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Leadership in the 21st century

Using relevant theories and models critically evaluate and analyse the leadership of a 21st century leader of a (business, government or not-for-profit) organisation. If you were in the position of the leader, what could you do to be a better leader and make a stronger impact on the followers and on the situation?

Any economy in this world faces a crisis in the field of leadership. The area of leadership is not confined to business and firms, the covers the field of politics, government, education, religion, non-profits. Any system pillars the characteristic of trust. It takes years to build but fraction of section to destroy. The trust developed within organization is recognized in the leaders. So it is necessary to place deserving and effective leader in the top.

The 21st century leaders are more concerned with power than to trust. In most cases we see that the failure or disintegration of an organization has occurred due to selection of wrong leaders and giving them too much power than they deserved. These leaders violate the ethical norms in search of power and disintegration of the organization is not their lookout. So trust is what that needs to be inculcated in a leader. To analyze what kinds of leader must correct this scenario we need to know what is a leader and what functions they have? Defining leaders in the next phase.

The process of organizing and directing a group of employees to work for the betterment of the company is performed by a leader. The task of a leader is not just confined to lead a group or a project but it is necessary for a leader to inspire and motivate other employees’ so that they can achieve the objective effectively. The functions of leader include realizing oneself, communicating the vision in an efficient way, trust building among the employees and making an effective effort to recognize one’s own leadership potential. (, 2009)

The definition of leadership is dynamic in nature. The need of a good leader is very much in demand to executive a plan successfully. It is believed that a good leader can make a weak plan work smoothly and on the other hand a bad leader can ruin the best plan in the business. So it is necessary to have an effective leader. (Tracy, 2014)

Trait theory/ Great Man- The combination of relevant set of skills and traits can give rise to a leader. This theory was developed on the basis of intelligence, perseverance and the aim set by an individual, he can be well characterized as a leader and be treated superior to any ordinary individual. Some of the traits and skill that a leader must possess is flexible with situations, aloof towards social environment, assertive, cooperative, dependable, dominant in a way to inspire and direct others, energetic about any venture, persistent with the quality of work, ability to tolerate stress and responsible towards work allotted.

Some of the skills that a leader must have include being clever and intelligent, being creative, ability to innovate, fluent conversant, diplomatic and tactful in demanding situations, organizing and administering ability, persuasive in nature and skilled socially.

Over a period of time, a number of theories have evolved

Behavioral theory- the concept that people are not born with certain traits that can make them a leader, is the pillar of this theory. Leaders are recognized from the work they perform. An individual having the quality of defining and learning things smoothly can be transformed into a leader.

Participative leadership- a despotic decision taken by a leader may not prove to be an effective one. The role of a participative leader is to involve all his fellow employees, subordinated, seniors and stakeholders in a decision making. A leader first put forwards a decision, he then attends to the relevant feedback and then formulates his decision. Now this leader is doesn’t have a very strong participatory style. A very strong participatory style is seen when the entire team participates in a decision making collectively. Also a leader must be careful as not to ignore his subordinates by listening to opinions and not considering it. This may lead to cynicism and betrayal feelings reciprocated from the subordinates.

Three styles in respect to the participatory theory are recognized which is called as Lewin’s three Participatory leadership styles. They are:

  • Autocratic style- when a leader makes a decision without consultation of the subordinates. This may be because the opinions suggested by the subordinates might not influence or affect the decision making.
  • Democratic style- here the leader involves the employees in the process of decision making but the final decision depends on the leader. The democratic style can cause a problem when there are a range of suggestions and reaching an equitable final decision is difficult.
  • Laissez-faire style curtails the involvement of a leader in the decision making. Laissez-faire style is seen when the employees make their own decisions and no central coordination is required.

Situational leadership- a good leader must be alert with the social environment and other situational factors. Here there are three forces that direct a leader’s action.

  • The forces in the situation
  • The forces in the follower
  • The forces in the leader

The theory on situational leadership recognizes the style of leader to be variable.

Contingency Leadership- when a leader considers contingent factors and other situational factors in its decision making then they are known to be contingency leader.

