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What It Takes to Be a Leader

The Definition of a Leader

Regardless of how we tend to view leadership, research shows that leaders do not necessarily possess any more positive traits than anyone else. Effective leaders do, however, develop and practice certain behavioral skills that contribute to their success. Rather than relying on personality traits, leaders should work to develop their relationships with followers, peers and other leaders. Effective leaders show intelligence, good judgment, honesty and integrity, responsibility, stability, initiative, persistence, accountability, insight, maturity, dependability, optimism, enthusiasm, ambition, confidence, flexibility, vision, empathy, sincerity, charisma, and trustworthiness. Make sure you don't bring your fears to work. While you don't have to be the life of the party, you have to reassure your employees that, in the larger scheme of things, current events are a bump in the road--painful to be sure, but ones that will be overcome as surely as night follows day. Keep your door open to your employees. Be liberal with time off. Let them know you are there to talk with them anytime--give them a way to reach you at night and on weekends. Encourage them, in a positive manner, not to "work hard," but to do the best work they can. You are counting on them, as are their fellow employees, their families and your customers--indeed, the entire country is counting on one another. To the extent that you can afford it, make counseling available. If you are not able to provide one-on-one therapy, perhaps you can sponsor a group. Remind them frequently that you love them like family and are there for them. Therefore, you must take the first step. Understand that others can perform some of your duties as well or better than you can. Loosening the strings doesn't diminish your importance; it increases it. And continue to remind yourself that, with only so many hours in a day or week, you are limited by those hours. Start to practice hands-off management. Every day, give your employees more tasks and responsibilities. It's perfectly OK to tell them how you handle each such task and, of course, tell them why you do some things a certain way. Then, reassure them that you want them to experiment, to find better ways of producing the product, delivering the service, billing the client, and generating new sales. Let them know several important things. You expect and respect failure. That you learned from your mistakes and they...

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