Contemporary Issues in Leadership

The following are the major and important contemporary issues in leadership.

Issue No. 1: Gender issue: Do males and females lead differently?

Gender issue is taken as a very important issue in the concept of leadership development. Traditional styles of leadership are changing day by day with the new practices and exercises in the field of leadership. Recently most of the studies reveal that the leadership and management styles of a male leader differ from his female counterpart. Normally, it is observed that male leaders accent and follow directive and analytical leadership styles where women follow participative and interactive approach for the effective leadership. The debate regarding who is the best in the leadership style is not yet over. Some researchers believe that women are more prone to the participative styles than their male counterparts. They are less status-oriented and have better interpersonal skills than men. Therefore, it is a big issue in the field of leadership that needs to be studied more in days to come.

Research has shown that regardless of gender, people will traits associated with leadership - such as intelligence, confidence and sociability - are more likely to be perceived as leaders. However, there is found some differences in leadership styles. For example, males tend to use a directive command and control style, while females tend to adopt a more democratic leadership style.

Issue No. 2: Is there a biological basis for leadership? 

There is increasing evidence indicating that leadership has biological roots. Two chemicals-serotonin and testosterone are found to have profound effect on becoming a leader. Increased levels of serotonin appear to improve sociability and control aggregation. Higher levels of testosterone increase competitive drive and they are found higher in the players like tennis. 

Issue No. 3: How does national culture affect the choice of leadership style?

National culture affects leadership style by way of the subordinate. Leaders cannot choose their styles at will. They are constrained by the cultural conditions that their subordinates have come to expect. For example, an autocratic style is compatible with high power distance and participation style is compatible with low power distance.

Issue No. 4: How is the current popularity of empowerment affecting the way managers lead?

Empowerment is putting employees in charge of what they do. The problem with the current empowerment movement is that it ignores the extent to which leadership can be shared and the conditions facilitating success of shared leadership. Because of factors such as downsizing, higher employee skills commitment of organizations to continuous training, implementation of total quality management programs and introduction of self-managed teams, there seems to be no doubt that an increasing number of situations call for a more empowering approach to leadership. 

Empowerment means giving employees the authority, skills and freedom to perform their tasks. Empowerment and shared leadership is not free from conditions. The success of effective leadership depends in the qualities of developing teams and its members. Today, leadership is taken as a very challenging job of a leader because of heavy competitions in the market. Different people and the teams of people have different attitudes and expectations from the leaders. It is very challenging or the leader for effective management on them. Therefore, the success of leadership is contingent upon team empowerment. For teams to be effective, managers must empower their members to make decisions.

Issue No. 5: Since leaders are not leaders until they have followers, what can managers do to make employees more effective followers?

Successful organizations need effective follower, who can follow effective and efficient leaders. Following are some qualities of effective followers:
  • They manage themselves well. They can work independently and without close supervision.
  • They build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact.
  • They are committed to a purpose outside themselves.
  • They are courageous, honest and credible. They are critical thinkers who knowledge and judgement can be trusted.

Issue No. 6: Is there a moral dimension to leadership?
Leadership is not value free. So we should look at the moral content of a leader’s goal and the means he/she uses to achieve those goals.

Issue No. 7: How important is Training for Leadership?

Another contemporary issue in the field of leadership is training for leadership. Different researches in the field of leadership highlighted the important of training for the effective leadership. Some researches reveal that leadership can be taught. People can learn communicating, empowering and visioning skills with the help of a trainer. What is important is the supportive culture of the management to provide such opportunities.

Issue No. 8: Team Leadership rather Group Management

Team leadership idea is recently developed idea in the field of management or leadership. The related issue is taken as a very essential matter in today's leaders. They are not trained to handle the change to teams. Time demands team work but most of our leaders are trained to manage groups. Different roles are necessary because teams are more interactive, conflicting and need open communication than groups.

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