Transactional theory- the role of a transactional leader is to execute his subordinates in an activity exchange regime. Incorporation of rewards and recognitions encourages the employees. it must also be the role of a transactional leader to set structures of work to his fellow workers.

Transformational theory- In order to catapult a common objective to a higher level, a transformational leader inspires the employees to change perception, expectations and motivations. (Cherry, 2015)

The chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz made an effective effort to initiate a microlending program programs in collaboration with Community Development Financial Institution. There was a time when small businessmen could not get credit and a situation of unemployment prevailed in the US. It is when Schultz came up with this idea of convincing the American citizen to participate in a donation campaign which would be lend out to small businessmen who would eventually generate job opportunities. This program was to generate $350 million worth lending and create jobs. Schultz had taken the help of Starbucks branch, his employees and the dedicated customers. This is an example of participatory leadership who involved all the people associated with his company for a common objective. Schultz depicts the role of a situational leader who by considering the then condition of unemployment in the US initiated a program. What the banks and government failed to do, Schultz made it possible. (NOCERA, 2011)

French and Raven has formulated five sources of power:

  1. Positional Power which is again categorized into three types of power exercised by a leader. they are:
  • Reward power- A leader has power to reward his subordinates if he follows his instructions.
  • Coercive power- A leader has the power to penalize his subordinates if he violates his instructions or doesn’t follow the leader’s instructions.
  • Legitimate power- A leader exercises power based on his hierarchy position in the company. A top position of a leader gives them the power to issue orders.
  1. Personal Power is divided into two types of power:
  • Expert power- the power that is executed if the leader has superior and expertise knowledge.
  • Referent power- power exercised when the leader possess a charismatic personality. (, 2015)

There are diverse groups of leaders from a wide arena of racial, socioeconomic nationalities and religious background. The leaders can be specified not from their designation but from their work. Half the leaders are CEOs and the other half consists of young , mid-career and non-profit leaders.

Leader and her leadership story

Taking up the story of Andrea Jung gives us a vivid knowledge of how leaders are born and transformed. Andrea is the CEO of Avon Products. Avon is one of the top beauty direct seller in the world and is the largest micro-lenders who lend credit to several numerous sales representatives globally. (, 2015)

Andrea Jung was one of those women who quit her job from Neiman-Marcus without any other job. She then joined Avon products and becoming a CEO changed the structure of the company’s vision. The company, Avon which focused on selling beauty products was not just the vision anymore, Jung made sure that the mission should focus on women empowerment. Avon had gone from 1.5 million to 5.5 million increased in workforce and was successful in acquiring economic independence through their own efforts. Avon Foundation for Women raised and were rewarded $1billion to reinforce health and empowerment issues, this made it the largest women oriented corporate benevolence around the world. (Lublin, 2014)

Jung is a lady of stern determination. Notwithstanding, hindrances she came up with ideas to innovate the Avon Products Inc. Jung was initially hired as the president of the marketing group for the US operations. Applying the trait theory, Jung had combined her skill of assertion, cooperation, determination and dominance that led her to introduce Avon Apparel line, which was a success in one short. With her trait of constant innovation, she came up with a unique slogan of “Just Another Avon Lady” in 1995, a step towards re-branding her company as younger and hipper.

Becoming the first ever female CEO of Avon was not a quality that Andrea Jung was born with. Her behavior, performance of her work and her potential to control the company led her to the seat and designation that itself had weightage. From the assumptions of the Behavioral Theory, we learn that no individual is born with leadership qualities embodied in him. It is the work from which an individual is recognized as a leader. This is like the story of Andrea Jung.

Andrea Jung gave us the inspiration for fighting to end the violence against women with which she is personally associated and received award in its recognition. Jung also took a step forward to end the epidemic called breast cancer involved with other public-private partnership.

Also these leadership qualities of Andrea Jung can be associated with a lot of theories in leadership. Some theories in connection with Andrea Jung was already mentioned.

