What makes a good leader

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Write an article on What Makes a Good Leader (Organisational Behaviour). It needs to be at least 1500 words. In contemporary times, we tend to understand and relate to ‘leadership’ in relation to management of people for attaining specific goals. A comprehensive concept of leadership can be obtained by learning about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. This report evaluates Lincoln’s leadership qualities, as explained in literature on politics, history and management, in comparison with conventional and contemporary leadership theories. Methods: Numerous concepts and theories of leadership exist in the management literature. Northouse (2009) has clubbed various leadership theories into understandable concepts, which include the trait, management, skills, style, situation, transformational, authentic leadership, psychodynamic theory etc. In this report, Lincoln’s leadership based on these theories and perspectives is evaluated in a concise manner. Results: From skills perspective, Tarbell (2008) points out that Lincoln’s efforts in speech making started during his childhood and used to attend court sessions to learn law. He had the ability to attract crowds by initiating story telling acts, which were highly appreciated by the crowds. Lincoln was greatly drawn towards gaining knowledge and understanding of politics, history, as well as great leadership of people such as Washington (Charnwood, 2008). According to Curtis (1902), ‘Abraham Lincoln’s originality, fearlessness, and self- confidence, his unerring perceptions of right and wrong, made him a leader and gave him an influence which other men did not have” (p.371). Northouse (2009) highlights five types of power that leaders exercise namely, referent, expert, legitimate, reward and coercive power, all of which were exercised by Lincoln. From leadership traits theory perspective, Lincoln’s leadership can be compared with Stodgill’s postulation of leadership traits (see appendix 1). In fact, Northouse (2009) explains that trait theories of leadership are based on the innate qualities and characteristics possessed by great leaders of the past, of which Lincoln is also one. The skills perspective emphasizes three main competencies, problem-solving skills, social judgment skills and knowledge. Abraham Lincoln’s skills of communicating, inspiring, immense knowledge and the way he handled the civil war are exemplary of his unmatchable leadership skills. His strategic way of handling the civil war after he was elected as the President paved successful ending of the war (Wilson, 2008), especially when he did not have any experience of handling war. Moreover, his knowledge, people connect, and ability to influence and inspire helped in this situation. Lincoln’s leadership style is believed to be flexible and also firm, and it depended upon the situation. Phillips (2007) explains that Lincoln was remarkably consistent during his Presidency, which was replicated to his cabinet members’ actions and decisions. Here, he was also directive and encouraging. He encouraged involvement from others in critical decision making processes, especially those related to the civil war. Phillips (2007) explains, ‘Lincoln was a leader who would not and did not limit himself” (p.78). this indicates his flexibility and commitment towards his responsibilities and ambition. These two skills are considered as essential skills for leaders.

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