2. Leadership involves understanding, analyzing, predicting, and managing human behavior.
While the leader need not possess an academic degree in the social sciences, he does need some of
that knowledge so he can be a student of human nature. Leadership also involves the will to lead,
together with the character that inspires confidence. Undoubtedly, there are certain characteristics
in each person that may aid in his development as a leader. Yet, certain people possessing desirable
leadership traits may never attain the stature of great leaders.
3. Likewise, those deficient of some of these leadership traits may have attained this stature.
Leadership is intangible only to the extent that we wish to make it so. Any reasonably intelligent
person, no matter how inexperienced, can become acquainted with the component elements of
leadership. These elements must be studied, learned, practiced, and applied just as with any other
human accomplishment. Leadership is not inborn or inherited; leadership is a skill or an art which
can be learned and mastered. Additional detail on the traits and principles of leadership will be
found later in this lesson.
4. When discussing leadership styles, many people focus on the extremes: autocratic and
democratic. Autocratic leaders tell people what to do with no explanation; their message is, "I'm
the boss; you'll do it because I said so." Democratic leaders use their personalities to persuade
subordinates. There are many shades in between; the following paragraphs discuss five of them.
However, bear in mind, that competent leaders mix elements of all these styles to match to the
place, task, and people involved. Using different leadership styles in different situations or
elements of different styles in the same situation isn't inconsistent. The opposite is true: if you can
use only one leadership style, you're inflexible and will have difficulty operating in situations where
that style doesn't fit.
a. The directing style is leader-centered. Leaders using this style don't solicit input from
subordinates and give detailed instructions on how, when, and where they want a task performed.
They then supervise the task's execution very closely. This style may be appropriate when time is
short and leaders do not have a chance to explain things.
b. The participating style centers on both the leader and the team. Given a mission, leaders
ask subordinates for input, information, and recommendations but make the final decision
themselves on what to do. This style is especially appropriate for leaders who have time for such
consultations or who are dealing with experienced subordinates.
c. The delegating style involves giving subordinates the authority to solve problems and
make decisions without clearing them through the leader. Leaders with mature and experienced
subordinates or who want to create a learning experience for subordinates often need only to give
them authority to make decisions, the necessary resources, and a clear understanding of the
d. As the name suggests, the transformational style "transforms" subordinates by
challenging them to rise above their immediate needs and self-interests. The transformational style
is developmental: it emphasizes individual growth (both professional and personal) and
organizational enhancement. Key features of the transformational style include empowering and
mentally stimulating subordinates: you consider and motivate them first as individuals and then as
a group. This style allows you to take advantage of the skills and knowledge of experienced
subordinates who may have better ideas on how to accomplish a mission. Leaders who use this