Leadership traits and personal learnings


Leadership traits and personal learnings

I grew up seeing my father and held him as my role model. He is a gifted man with great intuitive skills. In every venture he takes up a plan. He plans well in advance and after analysing the pros and cons decides on the corrective measure. He is an entrepreneur by profession and his inept capability of foreseeing the future is second to none. To me he is an effective leader. When it comes to effective communication and leadership skills, my father falls in a league of his own. Starting with a very small capital he is now chairman of a conglomerate and a bank named Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited in Bangladesh, managing director of a public limited company named Sonali Board and Paper Mills and director of couple of television channels and newspaper.  As a man of few words he makes sure that his thoughts are passed to his subordinates effectively and with ease. I have always tried to follow what he does and make my own way of dealing with things.  He is proactive in his approach and moves on to new issues of concern once the preceding one has been solved.

When it comes to learning, I look at people who are technically more sound and have a good sense of judgement. I can perceive what is good and what is bad but I still make sure I look at the surrounding environment before I embark on a new decision. Leadership skills are present in a person all you need to do is find out what you are good at. Some people are good at problem solving some are good at implementation. I believe that I have a good mix of all the traits necessary to become a good leader. I am an honest person; I look at the ethical perspectives and decide on producers which will not harm anyone. I hardly take any hasty decision and before deciding I always like to get an expert opinion. I always delegate work according to need, people working under me are always happy with their work load and hardly do I see anyone complaining to me about work related pressure. I communicate well and make sure that whatever is in my mind which can be shared is shared accordingly to attain optimal results. I have a good sense of humour and thus uplift my subordinate’s mood as and when required. I am confident and also make sure that people who I work with are provided with confidence boosters. I am a highly committed person and I also like people who are passionate and committed to achieve high standards or targets. I am a positive person, my attitude towards work remains positive at all times even if I am working on something new or doing it for a long time as this helps me to finish the work in due time and move to the next one or multitask to complete many tasks at the same time with ease.

People I work with say that I am very creative and that I come up with interesting solutions to problems of diverse backgrounds. I have the ability to inspire and get inspired from the simple situations.  I am intuitive and charismatic.  Being the leader in charge I am bestowed the authority to make the decision, yet I have to keep in mind that it is my responsibilities to answer in case my team fails and thus take full responsibility of the situation and face the consequences. My father told me that authority and responsibility are positively correlated. I need to learn from body language and reactions, as this will help me judge situations better and making sure that the people involved are in harmony. Consult with other team member, mangers and leaders to come to a consensus and help reach a more valid and updated result. 

According to Tate (2010), conventional wisdom interprets that we humans live in an individual economy, and that companies and economy flourish when individuals do go and flourish. It is always good to be humane and be natural in practise and analysis. I try to bring in empathy, insight and understanding opposing to the generally practiced. Humanity inspires and consoles and helps a person to be more realistic. Everything should be inclusive and everyone in a team should be given the power to speak and enhance team discussion. Taking up a collective approach always help in problem solving as solutions are more holistic and corrective measures are more result oriented. Thus all the aforementioned traits and practises will surely make me a better manager and a better leader.


Tate, W. (2010). Think, manage and lead systemically. Business Strategy Review, 21(2), 48-53.

Board of Directors | Younus Group of Industries. 2013. Board of Directors | Younus Group of Industries. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.younusgroup.com/?page_id=950. [Accessed 14 June 2013].



