Home > Organizational Behaviour > Leadership- an introduction by P.J. Philip

Leadership- an introduction by P.J. Philip

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Lecture on Leadership by P.J.PHILLIP

Adapted by Navendu K. Sharma

Click here to download the pdf version.

Introduction to Leadership

Very often, we ask ourselves “What can one person do?”, or “As an individual, what can I do?” But we do not take any initiatives because in the back of our minds, we always have a feeling that one person cannot make a difference. In this lecture, I want you to understand that one person in the position of leadership can actually make a big difference (in the lives of those whom you are leading, whether they are your sub-ordinates or your followers or big difference to the environment in which you are functioning). So as a leader, you can actually make a big difference or we can say that “INDIVIDUALS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”

Some of the remembered leaders who have made a huge difference in the life of people:

  1. 1. Mahatma Gandhi
  2. 2. Fidel Castro- President of Cuba
  3. 3. Hitler – He invaded most part of the world

Now you must be wondering how Hitler made a difference in the life of people or what was his contribution. Even though Hitler made negative contributions, he also made positive contributions too. At the end of the First World War, all the countries were brought together, conspired against Germany and crushed it. They all decided that this country should be never allowed to rise because it could be a danger for them. But it was Hitler who came up and said “We have been created to rule the world. So let us rise and rule the world!!” and he built Germany into a mighty power at the beginning of the Second World War. So the greatness of Hitler was that he lead a nation which was virtually destroyed. This was his positive contribution to Germany. Now the second part of his life is where he went wrong. At the beginning of the Second World War, he converted himself into an absolute dictator and then he said “Now that we are mighty power, let rule and capture the world!!”

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the process of persuading a group of people to work together towards achieving common goals.

Now if we look at this definition, what is the big challenge of being a leader?

The big challenge of a leader is persuading others to rise above their selfish interest and goals and work towards achieving common goals.

Characteristics of Leadership

  1. 1. Leadership is a process, not a single activity.

Leadership is not just doing one thing. It is a series of interconnected activities which make up a process.

For example: Your followers or your sub-ordinates can do something that you tell them to do and then forget it. But you as a leader cannot afford to do that because before you tell them to do something; you have to do a lot of thinking before and after. So we have to remember that leadership is 24×7. You are always thinking as to “what I should do”, “what my group should do”, “what my group should achieve”, etc. So leadership is a continuous process, it is not a single activity.

  1. 2. Leadership involves mutuality of influence.

Normally when you become a leader, you always have an impression that this is a “one way street”. Here, “one way street” means that you are the boss or the leader and that you will pass orders and your sub-ordinates would carry out your orders blindly, which means that it is “one way”.

But what we are trying to say here is that could leadership have a mutuality of influence?

Just like you are influencing your sub-ordinates or followers, they are also influencing you or they should also influence you. If you want to be an effective leader, you should keep this communication two-way and you should also be prepared to be influenced by your followers. So this is an important aspect of being a good leader. So leadership involves the mutuality of influence between the leader and his followers.

  1. Leadership involves achieving common goals.

How is the success of the leader measured?

The success of a leader is not measured in terms of what he as an individual has achieved, but what the group has achieved.

For example

i) Gandhi was a great leader because India achieved independence under his leadership.

ii) Hitler was a great leader because Germany became a powerful country under his leadership. But Hitler is not considered the greatest leader because Germany was defeated in the Second World War.

So what the group has been able to achieve and what they have not been able to achieve would dictate your success of failure. So leadership involves achieving common goals.

  1. 4. Leadership is situation specific.

A particular person may be a great leader in a particular situation. But that doesn’t mean that he can be a great leader in all situations.

For example, Ike was a great military leader but was considered among the weakest presidents of the United States. So a situation change may change the success of a man.

  1. 5. Leadership is follower specific.

You may be a great leader when you are leading a set of specific followers. But given a different set of followers, you need not be that efficient.

For example, if Gandhi, one of the great leaders of freedom fighters, asks us today “Friends, lets lay down our lives for our country”, many of us will not be ready to do that. So we have to realize that Gandhi’s success is not totally as an individual, but it is the success of his followers who were committed to fight for the freedom of their country. So leadership is follower specific.

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  1. manish
    October 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    i couldn’t get example no.1 related to leadership is not single activity, it is the process

    • October 31, 2010 at 6:57 am

      As a leader, a single instruction to your sub-ordinates(activity) cannot solve a problem. And the leader also has to think a lot(process) before giving such instructions. So although the time of interaction between the leader and the follower may seem to be less, the leader has to put a lot of continuous effort to make sure that his followers strive to reach the common goal. 🙂

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