The success of any business venture will mostly depend on the ability of the managers or owners to combine their leadership skills with good judgment and decision making capabilities as well as steering business ventures in the right direction. Leadership is defined as the ability to influence the actions and performance of a group of employees within an organization so as to achieve the organization’s objectives and goals. Leadership goes hand in hand with management which involves planning, organizing, directing and controlling organizational activities to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization (Bass and Bass 2008).
Statement of the Problem
The development of skills that can be used for leadership and management activities is important for many managers and leaders mostly when it comes to situations of change such as acquisitions, mergers, buyouts, layoffs and downsizing. The purpose of this study will be to identify the type of skills that are needed for leadership and management activities within an organization and how these skills can be developed for leadership and management.
Objectives for the Study
The objectives for conducting this study will be to:
- Identify the type of skills needed by leaders and managers when performing organizational activities such as motivating and influencing employees to achieve higher levels of productivity.
- Determine how these skills can be developed or used for leadership and management activities within the organization
The research questions that will be used to achieve the objectives for the study as well as address the problem statement include:
- What are the various skills needed by managers and leaders within most organizations?
- What is the importance and relevance of these skills to managers and leaders as well as their employees?
- How can these skills be used to develop leadership and management within organizations?
- Are these skills relevant to the business operations of organizations?
Skills needed for Leadership and Management
It is no secret that strong leadership and good management always lead to the success of companies with regard to profitability and their survival in the economic market. Strong leadership and good management styles play an important role in the success of any business be it a profit or not-for-profit organization. Managers are therefore faced with the task of nurturing and developing skills that will allow them to execute their leadership and management functions within the organization (Gold et al 2010). The personal leadership and management skills needed to initiate and sustain profitable growth within an organization include interpersonal skills, communication skills which encompass speaking skills, listening skills and writing skills, result orientation skills, persuasive skills, strong team work, and problem solving skills.
Communication skills which are termed to be the most important require leaders to be strong communicators so that they can be able to influence their employees to achieve the organization’s objectives and goals. Communication skills cover speaking skills where leaders are required to engage in speaking activities on a daily basis as they perform their work duties or as they relate with their employees within the organization. Leaders should be able to communicate in a simple and clear way to ensure that their message is easily understood by the intended audience. Speaking skills require leaders to express or convey their thoughts, opinions and ideas effectively (Locke 2000).
Listening skills which also form part of communication skills require organizational leaders to properly listen to and understand the ideas, comments and opinions expressed by other employees within the organization. Good managers or leaders are those who listen to the advice of their employees when it comes to how the organization’s operations can be improved for business efficiency. Writing skills are also important for effective managers and leaders as they involve drafting relevant correspondence in the form of memos, emails and reports to ensure that the flow of communication has been maintained within the organization. All managers need to develop writing skills to ensure that they can be able to draft suitable correspondences which they can use to relay important business information (Locke 2000).
Interpersonal skills refer to the techniques or approaches that a person uses to interact with other people within the organization or external environment. Interpersonal skills are at times referred to as people skills and they involve being an active listener to the concerns of other people. Interpersonal skills have also been identified as communications skills because they require managers to engage on a frequent basis with their employees and other important stakeholders within the organization. For leaders and managers to be effective, they have to develop their interpersonal skills so that they can be able to address their employees in a manner that is not authoritative or bureaucratic. Effective leaders have to develop the ability to operate within business organizations that are directed towards fostering social communications and interactions. Interpersonal skills are therefore important for many organizational managers and leaders in ensuring the channels of communication have been maintained within the organization (Fritz 2004).
Developing result orientation skills involves being able to develop and set goals and objectives which will be used to direct the company from the present state of operation to the future state. Leaders who are result oriented not only provide value to the business but they also contribute to the overall economic growth of the organization. Developing an attitude for results will involve creating awareness amongst employees to ensure that they are able to turn their job performance into one that will produce results (Kaplan and Kaiser 2006). To be result oriented, managers can adopt the SMART approach which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed goals. Managers or leaders need to develop goals that are specific or clear with regards to how they will contribute to the overall performance of the organization. The goals also have to be measurable so that they can help managers determine whether the organization is making any progress. The goals also have to be achievable and realistic meaning that managers have to consider the feasibility of attaining the set goals within the allocated time period. A time frame means that the goals should have a defined start and end date (O’Neill and Conzemius 2006).
