LEADERSHIP

By MOST Rev. Monsgr. Dr. Dennis Arimokwu

AGBOR (Ika Weekly) – As civilization developed and human society became more complex, the need for organisation arose. Every organisation consists of a group of people who have united together to pursue and accomplish a common purpose as a team. Sports, clubs, churches, business firms, schools, the Army are examples of such organisations. In order to succeed in the pursuit of its collective goals, every organisation needs proper administration, which is a system, intended to control, supervise, plan and make decisions about the various activities of the organisation on the basis of an established authority. In brief, every organisation requires an authoritative art of getting things done. Administration depends largely on leadership or conversely, sound administration depends on effective leadership.

 

Webster’s Dictionary defines a leader as one who directs, and   leadership as the office or position of a leader. Leadership has to do with the carrying out of those policies and decisions of an organisation towards its specified aims and objectives.

 

Leadership must vary from one organisation or society to another. Although, no two leaders are alike in the way that they administer their organization, yet four general types of leadership appear common,

 
1.         Leadership Through Force:  this type of leadership is commonly called dictatorship. It has not derived its legitimacy from those who are governed, but it is leadership imposed on the organization.
 
2.         Laissez-faire Leadership:  laissez-faire is a French phrase, which means “let people do what they want”. This type of leadership has very few rulers in the organisation. The leader is supposed to be very tolerant and the subordinates are free to do what they want.
 
3.         Democratic Leadership: i.e. Leadership through representation and consultation.
 

This kind of leadership rests on the assumption:

 
That power and authority must be derived from those who are governed
 
That people’s basic needs, rights and freedom must be guaranteed and respected by the organisation.
 
That decisions about matters relating to the organisation should be arrived at after making necessary consultation with the various sections of the organisation.
 
4.         Charismatic Leadership: This type of leadership is based on people’s faith and devotion to a certain person who had demonstrated unusual ability to lead through eloquent speeches and deeds of heroism for the welfare of the group, example of such people are, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, the founder of Islam, Murtala Mohammed, Napoleon and Hitler. As professor Edgar Schein puts it “Charisma as a basis of authority occurs in those instances where a very magnetic personality has been able to capture a following through belief in his mystical, divine or simply extraordinary powers. Political and religious movements often develop around charismatic leaders.
 
i.          Leadership as a Personality Gift:
 
            People have a tendency to feel that leadership is an inborn trait. They see leadership with a superior personality, which towers above everything else and so believes that leaders are born and not made.
 
ii.          Leadership as a set of functions:
 

We can understand leadership better in terms of what the leader does, than who the leader is or the kind of person he is.

 
Formulation of policy
 
Implementation of policy
 
Performing ceremonial and Executive functions.
 
iii.         Leadership as a shared Relationship:
 

With this background it becomes clear that a leader demands respect from his subordinates. People seem to obey their leaders because it is the tradition to do so. Another reason which appears to make people obedient and loyal to their leaders is that of material gains.

 

People in employment do not necessarily obey their superior merely because of the material gains.

 

Leadership as an impersonal position must be recognised as imperative in the organisation.

 
Authority, Civil
 

The duty of respect for lawful civil authority, even when this was exercised by non-Christian rulers was plainly spelted out in the New Testament to be reasonably questioned by anyone professing to accept the Christian revelation. Christ himself had acknowledged a duty to Caesar (Mt 22:1, Mk 12:17; Lk 20:25) Christians were admonished to accept civil authority as coming from God. (Rom 13:1-7, Titus 3:1; 1Tim 2:14) to be subject to them for the Lord’s sake (1Pt 2:13), to give them their due (Rom 13:7) to look upon resistance to them as resistance to the ordinance of God (Rom 13:2).

 

In the early church these plain statements of Christian duty were enough to forestall any tendency to civil anarchy or disobedience that might have risen among Christians in consequence of the severity with which they were treated in times of persecution.

 
Limitations:  The first and major limitation of the authority of civil ruler, as this has been in Christian thought, arises from distinction between civil and religious authority.
 
Legitimacy:  Legitimacy of leadership is therefore an acceptance of the need for one leader at a time in an organisation. The leader, once appointed or elected must be obeyed and respected by all those under him if he is to be an effective leader. On the other hand, the leader must realize that there are certain forms of behaviour and professional conduct, which are expected of him by the people he heads. For example, leaders are expected to be morally upright, honest, and a good example to others in various patterns of life. If a leader cannot match up to his public role expectations, the respect and the leadership legitimacy bestowed on him is likely to vanish.
 

We can now examine some of the ways in which leaders try to maintain themselves securely in their positions and how they overcome oppositions within their organisations. These are called leadership tactics and could be played against the leader’s superiors as well as his subordinates.

 
i.          Tactics with Respect to Superiors:
 

When a leader feels that his position is threatened, there are devices, which he can adopt with respect to those above him or his superiors.

 
a.         Influencing the superior
 
The leader may attempt to enhance his personal relations with his superiors. Such personal relations may include social gathering which make it possible for the leader to discuss and explain things on a person to person basis rather than on an official basis.
 
