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Leadership Fundamentals

Leadership Principles. A leader must never forget the mission (Kostanyan). Every leader has many crises vying for her attention. A good leader will attend to the dilemmas carefully and purposefully, but will never lose sight of the main objective, that of accomplishing the organization’s mission. In addition, a leader should set goals that exceed the expected so that amazing performance can be accomplished. Higher goals are excellent, but the leader should also have a vision of how those goals can be implemented and achieved. A great leader must also be willing to coach their followers, because the more one invests in those who can aid in goal achievement, the more likely it is that the mission will be fulfilled. While coaching, a leader must assist the company culture to move toward becoming a learning organization. The acquisition of knowledge keeps everyone on the precipice of greatness versus stagnation. A powerful leader will encourage all members of the organization to become teachers – and encourage the principle - if you know something, teach something. As the prime role model of the company, a leader should always exhibit the behavior expected from all, being of good moral character, knowing the job inside out, and walking the walk. A leader should also value diversity and be a model of inclusion. Capitalizing on everyone’s strength makes an organization more powerful. Diversity and inclusion should not be code words but should be a corporate internalization (Kostanyan).

Leadership Concepts. The best thing about leadership is that leaders are made and not born (Hyacinth; Yacowicz). Individuals who have the desire to learn what leadership requires can become excellent leaders. The process for becoming great is through study, learning, training and implementation. The process never stops, it is dynamic. Leadership can best be defined as the process whereby an individual influences their teams to maximize their goals and objectives while driving the organization in a manner that makes it effective, productive and profitable. The ultimate goal is shared vision, shared production and shared success. There are four factors of leadership (Sharma and Jain):

Leader - a leader's team determines the leader's success. A leader must persuade their followers that they are worthy.

Followers - a leader must understand their followers. Different followers have different needs and are inspired by different things. A good leader must know the difference.

Communication - a leader should communicate that they are in the trenches with you, if a leader acts like they are in an ivory tower, there will be a disconnect.

Situation - every situation brings its own circumstances. What works in war, does not necessarily work in peace. Each situation must be assessed for the best method to use in that situation (Sharma and Jain).

Bass Theory of Leadership. People become leaders primarily in one of three ways including the trait theory, the great events theory and the transformational or process theory ("Leadership Theories"). The trait theory holds that some people become leaders based on their personality and characteristics, for example, some people who have an authoritative personality become leaders because, when used effectively, authoritativeness can be a helpful quality. Another example is when a person is naturally charismatic, that person might become a leader because people are naturally draw to that person, and believe in them. The great events theory of leadership holds that sometimes major crises can create a great leader by bringing out the best in them, allowing them to rise to the occasion. Although it is arguable whether George Bush was a great president, but when the 9/11 attacks occurred, he rose to lead the country out of a very shocking and difficult experience. The transformational or process theory of leadership holds that a person can learn how to become a great leader if they successfully invest in becoming one. The distinction between a boss and a leader is that a boss is assigned a position which allows that person to get things accomplished, on the other hand, a leader is a person that people want to follow because of the integrity, intelligence, skill and influence the person holds. A leader can cause people to achieve greatness ("Leadership Theories").

The Keys to Effective Leadership. Effective leadership requires that team members have trust and confidence in their leader. In combination with trust and confidence, a great leader must be able to effectively communicate the organizations business strategy, effectively communicate how the team member can contribute to achieving the business strategy, and effectively communicate with the team member how the company is doing as a result of that strategy, as well as how the team is doing in relation to contributing to that strategy. 

