Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Leadership’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essay on ‘Leadership’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Leadership
- Essay on the Introduction to Leadership
- Essay on the Meaning of Leadership
- Essay on the Functions of Leadership
- Essay on the Qualities of Leadership
- Essay on the Leadership Styles
- Essay on the Theories of Leadership
- Essay on the Leadership Styles in Indian Organisation
Essay # 1. Introduction to Leadership:
The present-day crisis in India is the crisis of finding administrative leaders who can give new dimensions to administration in line with our concepts of democracy, secularism, planning and socialism. With the functions of the government constantly increasing for the realization of a ‘welfare state’, the need for administrative leadership has acquired a special urgency.
Our Government is setting up large and complex organizations for the management of public sector undertakings—a field hitherto left to the private sector—which require managerial talent of a high caliber and effective leadership.
With the development of Panchayati Raj institutions, we have thrown open the channels through which leadership can grow in the local areas. In the social field, more hospitals, more schools, more institutions for social welfare and social security throw a challenge to administration.
This challenge can be accepted if we are able to increase administrative talent and cultivate the qualities of administrative leadership in our personnel.
So long, we had been under the shackles of a foreign government which was not committed to the welfare of the people. Leadership, if any, had therefore, grown on authoritarian pattern. With the coming in of independence, leadership has to grow on democratic pattern, on the pattern of service rather than command.
In the words of Seckler-Hudson, “the overwhelming significance of the problems of leadership has mounted with the revolutionary growth of such factors of size, complexity, specialization, organizational entities, technical developments and social demands.” Thus the first and foremost task of management is to provide leadership, to guide and direct the work of the group as a whole toward desired objectives.
Essay # 2. Meaning of Leadership:
It is really very difficult to attempt a definition of leadership or in other words, it is difficult to define what makes certain persons ‘leaders’. Barnard has rightly put it “Indeed, I have never observed any leader who was able to state adequately or intelligently why he was able to be a leader, nor any statement of followers that acceptably expressed why they followed.”
Leadership is often regarded as the important modifier of organization behaviour.
It is said “Get the right man in the leadership job and all your problems will be solved.”
In the words of Millett, “Leadership is often thought of as being primarily personal in character, as being founded upon individual pre-eminence or accomplishment in a particular field of endeavour. Superior strength, superior cunning, superior intelligence, superior knowledge, superior determination—any or all of these may be means to the attainment of leadership.”
No one can deny that these personal qualities do pay dividends but leadership is not all personal pre-eminence. It is something more and that “something more” is the essence of leadership.
It is the capacity to set new goals, to hold forth new and loftier expectations for the group, to embody moral and spiritual aspirations and to show the group its nobler potentialities that make a man a leader. Leadership has, therefore, double meaning.
The dictionary meaning of the verb ‘to lead’ shows that the term is used in two different senses:
(a) “To excel, to be in advance, to be prominent”, and
(b) “To guide others, to be head of an organization, to hold command”.
In the former sense, leadership is identified with individual pre-eminence and in the latter sense, it is identified with managerial talent or leadership. Allen has, therefore, rightly distinguished personal leadership from management leadership when he says “A person is born with the talent for personal leadership; he must learn management leadership.”
Essay # 3. Functions of Leadership:
According to Barnard, a leader performs four main functions:
(a) The determination of objectives.
(b) The manipulation of means.
(c) The control of the instrumentality of action.
(d) The stimulation of coordinated action.
The most exhaustive effort to attempt at the functions of leadership has been made by the studies at Ohio State University. The Ohio State work was largely concerned with leadership in formal organisations, most particularly the U.S. Navy and lasted for seven years from 1946 to 1953.
It established nine dimensions, three of which are unique and mentioned below, to the leadership role:
(i) Maintenance of Membership:
This involves the closeness of the leader to the group, the frequency of his interactions, and his acceptability to the group.
(ii) Objective Attainment:
The leader has a basic responsibility for seeing that work patterns are stable and understandable. He must also see that the group achieves its goals.
(iii) Group Interaction Facilitation:
The leader works to facilitate effective interaction among organization members. Communication is a particularly important feature of this dimension.
