Successful Leadership

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Successful Leadership


Successful leaders lead people in the right direction, helping them to look beyond their interests and focus on the interests of the organization. These leaders recognize the importance of people in the organization. They see the employees as assets that will bring the organization to growth, rather than liabilities that need to be managed. Successful leaders know how to manage and influence people, regardless of how these people act. They are able to influence people in sharing and fulfilling their vision. They are people of integrity and virtue, and they do not take advantage of their position to use people to their own advantage. Successful leaders recognize the importance and value of instilling a culture of change in the organization. They lead and influence people to embrace and make continual change in the organization. A successful leader is therefore one who understands his role and responsibilities, treat people with dignity and respect, and cares enough for the organization to lead it in the way that will ensure its stability. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, the largest retail chain in the country was an exemplary leader. He was a known communicator, and he would sometimes use unorthodox ways to communicate to his employees. He developed leadership competencies, which he divided into people skills and work processes. These competencies, coupled with passion and drive for his work enabled him to become one of the most successful and recognized leaders.

Personal Qualities

Successful leaders are people of character and integrity. They are trustworthy, and they know how to let others believe in them. They do the right thing, even though it might not be popular with other people. They are ethical, and they do not take advantage of others. They exercise fairness with all the people and they are not swayed towards bias. This makes them bold and firm when making decisions. They are responsible, and they lead with authority. They are not swayed by other people’s opinion. They are firm when making decisions, and they finish what they start. They are accountable for their actions. Successful leaders admit when they go wrong, and they recognize their mistakes. They do not ignore errors or put the blame on others. Successful leaders have a desire to lead other people, and they are proud of their leadership position. Sam Walton is one of the most recognized leaders in the country. He was honest, caring, hard working, disciplined, humble, decisive and ambitious (Bergdahi and Walton)

Successful Leaders and their Followers

Successful leaders are judged by the way they treat their followers and those who are beneath them. Successful leaders have charismatic qualities, which create a strong relationship between them and their followers (Williams 456). They take time to listen to them, knowing that they are valuable to the organization. Successful leaders treat their employees with respect and dignity. They respect the opinion of their followers, and they listen to the suggestions that the employees make. They are not afraid to take the challenges that come from the employees. They are objective and open-minded. They listen to the concerns and complaints of people, and they address them accordingly. They realize that people are the most important assets in the organization and that the organization cannot run without their input. Successful leaders do not ignore or disregard a person because of their position within the organization. They recognize the effort of the employees, and they reward success. Successful leaders identify the strengths and weaknesses of their followers. They recognize these strengths and reward them. They are concerned about the success of their followers, and look for ways to make their followers more successful. They will invest in their employees by training and coaching them. They help the followers realize their goals.

Successful Leaders and Change Management

Successful leaders recognize the necessity for continual change. These leaders are able to influence followers in bringing about the change needed in the organization (Lussier 8). Walton encouraged and embraced change through innovation. He sought new ways of doing things, and this enabled the success of his business. In order for a leader to bring about change, he or she must have people’s trust. The people will be affected by these changes. They are more capable of change if they trust the person initiating this change. Successful leaders recognize the roles that different people have in the process of change. In most cases, a follower suggests the change needed in the organization. A leader must be humble enough to accept the suggestion of someone from a subordinate position. They recognize visionary change agents, who see the need for change before anyone else in the organization does. They recognize the conformists, as those who understand the need for change and work hard towards realizing it. Successful leaders recognize the enthusiasts, as those who support change and are enthusiastic about it after the managers’ intervention in the process. The leaders recognize the mainstream followers, as those who go along with the process of change, even though they are not enthusiastic about it. They recognize those who continue to oppose the change (Arora 9-8). Recognizing the different types of people present in the changing process enables the leader know how to deal with them.

A successful leader is mandatory in the process of change. He or she is realistic, and he recognizes the challenges and problems that will be there when implementing the change. Successful leaders are able to communicate their vision to their followers. They are able to recognize when there is resistance to change, and they know how to deal with this resistance. Anticipating these problems enables the leader to know how to address them. A successful leader is one who knows how to make use of the resources available to him, for the benefit of the company, and the people working in it. Such leaders know how they will get the resources that will help realize and implement the change they need in the organization. He or she uses technology to bring about the change that he wants. Successful leaders know how to motivate and influence employees. They recognize the various tools they can use for motivation, and they use them effectively. Successful leaders realize the importance of having different leadership styles in the changing process (Arora 14). There are different stages during the process of change, and each of these processes has its own challenges and problems. Successful leaders know when a certain stage calls for them to motivate their employees and seek their participation and involvement, and when another stage demands for them to use their authority and power.

Leadership Theories

Trait theory recognizes successful leaders based on their qualities. It recognizes the traits and skills necessary for every successful leader. They have different cognitive, personal, interpersonal, and motivational traits, which assist them in leadership (Mumford, 90). Cognitive traits influence the leaders’ ability to think. Some of these traits are wisdom and intelligence. Leaders deal with a lot of information and they handle complex decisions. They must have the necessary knowledge to enable them to lead. They know how to balance between their own goals and the goals of the organization. They consider both the long-term and short-term effects of their decisions. Successful leaders are experts at what they do. This helps them in making decisions and delegating duties. It also increases the trust and credibility that their followers have on them (Mumford 93).