Leadership Philosophies

There are numerous leadership philosophies that have developed over time including transformational leadership, social leadership, path-goal theory of leadership, authentic leadership and social influence, character and traits theory, servant leadership, ethos and leadership, and the team leadership model ("Leadership Theories"). The most popular are the path-goal theory of leadership where the style of leadership utilized is the one that is most suitable to the nature of the employee and the environment the employee is in to accomplish goals, in addition, the revised theory includes leader compensation for the subordinate’s deficiencies and complementary leadership for the follower’s abilities. Transformational leadership, in which the subordinates are transformed by the influence of the leader, the organization’s culture and or politics is changed to inspire growth. In transformational leadership, the leader has tremendous influence and is therefore able to make a major shift in people’s thinking, which thereafter creates a major shift in their behavior, which then creates a major shift in the results that they are able to achieve. Steve Jobs of Apple was a transformational leader who had a vision, communicated that vision, changed people’s thoughts and beliefs and created one of the most successful companies in the world. Social leadership, where interactions are socially based and teams create change as a result of those social interactions. Nelson Mandela was a social leader who could bring people together, forge agreement between factions, and unify opposing forces to achieve one goal. Authentic leadership and social influence is a leadership style where the leader is a constant beacon in the storm, the leader evinces character, communicates honesty, and is ethical in all interactions. An authentic leader, as Martin Luther King said, does not seek consensus, “he . . . mold[s] consensus” and holds firm to justice, truth and key principles (Avolio and Wernsing). The servant leadership model, which occurs when the leader serves at the behest of the followers, ensures subordinates’ needs come first, their needs are the leaders’ highest priority, the leader helps the followers to grow and perform at the highest levels, and when they do, the leader has succeeded ("Leadership Theories"). Several companies are mentioned as examples of the servant leadership model, among them, SAS, Wegman’s Food Market and Zappos (Lichtenwalner).  

Leading a Team

How to Grow a Team. A team is defined as a group of people who share a common purpose and whose goal is to engage in collaboration to achieve a result ("Building Blocks for Teams”). A team is not just a group of people, but one with a relationship, purpose and who collaborate. Teams can have a synergistic effect on the individuals within them, such that if there are three people on the team their impact is much more than the power of three. Research shows that teams have shared mental models or knowledge structures which help in their interactions and that further team performance (Mathieu, Heffner, Goodwin, Salas and Cannon-Bowers). Teams are beneficial because they are the best way to maximize personnel (Mattson). The team members strengthen the team dynamic by serving as models for each other. Inter-team member coaching often occurs even when it does not occur overtly – i.e., learning by example. The power of the team is often demonstrated when the team achieves success - when the team wins, everyone within the team is inspired and motivated to do better. Team synergy creates a bigger output than is the case with groups, and they are motivated to pull together to achieve goals. Groups are just individuals related by location or assignment, teams are interactive, collaborative and in many ways like a whole or a family (Mattson).

A leader can grow a group into a team (Bakken). The leader can inspire the behavior and actions of a team. If the team believes in their leader they will often go to any lengths. Leaders can build teams by building relationships based on trust and loyalty, valuing each team member’s contribution, paying attention to each member of the team, by being contagiously enthusiastic, by ensuring that objectives have an urgency factor, by setting clear behavioral expectations, by keeping everyone in the loop, by encouraging things that aid in team bonding experiences, by dealing with conflict immediately, and by giving compliments and positive feedback (Bakken). A team is composed of many goals, but one overarching goal; effective participation by every member of the team; open communication among the members; trust; a sense of comradery and family; diversity should be appreciated; and risk taking should be valued (“Team Work”).

Here is an interesting description of teamwork, and no you are not having vision problems. Oddly enough this does a great job of demonstrating the interdependence of a team:

My supervisor told me that teamwork depends on the performance of every single member of the team. I had trouble understanding it until my supervisor showed me how the office typewriter performs when just one key is out of order. All the other keys on our typewriter work just fine except one, but that one destroys the effectiveness of the typewriter. Know I know that even though I am only one person, I am needed if the team is to work as a successful team should (“Team Work”) 