Having a strong teamwork orientation is another important skill that managers and leaders should have for them to be effective in their work. For organizational projects and initiatives to succeed, managers have to adopt a team-oriented style of leadership. This ensures for the delivery of results where the various members of a team are equipped with various skills to complete a task. Team oriented leaders have to reach out to their employees within the organization so that they can be able to achieve a common goal and objective. Being a team player is important as managers can be able to gain useful ideas from their employees within the team setting. Employees on the other hand can be able to learn by observing the actions of their employers and managers on how they can effectively perform their work duties (Caroselli 2000).
Leaders also have to be persuasive or have the ability to influence other people if they are to achieve effective change management within the organization. Managers have to sell their ideas on a daily basis to investors, stakeholders and shareholders of the company so that they can gain additional support for the company’s operations or gain financial funds for business initiatives and projects. Managers also have to persuade their employees to try and achieve the organizations goals and objectives so that the organization can progress from the current state to the expected state.
Problem solving skills are also important for many managers and leaders running multimillion corporations everywhere as they help managers develop useful tactics that will be used to help an organization deal with a complex situation or problem. Problem solving skills are usually used with decision-making skills as managers have to select the most suitable technique to address the problem. Problem solving skills allow managers to recognise the problem and define it; gather important information on how the problem can be dealt with, identify possible solutions that can be used to address the problem and select the most suitable solution or option that will deal with the problem effectively (Luis 2010).
Developing Skills for Leadership and Management
Having strong leaders and managers within an organization is an important asset for an organization that wants to be profitable and successful. Managers can be able to develop their leadership and management skills by choosing competent subordinates who are capable of performing their work duties efficiently and effectively. Competent subordinates are a great asset to team oriented leaders as well as result driven managers. They can be relied on to produce desirable results from the employees or members of staff who work under their direction (Caroselli 2000). Managers can be able to develop their leadership skills by demonstrating high moral standards which will allow the clients or customers of the organization to be able to distinguish effective leaders from those who are manipulative or corrupt.
Effective leaders infuse charisma when employing persuasion tactics to convince employees to perform certain work duties and activities. Charismatic leaders are those who are able to inspire and nurture the talents of their employees so that they can be able to perform beyond their expectations or capabilities. Leaders and managers who are charismatic understand leadership to be an important tool for developing the work ethic and values of employees. Charismatic leaders usually have strong interpersonal and communication skills which they use to persuade and influence others to achieve the mission and goals of the organization (Parker and Stone 2002).
Managers and leaders can be able to develop their leadership skills by being an inspiration to their employees. Inspirational leaders are beneficial to an organization because they are able to gain the respect and loyalty of their employees. By inspiring their employees, managers and leaders are able to motivate them to perform beyond their expectations and capabilities. This is especially important in the case of a company that is experiencing low employee morale and poor employee motivation. Despite the fact that most employees are motivated by financial gains such as their salaries and wages, allowances and other benefits; inspirational leaders can be able to motivate these employees to increase their performance and execution of work duties.
These types of leaders and managers understand that all human beings want to be successful in what they do and they therefore encourage them to do their best when executing their work duties and responsibilities. Leaders who are inspirational involve the use of interpersonal skills and also communication skills so that they can be able to relay positive messages to their employees. Using these skills will ensure that these types of managers or leaders are able to breed success amongst their employees thereby ensuring the overall success of the company (Parker and Stone 2002).
By constantly refining their leadership skills, managers and leaders are able to remain relevant and effective within the dynamic corporate world. Managers need to continuously develop their skills to ensure that they remain relevant to the current environment in which the organization is operating in. They can be able to develop their leadership skills by maintaining close contact with their subordinates, investors, shareholders, employees and the customers of the company. Also actively listening to the needs and expectations of employees will allow them to hone their interpersonal and communication skills to better address the needs of employees.
