Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Leadership’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Leadership’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Leadership
- Essay on the Meaning of Leadership
- Essay on the Qualities of a Good Leadership
- Essay on the Emergence of Leaders
- Essay on the Types of Leaders
- Essay on the Functions of the Leaders
- Essay on the Personality Characteristics of Leaders
- Essay on Fiedler’s Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness
- Essay on Communication and Leadership
- Essay on Some Leadership Studies in India
Essay # 1. Meaning of Leadership:
Leadership is the knack of getting other people to follow you and to do willingly the things you wants them to do.
It is the human factor which binds a group together and motivates it toward goals. Leadership may also be defined as the process of influencing a group in a particular situation at a given point of time and in a specific set of circumstances that stimulate people to strive willingly to attain company objectives.
Essay # 2. Qualities of a Good Leadership:
1. A Sense of Mission:
A devotion to the people and the organisation in which one serves.
Effective use of time in meeting company goals and objectives.
Broad as well as technical.
From the subordinates; respect from and confidence of others.
A willingness to forgo self-indulgences and the ability to bear the headaches the job entails.
A leader remains mentally alert and readily comprehends instructions, explanations and unusual circumstances.
7. High Intelligence:
A leader should be able to come down to the level necessary for the subordinates he is leading.
8. High Character:
Includes honesty, sincerity, and the courage to face hard facts, unpleasant situations, etc.
Ability to plan and organise the work, delegation of responsibility and authority, controlling position activities, etc.
In coping with situations and making decisions, emotionally stable and unlikely to break down with frustration.
11. Job Competence:
A leader knows well the job he supervises.
12. Analysis and Judgment:
A leader performs critical evaluation of potential current problem areas ; he possesses wisdom to look into future.
13. Initiative and Drive:
Self-starting to achieve both personal and company objectives.
Good health, good nerves and boundless energy make even tough jobs easier.
Enthusiastic, Optimistic, and Loyal attitude towards the organization.
16. Personal Compliance:
Degree to which leader does what is expected of him, such as setting good example by being punctual, honest, just etc.
17. Constructive, Creative and Independent Thinking:
Ability to originate and develop ideas intelligently and to make constructive suggestions and improvements.
A leader meets schedules and dead-lines and adheres to company policies.
19. Group Spirit.
A leader is adaptable, and quickly adjusts to changing conditions.
21. Knowledge of Industrial Psychology and Human Relations:
A leader understands personnel interactions, has feel for individuals and recognizes their problems; is considerate towards others; can motivate and get people to work together.
The extent, to which he is willing to sit and talk with his subordinates and to which they are willing to talk things over with him.
A leader has open-mind and makes decisions without the influence of personal or emotional interests.
Self-assurance; self-reliance; inner security, etc.
25. Cheerfulness and Socialness:
A leader remains always cheerful, he makes friends easily and has sincere interest in people.
26. Verbal Ability and Communication:
Articulate; communicative and is generally understood by people at different organizational levels.
27. Good poise and bearing.
Possesses foresight, sees new trends and opportunities; anticipates future events, etc.
Essay # 3. The Emergence of Leaders:
Why do particular persons become leaders?
There are two aspects to the problem:
(a) What situations enable a person to become a leader? and
(b) What kind of a person becomes a leader?
One way of becoming a leader is by being appointed by someone outside the group. All the persons in positions of authority in the administrative services of the government, industrial concerns, business concerns, banks, military units etc., are all “appointed” leaders. The appointing authority has to adopt some formal procedure.
Another way of becoming a leader is by election. The members of the group elect their own leader. This involves a formal procedure; it is the choice of the majority.
Thus, both the appointed leader and the elected leader come to occupy their positions of leadership on the basis of some formal procedures.
There is yet another way in which persons become leaders; this involves informal procedures like the socio metric choice as in the case of what we may call the social leaders or opinion leaders. They are neither appointed leaders nor are they elected leaders.
