iQA in partnership with Rekindle Learning recently ran a writing competition for all iQ Students. The following essay was the winning entry.
What are the most important values, behaviours and competencies of a good leader?
By Lebohang Sothoane
An organisation consists of subordinates and a leader. Leadership can be defined as the ability to motivate and influence others to voluntarily play a part in achieving organisational goals (Van der Westhuizen, 2014). A good quality leader is of utmost importance for an organisation to be successful. Without a good leader, the organisation will not succeed in its ventures. It will not be able to reach its goals or even set realistic goals. It is therefore important that a leader possesses quality values, humility and a variety of competencies.
A good leader must firstly have quality values, and then provide a sense of security for his/her followers. These attributes carry with them a devotion to fairness, ensuring that confidence is a core value instilled in the team. Additionally, morals and ethics take centre stage in what makes a good responsible leader. In dealing with social equality, one needs to bind morals (the difference between what is right and wrong) with ethics (a code of conduct set by the organisation). An organisation is made up of different people from different backgrounds, with different morals. It is therefore a leader’s responsibility to ensure that all these different morals are in line with the ethics at hand. The balance thereof shows quality coordination in a leader which leads followers in the best direction for an organisation.
A good leader needs to be humble. Humility shows that one can control one’s ego, thus displaying willingness to be realistic in one’s approach in solving problems (Hyman, 2018). This kind of behaviour sets a good example for subordinates to follow. When a team leader can influence his followers to have this characteristic, the team is bound to have the ability to solve problems and produce quality work. A good example thereof is one set by former Malawian President, Joyce Banda. When she came to office, she got rid of the presidential jet, and approximately 60 cars (Arya, 2018). A report by The National Statistics Office of Malawi also indicates that the national GDP significantly increased during her presidency.
Competencies most dealt with in academic reports on what makes a good leader include; people empowerment, interpersonal skills, social intelligence, courage and decision making, so to name but a few. These are not only the best aspects of effective leadership, but the most poorly interpreted by people in power.
Van der Westhuizen, 2014, explains that empowering individuals encourages independence in thoughts and actions. This thus develops self-worth and belonging. An environment designed to make individuals happy and keep them motivated yields loyalty leading to better results. Neuroscience supports this point. (Venho, 2018), outlines how one reacts in processing emotions and behaviours, and in a dangerous situation where the fight or flight mode is activated. This amounts to a lot of stress and a person does not have full control over their body or mind. One cannot fully function to their optimal level in a hostile environment, thus unable to give the required results. Once empowerment is achieved, agreements to how objectives should be achieved are easily made (Fries, 2018).
Interpersonal skills and social intelligence are a substantial combination of skills needed in a good leader. A leader needs to be able to communicate effectively. Before one is able to communicate successfully with others, one needs to have the social intelligence to understand emotions, actions of others, be able to control emotions in a stressful situation, actively listen to ideas and problems, motivate and instil confidence. Without an excellent intertwinement of these attributes, a team will fail, business will affectively fail, as communication is needed daily in all aspects of business operations.
Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, courage is the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation, to be brave. A courageous leader is one who leads with principle, discipline and without fear. When pressure mounts, the leader should have the ability to absorb this pressure and ensure that the team is best prepared to handle any challenge they face.
Having the courage to step outside your comfort zone as a leader and individual is a good quality. But is it good enough to make a good leader? No. A leader’s decision-making ability is also important. A critical mind is needed. You have to have vision, and determination to achieve the ultimate goal. You need to know how to collect the data needed because you cannot make any decision without being informed. Calculated risks stem from acquiring information, then acting on that. These are the right risks one should take. Good decision-making skills are further needed to bind the information gathered, ideas and solutions brought forth, to step outside a comfort zone, to improve, to lead by example and create flexibility in how work is done to achieve a goal.
Different circumstances call for different leadership styles, but the qualities discussed throughout this paper, rise above all. When subordinates’ values are upheld by their leader, there is a sense of security which leads to a feeling of belonging. Humility enables a leader to correct mistakes and ensure that problems are effectively resolved. Furthermore, a good leader is competent in staff empowerment, effective communication and courageous in decision making. Quality values, humility and competency are what I believe make a good leader.
Dr Barry van der Westhuizen. 2014. Business Management: Second Edition. East London: Coba Britz.
Admita Arya, 2018. 10 Times World Leaders Set An Example in Humility. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.scoopwhoop.com/amp/global-leaders-simple-living/. [28 October 2019].
Jeff Hyman, 2018. Why humble leaders make the best leaders. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/jeffhyman/2018/10/31/humility/amp/. [26 October].
Kimberly Fries, 2018. 8 Essential qualities that define great leadership. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlyfries/2018/02/08/8-essential-qualities-that-define-great-leadership/amp/. [26 October 2019].
Niina Venho, 2018. Part 1: Fight or Flight response. Available From: https://www.moodmetric.com/fight-flight-response/. [28 October 2019].
The National Statistics office of Malawi, 2018. Malawi real GDP growth. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/malawi/real-gdp-growth/amp. [28 October 2019].