LEADERSHIP – Nature, Need and Functions of

Table of Contents:-

  • Meaning of Leadership
  • Definition of Leadership
  • Nature of Leadership
  • Leadership Meaning
  • Functions of Leadership
  • Need of Leadership

Meaning of Leadership

Leadership is the ability to inspire confidence and support among people who are needed to achieve organisational goals. It is a process that shapes the group goals and organisational goals, motivates behaviour towards the achievement of these goals, and helps to define groups or organisational culture

The basis of good leadership is a noble character and selfless service toward the organization. To be a leader, a person has to make a difference and facilitate positive changes. It is the creation of an environment in which others can self-actualise in the process of completing the job. 

Leadership refers to the qualities the individuals possess, allowing them to motivate others to move toward achieving concrete objectives. It is a fascinating social phenomenon that occurs in all groups of people regardless of geography, culture, or nationality. 


Leadership plays a pivotal role at all levels of management because, in the absence of effective leadership, no management can attain the desired outcomes. Leaders are those who not only foresight the change but also try to convince the employees, about the need for change and facilitate, direct and support the employees during the change process.


Definition of Leadership

According to George R. Terry, “Leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for objectives”.

According to Rosenbach and Taylor, “Leadership is all about getting people to work together to make things happen that might not otherwise occur or prevent things from happening that would ordinarily take place”.

According to Hollander, “Leadership is a process of influence between a leader and those who are followers”.

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According to Harry Truman, “Leadership is the ability to get other people to do what they do not want to do and like it”.

According to Chester Barnard, “Leadership is the ability of a superior to influence the behaviour of his subordinates and persuade them to follow a particular course of action”.

According to Stogdill, “Leadership may be considered as the process (act) of influencing the activities of an organised group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement”.

According to Hemphill & Coons, “Leadership is the behaviour of an individual when he is directing the activities of a group toward a shared goal”.

Nature of Leadership

The nature of leadership is as follows:

Nature of Leadership

1) Process of Influence

Leadership is a process whose important part is the influence executed by the leader on group members. A person is said to have an impact on other people when they are willing to carry out his wishes and accept his guidance, advice and direction. Successful leaders can influence the behaviour, values, attitude, and belief of their followers.

2) Continuous Process

Leadership is not a one-time influence on subordinates or followers. To be a good leader, a manager should sustain leadership continuously. So, once a leader does not guarantee always being a leader.

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3) Art and Science

Leadership is both an art and a science. Effective leadership needs both dimensions. Leadership is a science as it is concerned with the observation, research and classification of leadership practices which results in a good explanation of what makes leaders effective. Leadership is an art as it includes developing practical experience in the application of the leadership methods and practices resulting from the “science of leadership”. Thus, the art of leadership is about practising leadership science until one develops intuition.

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4) Related to the Situation

Leadership is always associated with a particular situation at a given point in time and under a specific set of conditions. That means leadership styles will be distinctive under different situations.

5) Function of Stimulation

Leadership is the activity of motivating people to strive willingly to achieve organisational goals. Leaders are considered successful when they can subordinate the personal interests of the employees to the general interests of the organization.

6) Rational and Emotional Leadership

Leadership includes actions and rules based on analysis and reasoning as well as based on passion and motivation. Since people are both rational and emotional, leaders can use rational techniques and emotional appeals.

7) Community of Interests

There must be a community of interests among the leader and his followers. A leader has his objectives. The followers have their objectives. They are moving in different directions in the absence of a community of interests. It is not advisable. It is the leader who should try to reconcile the different objectives and compromise personal interests with organisational interests.

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8) Symbiotic Relationship

Leadership tends to focus entirely on the leader although, without the followers, there is no leader. Leadership is symbiotic or participatory in the sense that leaders and followers exist in a mutually beneficial relationship where each adds to the effectiveness of the other.

Leadership Meaning

Leadership means to direct a person or a group, that is, to fulfil its vital role in the completion of a task and to give direction to everyone. Through leadership, a person works to show direction to someone based on his skills, abilities, experience and intellectual level.

Leaders and their leadership skills play a significant role in the growth & development of any organization. Leadership relates to the process of influencing the behaviour of people in a manner that they strive enthusiastically and voluntarily towards the accomplishment of group goals.

A good leader shows the right direction to other people. He should possess the ability to maintain good interpersonal relations with the followers/subordinates and motivate them to help in attaining the organizational objectives.

Functions of Leadership

Leadership is the ability to influence the behaviour of others towards the attainment of common goals. Leadership is also considered a process wherein a leader directs the followers to achieve shared aims. Effective leadership is important for productive and efficient outcomes of teamwork. There are different styles of leadership with relatively common functions.

