons and by doing so, changed their societies.
Leaders who accomplish such feats are described as being charismatic (or, sometimes, as transformational). How are charismatic leaders able to produce their profound effects? Apparently, through a combination of behaviors and characteristics that allow these leaders to establish a special type of relationship with followers—one in which followers have high levels of loyalty to the leader and a high level of enthusiasm for the leader’s vision or goals. As one expert on this topic puts it, charismatic leaders somehow “make ordinary people do extraordinary things”.
But what, precisely, do charismatic leaders do to produce such effects? Research findings emphasize the importance of the following factors. First, such leaders usually propose a vision. They describe, in vivid, emotion-provoking terms, an image of what their society or group can and should become. To the extent followers accept this vision, their level of commitment to the leader and the leader’s goals can be intense.
Second, charismatic leaders go beyond stating a dream or vision: They also offer a route for reaching it. They tell their followers, in straightforward terms, how to get from here to there. This too seems to be crucial, for a vision that seems out of reach is unlikely to motivate people to work to attain it.
Third, charismatic leaders engage in framing. They define the goals for their group in away that gives extra meaning and purpose to the goals and to the actions needed to attain them. A clear illustration of such framing is provided by the story of two stonecutters working on a cathedral in the Middle Ages.
When asked what they were doing, one replied, “Cutting this stone, of course.” The other answered, “Building the world’s most beautiful temple to the glory of God.” Which person would be likely to work harder and, perhaps, to do “extraordinary things”? The answer is obvious—and it is also clear that any leader who can induce such thinking in her or his followers can also have profound effects upon them.
Other behaviors shown by charismatic leaders include high levels of self-confidence, a high degree of concern for followers’ needs, an excellent communication style, and a stirring personal style. Finally, research findings emphasize the importance of acts of self-sacrifice by charismatic leaders such leaders give up important personal benefits (wealth, status, convenience) for the good of the group and for the sake of their vision.
Faced with such self-sacrifice, followers conclude that the leader is sincere and is acting on the basis of principle, and come to view this person as charismatic. These perceptions, in turn, enhance the leader’s influence. In sum, charisma is not as mysterious as many people assume. Rather, it rests firmly on principles and processes well understood by social psychologists.