Name: Bryan Ng (13) Class: 3A2 Date: 26 July 2010 Question: Successful leadership is about winning hearts and minds. Discuss. Warren Bennis, an American scholar widely regarded as a pioneer on the contemporary field of leadership studies, once said that “Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it. ” Indeed, leadership comes with power but in order to gain this power, a leader must encompass three main leadership qualities.
Besides winning the hearts and mind of the people, a leader must also be able to lead by example and have foresight. Only by mastering the above 3 qualities then can a leader be considered as a successful leader. Do you still think successful leadership is just about winning the hearts and minds of the people? You may ask: why bother to win the hearts and minds of the people? A leader has to be able to win the hearts and minds of the people to gain their support. This is necessary because a leader must have followers, followers who are willing to listen to the leader, followers who believe in the leader.
So how does a leader achieve this? Well, to win their hearts and minds of people, I believe that it all starts with the leader encouraging and motivating the people. By doing so, the people will feel that their leader actually cares for them and that the leader is as though a close friend of theirs, supportive. This will definitely help bridge the gap between the leader and the people, bringing their relationship closer. Through this, the leaders are then able to gain the trust of the people, and when this mutual trust it built, the group can then effectively reach goals as a whole, as one.
Of course, the leader must also be meritocratic and fair in order to win the hearts and minds of the people. The core of it all is to make the people happy, make everyone happy. Being biased to a certain group of people may bring them happiness and gain the support of them. However, the rest of them will feel that they are unfairly treated and will definitely rise against this leader. In history, we saw the French Revolution, which was caused by resentment towards royal absolutism, resentment towards noble privileges and dominance, by the peasants.
Therefore, if a leader cannot even achieve win the hearts and minds of the people, who will be willing to support him? Who will be willing to choose a person who does not understand them well as their leader? Who will want a leader that is biased towards the rich, leaving a huge gap between the minority of the rich and the majority of the poor? No one will. The second aspect of successful leadership is to lead by example. A leader has to serve as a role model for the people to follow, then will people listen to you. You cannot expect a leader to ask people stop smoking when he himself does not stop, can you?
Policies implemented must include the leader himself too. If the leader does not adhere to his own policy, this will be known as what the Chinese call shuo yi tao, zuo yi tao, which means to say one thing and to do another. However, if he leads by example, he will not only serve as a role model but also as an inspiration for the others. People will have the mentality that if he can do it, so can I, therefore, I feel that whether or not a leader leads by example is an important turning point in his leadership career.
Leading by example is important but what is the most important thing that the leader has to lead in? The most important thing a leader must lead in is to be morally upright and work for the group interest rather than personal interests. As a group, a leader not only has to look after his own interests but also the interests of his fellowmen. One, who gives up his group interests for their own, is not only a bad leader but also a traitor, and if he is caught, they will be severely dealt with under the hands of the law.
A clear example is former president Chen Shui-bian, who was charged with embezzling $3. 15 million during his presidency, receiving bribes worth at least $9 million, the laundering of some of the money through Swiss bank accounts, and the forging documents. He had sacrificed the interests of the public for his own and even tried to deny the public of the truth. Such leaders are definitely not role models but rather serve as examples for people to not follow. The final and most important factor of successful leadership is to have foresight and understand the team well.
A leader has to be able to set long-term achievable goals for the team, steering the team towards success. This ability to foresee the road ahead for the team and prepare the team according to the conditions is just like the telescope of submarine. A leader must also have the foresight in understanding whether if the measures taken are in the best interest or beneficial to the group. Although measures taken may not be necessarily popular, it will be necessary as long as it is for the long-term benefit of the group. In Singapore, we have the Electronic Road Pricing.
This system may not be popular with commuters, with many locals criticizing the system. However, it is effective in preventing heavy congestions. If Singapore did not have such a system coupled with the large population of cars in Singapore, Singaporeans may be facing heavy congestions during rush-hour periods. So, a leader must persevere and push forward what he thinks is the best for the people despite severe criticisms. A last point that a leader needs to recognize is the importance of coordination and cooperation within the team.
Coordination is required for the effective reach of goals whereas cooperation is needed so that both the leader and people can help each other, point out each of their weaknesses, allowing the change for the better. This change will bring the entire group to greater heights. To sum up, a leader with vision encompasses the ability to understand what is beneficial and set achievable goals for the team. At the same time, he is also willing to listen to his people and learn about his weaknesses. Only by recognizing his mistakes then can he work on them. In my opinion, this is the best and the core of successful leadership.
Successful leadership is not only about winning the hearts and minds of the people but includes a concoction of leading by example and having the foresight to plan ahead. By encompassing all these qualities, then will the people be happy, then will the people respect the leader and then will the team succeed. So here’s my say: one may be able to gain leadership but what defines successful leadership is not just achieving success but also making sure your fellow men are happy and sustaining this balance. Without the latter two, the leader is an authoritarian one. Do you have what it takes to be a successful leader?