Leadership: The Four Pillars of Organization

The four pillars of organization are leadership, management, control and command (Iyer). Each component plays a vital role in driving the organization forward. The elements are like ingredients which like milk, butter, eggs and flour can create a cake. If you do not have all of the components, or if they are not used effectively, the organization will suffer. The focus of leadership informs the interpersonal relationships within the company. For example, do the interpersonal relationships created by the leader engender ethical behavior? Enron comes to mind. Management addresses the functional elements of an organization, like budgeting and planning for efficiency and changes in the marketplace. Blockbuster comes to mind, they were unable to successfully take advantage of technological changes which made online streaming more cost effective than having brick and mortar stores. The focus of control is structural efficiency, Dov Charney, who was single handedly responsible for driving his company, American Apparel, to near bankruptcy in 2011, quickly comes to mind. The focus of command is the leader’s vision, an end-game that makes the organization effective. Think Michael Dell, of Dell Computers, where shareholders shaved off 20% of their investment if purchased in 2012 (McIntyre, Hess and Weigley). If a leader does not incorporate all four pillars of organization, the impact can be terminal.

Leaders are created, not born. The best leaders have the perfect balance of all the key elements.

Works Cited

Avolio, Bruce, J. and Wernsing, Tara, S. "Practicing Authentic Leadership." UWTV. University of Washington. 4 June 2008. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://uwtv.org/files/2013/01/hbpospsych2008authenticlead.pdf>.

Bakken, Elizabeth. "Twelve Ways to Build an Effective Team." Ceridian Corporation. 2001. 2007. Web.  27 June 2016. <http://people.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/People/TEAMS/Twelve%20Ways%20to%20Build%20an%20Effective%20Team.pdf>.

"Building Blocks for Teams." Penn State. Penn State University. n. d. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://archive.tlt.psu.edu/suggestions/teams/about/definition.html>.

Hyacinth, Brigette. "Are Leaders Born or Made? A True Story." Linkedin. 26 October 2014. Web. 27 June 2016. <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141026042807-150905450-are-leaders-born-or-made-a-true-story>.

Iyer, Raja Gopaal. Mahamantra: Essence of Leadership. Mountainview: Notion Press, 2015 Print.

Kostanyan, Anush. "10 Principles of Effective and Authentic Leadership." Huffington Post. TheHuffintonPost.com Inc. 27 February 2015. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anush-kostanyan/10-principles-of-effective-and-authentic-leadership_b_5686841.html>.

"Leadership Theories." Leadership Central. n. d. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.leadership-central.com/leadership-theories.html#axzz4CovMVn7W>.

Lichtenwalner, Benjamin. "Servant Leadership Lesson: Ed Bastian & Jim Goodnight at Leadercast." Modern Servant Leader. Benjamin S. Lichtenwalner. 11 May 2016. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://modernservantleader.com/servant-leadership/servant-leadership-lesson-ed-bastian-jim-goodnight-at-leadercast/>.

Mathieu, John, E., Heffner, Tonia, S., Goodwin, Gerald, F., Salas, Eduardo and Cannon-Bowers, Janis, A. "The Influence of Shared Mental Models on Team Process and Performance." Journal of Applied Psychology. American Psychological Association. 2000. Web. 27 June 2016. <https://www.ida.liu.se/~729A15/mtrl/shared_mental-models_mathieu.pdf>.

Mattson, Dave. "6 Benefits of Teamwork in the Workplace." Sandler Training. Sandler Systems, Inc. 19 February 2015. Web. 27 June 2016. <https://www.sandler.com/blog/6-benefits-of-teamwork-in-the-workplace>.

McIntyre, Douglas A., Hess, Alexander E.M. and Weigley, Samuel. "Eight founders who ruined their companies." USA Today. Gannett Company, Inc. 10 February 2013. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/02/09/founders-ruin-companies/1905921/>.

Sharma, Manoj Kumar and Jain, Shilpa. "Leadership Management: Principles, Models and Theories ." Global Journal of Management and Business. Research Publications India. n. d. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.ripublication.com/gjmbs_spl/gjmbsv3n3spl_14.pdf>.

"Team Building." Texas Technical University. n. d. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.depts.ttu.edu/aged/leadership/leadtem.htm>.

Yacowicz, Will. "Why Great Leaders Are Made, Not Born." Inc. Mansueto Ventures LLC. 14 October 2014. Web. 27 June 2016. <http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/how-to-lead-your-life-like-a-great-leader.html>.