The primary functions of a leader during their leadership are as follows:

1. Policy Making

The major function of a leader is to make a policy for the smooth running of the work by the followers. The policy includes principles and rules for operating the machinery of teamwork. It also defines the course of action for the effective delivery of contributions by the disciples. It is the function of the leader to devise a working mechanism for the followers by considering various aspects of the nature of the work so that the common goals can easily and adequately be achieved.

2. Organizing

Another function of a leader is to organize the followers into a group to handle the tasks collectively. This function is important for enhancing the productivity of teamwork. Every person in a team has certain abilities. It is very important to bring all the people together to make the best of their abilities. The leader brings together the followers to unite their abilities to achieve the major task effectively.

3. Planning goals and strategies

The leader sets goals and plans strategies to achieve these goals. The planning includes time planning, cost planning,  and human resource planning. The purpose is to make a roadmap for the followers to keep them on the right track and guide them on how and when to utilize the resources to achieve goals. 

4. Mobilization

The important function of a leader is mobilization to engage followers in work. Once a plan is made, the followers need to execute the planned strategies. It requires a leader to help the followers to initiate and engage in the work to achieve the goals in planned time and resources. The leader encourages the followers to keep them going throughout the entire process of goals accomplished.

5. Direction and Guidance

A leader acts as a guide who gives direction to the followers and keeps them on track to move in the right direction The follower may face certain difficulties in the process of accomplishing certain tasks where they need the guidance of their leader. The leader offers constant guidance to the followers to help them make the best of their efforts. 

6. Motivation

A leader is a continuous source of motivation for followers. The leader motivates the followers to keep them going for a long. He motivates his followers to raise their spirits toward the attainment of their goals. The leader may also design various rewards.

7. Problem-Solving

The leader solves the problems that occur at various stages. Some appreciation certificates, allowances and benefits for the motivation of followers’ problems are expected while some are unexpected. The leader has answers and alternative strategic plans for expected as well as unexpected complex situations. The leader is always ready to face challenging situations.

8. Group Representation

A leader serves as a representative of his followers. The group of followers needs to have a representative to represent them while interacting with other groups and people.

9. Controlling internal relationships

Arbitration and Mediation: For a good working environment, there should be good relationships among the followers. However sometimes due to differences among the followers, some mutual conflicts may arise between the followers which need to be resolved. The leader must work as a mediator to resolve these conflicts among followers and to help them reach a mutual agreement.

10. Controlling rewards and penalties

The followers receive various benefits or face penalties based on their performance. The purpose of these rewards and penalties is to motivate followers or to refrain the followers from irresponsible behaviour. The leader controls the awards and penalties based on the efficiency and productivity of the followers.

11. Role Model

A leader is a role model for his followers. The leader possesses all the qualities and capabilities needed for tackling various challenges. He has the perseverance to keep going until the objectives are achieved. Due to these qualities, he serves as a source of inspiration for his followers. A leader is viewed as their ideal personality by the followers

12. Devising an ideology

An ideology is a set of ideas, beliefs and opinions which reflect the crux of an endeavour. The followers require an ideology to follow. Without an ideology, an endeavour is meaningless. The leaders devise the best ideology depending upon the nature of the endeavour undertaken by the followers and the goals to achieve

13. Facilitation

The overall function of a leader is the facilitation of the followers. A leader shapes the behaviours of the followers to facilitate them towards the accomplishment of the planned tasks. The purpose of leadership is not only to direct the followers towards action but also to facilitate the followers in those actions either by guiding or involving personally the followers in those actions whenever required.

Need of Leadership

The need of Leadership is explained as follows:

1) Imperfect Organisation Structure

No organisational structure can provide all kinds of relationships. This describes the presence of informal groups within the structure of a formal organisation. Through effective leadership, the shortcomings of a formal organisation may be fixed and the formal and informal groups may be made to work in unison.

2) Technological, Economic and Social Changes

In the phase of rapid technological, economic and social changes, the organisation is required to affect suitable changes in its operations and style. For example, in the case of a fall in demand, it may discontinue production of some goods and services, or take up production of alternative goods and services. Only effective leadership can enable it to meet the challenges posed by environmental factors.

3) Internal Imbalance Inspired by Growth

As an organisation grows in size and complexity, it may develop several irregularities. For example, an increase in organisational activities may lead to an increase in the levels of management, thus adding to the complexity of the organisation structure, and problems of command, coordination and control work at all levels. Only effective leadership can guide the organization through such situations.

4) Realign Organisation

Leadership is required to realign the organisation with its customers, and business and to overcome the tendency to become obsessed and self-serving.

5) Continuous Improvement

Leadership is required to achieve continuous improvement of productivity and services for the consumer. These require investment and innovation in education and research, long-range planning and focus on the future.

6) Learning Culture

When culture becomes dysfunctional, leadership is needed to help the group to forget some of its cultural assumptions and learn new assumptions.

Need for Leadership

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