BLOG 4 Ethical Leadership


Ethical Leadership

In a work environment setting, leaders facilitate the internalisation of values, organisational goals and behaviour of employees. They are often in a level to control different outcomes that may impact employees in different ways and their incentives signal employees of the degree and type of acceptable behaviour (Brown and Mitchell, 2010). Initially ethical leadership was conceived from normative and descriptive approaches that relied on how individuals should behave. Brown and Mitchell (2010) views ethical leadership from an approach that relies on social science that explores peoples’ perception of ethical leadership and the precursors, outcomes and conditions of those views. Rooted in social learning theory, individuals can easily learn appropriate standards of behaviour by observing and imitating role models and likewise leaders teach employees conducts that are ethical. The ethical norms and conducts that are expected of employees are formally communicated in the form of organisational policies and rewards.  Such ethical modelling is requires leaders to exhibit credibility making them worthy of imitation which further results in higher productivity. Strang and Kuhnert (2009) investigate the theory of constructive development and shows that leadership ability is highly linked to the performance of employees. Research has also shown that poor leadership has led to higher turnover, unproductiveness and unethical behaviour even to the extent of sabotage. In addition, Zhu et al., (2004) suggests a model in their research paper that states that the empowerment of employees at a psychological level facilitates the relationship between the ethical behaviours of leaders and employees’ commitment towards the organisation. Moreover, authenticity of the leader in consistently performing actions in alignment to their moral intentions is also key in motivating employees.

In addition to the impact of ethical leadership on employees, communication between the employees and the leader is also crucial. According to Mayer et al., (2012), leaders reciprocate by listening to employees in addition to communicating their values and therefore, leaders should develop certain behavioural norms on how to deal with employees having positive effect on relations within and between groups. However, authors show that the extent to which leaders may institutionalise ethics and have positive effects on both individuals and organisational effectiveness depends on the level of employers and degree of authority. Distance is also an important factor in ethical leadership. Executive leaders who work more closely with employees are in a better position to manipulate the perceptions of employees on ethics and behavioural norms. For instance, high profile executives such as Andrew Fastow from Enron developed a positive reputation within the organisation but they were the ones to engage in unethical behaviour. Moreover, the level of persisting cynicism about the honesty of leaders among the employees also affects their behaviour. Employees may poorly rate leaders with whom they have little interaction (Brown and Treviño, 2006).

The debate shows that the level of ethical leadership is crucial in shaping the norms and behaviour of employees in an organisation. As much as it is important set up guidelines, code of conduct and behavioural standards within the organisation, it is also crucial to develop personal values of leaders and communicate those values to the employees. This is because employees’ level of compliance to ethical standards is highly reliant on the perception of consistency of employer’s behavioural values and actions. In the service sector, particularly in the banking industry it is important to have strong codes of conduct and organisations heavily invest in ethics trainings. In the banking industry, employees deal with a high level of private and sensitive information and they also deal with large sums of money for which compliance to ethical behaviour is necessary. In the consultancy and advisory industry, employees deal with different clients particularly competitors within the same industry. This indicates that they need to maintain high level of integrity and confidentiality regarding safe-keeping internal information. Inspite of regular training programs and behavioural orientation by leaders, there are cases of unethical conduct and many of these may be rooted to individual preferences. Nevertheless, strong leadership and firm values of leaders can institutionalise a sense of ethical behaviour throughout the organisation allowing for little or no opportunity to engage in misconduct.


Brown, M. E., & Mitchell, M. S. (2010). Ethical and Unethical Leadership. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(4), 583-616.

Brown, M. E., & Treviño, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 595-616.

Mayer, D., Aquino, K., Greenbaum, R., Kuenzi M. ( 2012) ‘ Who does ethical leadership and why does it matter? An examination of antecedents and consequences of ethical leadership’ Academy of Management Journal 55(1), 151-171

Strang, S.E., and Kuhnert, K.W. (2009). Personality and leadership developmental levels as predictors of leader performance.Leadership Quarterly, 20(3), 421-433.

Zhu, W., May, D. R., & Avolio, B. J. (2004). The impact of ethical leadership behavior on employee outcomes: The roles of psychological empowerment and authenticity. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 11(1), 16-26.