An official who is after promotion, for example, may try to please his superiors or even use some form of bribe to get the position. He may also use other influential people to pull strings for him. This method is a very poor and immoral one, which every superior must guard against. It is a very costly practice especially when the organisation promotes who is not competent as a result of inducements or bribery.
 
b.         Job Security through merit:
 
The employee may enhance his position by his own competence. If the employee is honest, resourceful, diligent in his work, firm in his official dealings with his subordinates, then his position in the organisation is secure. He deserves or merits his present position as well as any future promotions, which may arise. This is the right kind of tactic for securing official positions. It is both satisfying and rewarding to the individual and to his superior. Nothing is more satisfying in an employment than individual to know in his own heart that he got his position by merit and not through favours.
 
ii.          Tactics with Respect to Subordinates:
 
An effective leader can use a variety of tactics to maintain his position against the opposition of his subordinates. Some of the tactics are as follows:
 
a.         Manipulative Tactics:
 
This is a method whereby the leader employs clever ways of subduing opposition and therefore strengthening his position of leadership. One way of doing this is for the leader to know and identify the most influential opponents within the group and then silence them either through transfers, promotions or written warnings to the effect that they will endanger their future prospects unless they change their ways. Transfer of those who disagree with the leader is one way of breaking opposition. Another method of manipulation is by inducing neutral members as well as the loyalist of the group by promotion or fringe benefits. Once induced the neutrals are likely to be on the leader’s side and thus make him more popular. If the leader has the majority of the organizational staff on his side, his position becomes secure while that of his opponent weakens. He now has a firm foundation for effective leadership.
 
b.         Participatory Leadership Tactics:
 
In his approach the leader attempts to make each individual feel that he is an important member of the team and that he has special talents to offer towards the tactic, the leader must learn to delegate as many responsibilities to his staff as possible. Of the two types of tactics related to subordinates the method of participatory leadership is better and makes for greater effectiveness.
 
Every leader must strive to achieve this approach. Although the final decision lies with the leader, the actual ground work leading to the final decision is done by a team of people rather than by one person.
 
A leader who encourages participatory leadership in his organisation knows very well that many hands make light work and that two heads are better than one, even if that one head is that of the leader himself. The success of school administration for example, lies in the degree of participatory leadership, which the headmaster is able to encourage in his staff through delegation of responsibilities.
 
However, both tactics cited above can be used either for the benefit of the organisation or for the personal gains of the leader. Benefits to the organisation must be paramount. When there is a genuine need to break resistance, the leader should not hesitate to use all tactics at his disposal to bring such resistance to an end. However, when theses tactics are to be used as a result of personality clashes between the leader and any of his subordinate officers the case is not genuine.
 
Having declared the ground so far, we can now look at the elements of which leadership consists and within which framework a leader can be effective. Three basic elements are characteristics of leadership. These are; authority, power and responsibility.
 
i.          Authority:
 
This means the right conferred on a leader or an administrator in an organization to make decisions in the course of discharging his responsibility to require the subordinates to accept the decisions and, if necessary, to enforce them. It is the power to give orders and the power to exact obedience.
 
Authority involves two individuals, one superior, the other subordinate. The superior makes decisions and expects the subordinate to carry out the decisions. The subordinate, on the other hand, expects these decisions to be made and himself the subordinate must with-hold his critical views about the decision and simply do as he is directed without independently examining the merit of the decision. When exercising authority the superior does not seek to convince the subordinate but only to obtain his obedience.
 
Authority does imply the leader’s ability to induce his associates and subordinates to carry out his decisions conscientiously. His effectiveness as a leader will be determined by how well he does this.
 
Authority, of course, does not mean dictatorship. There is need for discussions and consultations to sound out opinions of various people in the organization before decisions are made. Any decision made on these basis carries with it the legitimate authority vested in the leader by virtue of his office. Any one in the organisation who refuses to carry out the decision would be liable to disciplinary action as set out by the organisation in its terms of service.
 
ii.          Power: the need for disciplinary action brings in another element of leadership, power; a word we are all used to. Power is the capacity to use force. It is the force behind authority in administration. Where there is no power there is very little authority and a possibility of things failing to be done when they should be done. The leader becomes ineffective. There is however, the need for a leader to realise that the use of any of the power bestowed upon him becomes necessary only when his authority has become challenged or ignored. For example, if pupils go on strike as a demonstration against the school meals, the Headmaster may instruct them to end such a strike. By giving such instruction he is using his authority as the school leader. If the pupils fail to carry out these instructions, however, the only alternative left for the Headmaster is to use the power at his disposal. He may thus decide to suspend some or all of the pupils involved in the demonstration. By suspending the pupils, the Headmaster would be using power to restore his authority.
 