Dimensions of the Leadership Role:
It is very important to mention here that leadership is not the activity of an individual. alone. In a large-scale organisation, leadership becomes a collective activity for no single individual can meet the tremendous demands of working out the whole organisation.
Individual leadership is important and many a time we associate individual with the whole of an organisation, put blame on him or applaud him for the failure or success of the organisation.
Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the tendency among many people to see the Prime Minister as the Indian Government, despite the fact that there are millions of civilian and military persons who are direct participants in the running of the Government.
Based on this concept are the biographies written about the attributes of personality of the “great man” or “father” which highlight that management is perhaps a ‘single man’s show’. This line of thinking has resulted in many attempts to ascertain what qualities make leadership.
Generalizations have been made about the personal qualities of leaders. Millett, for example, enlists eight such qualities which are usually characteristic of successful leaders.
Ralph M. Stogdill refers to these qualities as:
(1) Physical and constitutional factors (height, weight, physique, energy, health, appearance);
(5) Will (initiative, persistence, ambition);
(6) Dominance; and
(7) Urgency (i.e., talkativeness, cheerfulness, geniality, enthusiasm, expressiveness, alertness, and originality).
Pfiffner and Sherwood emphasize the counter-view of individual leadership and feel that there is essentially a leadership structure predicated on the idea that no one person has all the leadership functions.
The functions of an organisation are divided and each individual in his respective position provides leadership, in so far as he provides the cohesiveness, the atmosphere and the progress towards organisational goals. Since power is dispersed throughout the organisation, leadership too is dispersed.
There is no denying the fact that leadership is provided at several levels in the hierarchy but at the same time, the top leader’s role cannot be dismissed. “He is the symbolic spokesman, the coordinator supreme, the important participant in decisions as to goals, the primary change agent, and the example to the organisation. Even cut down this much, the man at the top still has a monstrous responsibility.”
We know what a great difference did it make to the British Government in substituting Churchill as against Chamberlain during the World War II. Of course, we have to guard ourselves against treating the whole management as the product of ‘personality cult’ and we must give due importance to the role which leadership plays at other levels in the administration.
Thus, leadership is a collective activity in which all key persons participate under the overall control of the top leader.
Essay # 4. Qualities of Leadership:
It is very difficult to lay down as to what the qualities of a leader should be. Almost every writer on the subject has a long list of the qualities which leadership must possess.
We give below the qualities enumerated by some of the writers:
1. Good health, personal energy, and physical endurance.
2. A sense of mission, a sense of personal commitment to a cause or purpose, enthusiasm, self-confidence.
3. Interest in other people, a sense of friendliness, a concern for others.
4. Intelligence (not necessarily profound knowledge about detailed or highly specialized matters but good common-sense), a ready or quick facility to comprehend the essential elements of necessary information, and the capacity to use knowledge.
5. Integrity, a sense of moral duty and of fairness, willingness to share achievement, the capacity to set standards of personal and official conduct which will command the respect of others.
6. Persuasiveness, the capacity to win others, to acceptance of the point of view embodied in decisions.
7. Judgment, the capacity to know the strength and the weaknesses of the people one works with and how to obtain their maximum usefulness to an organization.
8. Loyalty, devotion to a cause and also to the persons with whom one works, a willingness to defend the group against external attack.
1. Vitality and Endurance;
3. Persuasiveness; and
4. Responsibility and Intellectual Capacity.
The above list is in order of importance:
It is interesting to note that Barnard does not emphasize the intellectual attainments. His objection against intellectualism is that it prevents responsibility and decisiveness in the leader. “We all know persons in and out of practical affairs of superior intellects and intellectual accomplishments who do not work as well, as leaders. In matters of leadership, for example, they prove to be irresponsible—non-decisive—, non-persuasive. Moreover, we can observe that intellectual capacity rises above physiological disabilities in active life, that the utmost perspicacity is useless for leadership if it does not decide issues, that persuasive processes must take full account of the irrational by which all are largely governed, that responsibility is a moral or emotional condition.”
In his own words: “our political executive must be imbued with the public interest, he must be a leader of men, he must do his own thinking and be his own public relations man, and he should preferably have had some private experience.”