The appointed leaders as well as the elected leaders may adopt either a democratic style of functioning or the autocratic style of functioning. The democratic leader is one whose basic techniques are persuasion, conciliation and tolerance. He is not preoccupied with the problem of disciplining the members of the group. He trusts the good sense of people and believes that with proper guidance they can be made to work for their goals. He relies on facts and on logical arguments since he has faith in the intelligence of the people.
He does not seek to influence them through propaganda. In contrast, the authoritarian leader is characterized by dominance and aggressiveness. He believes in the value of discipline, forcefulness and deference to authority. He likes to display the external symbols of status and power.
Since he does not have a high opinion of the intelligence and abilities of the masses he uses many techniques of propaganda to make them believe and do what he wants them to believe and do. He depends more on power and punishment than on persuasion.
Sometimes the leader may be ascribed by the people a mystical power. He is the charismatic leader. He is able to inspire people to blind devotion. He can move the masses with great ease. The charismatic leader may be authoritarian like Hitler and Stalin or he may be a democratic leader like Gandhi.
Charisma is the quality attributed to the leader because of the possession of some “transcendent power.” He is assumed to have some “divine grace” which enables him to- achieve great feats. Charismatic quality is attributed to persons who establish ascendency over other human beings by their commanding forcefulness or by an exemplary inner state.
Such a leader seeks to break the traditional social structures; he is the creator of a new social order. As a matter of fact when the members of the group are impressed by the inadequacy of the prevailing institutional systems and the inadequacy of the existing leaders, they are on the lookout for persons with new vision and new dynamism and are ready to welcome the charismatic leader.
Any leader, whether elected or appointed, to be effective, must have “influence” over the members of the group or the general public. Thus one definition of leader is that he is a member of the group who can influence the activities of the group. This implies that leadership is a quantitative variable.
In fact in a democracy any citizen can stand for election and get himself elected as a member of the municipal corporation or of the state or central legislature. A member of the group can become a leader if he can influence the other members of the group. This influence depends on the attitude of the members towards him.
If they change their attitude his influence may decrease. In political as well as in administrative life one can see persons who were holding powerful positions in the group become ordinary members of the group when they give up their positions; they have hardly any influence whatever.
Thus, the influence in a group tends to be concerned in one or few persons; influence is not spread evenly among all the members. As the group becomes larger and as the goals of the group become multifarious, a “hierarchy of leadership” develops.
At the top will be the primary leaders; then there will be second level and third level leaders and at the lowest positions in the hierarchy will be the followers. This hierarchic pattern can be seen in many groups and organizations. The emergence of leaders is particularly demanded when the group is facing some internal or external threat.
Essay # 4. Types of Leaders:
There are various types of leaders in industry today.
According to AIford and Beatty the following categorical classifications have been given:
1. Democratic Leader:
He is one who acts to the wishes of his followers. He does what the group wants. He follows the majority opinion as expressed by his group and thus, is their representative to management. His loyalty to the group gives him leadership. He is concerned with their interests, is friendly and helpful to them and defends them individually and collectively.
2. Autocratic Leader:
This leader commands the group through coercion and fear in his followers. They are power loving and promote their own aims. They never like to delegate their power as they fear that they may los their authority in this way.
3. Intellectual Leader:
These leaders win the confidence of their followers by their superior intellect or knowledge. About in every business concern, there are experts whose advice is taken on matters of intellectual authority. He can be a purchase specialist, a production expert, a job analyst or an advertisement specialist. Instead of his function, he is able to get results through others because they desire to use his superior knowledge.
4. Institutional Leader:
He is one who holds the position of prestige attached to his office. He through his position influences his followers. It may be due to habit that they obey and pay respect to him. It may again be due to dependence of the subordinate upon his superior.
5. Persuasive Leader:
He is one who persuades his followers to join with him in getting things done. The whole gang responds as they love and respect him with confidence and goodwill.
These leaders believe in flow of ideas among them. According to Follett, Mary P: “He draws out the best in his followers without exerting an undue personal influence upon the people. He controls united, voluntary, enthusiastic activities by the members of his group towards specific goals which are satisfactory and worth-while to all.” According to Ordway Tead, “The group follows the big idea and not the big.”
