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Is There a Consensus on the Characteristics of Business Leaders?

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Introduction

Companies and organizations have faced the challenge of prioritizing their needs. Companies are either involved in the production, distribution or selling of goods or in delivering services to those who need them. Well, all these engagements must be seen to give returns to the companies. Whatever level of operation, all employees in a business enterprise must engage in a process that is adding value to the company. The most important thing is to perform activities and duties that direct the flow of these goods and services from the business organization to the prospective customers. With that in mind, there still could be questions as if leaders are still needed in making a company progress and make profits and what defines good leaders in business. Actually the question is, “Is there a consensus on the characteristics of business leaders?”

Mukunda (2012, pp.1-3) has posed a very important challenge to the use of leaders in business process and procedures. Some business experts view the question of knowledge and experience, for instance, as an impediment for those leaders who are realizing changes in the business world. All the same, companies and organizations cannot entirely rely on people without experience to carry out the operations in their businesses (Mukunda 2012, pp.1). Leadership and experience are very important although are faced with a lot of challenges from time to time and depending on the context. While experience in leadership is very much needed, it could be a disadvantage when leaders are supposed to adapt to new changes in the business process. At times, business leaders would be required to approach situations differently from what they are used to excel in business.

Leadership is, in essence, a way of influencing the followers in that line. Leadership characteristics are all functions of the situation and time. Well, they may be different based on the country and culture of people. Those managing international organizations are expected to have a good knowledge of the characteristics of culture and differences and must have the supreme versatility as they execute their tasks of leadership. Professionals in the study of business leadership and organization believe that this is paramount for any organization or company aspiring to get established in both local and international markets (Bu et al. 2001, pp. 131-152; Mills 2005, pp. 23-37).

What is leadership?

Generally, leadership has been described as a process of gaining dominance on certain activities of a group or organization for the sole purpose of realizing the already established objectives. In order to work out these leadership activities, the business managers endeavor to persuade the followers, motivate them and direct them in order to achieve the objectives of the organization (Caroselli 2000, pp. 23-31). This is one of the strong points scholars seem to agree on when talking about the importance of leadership. The efficacy and the role of leaders when felt by those under them are seen as a positive engagement. The business staff need to be motivated in order to work together to make the firm or company fruitful. The importance of leaders cannot be over-emphasized and there is a universal acknowledgement of the work they do in promoting business establishment.

On the contrary, leadership has had its challenges. However, this is not anything to write off the whole concept of business leaders. There has been an issue with transnational leaders who have had to enhance motivation amongst individuals in various cultures. Leaders who are used to doing things in a certain way may be challenged in one or another way and sometimes fail to deliver when adapting to new environments where they are expected to do things differently (Mills 2005, pp. 23-37). The behavioral adaptations amounting to success of business leaders are entirely depended on the success definitions and the conditions therein. There are quite a number of leadership styles in various cultures and nations and many scholars have carried out various surveys in leadership whether the connection between the leadership styles with conditions has gained a lot of focus (Hofstede and Peterson 2000, pp. 401-416; Marcus et al. 2003, pp. 23-67; Taleghani, Salmani and Taatian 2010, pp. 91-111).

Methods of management and leadership styles all over the world are very diverse and are determined through the specifications of dominance in a given locality. All the same, the objective of leadership is always the same. A consensus has been reached in these diverse ways of leadership. The most important thing of various leadership roles is to ensure that the objectives of the business are attained. There may not be a universal way of doing this, but there is always a way to succeed in business.

Characteristics of business leaders

Mukunda (2012, pp. 1-3) in his research, “great leaders don’t need experience” expounds on some leaders who showed competence in dispensing their duties even without experience. Well, this seems like a controversy to contemporary beliefs about leadership. Experience is highly valued in modern business operations. Mukunda highlights the case of Thomas Jefferson who was highly respected due to the work he did as president. However, Mukunda (2012, p.1) belies that experience may not be that important because if there were many other managers who would do the same things a certain leader would, then no impact would be felt.

Various researches and studies in various nations have focused on the compliance of the style of leadership based on the conditions of success. The connection between culture and managers, culture and leaders is very different. There is a propensity for managers to be the people who only get things done. In essence, the corporate culture is the managers’ mechanism they apply in understanding the manner in which communication is done (Pearce 2003, pp. 34-56). The management knows the expectations of the current culture, the way to feed and nurture the present culture and how weak or strong the culture is. It is highly advocated that managers and leaders in transnational companies are flexible based on the differences of culture, showing respect, realizing what motivates people and choosing a suitable kind of leadership in accordance to the conditions and acting based on the individuals underneath in order the already defined objectives to be realized. Therefore, while leadership cannot be the same at all levels and regions, there is consensus on what leadership should encompass in different settings.

