Leadership: Meaning, Nature, Functions And Qualities Of A Good Leader

Table Of Contents
1. Meaning Of Leadership
2. Nature Of Leadership
3. Functions Of A Leader
4. Qualities Of A Good Leader
What Is Leadership?
Leadership is a term used to describe a person’s status or position of authority. We can therefore regard a leader as a person who organizes, directs and controls others in order to attain the set objectives of the group. A leader therefore influences the activities and behaviour of members of his group in order to achieve certain set goals.
In some of our communities, Leadership emerges through the, custom, traditions, and accepted norms of the people. Leaders such as the Obi, the Oba, the Emir, the Obong etc occupy their position of authority through the traditions of their various societies. This is a form of traditional leadership. Priests and Priestesses are also traditional leaders who lead their people in ancestral worship. They serve as mediators between the people and the spirit of their ancestors through their power of divinity.
In modem democracies, leadership emerges through a set of legal procedures. Such as the President, governors, legislators etc derive their leadership from constitutional procedure e.g. Election. There are however people who attain position of leadership of a group not because of tradition or a legal reasons but because of their personal qualities. This is a type of charismatic leadership, that leadership that emerges due to the individual’s captivating and titillating personal characteristic. For example orators can move and change people’s attitude through powerfully loaded speeches on the soap-box. There are instance of elders in village meetings, such people become outstandingly important in the community due to their command of language, use of proverbs, honesty and fairness, good memory and so on. Even among peer groups, school teachers, students, workmen people with personal rare qualities are always found. Consequently, such people are given leadership positions because of the belief that they are invaluable in the attainment of the group’s objective.
Generally, people who possess charismatic are often conscious not to make serious mistake, which could erode their credibility.
Nature Of Leadership
It is still possible to distinguish traditional, legal and charismatic leadership into further characteristics; we can identify three of these characteristics, as:
1. Democratic Leadership
This exists where there is consultation. There is participation of the followers either directly or indirectly in the discussion of issues that affect them.
Democratic leadership could be said to exist in a country where those who rule are the elected representatives of the people. Other features of democratic leadership are the existence of free press, independent judiciary, pressure groups such as labour union, students union etc. Democratic leaders should tolerate the existence of and preserve the fundamental human rights of the citizens.
2. Autocratic Leadership
This is depicted by the absence of consultation with the people or followers. The leaders alone determine and implement policies. There is no room for choice. The fundamental rights of the citizens are seriously curtailed. The leadership imposes decisions unilaterally on the followers without any consideration of the effects on them. This form of leadership is called dictatorship. Generally, autocratic leadership breeds subversion and calls for military intervention which is in itself dictatorship.
3. Laissez-Faire Leadership
This is a leadership that allows people to do what they wish. Such a society is not guided by any known and recognized rules and regulations. Consequently, the leader had none. This is prevalent among mobs and demonstrators. It is found where the leadership is in dispute. Laissiez-faire leadership breeds confusion, anarchy and retars progress.
Functions Of A Leader
Every organization has set out objectives. These objectives spell out the functions of the leaders. However, leaders perform the following general functions:
1. Policy Formulation And Implementation
Every organization has one policy or the other. The policy of an organization serves as a guideline or measure to be taken to attain set objectives of that organization. For instance, the policy of an institution could be to attain a high academic standard. In order to attain such objective, the head could initiate a policy, which would guide admission and recruitment of staff into the institution.
However, it is one thing to make a policy, another thing is to execute such policy. It is the duty of a leader to ensure that all those concerned implement the decisions taken by the organization. This requires delegation of responsibilities and effective supervision.
2. Policy Interpretation
The policy formulated needs to be fully explained and disseminated down the ladder. It is the duty of a leader to ensure at every state, that the official policy is well understood by all concerned. Equally, the leader is expected to attend to some problems, summon and direct committee meetings, relate to outsiders, treat files and personally supervise some activities in the organization. They way the leader handles his official duties goes a long way in influencing the group’s attitude to work.
3. It is the responsibility of the leader to build good public image. The personality, utterances and actions of a leader can make or mar the name of the organization. To avoid creating a communication gap, the leader is expected to interact with other groups and other communities close to the group.
Qualities Of A Good Leader
We have already described a leader as one who organizes, directs, controls and assists an organization or group in order to achieve certain goals. He is therefore a person who by virtue of his distinguished qualities stands out of the group. For example, a constitutional leader like the Commissioner or director general qualifies by his long period of experience required for effective leadership.
A traditional ruler such as the Eze, Obi, Obong or Emir enjoys that royal birth advantage which qualifies him to lead. A charismatic leader or political party leader is believed to possess some natural personality gifts particularly in his ability to influencer others.
Good leaders therefore are expected to possess some distinguishing qualities such as high intelligence which enables him to be able to analyze and understand some issues and take good decision without delay. Such a leader should be hard working so as to serve as a good example to others.
To avoid mistrust, lack of cooperation, enthusiasm and zeal to work, a good leader should be seen to be fair and just in his dealing with the group. The leader should be tolerate, accommodating, honest, firm and resourceful. He should be a man of vision, a man of respectable and commanding personality.