In the advent of extending women empowerment in the world, Jung has cited an example of a participative leader. In the process of lending credit to the sales representative, the objective of the company of involving the employees is achieved. Now, Jung had taken an initiative to introduce a brand new line of mixes of women apparel which can be related to the transformational theory of leadership. Jung had successfully inspired her workers and herself to concoct innovate ideas and features to start a new line of business under the same brand name. and this proved to be a success. Jung inspires Avon ladies to sell directly a buyer in the household which involves the role of a transactional and participative leader. Transactional leaders demands the role of transacting with the fellow subordinate in order to improve the business which Jung had repeatedly done to accomplish her objective in the business to empower women. Her main concern was with the country situation of the world and her focus was singular in nature. Being the women in power, she was always wanted to do something to benefit the women who are often deprived of their right and power.

One such happening instilled in the minds of Jung to do something for the women. The violence that were prevalent in every household had been an unfavorable situation for the society hence she established public-private partnerships and led a mission to end this torturous violence against women. Jung was again successful in this. Another incident that needed mention was the emergence of the epidemic breast cancer that started spreading like wildfire. There was a time when the incidence of breast cancer in the USA covered about 99% of the US population and the death counts covered about 100% of the population. Jung took this epidemic as a cause and a determination to end this. These steps by Jung made her a situational and contingent leader who acted according to the then current situation. Thus the story of Andrea Jung’s leadership is no doubt inspiring and galvanizing. (Prevention, 2011)

Until the 20th century leaders were more oppressive and powerful ones but leadership in the 21st century has changed the nature of leadership as the people are becoming more knowledgeable than most of their bosses. Employees now have questions regarding their work structure, benefits, payments, time of work etc. So time are gone of powerful leaders who misuse their position and exploit subordinates. (, 2007)

It is believed that toughest job is to lead yourself. To inculcate the leader in me, there are six principles that I need to learn:

I must gain self awareness to recognize the good and faulty things in me and a scope to rectify myself.

Practicing values and principle when things are in your favor is always an easy task. The problem arises when these principles are exercised in times of pressure.

I must strike a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.

It is necessary to build a support team to let myself stay focused.

It is also required to integrate life and work together.

My passion for leadership must be expressed. (Gardner, Avolio and Walumbwa, 2005)

Andrea Jung receives the 2010 Clinton Global Citizen Award for her leadership skill. I would have acted in the same way working for women health and empowerment but my focus wouldn’t be confined to women. I would suggest any crisis in the economy is following a continuum pace. Either there is recession somewhere in the world to some people are starving to death. My focus as a leader would be to provide employment and empower those who do not have work. Women empowerment is definitely required but employment on a large scale basis irrespective of gender is urgent. Studies show that women work more in women oriented framework. In 2008, Avon product Inc. had been charged with corruption in China under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The charges of corruption were against the employees. Diversification is the other name of business expansion, but it is also necessary to administer official to keep a check in matters related to corruption in the international branches. I would have appointed more official to prevent the act of corrupt practices. Also there must be a leader follower relationship between employee and the leader. Avon had been delisted by PETA for not testing their products on animals which is a Chinese policy to perform business in their country (, 2015). I believe that in order to commence business a particular country, it is important to follow the rules, regulations and policies as mentioned by the country. A leader must be focused not only on the business and its strategy but there are different facets within a business that needs to be attended. It is the duty of the leader to bind the organization together so that there no scope of ill happening within the system. (Bullough and de Luque, 2014)

References, (2015). Avon Products Inc.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015]., (2007). Leadership in the 21st Century - Bill George. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Bullough, A. and de Luque, M. (2014). Women's participation in entrepreneurial and political leadership: The importance of culturally endorsed implicit leadership theories. Leadership, 11(1), pp.36-56., (2015). Free leadership theory training materials, leadership theories guide - what is leadership? 'how to' leadership, leadership tips, leadership skills educational articles for leadership and management training, how to be an effective leader. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Cherry, K. (2015). How Do Transformational Leaders Inspire?. [online] Education. Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Gardner, W., Avolio, B. and Walumbwa, F. (2005). Authentic leadership theory and practice. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Lublin, J. (2014). Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO, to Run Microfinance Group. [online] WSJ. Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

NOCERA, J. (2011). We Can All Become Job Creators. The New York Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Tracy, B. (2014). Leadership. New York, NY: AMACOM., (2009). Leadership Theories and Styles. [online] Available at: https://ttps:// [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Prevention, C. (2011). CDC - Breast Cancer Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2015].

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