Transforming nations by developing leaders
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
Alexander the Great
The Leadership Challenge of our Time
The twenty-first century provides unprecedented opportunities for leaders to impact their organizations positively. However, the new millennium also brings unforeseen challenges to leaders.
The unrelenting advance of technology.
Today’s technology has radically changed the dynamics of communication (for example: e-mail & smart phones).
The impact of the Information Age.
The rise of the Information Age is continuously flooding leaders with a flood of new information that must be processed as quickly as possible if they want to remain relevant.
Globalization has truly changed a huge world into a “global village”.
The challenge of post-modernism.
Post-modernism believes that we are just another level of animal that must define my own identity according to my context. It emphasizes moral relativism (no right or wrong) with tolerance the highest virtue. Stress style over substance – you must look cool. The post-modern culture is very environmentally conscious.
Change is affecting us all and perhaps more so in Third World countries. The rapid pace of change is increasing constantly. Everything is changing and if leaders do not understand and adjust, it we will quickly become irrelevant.
The Critical Need for Developed Leaders in Africa
- Untrained leaders have resulted in Africa being the continent with the most tribal wars, adverse poverty, uncontrolled infectious diseases, poorly educated youth, nepotism, failing governments and corruption.
- African women are entrepreneurial. They are the primary caregivers of the family. African women own one-third of all businesses on the continent.
- In 11 African countries, women hold close to one-third of parliamentary seats. This is more than in Europe. Rwanda, where women have 64% of seats in the lower house, has the highest proportion of women parliamentarians worldwide.
- The growing population in Africa brings with it great opportunities. Urbanisation, and economies that are steadily aligning itself with worldwide good practices, are resulting in growth opportunities for businesses willing to invest.
What is Leadership?
When it comes to what is leadership, there are a myriad of definitions out there. Despite the abundance of writing on the topic, leadership has presented a major challenge to practitioners and researchers interested in understanding the nature of leadership. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book, Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, report that they discovered over 850 different definitions of leadership.
Despite the multitude of ways people define leadership, the following components can be identified as central to the phenomenon:
- Leadership is a process
- Leadership involves influence
- Leadership occurs in groups
- Leadership involves common goals.
Based on these components, EMIT uses this working definition of leadership:
Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
Northouse, 2013, p.5
Trait versus Process Leadership
The trait perspective suggests that certain people have special inborn qualities that make them leaders. “He or she is a born leader.” Some of the personal qualities include physical features, personality, intelligence and fluency.
This view restricts leadership to those who are believed to have special characteristics.
In contrast, the approach that EMIT will follow is that leadership is a process that can be learned, and that it is available to everyone.
Most of the outstanding leaders I have worked with are neither tall nor especially handsome; they are often mediocre public speakers; they do not stand out in the crowd; they do not mesmerize an attending audience with their brilliance or eloquence. Rather, what distinguishes them is their clarity and persuasiveness of their ideas, the depth of their commitment, and their openness to continually learning more.
Peter Senge, 2006, p.359
Assigned versus Emergent Leadership
Two common forms of leadership are assigned and emergent.
Assigned leadership is based on a formal title or position in an organization. Yet, the person assigned to a leadership position does not always become the real leader in all settings.
When others perceive an individual as the most influential, regardless of the individual’s title, the person is exhibiting emergent (developing; up-and-coming) leadership. Emergent leadership results from what one does (actions) and how one acquires support from followers. This type of leadership emerges over a period of time – often it is because the individual is an expert in an area, and consequently knows the most.
Leadership and Power
The concept of power is related to leadership because it is part of the influence process. Power is the capacity or potential to influence.
Leadership scholars have it that there are two major kinds of power: position and personal. Position power, which is much like assigned leadership, is the power an individual has from having a title in a formal organizational system.
From a Christian perspective, I believe there is a third kind of power, namely, spiritual power or authority.
Leadership and Coercion
While many leaders use coercion (influencing others to do things against their will), it certainly must not be viewed as ideal leadership. Our definition of leadership stresses using influence to bring individuals toward a common goal, while coercion involves the use of threats and punishment to move followers for the sake of the leader.
Former USA President Harry Truman said, “A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”
Leadership and Management
Leadership and management are different concepts that overlap. They are different in that management traditionally focuses on the activities of planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling. Leadership emphasizes the general influence process. According to some researchers, management is concerned with creating order and stability, making the organizations function more effectively and efficiently.
Leadership is about adaptation and constructive change. Leadership establishes direction by creating and communicating a vision, aligning, motivating and inspiring people to work towards reaching specific goals.
Authentic leadership represents one of the newest areas of leadership research. As a result of massive leadership failures in the public and private sectors, authentic leadership is emerging in response to societal demands for genuine, trustworthy, and good leadership. Authentic leadership describes leadership that is transparent, morally grounded and responsive to people’s needs and values.
Although no definition exists yet, we know there are three perspectives that are part of authentic leadership
- Intrapersonal perspective – focuses on the leader and what goes on within the leader. His knowledge, self-regulation (personal discipline), and self-concept.
- Interpersonal perspective – shows that authentic leadership is a collective process, created by leaders and followers together. Leaders affect followers and followers affect leaders.
- Developmental perspective – views authentic leadership as something that can be nurtured and developed in a leader, rather than a fixed trait. It develops over time as experience and knowledge increases.
Characteristics of Authentic Leadership:
- They have Insight
- They demonstrate Initiative
- They exert Influence
- They Impact
- They exercise Integrity
More and more organizations, companies and scholars of Leadership are starting to look at “Servant Leadership.” Servant leadership is a paradoxical approach to leadership – leaders influence, and servants follow, so how can a person be a leader and servant at the same time?
Servant leadership emphasizes that leaders should be attentive to the needs of followers, empower them, and help them to develop their full capacities.
Servant leaders make a conscious choice to serve first – to place the good of followers over the leaders’ self-interests. They build strong relationships with others, are empathic, and lead in ways that serve the greater good of followers, the organization, the community and society at large
Peter G. Northouse, 2013, p.21
- Blackaby, Henry & Richard: Spiritual Leadership. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.
- Northouse, Peter G. Leadership – Theory & Practice. New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2013.
- Senge, Peter: The Fifth Discipline. Doubleday, 2006