(iv) Hoover Commission:
The Hoover Commission’s Task Force Report on Personnel and Civil Service (1955) noted: “His foresight must equal the hind-sight of a host of critics….The rules of the game of national politics allow no margin for error….To lead the life of a political executive of a high rank amidst the asperities of American politics is a test of toughness, of intelligence, and the devotion to the public interest.”
Energy, emotional stability, knowledge of human relations, personal motivation, communicative skill, teaching ability, social skill, and technical competence.
A good administrator has willingness to assume responsibilities; demonstrates continuing personal growth; is disposed towards action; is a good listener who asks pointed questions; works well with all sorts of people; seeks ablest obtainable subordinates; uses institutional resources—does not try to do it all and know it all himself; cares for power only as it contributes to effectiveness, chiefly as a reserve asset; has self-confidence, and so is ready to admit his limitations and errors; is hospitable to bad news as well as good; respects subordinates as much as superiors; constantly seeks to improve institutional performance; and in democratic government he respects political processes and responsibilities.
The above list is quite exhaustive. To sum up, it is sufficient to say that a leader should be decisive, unerring, improvement conscious and good public relation man. He should have foresight and far sight, capacity to carry his subordinates with him and the ability to look to the organisation as a whole.
Millett has aptly described the essential circumstances of leadership as – (a) political and (b) institutional conditions. By political conditions of administrative leadership we mean, says Millett, the need to be responsive to external political direction and control.
In a democratic society, leadership must be skilfully “attuned to the popular aspirations and desires of the time…Of course, management does not necessarily have to behave like an isolated tree which bows in whatever direction the wind may come at the moment. But management must endeavour to understand currents of popular ideas, and while endeavouring to inform or modify those ideas, it must acknowledge their existence and endeavour to accommodate their demands within some degree.”
The vital ingredients of political responsiveness have been eloquently summarized by Chester Barnard:
“The democratic process either in government or in innumerable other organizations in which it may be used, depends upon leaders strong enough to maintain their ambition under its perplexities, patient to endure its restraints, proud to be foremost among the free, humbly loyal to the humble, wise enough to seek service above the illusions of power and the futilities of fame, willing to be briefly spent in the long span of marching events.”
The institutional conditions of leadership as mentioned by Millett are four:
(a) The ability to see an enterprise as a whole.
(b) The ability to make decisions.
(c) The ability to delegate authority.
(d) The ability to command loyalty.
Management says Millett, “must exercise its leadership in terms which evoke response to these particular needs of administrative effort. In turn, management leadership evidences its effectiveness to the degree that it displays an awareness of these necessities of internal operation and response to them by the kind of direction it affords.”
Thus administrative leadership has to be responsive both internally and externally. Externally, it has to be popular with the public and internally, it has to keep the agency running.
We may therefore come to the conclusion that a successful head of a big organisation should be equipped with following qualities:
A leader should be foresighted and far seeing. He should have the capacity of seeing beyond the situation.
(b) Clarity of Vision:
A leader should have clear vision. He should not be a confused man. He must know what he wants and what he does not want.
A vacillating and un-decisive chief is a potential danger to the morale of an organisation. Hence decisiveness is an important trait of leader’s character.
(d) Correct Judgment:
A leader’s sense of judgment should be unerring type.
A leader should be progressive and be enthusiastic enough to improve the performance of an organisation.
(f) A Source of Inspiration:
A good leader is to be a source of inspiration for the subordinates around him. He must win their confidence and make them feel an inch taller due to his inspiring leadership.
(g) A Good Organizer:
A leader should be a good organizer. He should develop in them a feeling of owning the organization where they are working. He should be a believer in participative management.
(h) Good Public Relation Man:
He should be a good public relation officer. He should be skillful enough as to explain his point of view to the public and know their reactions.
Development of Leadership:
It is now widely accepted that “high talent manpower does not grow wild; it requires careful seeding and meticulous cultivation.” With the growth of modern industrialization, we will have to accept the basic assumption that leaders are not born; rather they are made. Generation and accumulation of managerial resources is increasingly a matter of careful planning, judicious investment, and conscious effort.