Essay # 5. The Functions of the Leaders:
The leader has manifold functions to perform. The most obvious function of the leader is to coordinate the activities of the various members. The leader is an executive. In this capacity he assigns work to the second, third and other level leaders. Sometimes he may not be willing to delegate responsibility to the other members.
This may prevent the development of task responsibility in the members and may affect their involvement in the work of the group. Another function of the leader is to plan and decide the ways and means by which the group can attain its goals. This implies that the leader must help the group to clearly define its goals and its policies. The leader must also be an expert.
He must have the necessary information and the skills to help the members; since there is a high degree of specialization he may not have all the information and skills, so he must have technical advisers. Yet another function is to be the representative of the group in its external relations. He will also be the “gate keeper” since all outgoing as well as incoming communications will be channelled through him. He functions as the controller of in-group relations.
He has the powers to apply reward and punishments to the members. This enables him to exercise control over the group members. He has control over who occupies the sub-leader positions; this will enable him to move individuals up or down in the status hierarchy in the group. He can take all kinds of disciplinary action against the erring members.
When there is conflict within the group it is his duty to be the arbitrator; he may have to act both as judge and as a conciliator. As a result, he is in the position to promote or reduce factionalism in the group. He may become the “father figure”; he is the ideal and the object for identification and for all positive feelings.
But, by the same token, he may be the target for the aggressiveness of the frustrated and disillusioned members and factions. If the group is successful the leader is praised, but if it is unsuccessful the leader will be blamed.
Essay # 6. Personality Characteristics of Leaders:
It is not possible to assume certain personality traits will always characterize leaders since the emergence of the leader depends on the nature of the tasks and on the composition of the followers. However, it is possible, on the basis of empirical studies, to describe certain traits that are generally characteristic of effective leaders.
In general leaders are found to be more intelligent than their followers. Mann (1959), in his review of studies carried out from 1930 to 1957, found that leaders tend somewhat consistently to be better adjusted, more dominant, more extraverted, more masculine, less conservative and to have greater interpersonal sensitivity than the other members of the group.
However, it is possible that the individuals develop these traits in their role as leaders. The leader role demands dominance, extraversion, interpersonal sensitivity etc. It is possible that these traits are strengthened in him so as to enable him to cope with the problems that arise when he is leading a group.
Berkowitz (1956) conducted an interesting study. On the basis of a battery of personality tests he selected ten college students who had “high ascendent” personalities, ten who had “low ascendent” personalities and twenty who had “moderately ascendent personalities.”
He constituted a number of four-person groups, each consisting of one high, one low and two moderately ascendent persons. In half the groups the high ascendent persons and in the other half the low-ascendent persons were assigned the central position from which they could directly communicate with the other three persons.
It was found that the low ascendent persons in the central position came to behave like the high ascendent persons, confirming the statement “the office makes the man.”
There is another controversy whether leadership is a general trait or a specific trait. According to one opinion, the person who is a leader in one situation will be a leader in all other situations. The other view holds that leadership is specific to the task and to the group, so that with any change in the task or the group, leadership will change.
Several studies have demonstrated that there exist sets of tasks in which leadership is relatively constant.
It is found that there are two kinds of leadership:
(a) Intellectual leadership, and
(b) Mechanical assembly leadership.
Bass (1960) summarized the results obtained in leaderless group discussion situation.
The correlations of performance during the test situation with various appraisals of leadership performance in real-life situations strongly support the existence of some generality and transferability of leadership behaviour.
Thus there appears to be reasonable evidence to assume that leadership is something general, though certain members consistently tend to assume the leadership of groups working on “intellectual tasks” and certain other members tend to consistently lead the same groups when they are assigned “mechanical tasks.”
Essay # 7. Fiedler’s Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness:
Fiedler (1964, 1967) tried to identify the characteristics that distinguish the effective leader from other leaders. The general theoretical model assumes that the type of leader that will be most effective depends upon the favourability of the situation to the leader, which in turn depends on the affective leader-group relations, task structure and the leader’s position power. He used measures of interpersonal perception.
