The significance of the features associated with leadership and which should thus characterize good, strong leaders are self-evident. Since these aspects are directly concerned with the organizations’ human capital, whether employers could count on a relatively large number of people in possess of these features, these would undeniably find it relatively easier to attain competitive edge. The need for organizations to avail themselves of individuals having these valuable and remarkable characteristics is hence totally justified.
Employers cannot afford to recruit leaders and managers as if these were two different roles to be covered within their business; otherwise the role of managers would not only be drastically emptied but would also make no practical sense. Employers need managers who are and act as leaders: individuals capable to provide their staff a vision, and influence, induce and enhance employee engagement and motivation. Leaders should ultimately be nothing else than good effectual managers.
In an organization it is habitually possible to distinguish four main categories of employees, namely the shop floor, professionals, managers (from mid- to senior-) and executives (board included). Leaders can be actually identified at all the levels of the organizational hierarchy. The leaders included in the mid- to upper-scale of the organizational order are usually known as formal leaders, whereas those belonging to the shop floor and professional categories (or more in general those not covering any management role) are usually termed informal leaders. All of these individuals, like the other employees, are clearly filling a specific role and position within the business; the difference is that these individuals, albeit not having an official managerial authority, have followers and the capability to influence their colleagues, whereas the others, formally appointed managers included, do not.
As a general rule, employers should not underestimate the significance of the support and contribution which informal leaders can respectively give and make to organizational success and should hence try to approach and ally with these, rather than consider them as a threat.
The fact that the current management may show not to have the leadership abilities the employer would have expected and desired these to have should not really come as a surprise. Individuals are different one another; yet, at times individuals can differently interpret the role of manager. The real problem may not be posed by the fact that managers are not good strong leaders; it may rather be caused by the circumstance that employers use to appoint as managers people before assessing whether these are already or have the potential to evolve into good, strong leaders. Once the wrong choice has been made it is obviously extremely tricky for employers to go back so that these cannot do nothing else than shoulder the cost for their wrong decision and try and control the likely negative consequences.
This may clearly not invariably be the case, but employers should also take into due consideration the circumstances under which managers work on a daily basis in order to properly evaluate, assess and judge their leadership abilities. The reference is not here to situational or contingent leadership, but rather to the particular circumstances and time constraints which may account for managers being prompted and consequently decide to manage more and lead less. At times managers might hardly perceive of having been recruited for their leadership abilities and that their work is actually that of being a leader. Individuals covering management roles, especially during periods of economic downturn and slowdown, are possibly supposed that their employer just want them to yield the expected results, and hence focus on and personally strive to attain the pre-set objectives.
Before and in lieu of complaining about the scarce level of leadership showed by their managers, criticism however completely justified, CEOs, directors and executives should first and foremost show to be good and strong leaders themselves. These can hardly assume that their subordinates may have the qualities and capabilities they should excel in the most, whether they do not. It is very unlikely that whether executives and directors were good leaders these would have not positively influenced the way their reports, that is to say the business managers, behave. Especially at management level it is sorely common to see individuals tending to emulate and follow the example of their bosses, to wit: executives and directors. Despite some managers may have some inborn leadership features these might feel prompted to change their instinctive behaviour and give these up, whether resulting in open contrast with the leadership or management style used by their superiors. In the first instance, the real leadership abilities facilitators are in fact managers and executives at all levels.
The quest for the Holy Grail is still underway, but it is important for employers to have clear what they are seeking and when and where to better search.