In the words of Barnard: “I suppose no one doubts that without education the supply of leaders of organization competent for conditions of the modern world would be wholly inadequate and many of us suspect that if we knew better how to train men, we should be much better able than we are to cope with the social dilemmas we confront.”
Hence there is a need for proper education, both in theory and practice of organization, to our leaders.
Selection of Leaders:
This is rather a vexing question. Are the leaders manufactured or simply identified? In other words, are the persons of qualities of leaders to be discovered and accorded a prominent position. Administrative leaders are procured by selection and not by formal preparation.
Intellectual caliber of these leaders is discovered through selection on the basis of written tests. However, organizational, coordinative and leadership qualities are discovered through a prolonged psychological-cum-intelligence-cum-observation tests. This is generally done when army officers are to be chosen.
According to Barnard, “Balances perspective and proportion in the senses relevant to leadership are to be acquired almost exclusively from responsible experience in leading.” In other words, experience also is to play a vital role in the selection of administrative leaders. Barnard even suggests that the administrators should be encouraged to acquire experience in leadership outside the organization they work in.
Thus we may conclude that proper method of selection, formal education and training and informal as well as formal experience are necessitated for creating the requisite qualities of leadership in modern society. However, it remains a reality beyond any doubt that leadership is not given, it is assumed.
Essay # 5. Leadership Styles:
There are mainly two types of leadership:
The authoritarian leader has been variously described as directive, production-centered, nomothetic. The democratic leader has been called participatory, employee-centered, and idiographic.
The former approach is the product of Taylor’s Scientific Management Movement whereas the latter is the outcome of the researches and experiments conducted by Elton Mayo at Hawthorne and supported by Iowa and Michigan studies.
The authoritarian leadership prefers higher productivity to the welfare of the employees. The leader structures the complete work situation for his employees and they do what they are told. The leadership is negative because followers are afraid of leader’s authority.
Opposite is the case with democratic leadership. The Michigan studies have proved that the best pattern of supervisory leadership is employee-centered and general in nature.
The leader is concerned with employee welfare first and production second. He engages in a general rather than a close surveillance of his subordinates. Instead of taking unilateral decision, he emphasizes consultation and participation by his subordinates. A democratic leader decentralizes decision-making process.
The above types are diametrically opposite to each other though neither of them can work well. There is no denying the fact that democratic leadership is a “human relation” approach which is in keeping with democratic values but it cannot be applied wholesale.
As Pfiffner and Sherwood have said, “Democratic leadership seems to make a great deal of sense where ultimate power rests with the participants, as is the case in our political jurisdiction, in labour unions, and in many smaller voluntary groups. The possibilities of its application are considerably lessened as we move into situations where power is not so neatly lodged in the participant group, as is the case with employees of a business or of a government agency. It also seems apparent that traditional elements of hierarchy, such as unity of command, collide rather markedly with the group-centered philosophy.”
Thus there is a need to find a middle ground.
The new ground has been termed as “reality- oriented” leadership. The emphasis on power is one aspect and human relations the other of this new direction. It is found that “if a leader abdicates his interest in and responsibility for production it has an adverse effect on both productivity and morale.
‘Soft’ leadership, over-emphasis upon consideration, is not conducive to high morale. A moderate amount of emphasis on production is required to avoid both low production and low morale.”
Essay # 6. Theories of Leadership:
The following theories of leadership have been advanced by different writers:
(i) The Great Man Theory:
It is one of the earliest theories of leadership which is based on the premise that leaders are born and not made. Some persons by birth inherit certain qualities or traits like intelligence, memory, emotional stability, fearlessness, and mental strength.
Such qualities add to their personality when they grow up, single them out from the common man of people and provide them the opportunity to become a leader.
Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Churchill, Mao-Tse Tung, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and several others are natural leaders with qualities of leadership. The advocates of this theory do not believe in the policy of ‘Executive Development, i.e. a person can be taught and trained leadership qualities.
