Meaning, Factors and Attributes of Leadership
Meaning, Factors and Attributes of Leadership

Meaning, Factors and Attributes of Leadership

Lead Author(s): Dr. Rafeedalie

Source: Edmodo

Student Price: FREE

In this homework assignment, students will be asked to understand the concept of leadership, define leadership and explain the attributes of an effective leader.

Meaning, Factors and Attributes of Leadership


Reading this Topic, the student will able to

  • 1. Understand the concept leadership
  • 2. Define leadership
  • 3. Comprehend the factors of leadership
  • 4. Explain the attributes of a effective leader


Leadership is an energizing factor that accelerates the functioning of an organization. A great leader can inspire the entire community by his thoughts and deeds. These influences radiate and energize his community towards a common goal. Successful implementation of the programmes and projects of every institution/company relies upon the leadership behaviour of the supervisors, and administrators of concerned institutions.


According to Bennis and Nanus (1985) “Leadership seems to be the marshaling of skills processed by a majority but used by a minority. But it is something that can be learned by any one, taught to everyone, denied to no one”. 

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. 

The leader is a person who influences others to attain goals. The greater the number of followers shows the intensity of influencing power of the leader, and the more successful the attainment of worthy goals, the more evident the leadership. Outstanding leaders combine good strategic substances and effective interpersonal process to formulate and implement strategies that produce results and sustainable competitive advantage. 

Good leaders are made not born. If one has the desire and willpower, he can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of selfstudy, education, training, and experience (Jago, 1982). Developing team spirit among subordinates and inspiring them to achieve targeted goals are the warranted qualities of an effective leader. Good leader can build these professional competencies through continuous works and effective training programmes.


Some important definitions of Leadership are as follows: 

Stogdill (1950) “Considers leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an organised group in its efforts towards goal setting and goal attainment”. 

Tannenbaum (1961) “Leadership is interpersonal influence exercised in a situation and directed through communication process, towards the attainment of a specified goal or goals”. 

Terry (1988) has commended “Leadership is essentially a continuous process of influencing behaviour. A leader breathes life into the group and motivates it towards goals. The lukewarm desires for achievement are transformed into a burning passion for accomplishment”. 

Key and Case (1990) “Leadership is the process of influencing and supporting others to work enthusiastically towards achieving objectives”

​Factors of Leadership 

There are four major factors in leadership such as Leader, Followers, Communication and Situation. Leader must have an honest understanding of who he is, what he knows, and what he can do. It is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines whether the leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful, one has to convince his followers, not himself or his superiors, that he is worthy of being followed. Followers are the subordinates of a head. Leader must know his people. The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of human nature, such as needs, emotions, and motivation. Leader must come to know his employees’ be, know, and do attributes. Communication maintains good relationship between leader and followers as well as shows the leader efficiency. A head lead through two-way communication. Much of it is nonverbal. Communication should be polite and gentle in manner. It should strengthen the human relations. There are many different situations one leader has to face. What the leader do in one situation will not always work in another. He must use his judgment to decide the best course of action and the leadership style needed for each situation. For example, leader may need to confront an employee for inappropriate behaviour, but if the confrontation is too late or too early, too harsh or too weak, then the results may prove ineffective. The situation normally has a greater effect on a leader's action than his or her traits. This is because while traits may have an impressive stability over a period of time, they have little consistency across situations (Mischel, 1968). Various forces will affect these four factors. Examples of forces are relationship with seniors, the skill of followers, the informal leaders within the organization, and how the organization is organized.

​Attributes of Effective Leader 

Effective leaders utilize different ways to lead a group. Some maintain a low profile but are analytical; some are charismatic and intuitive. There is no single leadership style that is effective in all situations. The effectiveness of a leadership style depends on the nature of situation which it faces. Most important thing is that all effective leaders should have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Goleman (1998) pointed out that the self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill are the attribute of an effective leader, all these constitute ones’ emotional intelligence which is indispensable for effective leadership.

​Self awareness - when an individual expresses deep understanding of emotions, strengths, weakness, needs and drives, he may be branded with the quality of self awareness. An effective leader badly needs the quality of self awareness. Leaders with strong self awareness are neither overly critical of their subordinates, nor unrealistically hopeful in their expectation. They will be honest with themselves and with others. Leaders with high self awareness understand how their feelings affect themselves and others, and also their performance on the job. High self aware leaders are aware of their values and goals clearly, they are confident of what they are doing and where they are leading, have realistic self assessment, ability to admit mistakes, are comfortable on talking about their strengths and weaknesses, and they appreciate constructive criticism. Self aware leaders express self confidence in their task and ready to take help from others when they feel necessary. They do not strain themselves on assignment but are eager to take ability bounded risks.

​Self regulation - makes people free from being tensioned of their own feelings. It helps them control bad moods and emotional impulses, and even redirect them to achieve a purpose. It is an important characteristic of an effective leader. Effective leader can control their feelings and impulses and create an environment of trust and fairness. Such an environment facilitates focusing all energies on achieving the desired objectives rather than on internal politics as well as fighting each other, which loose the integrity and mental health of the group. Talented people prefer to join, and stay on at, such organizations. Self regulation enhances integrity, a personal virtue which is an organizational strength as well. Most unethical incidents that occur in organizations arise from impulsive behaviour. In most cases people do not plan to exaggerate results, or use power for selfish purposes. However, when they come across an opportunity, they surrender to their baser impulses as they lack self control. Effective leaders are capable of a high degree of self regulation, and do not allow themselves to act on impulses.

​Motivation - effective leaders are not motivated by external factors such as extended salary, royal power and so forth, instead an internal enthusiasm which motivates him to achieve a particular task. They seek creative challenges, have a passion for learning, and enjoy the pleasure of successful performance of job. They display remarkable patience in improving past performances. Effective leaders are highly energetic and are often restless. Creative and innovative way performing task is another attraction of effective leaders. 

Empathy is the most visible trait of an effective leader. Empathy does not mean adopting others emotions as one’s own. Nor it is attempting to please everyone. Empathy means thoughtfully considering employees’ feelings-along with other factors in the process of making intelligent decisions. 

Social skills are the ability of an individual to deal with society effectively in accordance with the situations. Socially skilled people have wide circle of connections. They are extremely good at establishing common ground with all kinds of people. This ability helps them in building rapport with the society quickly. They incorporate many hands while performing the common and social welfare dealings. They believe that nothing important get done alone. 

These characteristics of effective leaders complement and reinforce each other. Effective leaders good at self regulation can understand and control their emotions. Their self regulation helps them in building and managing relationships, high level of motivation helps them in displaying superior social skills. Motivated people are optimistic even when they face setbacks and failures. They are happy in their conversations and social encounters. This too helps them in building relationships. Socially skilled people are expert at managing the team. Their influential skills, complemented by self awareness, self regulation, and empathy, make this possible. They know when to make an emotional plea and when to appeal to reason.



Define the meaning and concept of leadership


What are the essential factors of leadership


Explain the attributes of a effective leader


Assistant Professor
MANUU, CTE, Srinagar