There are lots of definitions and interpretations for the term LEADERSHIP. One is “A relationship through which one person influences the behaviour or actions of other people” (Mullins, L.J. 2002, Management and Organisational Behaviour, 6th Edition, FT Publishing, p904). Another popular definition would be, “the process of influencing an organization or groups within an organization in its efforts towards achieving a goal” (Johnson, Scholes & Whittington, 2005, Exploring Corporate Strategy, 7th Edition, FT Prentice Hall, p.519)
Leadership Theories on Behaviour
To me, leaders are constantly surrounding us. People constantly need to be led and they seek out individuals around them who have personalities that stand out – the basic qualities of leadership, the Great Man Theory. This could be in terms of their appearance, knowledge, charisma, behaviour or style. For example, popular actors/actresses might not be great leaders but they influence the thoughts of people through advertisements through their appearance and charisma. Leadership is also a process where trust of people needs to be gained and established before followers are doing things willingly and without having to use pressure. Managers are different in this aspect, as they are given authority/power and trust factor might not be required to actively participate in management, subordinates might not be performing their tasks willingly. The above idea is adopted from the most recent leadership definition by Manfred Kets de Vries, he defines leadership style as the point of interaction between the leader’s character, the follower’s character and the situation. (Manfred Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique, Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2001) To gain people’s trust, the first steps is to communicate, Warren Bennis observed the significance of rhetoric and eloquent, “Effective leaders put words to the formless longings and deeply felt needs of others. They create communities out of words.” (Bennis Warren, An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change, Reading, Mass, Addison-Wesly, 1993)
The Traits theory, otherwise known as the Great Man theory, is the origination of leadership theories. This theory believes that there is a unique set of qualities for a leader, mainly: his intelligence and ability to judge, his knowledge power, self-confidence and dependability, his sociability and adaptability, lastly, his popularity status. Thus, it is believed that leaders are born and not made while managers are made and not born. We shall reflect the above theories in two great leaders: Sir Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler.
Their Similarities in Behaviour
Sir Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler have many similar qualities; these qualities enabled them to be most influential people of their time. Churchill and Hitler are both very determined and modest; they worked tirelessly for their countries and causes they represent. Both have an eye for details, Churchill would require an extensive walkthrough of the departments under his lead for every new post he takes up, while Hitler had an incredible memory for details, every point made must be correct and consistent with previous briefings or he would be annoyed with the discrepancies. They are intelligent, excellent public speakers and most importantly, they have the self-belief and confidence to continue to fight for their cause (both reasons are at the extreme of each other). Their confidences were not influenced by their failures.
Their Differences in Behaviour
Adolf Hitler had motivated thousands of people to action for his cause. He inspired powerful emotional loyalty in his followers – the loyalty that spawned the intense effort and sacrifice among his followers. Hitler’s ideas may have been illogical but the fact is he convinced people that these were ideas worth listening and living for. He has charisma, confidence and excellent speaking skills to make people believe in him and his cause. In fact, the extent of his self-believe and confidence is unbelievable; he has little room for doubt concerning his own greatness – he believes he can never be wrong.
Churchill lacks charisma, however, he more than made up for it with his inspiration and vision, and his anticipations of changes to come were uncanny. As a writer, he wrote about the future of nuclear weapons and how warfare would change – 20 years before WWII. Sir Winston was also a great innovator and has a great appetite for change -at that era, the structure of British Government is based