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A leadership seminar is a forum where the leaders or people aspiring to be leaders are trained on how to use their leadership qualities to the uttermost. They have to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Thereafter, they have to work towards making the best of the various strengths which they have. At a leadership seminar, therefore, leadership becomes the core issue in all discussions (Mumford, 2009).
Leadership is one of the most discussed and debated topics in the social sciences. Research in this subject began with a search of inherited characteristics that distinguished leaders from non-leaders and clarified the nature of leaders’ effectiveness (Marturano & Gosling, 2008).
The subject of leadership should be approached with a variety of standpoints. Models, philosophies, and styles have been used effectively to elaborate this subject. Leadership has several definitions. One of them defines the notion as the skill to influence human behavior to reach a certain goal and affect people in the direction of goal achievement. Leadership can also be defined as the art of influencing others in the manner that is desired by the leader. Effective leadership depends on the leader, the followers, and the situation or rather any combination subject (Marturano & Gosling, 2008).
The interest in leadership has increased since the last part of the twentieth century. Initially, many theories focused on the qualities that distinguished the leaders and the subjects, but recent ones have put in consideration other factors like the situation and the skill level of the leaders. There are many leadership theories that have emerged, but some of them are outstanding, and any keen leadership student has been able to see this subject.
In essence, leadership theory/model contains ideas on how to lead effectively or rather improve one’s leadership skills. Leadership philosophy, on the other hand, is the ideas on how leaders should be or act. The leadership philosophy tries to outline the sources of power of leaders. The leadership philosophy ideally is the set values and beliefs of a leader. Lastly, the leadership style is a classification or description of the main ways in which real life leaders behave (Lussier & Achula, 2009).
Leaders have learnt earnestly the art of using more than one leadership style depending on the situation, and this has made many good leaders to transform into effective leaders. There is a close relationship between leadership and management, and the big difference is that leadership is concerned with leading a group of people while management is concerned about the responsibility for things. Among many theories that are being looked at, the trait, contingency, situational, behavioral, and participatory ones are further discussed (Mumford, 2009).
The trait theory is concerned with the character of the leader. Basing on this theory, it is evident that there exists a close relationship between the trait and the effectiveness of that leader. Well-studied leadership traits are the intelligence, self-confidence, integrity, determination, and sociability. The overall assumption in regard to this theory is that people who make effective leaders have the appropriate combination of these traits.
Barrack Obama, the current USA president, was ambitious and achievement-oriented though in his case, at an early stage, he lived his life of an absentee father. Nevertheless, his leadership skills were demonstrated while in college as a student leader. Obama was a cooperative, assertive, and decisive. He is very creative, diplomatic, and tactful. At some point while campaigning, he told people that he did not differ with McCain, but it was their policies that differed in relation to medical coverage. It sounded so cozy and did not raise unnecessary tension during campaigns (DuBrin, 2012).
At the age of 12, Fidel Castro wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. November 6, 1940 he congratulated him on his victory, asked the president for $ 10, and completed with an offer to discover the location of Cuba’s major iron mines. At such a tender age, Fidel was very ambitious to be the person to have revealed to the whereabouts of the iron mine to the president. He was also very intelligent, since he first congratulated the president before putting across his main request (Sadler, 2003).
The cognitive resources theory deals with the cognitive abilities of leaders. It explores the cognitive resources like intelligence and experience in relation to the leadership effectiveness. First, the leader is able to give guidance as required and, secondly, ensure quality outcome of the course of action. Alexander the Great in 332B.C started his twelve-year journey from northern Greece and travelled for more than 22,000 miles. He conquered the present day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and India. He defeated armies that were four or even five times larger than his own one.
Alexander the Great showed visionary leadership style, which is a classic mold of leadership that is taught currently in the business world and in the military academies. A visionary leader is able to tap into hopes and dreams of people and create a destination that not only inspires but also challenges people to be better and to find their place in furthering the vision (Sadler, 2003).
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Research shows that this type of leadership is very effective, because it communicates a sense of common purpose to people and resonates with their hearts and emotions. The feeling of belonging to something greater than self is what produces the passion and commitment, generates unrestricted effort, and, hence, the mark of effective leadership in this context (DuBrin, 2012).
Participative leadership is interactive and allows followers to influence the decisions that are made by the leader. It is assumed that people are less competitive and more collaborative when working on joint goals. In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi opted for the non-cooperative, non-violence, and pacific resistance as the weapon in the fight with the British. During the famous “salt march”, he marched with people into the coasts of the Indian Ocean to collect salt. The salt tax made it illegitimate for workers to freely amass their own salt, thus, forcing them to buy the salt that they could not afford. He did not opt to do it alone, by virtue of him making people take part. The event was a success to all the Indians.
Behavioral theory has challenged many scholars who ask how the traits can be measured. The overall assumption is that the leaders are made, not born. The conclusion regarding this theory is that inasmuch as one cannot evaluate confidence or loyalty of a person, they stated that it is possible to define a demeanor or a set of demeanor features that seem to embody the characteristic. This theory contains some assumptions from the trait theory (DuBrin, 2012).
Trait theory, writes Harris (2009), assumes the leadership is inborn with specific traits that make the good leader. Behavioral theory assumes that the leader can actually learn to become an effective leader. It is very clear that there are diverse topics that relate to leadership. Many can be answered in leadership seminars. However, the big part of a person’s leadership growth is experiential. As many would say, practice makes perfect, and leaders can only perfect their qualities by practicing them. In addition, aspiring leaders can only be inspired to be inspired to be great. They, however, have to work hard and explore where their real talents lie (Harris, 2009).
Every style, model, and philosophy has both strong points and weak points. It is, therefore, imperative that every person weighs carefully all the alternatives which have so far been discovered and demonstrated (Mumford, 2009).
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