He asked the subject to think of all the people with whom he had ever worked and describe the person whom the considers to be the most preferred co-worker (MPC) and the person he considers to be the least preferred co-worker (LPC). He found that leaders with certain scores behaved in compliant, nondirective and generally relaxed manner, while those with certain other scores were more demanding, controlling and managing in their interaction with the group.
The data further revealed that leaders in powerful positions behaved differently from those in less powerful positions. This complex set of data led him to develop the contingency model. This model requires the description of task-situation dimensions and the specification of the relation between these dimensions and leadership effectiveness.
With respect to task situation three components were postulated as being critical:
(a) The leader’s affective relations with group members,
(b) The structure of group task, and
(c) The power provided by his position.
It was assumed that the leader who is liked and respected can obtain the compliance of the group members without exercising power and can act more decisively and with more confidence than the leader who is disliked or rejected by the group.
As regards the task structure, it may be highly structured in the sense that the goal is clearly specified and the procedures for goal attainment are unambiguous. If the task is highly unstructured, and the goal is unclear, there may be many paths to the goal. The theory assumes that the more structured the task, the more favourable the situation to the leader.
The power position of the leader refers to the leader’s control over rewards and sanctions, his authority over the group members and the degree to which he is supported by the organization of which the group is a part; this was the least important determinant of favourability.
Fiedler assumed that the given group situation can be located along a favourability continuum, ranging from that which is highly favourable to the leader to that which is highly unfavourable to the leader. The most favourable situation concerns the affective leader-member relation.
Even if the task is structured and the power position is strong, if the affective leader-member relation is poor, it will be unfavourable to the leader. With respect to leadership style and favourability, Fiedler found that the managing, controlling and task-oriented leaders are more effective when the group-task situation is either very favourable or very unfavourable for the leader; the permissive, considerate, relationship- oriented leaders are more effective when the group-task situation is of intermediate favourability.
Thus, when the leader has power, is on good terms with the members of the group and the task is clearly structured, the group is ready to be directed and is willing to be told what to do. When the situation is highly unfavourable, permissive leadership may lead to the disintegration of the group.
In moderately favourable situation, permissive, considerate and relation-oriented leadership will be successful. Thus, the model specifies the conditions under which different leadership behaviours may be expected to be effective. It has shown the relation between the personal attributes of the leader and the situational factors.
Essay # 8. Communication and Leadership:
In any small group observation reveals that only one or two persons speak a great deal and others say very little. This has been found to be so whether the group is structured or unstructured, whether the problem being discussed is general or specific, whether the members of the group are friends or strangers, whether the size of the group is small or large.
This happens in the house when friends and relatives meet, in the seminar class and in the parliament. This is why in a seminar class or in a group discussion restrictions are placed on those who speak frequently and too long while those who do not speak are persuaded to make their contribution.
It has been found that the amount of communication by members of a group follows a logarithmic or exponential curve. Regardless of the size of the group, the most talkative member does about 40 per cent of the communicating and the amount of communication by the other members drops off sharply.
In an eight-member group two persons contribute 60 per cent of the conversation, the third contributes 14 per cent and the remaining five members the balance of 26 per cent between them. Thus, the fact that one person does most of the talking seems virtually to be a universal characteristic of groups.
The most active member in terms of communication also tends to be the leader of the group because he has the most influence on the group. He determines the course of conversation, he initiates interactions by asking questions, he receives most of the replies. Further, he makes most of the suggestions and gives most of the orders.
He tends to play the central role, whatever the group is doing. An outside observer would consider him the group’s leader and this is confirmed by the members of the group also when they are questioned. Generally, the person who talks the most is perceived as the leader by the rest of the group.
Thus, the amount of communication is a critical determinant of leadership. Bavelas et al (1965) demonstrated this effect. Students were divided into four-man groups and were given a problem to discuss for ten minutes. An observer recorded the amount of time each man spoke and the number of times he spoke.
