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As always, the roles and requirements of a leader keep changing with time. Let me put forth the requirements of a leader in the current decade.
These are primarily meant (but not restricted) to the software industry.
Broadly they’re classified into 3 categories.
1. Traits and Skills
2. Behavioural approaches
3. Interaction approaches
Traits and Skills
Traits-wise Adaptability, self-confidence and persistence top the list of characteristics that one would like to see in a leader.
Skill-wise Intelligence, creativity and knowledge of the group are most important.
Some of the other useful characteristics demonstrated by highly efficient leaders are mental toughness, courage, ability to manage stress, ability to rebound from adversity and ability to seek out newer approaches (than being rooted in the past).
Being good at both Consideration and Initiating processes.
Consideration reflects the relationships between the leader and followers to involve factors such as friendship, mutual trust, warmth, building rapport and communication.
Initiating is based upon the establishment of rules & regulations and systems that are designed to move a team towards pre-established goals.
The utmost importance of flexibility.
A leader just cannot follow the same style of leadership for every team and for all times. The styles have to change and adapt to people and situations. This is an extremely important aspect of leadership.
It is important for the leader to understand the nature of the team and to base his style based on the preferences of the team. Once he exhibits that flexibility to understand and adapt to a particular team member, that member responds with an increase in performance from his side due to the sheer respect.
Having said all this, it is noted that “Defining a leader is not an easy job”. Success of a team is determined by many other factors too.
Also there have been successful leaders who haven’t demonstrated all these traits.
But examining these theories gives you a better chance to formulate a view of an effective leader.