Resistance May Depend on Individual Preferences But is Not Unmanageable



Situational variables are important determinants in changing the behaviour of leaders (Vroom and Jago 2007) and as the business environment is an evolving field, it calls for dynamisms and adaptation to change. According to Ford (2009), change management refers to enabling individuals within an organisation to respond to new situations be adopting new means and approaches of performance. This process can be rather daunting and individuals may not be at ease to respond immediately to changes causing resistance. Central to the leader-member exchange theory is the feeling of reciprocity and fulfilment among employees (Henderson et al 2008). This psychological contract and the dyadic relationship between leaders and similar groups create a comfort zone for employees and they comply with the leader who reciprocates to their needs instead of bringing in variation. The fulfilment perception mediates the relationship and without this resistance will take fold. Mullins (2010) argues that individuals’ reactions to change are varied and the decision of whether to adapt or resist change depends on the individuals.  In support of Mullin’s views, Kotter (2007) also proposes several steps to initiate and manage change; however, he also cautions that the performance and reaction to change is determined by the individuals working in the front-line. Although numerous managerial and leadership efforts are made to mediate the resistance, preferences of individuals dominate the decision to resist change. Two of the striking examples from my chosen service industry are JC Penny’s change of exhibiting first names on name tags and informal dress code took time to settle in the organisation as there was resistance to it at first. Moreover, when Swisscontact-Katalyst shifted its organisational status from horizontal hierarchy to more vertical hierarchy in order to motivate and reward employees through promotion, many employees who could not be promoted resisted to the change.


                  On the other hand, arguments against Mullin’s statement states that managers and leaders are in a position to manage resistance to change through different leadership techniques. Ford (2009) suggests that resistance can be a powerful form of feedback from employees and when treated with empathy it can give important insights and information to leaders and also signals the techniques that can be used to manage resistance. Thus resistance can be a powerful resource is utilised efficiently. Instead of suppressing dialogue managers should take a position to explain the changes to achieve ‘buy-in’. Also resistance can be used as a resource if managers draw information from the individuals that resist as they may have genuine information to improve the changing making process. Simultaneously managers can engage employees to share ideas for enabling the change process.  Moreover, while initially planning the change process, leaders must diagnose potential resistance and the causes of resistance which usually occur as a result of the desire to not lose control of certain values, out of misunderstanding of the implications of change, belief that change would not bring any good and the low tolerance. Diagnosis of the reasons and potential outcome will help managers to plan mitigation actions to resolve any issues around resistance (Kotter and Schlesinger, 2008).   


                  My focus on the service sector has serious implications on resistance to change. This is because in the service sector, employees, particularly operating at the front-line deals with external clients in order to provide services and any resistance to change can have negative implications on their performance which in turn will affect clients much more quickly than manufacturing industries. Examples of service industry change resistances include transportation strikes where a change in wage or salary structure may provide incentive to transport providers to not provide the service which not only hampers travellers but also hurts the reputation of the organisation. In the consultancy industry, if employees resist to changes they may not perform adequately in offering advice and consultation to clients. For example the clients of Bain and Company and Deloitte work with large corporate clients and resistance from internal consultants who work with external organisations may stall deliverables and may even hurt the organisation’s reputation. Moreover, with growing competition and exit options, external clients may quickly shift to other agencies and dissatisfied employees may move to another competitor. Hence, motivating them and managing conflicts is important.


                  In my view, although resistance to change is highly an individual preference, yet the outcome of the resistance can be mitigated using different management and leadership techniques.



Henderson, D.J., Wayne, S.J., Shore, L.M., Bommer, W.H. and Tetrick, L.E. 2008, Leader-member exchange, differentiation, and psychological contract fulfilment: A multi-level examination, Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1208–1219.

Mullins, L. J. (2010) Management & Organisational Behaviour. 9th edn. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited

Kotter, J.P. (2007), ‘Leading Change’, Harvard Business Review, 85(1), 96-103, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 March 2013.

Kotter, J.P and Schlesinger, L.A. (2008), ‘Choosing Strategies for Change’, Harvard Business Review.


Freestyle, Transformational, Casual, Formal, Whatever, No dress code, tie and tshirt

Do it your way..Lead! Freestyle, Transformational, Casual, Formal, Whatever, No dress code, tie and tshirt


Management Style is Not a Perfect Science

There is no one-size fits all rule and effective leaders use a combination of different styles based on the business situation (Goleman 2000). The variations in leadership styles can be explained via the Contingency Theory (Vroom & Jago, 2007). According to the Fielder Contingency Model, effective leadership is dependent upon the situation at hand which is determined by the characteristic of the task, relationship between leaders and the team members and the context within which an organisation operates. House’s Path-goal theory is more participative, directive, achievement oriented and is supportive to team members where the leader adapts his/her style in response to the need and motivation of the team members. Another model which is highly participative, allows high level of delegation and is more responsive to the capacity of team members is the Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational theory. It involves high level of coaching and as the maturity of team members improve, leadership supervision decreases.