Specifications for business leaders are therefore defined in these diverse groups and settings.  It is unanimously agreed that leaders need to have an insight that will enable them perceive what takes place in a society, group or organization and work out ways of bringing a solution (Taleghani et al. 2010, pp.91-111). This insight is useful for leaders in giving them energy and power to work. The power and energy can be enhanced in them through inspiration given to followers and giving them motivation. This kind of motivation defines the leaders` beliefs and brings them to real issues in the business. The rest of the staff in business is inspired by leaders in recognizing the suitable ways of attaining the desirable goal that has been identified.

In what could be seen as being flexible in the business world, Mukunda (2012, p.2) says that leadership does not count a lot until that time when it happens to be the most important thing to embrace. At times, people can fail to follow the common way of doing things but in the end achieve results. That wouldn’t be bad because the conventional way of doing things was not taken into consideration. In all business operations and engagements, the realization of business objectives comes first (Caroselli 2000, pp. 23-31). All the same, that is not to imply that leadership is not needed at all. Order is paramount in the process of doing business. Business leaders will therefore be there to tell where the business is coming from, where it is and what measures to be taken to advance it.

Mukunda (2012, pp. 1-3) further reiterates that unfiltered leaders could perform in the same way as filtered ones. He goes further to explain why companies pay leaders much. He explains the role academics play to filter leaders otherwise it could be hard to tell who can perform and deliver on the business endeavors. Even if a lot of money is spent on leaders, the spending comes only based on the results realized through such kind of leadership. No spending will be done on any person if they cannot deliver or achieve company`s objectives. It is however amazing how such results could be realized regardless of the leader picked.

A lot of philosophies and beliefs have emerged on the kind of leadership that would be useful to any business engagement. A given characteristic termed as positive in a given situation could be said as negative to a given leadership in a different scenario. There are certain conditions when leaders will count a lot (Mukunda 2012, p.2). The most important thing is to realize that a good leadership, which is useful for individualistic culture, could be a source of downfall in a collectivist culture (Hofstede and Peterson 2000, pp. 401-416). It is evident from different research studies that no single type of leadership is applicable at all levels of operation. All the same, there is agreement in the sense that leaders would vary based on some factors as would affect the way of doing things.

Industrialization has produced a significant effect on the leaders` behavior. As a result of industrialization and globalization, there has been an intercultural effect influencing the leaders` behavior. For instance, autocratic leadership is very common in less-industrialized nations. With a lot of education and high remuneration, company staff could comply easily with the conditions of the system; the propensity to equalize working procedures could confront with countries and aboriginal cultures and create unnecessary tension in the working surroundings. Japanese culture has, for instance, conflicted with others in terms of leadership. This has been more especially with that of America (Mills 2005, pp. 23-37). Mukunda (2012, pp. 1-3) believes that there are circumstances under which leaders may not count so much. This is especially when survival and dominance are required. Growing to dominance requires unfiltered leaders; people who will think in a different way from the norm. According to Mukunda (2012, p.2), this is important for taking risks. All the same, he warns that taking these kinds of risks may not pay off. Being in business for years, Mukunda asserts that an unfiltered leader would be the best.

While choosing leaders based on merit is useful, both filtered and unfiltered leaders can be used in a business organization. The business can be structured in a way that incorporates both these leaders (Mukunda 2012, pp. 1-3). The issue in the business leadership is to ensure that all dynamics in the area of business leadership and management are taken into account. It is important to put in place various aspects of leadership that promote business welfare. No particular leadership can be overall in dealing with business issues. Business leaders are now accepting the diversity in different styles of managing business operations. Therefore, the characteristics of business leaders is a multifaceted concept that can really depend on the situation and a setting in which the leadership is to be applied. Flexibility is very important while managing the process of doing business.

Defining the business leader

Despite the fact that there are different types of leadership based on the setting and culture of organizations, there are key elements that define leadership. There are certain specifications meant for a leadership that is task-oriented: it informs every member of the staff of the tasks and plans; instructs and directs them; establishes clear and accurate timeline for working out the tasks and makes them completely aware of the work equipment and devices. Leaders expect the members of the staff to be reporting on the progress of their work and lead them to work in a pre-determined time limit (Bennis 2003, pp. 123-41; Caroselli 2000, pp. 23-31). Business leaders are always working against time because it is vital in running business operations (Pearce 2003, pp. 34-56). This is one characteristic of leaders that is important in making sure that the employees work to their maximum ability and capacity.