After the discussion session, the subjects were asked to fill out a questionnaire in which they were asked to rank the other subjects on general leadership ability and other characteristics. In the second session each subject bad a small box with a red and a green light in front of him, which only he could see. Some subjects were told that they would receive feedback on their performance; if the red light went on, it would indicate that they had been hindering the discussion; if the green light went on, it would indicate that their contribution was helpful.
Thus they were either negatively or positively reinforced. One subject who was at the bottom on both verbal output and in the ranking by others was selected from each group. He was positively reinforced whenever he spoke by the flash of green light while the rest of the group were negatively reinforced for most of their interventions.
In the third session there were no lights. It was found that the person who contributed only 16 per cent of verbal output and who was rated low by others in the first session, was able to contribute 37 per cent when he was positively reinforced in the second session and was ranked high. In the third session when there was no reinforcement he continued to put in 27 per cent of verbal output and was ranked high.
Thus, positive reinforcement made him speak more and this made the others to give him a high rank as a leader. And this effect persisted even when he was not receiving any special encouragement. He was not only speaking more, he was perceived by the members as being quite active and dominant and they rated him higher on the leadership scale.
There may be certain features in the very structure of the group that may bring about the emergence of the leader quite independent of personality factors.
In order to study this aspect communication networks are artificially imposed to vary the direction of permissible communication and the openness of the various channels between group members. Experimentally four-person networks and five-person networks have been designed. In the following diagram, the circles represent positions and lines represent communicating channels.
It will be observed that in some networks like the wheel, the chain and Y one person occupies a centralized position; he has access to more information than the persons in any other position. In contrast, the positions in the circle and common are all equivalent, none being more central than the others. It would be expected that a person in the most central position of the wheel, the chain or Y would assume the functions of a leader in obtaining and in distributing information and will help crucially in solving problems confronted by the group.
Bavelas (1948) and Leavitt (1951) were the first to investigate systematically the social and psychological consequences of network variations. Leavitt presented the problem of discovering the single symbol that each member held in common on a card containing several symbols. The results showed that stable organizations developed by the fourth or fifth trial in the more centralized network but not in the circle network.
The central subject transmitted more messages than any other subject in the centralized groups. It was found that he also enjoyed his job more than those who occupied the peripheral positions. Further, the person occupying the central position was typically designated the leader by the other members on a post-experimental questionnaire.
The results also showed that the circle was typically the most inefficient network. The persons in this network sent many more messages than in other kinds of networks. Also they made significantly more errors in attempting to identify the common symbol. However, the subjects in the circle network enjoyed their jobs more than the peripheral members in the centralized groups.
Subsequent research has confirmed the two main findings of Leavitt:
(a) Centralized networks are more efficient than the non-centralized networks, and
(b) The personal satisfaction is often greater in the decentralized circle or common, than in the centralized networks with many peripheral members.
In a recent review of such studies Shaw (1964) says that centralized networks are more effective in solving simple problems of information exchange, but decentralized networks are more effective when a group is faced with complex problems. When the problem is difficult, every person in the decentralized network contributes his suggestions to all the members, thus increasing the total information available to the group.
Thus, these research studies on communication networks have shown how leadership emergence is strikingly affected by the communication arrangements.
Content of Communication:
Thus, the amount of an individual’s communication is one of the determinants of leadership. But the type of his communication is also important. Analyzing the content of communication is much more difficult than merely finding the amount of time one speaks. Bales (1950) devised a system that helps in such analysis.
Every interaction or communication can be placed in one of the twelve broad categories: showing disagreement or agreement, tension or tension release, solidarity or antagonism; all these six categories are emotional; the next six categories are cognitive: giving or asking for suggestions, opinions, or information. The categories refer only to verbally expressed items.
According to Bales, one set of talkative persons tend to make supportive, encouraging, conciliatory and friendly statements; that is, such a person initiates more interactions which fall into the categories of showing solidarity, tension release, and agreement, than others; he also asks more questions than others, seeking information, opinion or suggestions.
