Effective Leadership in the Workplace

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LeadershipHistory is replete with examples of great African-American leaders. Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass are excellent examples of the true competencies and characteristics of leaders of the past. Today, the need for strong leadership is again becoming a front-and-center topic, especially in the workplace.

Leadership versus management
It’s important to understand the difference between leaders and managers. Managers are task oriented. They supervise and direct workflow for maximum efficiency, therefore they tend to be more concerned about the process and the results, rather than about the employees and their individual needs. Leaders, on the other hand, are concerned not only about goals, but also about the people who are involved in the process. They must have a clear vision, must be able to effectively communicate that vision to others, and must have a strategy in mind for making that vision a reality.

Because communicating and implementing a vision involve working with other people, true leaders are relationship-focused. They must inspire and motivate their followers, often playing the roles of coach and facilitator.

What are the traits of a dynamic leader?
A dynamic leader not only possesses high moral standards, but operates with a high sense of ethics and integrity, preferably for the good of the employees and the organization. Leaders take risks and understand the importance of change. They must have an appreciation of, and love for, learning.

Does this mean that effective leaders never make mistakes? Absolutely not. While leaders do make mistakes, they use their mistakes as a learning tool so that their chances of making the same mistake are nonexistent.

Why is leadership important in today’s workplace?
The landscape of the workplace changes from generation to generation. Today, employees are no longer content to go to work in complete anonymity. Rather, they want to feel significant, stimulated and challenged, all while having fun. Effective leaders   build a sense of community within the workplace. They not only increase employee retention figures, but they also improve productivity because employees are more willing to follow effective leaders than non-effective individuals.

Dianne Walker is a human resources professional, who serves as the career training editor and unemployment editor for Bella Online.