Leadership Assessment Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1585 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

Leadership Assessment

Definition of leader

In order to know the type of skills that characterize a leader one first has to know what a 'leader' means, but, as Van Wart (2003) points out, leaders vary from age to age and from country to country and cannot be pinned down in a quantitative manner. Definitions and perspective of leadership, therefore, have transitioned through various paradigms from the great man theories that debated whether leaders were born or made, to transformational leadership that asserted that the leader was the one who not only led his follower but also changed him (Schein, 1985). Other historical theories of leadership categories revolved around some of the following: Great Man: that leadership was innate and could not be taught (Pre-1900); Trait: that leadership depends on certain traits (1900-1948); Contingency: that leadership is formed by one's environment (1948-80's); and transformational: that the leader has to be capable of transforming society and individuals. From the 1978to present, the idea was that the leader has to be visionary inspiring others to follow (1978-present); that he has to be a servant (i.e. exemplary); and that leadership consists FO making the follower centeral to the leaser's oriject whatsoever that may be.

Countless books and numerous articles have also set forth a plethora of qualities regarding those that the ideal leader should personify. These include: the need to possess drive, integrity, motivation, self-confidence, complete and over wrapping knowledge of one's project / organization / objective; and haste to respond to and recognize the needs of others. A good leader has to be able to communicate with and understand the other from the other's perspective (Bateman & Snell, 2009, p. 436). He is able to deal with change and flexible and be able to lead her followers through change too. She has to lead by example. She has to motivate her followers and she has to personify the traits of Empowerment; Risk-taking; Participation; and Development. On top of all of that, the ideal leader has to be constantly upgrading him, reflective and calm (Bateman & Snell, 2009).

II. Sun Tsu and evaluation of leadership skills

Whilst it may be difficult to quantify leadership, since it varies from job to job and from country to country, there are many organizations who have drawn upon Sun Tzu's work for help in enabling them to acquire key leadership characteristics.

Sun Tsu was a great Chinese general of the 8th century who won acclaim for hi stupendous leadership skills and capacities in war. His classic "the Art of War' has been used by business schools, the Military, and similar organizations as a primer in teaching leaderhip skills.

Sun Tzu's characterization of great warriors / leaders are 10 in number. Great leader personify the following. They:

1. Learn to fight

2. Show the way

3. Do it right

4. Know the facts

5. Expect the worst

6. Seize the day

7. Burn the bridges

8. Do it better

9. Pull together

10. Keep opponents / competitors guessing

1. Learn to fight

Life constitutes competition and one should learn how to fight, but fighting should only be done when one needs to. Fighting should also be done in a rational manner, since poor emotional control can destruct the leader. It can warp his judgment, and make him commit errors as well as helping his or her competitor overwhelm him.

2. Show the way

The leader should be self-disciplined and implement goals to guide him. These goals should be internally, not externally motivated, and he should seek to constantly and consistently focus on them and follow them.

Says Sun Tsu: The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success." (pt. 16)

The leader has to constantly fight against the following five weaknesses. These are:

(1) Recklessness (2) Cowardice (3) anger (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble. (pt: 12)

3. Do it right

The leader should be deliberate. It is action that determines success, and the actions themselves need to be carefully thought through and plotted beforehand. Once created, the plan needs to be acted on and followed through in order for the leader to accomplish the extraordinary and earn credibility.

Restraint and fortitude is also necessary as balancing act in order to main credibility and respect of one's followers in this way, the leader earns and sustains personal credibility by showing that not only can he follow through but he knew when to desist.

4. Know the facts

The credible leader only marches ahead once he has all the facts in his possession. Being impulsive and impetuous is ruinous to self, to others, and to project and will destroy his credibility. Leaders have to ascertain that they know all the facts of the situation or potential outcomes of their plan. All details are important because, sometimes it may be the minutest statistic that spells the differnce between success and failure.

Information management can be divided into two parts. The leader first gathers the pertinent information to structure a decision. The leader then elaborates on that information and evaluates it in order to ascertain that he will make the correct decision.

According to Sun Tsu, the best information comes from immediate experience but this should be verified and tested by scientific research. Decision-making should be scrupulous, prudent, and weigh all possibilities, constantly keeping the possibility of unpredictability in mind.

5. Expect the worst

A good leader never relaxes his guard. He should be constantly seeking to better himself and his skills, learning from opponents as well as from friends. The competition is constantly trying to beat him. Change is always a factor. He should be adequately prepared and only deal with change when he is fully equipped (i.e. has the resources) to do so.

Superior strategy and large resources do not guarantee outcome. Rather it is the leader's astuteness and wiliness in closely observing, focusing on the weak spots, and attacking those.

6. Seize the day

Speed and simplicity (not complexity of operations or instruction) are important. The leader has to make his strategy as simple as possible and seize the propitious moment. Simple methods are best since they are clear, effective and inexpensive. Others can be tried later, if these methods fail. The leader too has to make sure that each and every oen of his followers understand him and that he speaks to their level. As regards 'Seizing the day': "Thus though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays." (pt. 5)

7. Burn the bridges

The effective leader makes the project / work a collaborative effort, with all working harmoniously together as a team, pushing forward to one's goal. Sun Tszu advocates burning the bridges behind them, namely placing troops in situations where they are told they are in danger or that the business will fail and, therefore, they have no choice but to succeed. . With sense of urgency created, this will drive them to success.

Motivation and commitment are the keys to leadership. People are motivated by profit, but also seek order and fulfillment. Sun Tzu recommends that motivating followers through challenging periods of change requires that the leader present his followers with a clear format of objectives, delineate the benefits, and treat his followers well. Success of the organization is built upon the efforts of the individuals.

8. Do it better

Seek innovation. It can be the key to your success, since it puts you one up above competition.

9. Pull together.

Organization and training should be clear, and expectations coherent so that followers will understand and trust the leader.

Effective -- and interesting training that makes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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