The other set of talkative persons come to the forefront when some task has to be carried out; the communications of such a person fall into the categories of giving suggestions, opinions and information regarding the task on hand. Bales has called the first type the “social” or “socio-emotional” leaders and the second type the “task” leaders.
While the former person concentrates more on the social aspects of the situation, and tries to keep the group running smoothly and happily, the latter concentrates on getting the work done.
It looks as if groups actually have two different kinds of leaders. The social leader is one about whom the group revolves since he fulfills the socio-emotional aspects. The task leader is able to organize the group in carrying out a specific task. The social leader is agreeable, conciliatory and concerned about the well-being of the members and their personal feelings. The task leader is firm, directive, efficient and concerned about getting the job done.
Thus, the qualities of two types of leaders appear to be antithetical; one who is conciliatory may not be firm and directive. The members of the group must be able to elect the leader who is able to fulfill the needs of the group. When tasks have to be done, the group will have to choose the task leader so that he can get the job done; if it chooses the social leader under such conditions, it may find itself left with only social and emotional satisfactions but far away from the realization of the fulfillment of the tasks necessary for its survival in the economic, military or other fields.
Essay # 9. Some Leadership Studies in India:
Udai Pareek (1966) has brought together a few studies on rural leadership.
Singh et al have identified five types of leaders in a community development block:
(a) Traditional, who belong to the powerful families of the dominant caste;
(b) Political, the elected leaders;
(c) Opinion-making leaders to whom village people go for seeking advice;
(d) Decision-making leaders, and
(e) Caste leaders.
It was also found that social status based on caste has influenced leadership even in elections; members of the higher castes get a greater preference than the members of the lower castes; the lower caste members themselves do not prefer the members of their own caste.
It was found that each village has a number of leaders. Traditional leadership plays an important part in rural life because the traditional leaders have sound economic position and high social status. In another study Baij Nath Singh reports that kinship and age are two important factors determining leadership in the village; educational attainment is not a factor.
Hallen reports in his study that 40 per cent of the leaders were illiterate, and 45 percent had inherited leadership. Kanungo et al in their study found that out of six prominent leaders, five were of the same caste and were related to each other; that these persons were the leaders in village panchayat, school committee, youth club and cooperative society.
The leaders perceived themselves as being democratic, taking decisions on the basis of the wishes of the group.
Singh and Arya have set up a paradigm of three pairs of leadership:
(b) Task- oriented-inter-personal oriented, and
(c) Self-oriented—community- oriented.
It was found that with respect to value-orientation, the leaders as well as non-leaders tended to be conservative, fatalistic and non-authoritarian. Generally, the leaders as well as non-leaders preferred leaders to be community-oriented, non-authoritarian (favouring group-decision); while the leaders preferred those who are task-oriented, the non-leaders preferred those who are inter-personal oriented.
In their study of the behavioural characteristics of effective village leaders, Udai Pareek et al report that the characteristics of effective leaders are ability to raise contributions, ability to mobilize people for creating common facilities, ability to help people to secure jobs and the ability in crisis times to mediate between the disputants, arrange governmental help, loans, etc.
The characteristics of ineffective leaders are obstructing public work, misappropriating public funds, creating disputes and dividing people, blaming others and not keeping promises. Gangrade in his case study of panchayat election found that while the members of the higher caste continue to play a very important role in power structure of the village, the power of exercising vote has made the members of the lower castes important; the higher caste people have begun to see the importance of the numerical strength of the members of the lower castes.
Since independence a large number of formal organizations have been set up at the village level as at the District, State and National levels. The studies of leadership, however, show that the old characteristics of caste and kinship play a prominent role in the election of leaders to these formal organizations. Leadership continues to be based on ascription rather than achievement, in spite of the fact that the election process is based on achievement.
Ascription factors are strengthened by the continuation of economic power in the village, namely, ownership of land, among those who belong to the upper castes. The studies, however, reveal some new trends, namely, the influence of education and the fact that the members of the lower castes are now conscious of their numerical strength. Still it is impossible to foresee the time when leadership in the village will be influenced largely, if not wholly, by factors based on achievement like education, non-land-based wealth, etc.