Business leadership character in managing operations must be seen improving the working facilities of all employees. It is very important to realize people’s attitudes and beliefs embedded in the employees` minds. Business leaders are expected to honor the staff and treat them as an important asset of the business. The character of leaders towards their followers plays a very significant role in proving the quality of service and delivery of goods. Another important aspect of leaders in business is their ability to communicate and deal with personal problems affecting anyone in the organization (Pearce 2003, pp. 34-56). The efficacy of the leaders must be felt by all. The leadership should work in a way that develops trust amongst the staff members and propagates interest in the future work. Motivation is very important to employees and, therefore, the leaders must be interested in recognizing the input of other employees and support them.

The manner in which employees see the difference between various leadership styles relies on the field of culture. While a particular behavior is task-oriented in a given culture, it could be people-oriented in a different one. Individuals coming from various cultural backgrounds expect different things from their leaders and managers; cultural and origin records of persons have effect on the way their expectations are formed. Sometimes, people in an organization feel that a manager should give an accurate answer to any query they pose on matters of work. Well, people have held varying opinions on the same. While some, like the Japanese, agree on this proposition and believe that it is important, some other people, like the Swedish, believe that it may not be achieved in reality (Taleghani et al. 2010, pp.91-111). The challenges and problems facing any business enterprise are believed to be addressed by the managers. Leaders are expected to show other employees how to identify strategies of dealing with issues by themselves.

Business leaders must help other staff work. If managers in their leadership roles give answers to all their followers, then they will not be motivated to carry out innovations. Their creativity will be gone and eventually decrease their productivity. On a different note, some managers have the belief that they are supposed to provide their staff with clear and precise answers for them to preserve credit in their midst. All the same, the most important thing is for the business organization to grow and find solutions to the problems it faces so that it can excel at all times (Pearce 2003, pp. 34-56). The objective of doing business is to be achieved at all cost and the interests and ambitions of the leader should not override organizational goals of the company.

Universally acceptable traits of a business leader

There are usually certain qualities that are expected in a successful business leader. To be successful in leading business, there are certain traits that come in play. There are certain characteristics that made Steve Jobs outstanding in the business world. The most important characteristic of a business leader is being somebody that is of great value to the company (Evans, Patricia and Bendik, 2000, pp. 360-73). The business leader must be seen adding value to the company but not just being paid because of their good academic papers and professional background. Adding value is twofold; both to the people in the organization and the organization itself in terms of profits and diversifying markets.

A good business leader should not always be concerned about his/her welfare. The interests of others and the organization as well should be factored in. It is in the heart of a good business leader to motivate and inspire people (Bellman 2001, pp. 34-56). A good leader will not be found manipulating or intimidating others in the organization. A leader who identifies with people’s problems and lives with them and helping in solving the issues will be effective in managing and leading the affairs of the organization. Business leaders must follow an ethical compass that is headed in the desired directions no matter what is happening around them. It is very important for business leaders to adhere to such principles. The qualities and attributes of business leadership  are desperately needed to make a successful engagement in business. While people have different way of doing things in business, some things have been considered paramount and count a lot in business progress.

One of the most important things of a good leader is having courage. Winston Churchill once said that courage comes first in the qualities of a human being because it is the only one quality that is able to guarantee the rest. This is the first requirement that business leaders should exhibit. To hold the leadership mantle, courage is direly needed. It is needed to face off the worst fears and to perform the right and acceptable duty regardless of who is going to be affected by the actions taken. While facing competition in the market and dealing with failures and challenges in business, courage is largely needed. A business leader can only be good if one of the traits that define them is courage.

Business engagements and operations have many obstacles. Good business leaders will turn them into opportunities. Along with academics and good professional background, courage is required to change these obstacles into opportunities. Choices must be made by the leader even in the most complex situation. A coward will do nothing at the expense of the company and thus lead to collapse of a business. Courage gives leaders power to make important choices in their roles (Harrell 2003, pp. 11-66). Leaders should thus overcome these challenges and become winners. There should not be an option for business leaders to be overwhelmed by situations. Leaders must demonstrate courage in going an extra mile further than failures. Good business leaders will be exhausted and achieve success rather than rest and then fail. Sometimes, courage is needed to say no and face the hard truth. It is important to do the right thing as a leader because it is actually right. This is important in maintaining the business integrity. Courage is needed to rise up and speak before the subordinates. At times, it would be also needed to sit down and take heed to instructions (Bennis and Joan 2003, pp. 34-77). A successful leader will be able to accomplish all this in the organization.

While exercising control over others when running the business, it is important to have self-control as well. A leader may be powerful by controlling others in the organization but a mastery of one’s self makes someone mightier. A business leader will be successful if self-control is exhibited. For effective business leadership, self-control is required. Good business leaders should be able to establish control over themselves. There can never be successful leaders without having and exercising self-control. A business leader has many controls but being able to control emotions is a distinguishable trait. Without self-control, there can be limits in managing business affairs. Business leaders should thus control emotions by having well directed thoughts. 

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