The above theory has been criticized on the ground that it has no scientific basis and empirical validity. Administration is both science and art which needs to be taught and learnt. The various Institutes of Management are engaged in teaching the management techniques and leadership qualities. The sociological thinkers do not subscribe to the theory that heredity alone determines man’s personality.
(ii) Trait Theory of Leadership:
The Trait Theory argues that leadership qualities can be acquired. Its advocates hold that certain traits or qualities are required to become a leader. They adopted an inductive procedure, observing those recognized as leaders and enumerating traits possessed by them Qualities common to them were assumed to be essential which were measured to find out the leadership potential of a person.
Generally speaking, those traits were classified as into innate and acquirable traits. The major innate qualities are physical features like height, weight, physique, health and appearance and intelligence.
The acquirable qualities are emotional stability knowledge of human relations, empathy, and objectivity, motivating skills, technical skills, a communicative skills and social skills, Tead, Bemord and Schell are the prime advocates of this theory.
The main criticism against this theory is that there is not universally acceptable list of traits considered essential for leadership role. Further, it is also not necessary that a leader must process all the qualities included in the list.
Jennings has concluded, ‘Fifty years of study have failed to produce one personality traits in set of qualities that can be used to discriminate leaders from non-leaders.” It is a speculative theory which fails when subjected to empirical tests.
(iii) The Situational Theory of Leadership:
The theory was developed by Blanchard, zig or mi and Kelson and Kersey and has been used extensively in organisational leadership training and development. The starting point of this theory is that there are certain elements such as speech intelligence, stability and persistence which are essential in leaders.
A candidate is put in a group and observed how he acts under trial situations that are constructed as realistically as possible. After being placed in several situations his skills, intelligence and other traits get ascertained as to whether he is capable for a practical jobs. It is assumed that the traits and skills which characterize a good leader will vary from situation to situation.
A leader in one situation may not necessarily be a leader in a different situation even in the same group. The same leader may display different personality traits to deal with diverse situations. Thus, a leader showing bravery and fighting spirit in war situation may fail to show patience perseverance, calmness and coolness in a peaceful situation. Various situations call for different leadership responses.
Ohio State University research has given four situational variables that affect behaviour;
(i) The cultural environment
(ii) Differences between individuals
(iv) Differences between jobs
(v) Differences between organisations.
Thus, according to the proponents of situational theory leadership differs with situational variables and a person who is a successful leader in a particular situation may be unsuccessful in a different situation. As different situation require different leadership qualities, so the leader must change his style of leadership and possess, the qualities of addictiveness and flexibility.
The main criticism against this theory is that it puts restraint over leadership development process. A person can be trained to become a leader through systematic and properly planned training programme. In both civil and army organizations executives are sent to attend short- term courses, seminars, conferences and workshops.
They are also sent to foreign institutes to brush up their knowledge and learn the latest complex technologies and intricate techniques. In a democratic set up, understanding of human relations is of great importance to the executive. The administrators have to deal with the people and therefore an understanding of the nature of general social system is a primary requirement for leader to be successful.
(iv) Contingency Theory of Leadership:
Fiedler is the most widely recognized thinker to develop contingency theory. It is also called Leader-match theory. According to this theory, effective leadership is contingent on matching a leader’s style to the right setting.
Under this theory, styles of many different leaders who worked in different contexts are studied and after analyzing their styles generalizations are made about which styles of leadership are best and which are worst for a given organizational context. In short, this theory is concerned with styles and situation.
The contingency theory classifies leadership styles into task-motivated and relationship motivated. Task motivated leaders are concerned with realizing a goal whereas relationship motivated leaders are concerned with developing interpersonal relationship.
The task motivated leaders are effective in both very favourable and very un-favourable situations. The relationship motivated leaders are effective in moderately favourable situations, i.e. in situations where things are neither completely under their control, nor out of control.
This theory suggests that leaders are not effective in all situations. If one’s style is a good match for the situation in which he works, he will be a good leader, but if his style does not match the situation, he may not be called a good leader.
Mr. P.S. Gill was hailed as a good leader when he successfully matched the situation created by militants in Punjab, whereas Mr. Deshmukh failed to meet the situation created by terrorists in Maharashtra and had consequently to quit the Chief Minister ship.