The style of leadership is dependent on the level of ‘task-oriented’ and ‘people-oriented behaviour’ and the behaviours of leaders are mediating factors between structural experiences and outcomes of the organisation (Vroom & Jago, 2007). Organisations that rely more on Coercive and Authoritative styles in order to achieve self-control, compliance and desired performance, but organisations that rely more on services and research and development is better suited to Coaching (which develops people), Affiliative (which creates harmony and a sense of emotional link within team members) or Democratic (focuses on consensus building based on higher participation) styles of leadership as it creates greater empathy, self-confidence and fosters higher innovation and performance. Based on a research of more than 3000 executives, Goleman (2009) suggests that leaders may flexibly switch from one style to the other based on emotional intelligence. The Vroom and Jago (2007) research reveals that situational elements play a powerful role influences actions of leaders. According to Hersey and Blanchard’s theory of Situational Leadership, leaders should adapt to different styles with the changing situation in order to build the skills and confidence of subordinates and not take them less skilful as given. However, in order to be responsive to these styles core values need to be internalised by the leader. Kouzes & Posner (2007) research illustrate that leaders engage in different practices of leadership that varies from modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision within teams, challenging existing processes, stimulating others to be involved and encouraging team members. Their paper draws on examples of Hanna Barbara Studio’s use of 360 degree feedback review process, Pier 1Import’s lead- Cary Turner and Terri Sarhatt of Applied Biosystems constantly worked alongside staff to encourage, appreciate and reward them.

I agree to the notion that there is no perfect science to choosing a leadership style and that one must adapt to different situations and adopt necessary styles to be more responsive. From my experience, a mix of ‘Affiliative’ and ‘Democratic’ styles may be highly suitable for managing diverse team members and conflicting groups to work together for tasks that require higher level of diverse ideas and consensus. Within the textile and clothing industry for example, the use of different style can be seen-garments manufacturers may be more skewed towards authoritative styles as the work is much more standardised, however, in the designer industry there is greater need for affiliation and democratisation to foster more idea generation. Even while working in teams for academic projects, I have come across members from different cultures and their values, notion of motivation work pace and level of determination varies. In dealing with diverse set of individuals be it within an academic project or engaging in the work place, I have realised that as much as it is essential to have own set of values, it is important to understand the values that others bring in from different cultures and settings. Understanding others will make it much easier to lead and manage people in difficult situations. However, in times of meeting tight deadlines, the phase of establishing consensus, empathy and compassion may take longer and to be able to remain productive there is the need to change leadership style that sets stronger ground rules during that phase of work and remain more objective. In a cultural setting where people may attempt to free ride particularly in case of democratisation where some may leverage on the opinions of others, it is important to delegate work to individuals and have processes such as 360 degree reviews to be able to draw out the difficult members and work to address their limitations.



Goleman, D. 2000. Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, March-April, 78-90.

Vroom, V. H. and Jago, A. G. 2007. The role of the situation in leadership. The American Psychologist, 62(1), 17-24.

Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2007) The Leadership Challenge. (4th ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

The Management of Diversity


The Management of Diversity

The process, through which an individual generates influences on a group of other individuals in order to attain a goal shared commonly by all, has been defined as ‘Leadership’ by Northouse (2010). This entails high level of interaction that may vary between leadership styles. Diversity has often been referred to as a ‘double-edged sword’ that has both negative and positive impacts on organisational outcomes. Horwitz and Horwitz (2007) critically analyses the debate between the opposing views on diversity where the foundation of the arguments lie on cognitive and the paradigm of similarity–attraction. Proponents of team heterogeneity suggest that diversity within teams bring in cognitive attributes that are unique to each individual resulting in greater creativity and idea generation. On the other hand, critics suggest that members who are homogenous can perform better together as they share similar characteristics which further improve cohesion within the team. Moreover, leaders prefer to be around individuals who have similar beliefs and attitudes and this helps bring consensus and decision making much faster.  