A leader must, however, know the limits of his power as well as how to use such powers. This will enable him to prevent misuse and abuse of his power (example: corporal punishment and transfer on personal grudges) likewise authority can be abused (spending of money on personal needs instead of on official needs).
 
The best safeguard against abuse of authority on the part of a leader is personal integrity and high moral character. A leader lacking these attributes cannot be effective.
 
iii.         Responsibility:
 
The use of both power and authority demands a high degree of responsibility. As used here, responsibility means a display of moral integrity, loyalty to one’s employer and a sense of professional maturity in carrying out one’s duties. In other words, responsibility is the ability to execute one’s duties in accordance with the official procedure. A good and effective leader must work within the confines of his authority and power. In doing so the leader will be executing his responsibility. Irresponsible officers are those who disregard official procedure in order to satisfy their selfish ambition. Only responsible leaders can give effective leadership.
 
iv.         Delegation of Responsibility
 
A fourth element of leadership is the concept of delegating responsibility to one’s team of officers. It is a process whereby the leader of an organisation transfers to some of his men the responsibility of taking some particular actions as well as making some decisions in particular departments of the organisation. It means that those to whom a particular duty is delegated execute that duty on behalf of the leader and that the ultimate responsibility or accountability lies with the leader. The size of an organisation determines the extent of delegation. Effective delegation should meet the following requirements.
 
a.         The details of the responsibility and its scope must be defined in writing.
 
b.         The extent of authority and power behind the responsibility must be stated in clear terms and in writing in the form of a job description.
 
c.         The means of carrying out the responsibility must be provided, e.g. equipment, personnel and funds.
 
d.         There must be a constant system of training and advice given by the experts. It is meaningless to delegate responsibility to someone without giving him further in-service training and expert advice on his job from time to time.
 
e.         Every officer to whom responsibility in an organisation is delegated must be required to account for his accomplishments in his area of work. Accountability is a way of evaluating progress, which could be done by means of written reports or through periodic on-the-job inspection by the superior. Where reports or supervision are not required, stagnation of work is bound to follow.
 
f.          Proper communication procedures must be established between the subordinate officer and his superior. This is necessary for consultation and co-ordination.
 
v.         Decision making
 
            This is another significant element of leadership and occupies the greater portion of the work of a leader. Decisions are centred on one or several of four things, namely men, money, machine or time. The men question is the personnel factor, the money question, the cost factor, the machine question, the equipment factor, and time question, the length of time it will take to get the job done.
 
 Decision-making is an attempt to solve organizational problems. A problem can be defined as anything, which causes dissatisfaction. Not every decision aimed at solving problems will be the right one. But when one type of decision proves a failure the leader should not be discouraged or feel ashamed about it. We all learn through mistakes. He should try another alternative and count failures resulting from his decisions as learning opportunities. Most of the worries that kill top leaders and executives stem from decision-making. The following are some suggestions to help in making decisions without worries.
 
a.         When making decisions always follow the established procedure governing that particular situation e.g. need to spend more money in a school.
 
b.         Consult those above you before taking action. Do not rush over the issue.
 
c.         Get into a relaxed frame of mind. Do not decide under emotion disciplinary action.
 
d.         Do no expect to be right all the time.
 
e.         Do not be afraid to fail sometimes. Fear of failure is the biggest cause of mental strain.
 
f.          Be firm in your decisions. Double mindedness creates tension within you.
 
g.         Do not postpone decisions. Keeping the problem within you is a strain on your health.
 
h.         Think of alternative solutions to the same problem just in case the first solution fails.
 
i.          Delegate as many decisions as you can, especially the minor things in the organisation.
 
j.          Once you have made the decision, forget it. Thinking over it invites stomach ulcers.
 
k.         As a leader remember that you cannot please everybody. Do not be discouraged if some employers do not like you.
 
vi.         Expertise
 
The six element of leadership is the concept of expertise. No one can be an effective leader of an organisation    unless he himself can claim expert knowledge of what the organisation aims to achieve. A headmaster must be an expert and effective classroom teacher. Only then can such a leader make high quality and progressive decisions and give effective leadership to his subordinates. Expertise grows out of specialisation and field experience. Hence education for example, must be administered by educationists, not by legal experts. To put a non-expert in a position of leadership is to ruin the organisation.     
The concept of expertise demands that the criterion for selecting people who should fill leadership positions in any organisation should be that of specialiasation for job, not that of personal acquaintance.

 
Conclusion            
I have been trying within the compass of this short write-up to x-ray the concept of leadership and to bring out, in passing, those operational areas where the effectiveness of leaders are highlighted. I have tried to show that leadership, though abstract in definition, is very concrete and practical in operation. If I have succeeded in stimulating you to make regular reference to this write-up when you assume your leadership role, say in your school to which you will be posted, and assess your performance accordingly, this write-up would been worthwhile. However, I hope I have not bored you too much. Even then, to be bored is an experience, which is a part of Education.

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