Characteristics of Leadership

1. Leadership is a process, not a single activity 

Leadership is not just doing one thing. It is a series of interconnected activities which make up a process.

For example: Your followers or your sub-ordinates can do something that you tell them to do and then forget it. But you as a leader cannot afford to do that because before you tell them to do something; you have to do a lot of thinking before and after. So we have to remember that leadership is 24x7. You are always thinking as to “what I should do”, “what my group should do”, “what my group should achieve”, etc. So leadership is a continuous process, it is not a single activity.

Leadership is a process

2. Leadership involves mutuality of influence

Normally when you become a leader, you always have an impression that this is a “one way street”. Here, “one way street” means that you are the boss or the leader and that you will pass orders and your sub-ordinates would carry out your orders blindly, which means that it is “one way”. But what we are trying to say here is that could leadership have a mutuality of influence? Just like you are influencing your sub-ordinates or followers, they are also influencing you or they should also influence you. If you want to be an effective leader, you should keep this communication two-way and you should also be prepared to be influenced by your followers. So this is an important aspect of being a good leader. So leadership involves the mutuality of influence between the leader and his followers.

Leader should be able to influence in positive way

3. Leadership involves achieving common goal

How is the success of the leader measured?  

The success of a leader is not measured in terms of what he as an individual has achieved, but what the group has achieved. For example:

  1. Richard Branson is a great leader because he inspires people to be passionate about their work.

2.  Gandhi was a great leader because India achieved independence under his leadership.

So what the group has been able to achieve and what they have not been able to achieve would dictate your success of failure. So leadership involves achieving common goal.

Common goal in leadership

4. Leadership is situation specific

A particular person may be a great leader in a particular situation. But that doesn’t mean that he can be a great leader in all situations. For example: Ike was a great military leader but was considered among the weakest presidents of the United States. So a situation change may change the success of a man.

A leader should be situation specific

5. Leadership is follower specific

You may be a great leader when you are leading a set of specific followers. But given a different set of followers, you need not be that efficient. 

For example: If Gandhi, one of the great leaders of freedom fighters, asks us today “Friends, lets lay down our lives for our country”, many of us will not be ready to do that. So we have to realize that Gandhi’s success is not totally as an individual, but it is the success of his followers who were committed to fight for the freedom of their country. So leadership is follower specific.  

Follower specific