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Leadership at the peak – Theories of leadership

THERE are numerous theories on leadership that you would be exposed to if you were to take the study of this subject seriously.

Most theories are context-rel

evant, which essentially means that as a leader seeking to be as effective as the leading minds, you would need to be thoroughly versed in the practicalities of each theory to be ready to respond appropriately to emerging divergent situations. I am certain that the theories that have been proposed by both academicians and writers with diverse practical experience, be they political, military, social or business, are not the be-all and end-all of leadership.

You probably have a style of leadership that you effectively practise when called upon that has proven effective but remain as yet undocumented. So in studying and applying leadership principles the issue is not to throw out what has worked for you in return for a populist theory or even a well-researched and documented academic theory but rather to always seek to extract the most value from what you discover and to apply that to the best of what you already practise, casting away the ineffective, creating a dynamic and ever improving personal style of leadership. My own quest is the development of a dynamic optimum value leadership framework or process that enables the reader to build their own personally proven effective strategies. To this end I have always worked on answering the question of what leadership is all about and what elements of leadership can span and transcend the context-specific theories whilst still remaining relevant to the traditional barriers of culture, nationality, economic status, and educational background. Leadership is about transformation; transformation of lives, resulting in synergistic transformation in organisations and ultimately within nations.

I have come to conclude that effective leadership has all the above elements but more importantly it should have the ability when effectively practised to be a catalyst for, at best, immediate positive transformation and at worst incremental but still positive transformation over a period of time.

Leadership that transforms irrespective of the context needs to be driven from the inside as well as be targeted at the inside. I have always argued that leadership is personal; first the leader leads himself or herself, in other words there must first be evidence to the self at least, of immediate or incremental positive change from one ineffective state of life to a more effective state. Then when that is in the process of manifesting itself, the leader has a legitimate right to seek to lead others. Leaders are highly influential and affect lives around them consciously and unconsciously. In other words the manifest lifestyle of a leader is constantly under observation by society and whether they want to or not, they are daily shaping lives for the better or worse of society. I dare say many in our society had modelled the lifestyles of “successful” businessmen and women who for various reasons are no longer in the glorious limelight they basked in for many years past.

Their disappearance from “glory” not only impacts their lives but also those of many in their organisations that looked up to them as well as the many others who dreamed of attaining their status.

In seeking to lead others, the legitimate leader, the one who has demonstrated the ability to transform on a personal basis, must bear in mind that transformation occurs from the inside before manifesting itself on the outside in the world of things that we live in. The challenge then is to transform oneself and then use the experience to encourage transformation in those led.

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