Personal traits affects the way leaders act in situation. Some of these traits include extroversion and emotional stability. Successful leaders are dependable, and they are willing to explore new territories. They enjoy being around other people, and they are optimistic. Leaders cope with stressful situations because of the demands they face. Successful leaders are able to handle that stress even during periods of crisis. They remain calm despite the situation they are facing. They have a sense of emotional maturity, which enables them to acknowledge their weaknesses and have a realistic view of their strength. They are not overconfident, have more self-control, and they are not self-centered (Mumford 96). Interpersonal traits determine how a leader treats other people. Interpersonal traits common in successful leaders include integrity and respect. Successful leaders do not result to lying or manipulative techniques so that they can benefit. They are honest and truthful, keep their promises, are loyal to their followers, and are trustworthy (Mumford 97)

Behavioral theory looks at successful leadership in the way the leaders behave. This theory recognizes the different leadership styles, which include authoritarian, democratic, and Laissez-faire (Cassidy, Kreitner and Kreitner 32). Authoritarian leaders have all the authority and responsibility. Democratic leaders delegate their authority and maintain responsibility (Cassidy ad Kreitner 32). Communication in this form of leadership goes both ways, and leaders enhance participation among the employees. Successful leaders practice participative leadership by involving their followers in the process of making decisions (Mumford 106). Laissez faire style of leadership enables the leader to delegate authority and responsibility to groups. Communication in this form of leadership is horizontal, as it is between groups.

The situational or contingency theory, calls for leaders to behave differently in specific situations. Successful leaders know the different styles of leadership to use, according to the situation. Successful leaders are not merely concerned about using one style and sticking with it. They recognize that a leader has to be tough and compassionate, and this calls for different leadership style (Cassidy, Kreitner and Kreitner 33). A leader intending to increase the commitment of the employees is more likely to be more instructive. A leader who wants to show employees his or her support is more likely to coach them (Mumford 14). This theory emphasizes the fact that successful leaders are not rigid, but they are flexible to accommodate changes. Leaders direct, coach, and support people, and they delegate duties. Each of these tasks has its own challenges, and leaders have to possess the required skills to deal with it. Sam Walton would change his approach depending on the circumstances facing him (Bergdahi and Walton). Sometimes he was a teacher, team builder, and a motivator, and at other times, he was a risk taker, visionary, and an entrepreneur.

Organizational Culture

Leaders can shape the organization, or the organization can shape them. In most cases, it is often a mixture of both. A leader adopts an organization’s customs and boundaries. Leaders help to shape the organization’s identity, and determine the information and feedback that matter to the organization (Northern Leadership Authority 5). Leaders shape the organizational culture by what they pay attention to and how they allocate the organization’s resources. They shape it by the effort they use in teaching and coaching their followers, and how they handle various activities and processes in the organization such as recruitment, selection and promotions (Northern Leadership Authority 6).

Leaders can change the organizational culture by encouraging employees, through rewarding their efforts in creativity and increased productivity. They can change the organizational culture by encouraging employees to take more risks and to experiment (Daft and Lane 434). Leaders can create an achievement culture, where they emphasize on the need to achieve targets or they can encourage clan culture, where they emphasize the importance of meeting the needs of their followers (Daft and Lane 435-436). Successful leaders recognize the importance of having a positive atmosphere around the organization. They develop a positive culture in the organization, which emphasize possibilities among the followers. This includes communicating to the followers, and encouraging them to do more. It also includes rewarding followers for their efforts.

The leaders develop a culture where all the people feel important. This includes the employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Successful leaders enjoy working with people, and they recognize their success (Lussier 8). This culture is mandatory for organizations willing to succeed. It creates a sense of loyalty, since the employees feel that they have a sense of ownership and worth in the organization. Walton liked to talk to his customers, and he communicated his cultural message to his employees. Walton would find interesting ways to communicate with his employees and share his vision with them. One of the most effective ways he used was story telling. He would also use the Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart to communicate his cultural beliefs (Berghdahi and Walton). Successful leaders create and encourage a flexible and enabling organizational culture. Although they might have a certain order of operating, they are flexible enough to accommodate any changes and accept suggestions. Successful leaders recognize the necessity of changing culture. They recognize that some organizations may not require any change in culture, while others would benefit in adopting different a different culture (Arora 21). Those who choose to change the organizational culture know that it might take a long time, and that they need to be patient with their followers.


Successful leaders have different qualities, which distinguish them from the rest of the people. They have positive qualities which make them endearing to other people. They are able to influence others towards believing in their vision, and towards fulfilling the vision of the organization. Successful leaders have qualities that may make them seem contradictory. They are strong and firm when making decisions, yet they are flexible to accommodate changes. They are compassionate towards their followers, yet they must be tough on them to ensure that they deliver and attain their goals. Successful leaders recognize the importance of change, and they work towards implementing that change in the organization. They know the resources at their disposal and they know how they can use them. They are ethical in that they do not use people or result to deception. They are humble, as they know how to admit their faults and weaknesses. Successful leaders create a positive environment in the organization. They are optimistic, and they avoid negative talk. They look for the positive side of a situation, as they determine how to deal with. Leadership is not just about the innate qualities that a leader has, but it also incorporates training in different areas.










Works Cited:

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