In the course of writing this blog, I have learned that leadership consists of influencing people through communication and developing performance with operational experience. The success of a leader depends on his or her ability to perform these actions in conjunction with role modelling a positive, consistent and ethical leadership style (Hsieh and Drucker 1988). My interpretation is that leadership should be viewed in the form of a growth spectrum, where any given leader, at any given point in time and in relation to a specific action, falls somewhere on the continuum between ethical, innovative and transformational leadership, and unethical, autocratic and purely transactional leadership. The effective leader, in my view, is constantly evolving towards becoming more ethical, innovative and transformational.
My perspective is influenced by Lynda Gratton, former Human Resource Director at PA Consulting and professor at London Business School (London Business School 2013), whose research on the future of work details areas that will impact organisations in the future, including high performing virtual teams, transparent and authentic leadership, and business relationships and networking (Gratton 2010). Transparent and authentic leadership is especially important as it enables ethical, innovative and transformational leadership, thereby moving an organisation towards a position of progressive modernity (Gratton 2010).
Additionally, the experience of team work and team leadership during my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees has shown me the communication skills and coordination activities necessary to leaders. The need for consistency and role modelling is seen in teamwork and team leadership. Team leaders or members, ideally, share vision, mission and strategy to achieve set goals that are agreed upon by the entire group (Hsieh and Drucker 1988; Van Knippenberg and Hogg 2003). However, gaining a unanimous team agreement is rare and compromises are often made by those who are unable or unwilling to communicate their ideas effectively. The team leader is also a team member and this makes communication an essential leadership skill (Van Knippenberg and Hogg 2003). In my experience as a team leader and member, communicating vision and goal setting, as well as coordination and organisational skills, are necessary to ensure success.
From my teamwork experiences and from my research for the preceding four blog posts, I have found that my own leadership style has evolved from transactional and task-oriented, to collaborative and democratic leadership. I am more focused on team involvement and have attempted to maintain an authenticity in my interpersonal and motivational skills. In this way, I believe that I lead by example and that my ethical standpoint is made explicit in my actions. From Lynda Gratton and other female leaders, such as Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook mentioned in the blog post on innovation leaders, I have found sources of inspiration regarding the capabilities of women in male-dominated workplaces, as well as leadership qualities and skills in general. As role models, they have allowed me to identify areas I must develop in order to succeed in a future career in the HR consulting industry.
I found that the need for knowledge sharing, especially in teamwork situations, is linked to the importance of developing effective leadership communication skills (De Vries, et al. 2010). By developing my communication skills, I will be better able to lead teams effectively and coordinate the shared knowledge to achieve positive results. Additionally, by developing better communication skills, especially in regards to communicating vision, I will be able to evolve my leadership style to be more transformational (Pieterse, et al. 2010) and become more adept at team leadership, an important skill in the HR consulting industry. Thus, the most important factor in my research of leaders and leadership is that personal development and growth is essential, and that those leaders who deny their development needs are met with the threat of failure and obsolescence.
De Vries, R., Bakker-Pieper, A. and Oostenveld, W. (2010), ‘Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes’, Journal Of Business & Psychology, 25(3), 367-380, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 March 2013.
Gratton, L. (2010), ‘Lynda Gratton Investigates: The Future of Work’, Business Strategy Review, 21(3), 16-23, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 March 2013.
Hsieh, T. and Drucker, P. (1988), ‘Leadership: more doing than dash’, McKinsey Quarterly, 1988, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 March 2013.
London Business School (2013) Lynda Gratton, faculty profile at London Business School [online] available from <http://www.london.edu/facultyandresearch/faculty/search.do?uid=lgratton> [27 March 2013]
Pieterse, A., Van Knippenberg, D., Schippers, M. and Stam, D. (2010), ‘Transformational and transactional leadership and innovative behavior: The moderating role of psychological empowerment’, Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 31(4), 609-623, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 March 2013.
Van Knippenberg, D. and Hogg, M.A. (2003), ‘A social identity model of leadership effectiveness in organizations.’ In Research in organizational behavior: An annual series of analytical essays and critical reviews, 25, 243-295. Oxford England: Elsevier Science Ltd, 2003. PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed March 27, 2013).