What makes a good leader of a country?
A leader can be defined as someone who leads others. According to Greer, “a leader can be someone who is in charge or commands others in an organization or a country” (30). Leadership cannot be based solely on an individual’s responsibility. It is important to add that a leader is not just about politics.
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Thus, leaders can be found in every sector including sports, entertainment, and corporate sector among other areas. The argument about leadership focus on: what are the right qualities? What should the leaders do to strengthen these qualities? How are these qualities developed? This paper seeks to argue the qualities that ultimately define a good leader in a country.
To answer the question on what makes a good leader appropriate, it is important to acknowledge that traditional qualities that have defined a good leader such as aptitude, strength, determination, and vision are not sufficient in today’s world. In this changing world, a leader- in addition to the listed qualities- needs a high degree of emotional intelligence.
A look at history can reveal a number of highly skilled and intelligent leaders who took over leadership of their country only for them to perform dismally. Therefore, it can be concluded that finding the right leader is an art and science. Notably, “although leaders may share general qualities, each leader has a personal style of doing things. Some leaders are passive and analytical while others are very proactive and confrontational” (Daft and Lane 52).
Another important thing to acknowledge is that a leader, especially in a country or state, will often face different situations that will often require different approaches. While pursuing diplomacy, the leader will be required to be a sensitive negotiator; while consoling victims of a disaster, the leader will need to show empathy and comfort; when dealing with state enemies, the leader is needed to have a forceful authority.
The general conclusion, in my opinion, is that, to be leader, intelligence, hard work, and vision are important aspects to consider. However, even with all these, a leader should have the emotional intelligence to be successful and sustain the leadership status that is made possible by the primary characteristics listed.
There are various aspects of emotional intelligence that are critical to good leadership. According to Goleman, “they include self-awareness, enthusiasm and responsiveness. Others include group skills and self-regulation” (21). Researchers have carried out studies in the corporate world, and the results have shown that emotional intelligence is often what distinguishes the outstanding leader.
The first component I analyze is the aspect of self-awareness. This refers to the ability to have a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, motivational factors. To be self aware means that one is honest with his or herself. It also implies that the individual is neither critical of others nor unrealistic.
Further, individuals who are self aware can predict how different emotions will affect them and the performance of their work. For example, a leader who has self awareness may know that interviews with the press often make him or her nervous. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid such interviews and choose other methods of communication.
The same self awareness can be applied when it comes to ideals and values in which an individual believes. It has often been said that a leader who does not believe in anything will fall for anything. Therefore, the leader with self-awareness will be able to turn down an investor’s request to set up a big industry in the country if that investment will hurt the environment.
Weak leaders who lack self awareness will accept to do something, but after two or three years down the line, they will rescind their decision. It can be noted that people who have self awareness are coherent and articulate. They are able to speak openly and precisely tackle the areas they are addressing. They are also able to describe themselves accurately (Northouse 154).
The other component of emotional intelligence is self regulation. From the onset, it is important to acknowledge that emotions are part human life. Although humans cannot do away with emotions, it is possible to control and manage them.
Self regulation is the ability to manage and control one’s feelings in order to make one free from distractions. In this case, individuals should also be able to direct these feelings to a useful channel. For example, a leader may witness a shambolic presentation by members of his cabinet to a key investor.
With the disappointment, the leader may feel the urge to kick a chair or bang the table which will bring a negative side of him to the investors. Therefore, self-regulation is the ability to apologize to the investor and carefully select the words that will authoritatively, yet humbly explain to the members of the cabinet the areas that will need to be corrected. Another example is when the leader of a country faces a threat of attack from another country.
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In such a delicate matter, one wrong move can cost the country in many ways. However, if the leader maintains calmness, does not panic, and can prepare the relevant stakeholders to deal with the problem, then the effect is different, and the damage can be controlled.
Self-regulation is also a strong pillar of integrity. Thornton noted, “on many occasions, people with integrity are often caught in decisions that lack integrity” (p.13). Although such leaders have integrity, they lack self-regulation, which often enhances integrity. An example is a leader who is faced with a crisis and has no solution for the crisis.
In the heat of things, the leaders may decide to apply a solution that is outside the law. Thus, although the action may have been intended to help the country, lack of self regulation may lead the leader to undermine his own integrity. The third aspect of emotional intelligence is motivation. It is almost an unwritten rule that a good leader should have motivation. In this context, motivation refers to the urge to achieve.
A motivated leader is one who is never contented with the status quo. They are always striving to do better things and doing them differently. Such leaders often raise the performance bar, and they keep track of the scores. In this case, a good example is Thomas Sankara, the slain leader of Burkina Faso from Africa. Sankara became the leader of Burkina Faso at a time when the country was reliant on donor funds.
Uncomfortable, with the status quo, he led his countrymen on an overdrive to practice farming to a level that had hitherto been unseen. The country was for the first time able to feed all its population without the aid from foreign countries. The same leader introduced a government policy requiring all top government officials to stop the usage of the extravagant Mercedes Benzes. Instead, government officials were encouraged to use the modest Volkswagen vehicles so as to save money for increment of teacher’s salaries.
The fourth component of emotional integrity is empathy. The uniqueness of this component is that, unlike the aforementioned components, this component is very easy to identify and recognize. However, the modern world will rarely reward a leader in business or politics on account of empathy. In this case, the conventional understanding of empathy is to be able to take other peoples’ feelings and give them priority as if they were one’s own.
In this context, empathy refers to the ability of the leader to consider the interests of all stakeholders when making decisions. The last component is the idea of social skills. The two components are related as they are concerned with the ability to establish meaningful relationships with other people. A leader is always leading and managing people. Thus, a good leader should be able to get along with these people.
From the discussion, it is clear that, to lead a country, a great team is what will deliver great leadership. However, in every country, there is a leader. Some are led by a monarch, others by dictators, or others like the United States by a democratically elected leader. In monarchs and dictatorships, leaderships will tend to be highly concentrated around an individual.
On the other hand, democracies allow power to be decentralized to other institutions like the parliament, judiciary and the executive. The common denominator is that, whether the power is decentralized or centralized, the leader or leaders of the country need to possess certain qualities to lead the country effectively. The argument put forward is that, apart from the conventional qualities, a good leader of a country should possess the quality of emotional intelligence.
Daft, Richard, and Patricia Lane. The Leadership Experience. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western, 2008. Print.
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. London: Bloomsbury, 1996. Print.
Greer, Eddie. “Dare To Lead: Continuous Learning Creates The Best Leaders.” Professional Safety, 56.6 (2011): 30-31. Print.
Northouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2010. Print.
Thornton, Grant. What makes a good leader? 2008. Web. www.grant-thornton.co.uk/pdf/20-leadership-report.pdf