One of the strongest proponents of team diversity is Elsie Y. Cross (2000), who introduced a strategy called ‘Managing Diversity Intervention’ which centres on concepts of integration and access. The model proposes that leaders within the organisation should facilitate integration of all members, giving them equal recognition that they are all competent to deliver the tasks that they were designation to. Core to the model are ‘start-up’, ‘capacity building’ and ‘institutionalisation’ which reflect the leaders ability to diagnose a problem, conduct research, prepare action plans, educate, conduct team building and train-the-trainer sessions and occasionally review the organisational culture. She also cautions that any solution must be contextual depending on the type and need of the organisation. However, transformational leadership style has been found to be most applicable in managing diversity in the face of changing business environment and the growing reliance on group thinking problem resolution. Research in the pharmaceutical industry show, that diversity in nationality and education were found to be positively related to team outcomes when transformational leadership was high. Authors argue that transformational leadership can manage the negative side of the so-called double edged sword as it helps to stimulate better processing of information that is task-relevant through higher degree of discussions, exchange of information and idea generation. Moreover, such a leadership style can offset the negative effects of team heterogeneity as discussed by social categorisation views (Kearney and Gebert, 2009).


Unlike transactional, transformational style rely more on inspiring members, motivating them, fostering intellectual stimulation and growth through higher levels of coaching and practice (Kouzes and Posner, 2006). Transformational leadership style improves work engagement of employees by mediating and facilitating optimism and self-efficacy as they offer opportunities to develop skills and generates confidence about possibilities (Tims et al., 2011). Leaders can help people believe in possibilities by instilling common vision and a sense of pride among team members; can idealise influence by exhibiting the importance of collective success; can be responsive to the capacity of team members and coach and support their growth and finally challenge their approaches to problem solving and facilitate intellectual development. Such a leadership style can also be institutionalised by training leaders to bring out such qualities.  


However, critics argue that the parameters of the transformational leadership model are somewhat broad and unclear and questions are effectiveness of the multi-factor questionnaire. Based on research on managers, Michel et al., (2011) argue that behaviours that leaders apply are much broader that is included in the MLQ measure and suggests that instead of debating over the style of leadership, it is much more effective to draw from different leadership paradigms to develop a more overarching and inclusive approach and the application of the managerial practices survey (MPS) may be better indicative of leadership effectiveness.  Marturano (2004) also argues that distinguishing between the two major leadership styles-transactional and transformational may be dangerous as the traits of the two can be made complementary if the former is viewed at a descriptive level, that is, how goals can be achieved and the latter at a normative level as how leadership is supposed to be.


In the light of this debate, I believe that in the service industry, particularly in consulting firms such as Deloitte and PwC, heterogeneity within teams is important as such a sector requires dealing with a broad range of clients. However, transformational style alone may not suffice and to achieve concrete objectives, certain traits from transactional styles may need to be borrowed.


Leadership : theory and practice /Peter G. Northouse, Sage Publications, 2010, 5th ed.

Horwitz, Sujin K., and Irwin B. Horwitz. “The effects of team diversity on team outcomes: A meta-analytic review of team demography.” Journal of management 33.6 (2007): 987-1015.

Cross, Elsie Y. Managing diversity: The courage to lead. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000.

Kearney, Eric, and Diether Gebert. “Managing diversity and enhancing team outcomes: The promise of transformational leadership.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94.1 (2009): 77.

Tims, Maria, Arnold B. Bakker, and Despoina Xanthopoulou. “Do transformational leaders enhance their followers’ daily work engagement?.” The Leadership Quarterly 22.1 (2011): 121-131.

Michel, John W., Brian D. Lyons, and Jeewon Cho. “Is the Full-Range Model of Leadership Really a Full-Range Model of Effective Leader Behavior?.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 18.4 (2011): 493-507.

Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The leadership challenge. Vol. 3. Jossey-Bass, 2006.