Term Paper: Leadership Characteristics of Administrators

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Leadership Characteristics of Administrators

To define leadership, we first have to understand that leadership is relative i.e. everyone has a different approach to define what is good leadership. There are some who try to differentiate between the tasks and approaches of an individual in terms of being a good leader or a good manager. There are others who concentrate on the necessary characteristics of an individual that make him/her a leader like intellect, risk taking ability, determination, creativity, etc. There are many others who are more focused on the different elements of leadership and believe that these elements are far more important for any researcher to catalog if they are analyzing the dynamics and aspects of leadership especially within academic institutions. This study offers a synthesis of the main findings on the leadership related to past and current trends in leadership literature; characteristics of leadership and the relationship between power and leadership. This study used analysis of publications and reviews of research from 1900's to present, and refined these results into concise and clear findings that can be understood by the reader.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Three aspects had been taken into consideration when collecting the information. Only those scholarly books and peer-reviewed articles have been included which revealed:

1) Past and current trends in leadership literature;

2) Characteristics of leadership; and 3) the relationship between power and leadership;

In order to answer these questions, the researcher did a meta-analysis of recent publications. The researcher reviewed articles from several books and articles published in educational magazines and journals (such as QUESTIA, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, MSN, ATHENS) and analyzed information published in these sources to fulfill the objectives of this study. Furthermore, the keywords used to search for information in these databases were: LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS, POWER and LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP RESEARCH, ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP QUALITIES, SUCCESSFUL LEADERS

Section 1: Overview of leadership

As already mentioned, leadership has numerous ways in which it can be defined but the one commonality in every definition of leadership is that leadership takes place as a group activity with communication and work being done between two or more individuals or groups that share the same objective (Yukl 1989). Bloom and Loughead (2006) in their paper review leadership and define it as "a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Bloom and Loughead, 2006; pg 60)" the overall approach to making a group work under a leadership becomes the main focus hereof. The manner could be both that of dictatorship and/or teamwork. Both have different aftermaths and different circumstances. Duemer et al. (2004) asserts that teamwork and collaborative environment is essential for progress of the entire group towards their goals (Duemer et al., 2004).

In the researches available thus far, it is hard to point out or list the tangible or calculable structure of the responsibilities of the leader. Scholars, however, have been more clear and tangible in defining the roles and responsibilities of the managers. Most scholars have agreed on the following characteristics that leaders mostly have: intellect, creativity, motivated, determined futurists and magnetic (Rosenbach and Taylor 1989). In one of the most popular publications "The Manager's Job" by Henry Mintzberg (1975), he highlighted some of the activities that the managers have to take on to do their job well; all these activities apply to the dynamics of a good leader. The activities highlighted included the allotment of all resources financial and otherwise, to resolve the problems within the working structure, satisfying both clients and employees and constantly analyzing the work settings for improvement or reformation (Mintzberg, 1975).

Leadership Intelligence

One of the many methods of researches carried out on leadership was to highlight the specific characteristics of a leader like determination or creativity. Intelligence or intellect was the most popular characteristic highlighted in many studies. Aristotle's approach that only those individuals who had higher intelligence could rule over a nation successfully was a major component towards making intelligence one of the most important characteristic that a leader needed to have. The general idea is that the individual who has superior intelligence will make better and knowledgeable decisions. Other studies supported the belief that an individual could not be groomed or developed into a leader, he was either a born leader or not. This belief was abandoned with the passage of time as the notion seemed too fortune-based. Chan (2007) summed up the literature on intelligence and leadership, "Leaders were more intelligent than their followers, and intelligence was consistently associated with perceptions of leadership (pg: 183)." He further points out, "Over the years, while intelligence researchers have recognized that there is more to intelligence than the mental abilities represented in traditional intelligence tests, and have advocated broader conceptualizations and multiple facets or domains of intelligence (pg: 183)." This broader conceptualization includes emotional intelligence; he writes, "The construct of emotional intelligence and the terms of EI or EQ as opposed to IQ have now become popular and commonplace terms (pg: 183)." Within the domain of education administration, one can assume that intelligence is vital for strong and successful leadership. Highly intelligent educational leaders can assist not only students but also staff in solving issues and problems affecting education.

Charismatic Leadership

One other characteristic for a leader that has been rated highly amongst many scholars is that of charisma. This basically means that the individual has a high level of appeal amongst the masses or amongst the individuals he/she is working with. This massive appeal allows the leader the advantage of working around people who are motivated to work under him/her and respect his/her approach to work. The leader also has the advantage of being viewed as the visionary and the inspiration to stick to a particular goal or philosophy. Seybolt (2003) points out that a charismatic leader carries extraordinary expectations on their shoulders as they are expected to change the tide in the favor of the followers due to their personal magnetism. Followers look up towards their leaders with hope that they will work selflessly and creatively to solve their problems. Leaders in turn act boldly and innovatively to earn the respect and favor from their followers (Seybolt, 2003).

Many researches have taken the characteristic of charisma beyond being necessary for a leader. They have distinguished between the levels of charismas as both positive and negative. The negative aspect of having charisma is letting the ego dominate your choices to the point where one's personal goals and hunger for power controls all other objectives (Rosenbach and Taylor, 1989). The positive aspect of charisma is allowing one's ego to grow in an established fashion where the leader uses his/her experience and authority for the benefit of his/her teammates and for the attainment of the overall goal (Yukl 1989). Educational leaders should note that, even though, charisma is recognized as a necessary characteristic for a leader, the actual value of having charisma lies in its use and whether it is used for personal or communal advantage.

Situational leadership

While underlying the characteristics and distinguishing between how they can have positive and negative affects is beneficial in different ways, it still does not outline how these characteristics can be developed. Numerous studies have very easily been able to outline characteristics such as desire, determination and guts as being necessary for a leader; however, these studies have also been quick to point out that leadership skills as well as the structure of leadership changes from one situation to the next (see, for example, Stoghill's 1948 review of 124 studies between 1904 and 1947; Stoghill's 1974 book reviewing 163 studies between 1949 and 1970). Prior to this realization, most leadership studies failed to clearly define leadership and Stodhill in his study was the first to notice that all the characteristics were not always required for effective leadership.

After the 1960s, due to studies put forward by Stoghill, one method that surfaced in relation to the evaluation of leadership styles and characteristics was the situational approach which is still very popular amongst scholars today. As the name suggests, this approach mainly deals with the circumstances of different situations and the leadership approaches that would be most suitable pertaining to the circumstances. Lowell (2003) defined Situational leadership as being "based on the interplay among: the amount of guidance and direction a leader gives: the amount or depth of relationship support or behavior a leader provides: the readiness level that followers exhibit in performing a specific task or achieving an objective (Lowell, 2003, pg 80)." Fiedler in his study (1967) designed a mock up of the leader's approach which was based around the attitude of the leader towards his followers, those who he favored the least. This mock up is called the least preferred co-worker or LPC. In this mock-up there were three main elements that were considered for evaluation which included the authority of the leader, the leader-follower relationship in terms of fondness and respect as well as the nature and extent of the project they were working on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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