For them to influence other people, leaders and managers have to have integrity which is the main measure of morality and ethics within an organization. Leaders who have integrity are honest and transparent in their dealings within the organization which means that they are in a better position to persuade and influence the actions of other people within the organization. Developing leadership skills that portray integrity are beneficial for managers who want to be effective in their dealings with employees. When developing leadership skills, commitment is the most important factor that is usually considered by most managers and leaders aiming for effective leadership within an organization. Managers who are committed to their work can be able to gain important skills such as result oriented skills and also team work skills because they are able to meet their work targets and individual objectives. Many chief executive officers who run large multinational corporations work hard and have a strong discipline towards their work which means that they have commitment. Being committed will allow managers and leaders to develop their employees by training, coaching or teaching them on how to be effective and efficient in their work performance (Stahl 2007)
Research methods are the tools that are used to produce new research information within a study or research proposal such as this one. There are various research methods which can be used to collect information and one of the most commonly used include exploratory research methods which are used to identify new research problems, constructive research methods which are used to develop solutions for certain problems and empirical research approaches which are used to test the feasibility of a solution to a problem through the use of empirical evidence. The most commonly used research methods for collecting and analysing data include qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of various aspects and topics that have been placed under research without necessarily involving the use of samples and empirical investigations (Creswell 2003).
Quantitative research on the other hand involves the use of systematic empirical investigation of various quantitative properties and their relationships with other phenomena. The research method that will be employed in this study will be qualitative research as the study seeks to determine the skills needed for management and leadership activities. Qualitative research will involve reviewing various forms of literature that have covered the topics of leadership, management, leadership and management skills so as to achieve the objectives of the study as well as answer the research questions. The type of qualitative research method that is suitable for this study will be the grounded theory approach which is basically inductive research that is based on the observations and research information collected or developed by other researchers who have conducted studies on the topic. Grounded theory research involves analysing qualitative data collected from sources such as surveys, journals, academic textbooks, records and surveys (Lindlof and Taylor 2002).
Structure of the Research
The structure of a research proposal is determined by the kind of research that is being conducted with the main forms of research being primary and secondary research. Primary research means that the researcher is collecting and creating their own data by applying the different techniques of data collection and analysis so as to gain empirical data or evidence that will be used to form the backbone of the study. Secondary research refers to information that has already been gathered or collected by other researchers which can be applied to the current study. The type of research that is being conducted in this study is secondary research as the information used in the research mostly relies on information collected by other researchers. The structure of this research proposal will therefore be:
- Working title for the research topic
- a statement of the problem or problem description
- objectives for conducting this study and the key research questions which will be used to address the various aspects of the research topic.
- expected contribution to knowledge which basically falls under the literature review part of the study where the historic and current research conducted on the topic will be used. The use of literature will enable the researcher to place the research proposal within a context that will reveal the problem being addressed.
- research methods or methodology set out the mechanisms that will be used to conduct the research and the type of data that will be needed to address the research questions and objectives.
- The resources that will be used to conduct the research will also form part of the structure for the proposal as well as the time frame needed to complete it with the allocated resources.
- References of bibliography also form part of the structure as they cite the material that has been used to support the research.
A research plan basically forms the basis for conducting a research proposal as well as the subsequent work that is performed during the preparations leading up to the completion of the proposal for presentation or scientific publication. The research plan communicates the ideas that are within the proposal to other researchers or beneficiaries to the research such as evaluators and publishers. The research plan for this study will involve identifying the problem which has warranted the study in the first place, identifying the type of research methods or methodology that will be used to address the problem and then compare the result with the expected result of the study to identify whether the problem and research questions have been answered.
This study has focused on the skills needed for effective leadership and management within organizations. The various skills that are used to develop effective managers and leaders have been highlighted and discussed as well as the techniques that can be used to develop these skills.
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