(v) Path-Goal Leadership Theory:
Path-Goal Leadership theory is about how leaders motivate subordinates to accomplish the goals of the organization. It focuses on employee’s motivation so that their performance may be enhanced. This theory was advocated in the early 1970s. House and Mitchell are its notable advocates.
The motivation of employees finds in important place in the literature on Public Administration. It enhances their morale and leads to all-around efficiency in administration. The Path-Goal theory attempts to explain the impact that leader behaviour has on his subordinates motivation, satisfaction and performance. There are several ways to generate motivation.
According to Path-Goal Theory leadership motivates when it:
(i) Makes the path to the goal clear and easy to travel through coaching and direction,
(ii) Removes the obstacles and road blocks to reach the goal, and
(iii) Makes the work more satisfying.
For this purpose the leader is to adopt an appropriate style of behaviour. The behaviour style will depend on the characteristics of the subordinates, nature of the task, organisational environment and personal qualities of the leader.
It need not be emphasized that each type of leader behaviour will have a different kind of impact on subordinates motivation. House and Mitchell have suggested four types of leadership behaviour. These are directive Leadership, supportive leadership, achievement-oriented leadership and participative leadership.
Directive leadership gives instructions about the task, sets clear standards of performance, makes the rules and regulations clear to the subordinates and also fixes the time-frame within which the task is to be completed.
Supportive leadership consists of being friendly and approachable, treating subordinates as equals, giving them due respect and caring for their personal problems and needs. Achievement-oriented leadership lays emphasis on work-performance and sets high standards of excellence for subordinates and seeks continuous improvement.
Participative leadership invites subordinates to share in decision making. The leader consults with the subordinates, obtaining their views and opinions and integrates their suggestions into the decisions about how the task will be performed.
(vi) Leadership Behaviour Continuum Theory:
Robert Tannen Baum and Warren H. Schmidt are the developers of leadership continuum theory. According to them, leadership involves a number of behaviour styles ranging from a highly boss-centered to highly subordinate centered.
What type of leadership style is appropriate depends on the leader or the followers and the situation. Thus no particular leadership – authoritarian democratic is suitable in all situations. The authors of this theory hold that leaders should not choose a strict ‘autocratic’ or ‘undemocratic’ style. He should be flexible enough to meet the different situations.
To conclude, leadership is an important aspect of administration. Effective leadership is the key to successful administration. The choice of a particular leadership style will depend upon three elements – leaders, followers and situation.
Essay # 7. Leadership Styles in Indian Organisation:
Indian management is generally believed to be autocratic with subordinates closely supervised and with limited participation by the employees.
Myers from his interview with industrialists, government officers, labour leaders and managers in both Indian and foreign-owned organisations, concludes that barring few, most Indian top managers are relatively authoritarian in their relationship with lower management and labour.
Similar result has also been highlighted by other studies of leadership behaviour in private and public sectors. In the public sector bureaucratic style is the rule. The process of democratization of the work culture, group functioning and team management is not pronounced. In private sector, benevolent autocracy is the most pronounced style.
What is the right leadership style for Indian managers is a difficult question to be answered?
There are numerous variables which affect the leadership style. Thus what may appear to be an effective leadership style for a manager, may not be equally appropriate to others in different organisations. The army style of leadership may not be suitable for civilian organisation requiring people’s participation.
Likewise, the leaders in a democratic political set-up will have to adopt styles different from those found in a dictation political regime. The important variables in this context are superiors, subordinates and the situation under which a particular style is followed. The Indian society marked by traditionalism and authoritarianism is gradually giving place to modernism and democratize.
As such the old authoritarian style of leadership may not be the right leadership style in the changing situation. Further, the attitudes and perceptions of Indian managers are also being transformed through education and training to meet the challenges of a developing society. The concept of participative management is gaining ground in the organisational set-up.
Already, there is a move for participative style of leadership in enlightened enterprises. Considering these factors, the appropriate style may be near-participative leadership. However, it should not be assumed that this style will be suitable in all circumstances. A participative style requires work culture. The work culture in India being poor will have to be changed to suit participative style.