Career Advice

What Is Leadership? And What Makes A Leader?


Leadership is a vast idea. It can mean how an army chief inspires his troops. It can be the skills of a corporate manager to motivate his employees. It also includes the methods used by a political leader to make people follow him. 

In this article, I will focus on leadership as your ability to get the best out of people. What are the qualities that you would need to develop, and how to identify and apply the leadership style that can help you get the desired results? 

Let’s get started with the meaning of leadership in an organization.

Meaning of leadership:

sheep leadership

Experts have described various leadership theories that can give you multiple perspectives. However, if you need to focus on leadership from a business point of view, it needs to be understood from a more practical point of view.

As a business leader, you build a bridge between the present state and the expected future shape of your organization by making the best use of available resources.

For instance, as a leader in the recycling industry, you may have a vision of getting the maximum reuse of resources by refurbishing and repairing them. If you can define a path for the same and inspire people to follow it, you can create a powerful reprocessing company.

Thus, leadership is defining a goal, describing a path to achieve it, and motivating people to follow the path to hit the target. All other definitions of leadership are either just a derivation of these steps or are the characteristics you should possess to follow these steps.

Let’s find out what these characteristics are. 

Attributes of leadership:

mahatma gandhi

Once you have a clearly defined vision, you need to possess leadership qualities to put it into practice. You require communication skills, charisma, and creativity to determine a path and convincingly put forth your vision. You then need to empower and motivate employees to follow the path defined and achieve the set target.

For example, Amazon has the vision to be earth’s most customer-centric company; and to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. To practice this vision, they have defined the Amazon Leadership Principles that all their employees have to follow.

How do you achieve your targets? 

By developing leadership skills.

You now know what leadership is and what its attributes are. You are also aware of how you can develop the necessary skills to become a successful leader. 

However, remember that in today’s times of uncertainties, you will face challenges. Events like economic slowdowns and rapidly evolving technology will create turmoils. 

In such times of crisis,you need to display integrity and resilience to stick to your vision. You need to take charge and lead from the front. 

Take a cue from Mahatma Gandhi; he had the vision of a free India and wanted to achieve independence for his countrymen by following the path of non-violence. How did he make sure that every one of his followers was motivated to follow his footprints?

Of course, he had leadership traits, but he also practiced what he preached, i.e., he led by example (lead by example article link). Imagine him getting involved in a physical fight, and you get to the point where he would have had no followers. In the toughest of times, he was integral to his path of non-violence.

How to be an effective leader?

martin Luther king

Will all the leaders with leadership qualities be equally successful? Will all of them achieve their targets the same way?

No, certainly not.

You may be a leader who likes to follow a collaborative pattern. Or, you might have employees that need to be governed by a dominating mindset. 

What defines these patterns? What are the factors that can help you develop the right strategies to be a successful leader? 

It is your leadership style

There are a set of characteristics defined by the combination of your attitude, your employees’ experience level, and the current state of your organization. These help in identifying the right leadership style you should choose. 

Awareness of your leadership style helps understand your current standing as a leader and develop the necessary skills required to achieve your leadership goals. 

For instance, if you are ambitious and your organization is growth-focused, adapt transactional leadership style – use micro-management techniques and take stringent follow-ups from subordinates. However, if your organization is going through a change, a merger, an acquisition, or a corporate restructuring, you should consider applying the transformational leadership style

Unlike transactional or transformational leaders, if your primary aim is to benefit your employees, thereby making sure they work for the betterment of your organization, adapt servant leadership style. On the contrary, if your organization is going through an emergency or crisis, you should choose the autocratic leadership style (link of the article).

My favorite leadership style, however, is the situational leadership style. Not only does this style help you identify the right patterns of leadership as per the situation, but it also enables you to assess your employees and the current standing of your organization.


When I compiled these leadership quotes, I realized that every leader is different and has a unique approach to leadership.

If you were to ask the ten most successful leaders of the world their understanding of leadership, I’m sure you will get ten different answers. Nevertheless, the common thread connecting them is their ability to inspire people and get desired results.

What’s your perception of leadership? Let me know in your comments.

Career Advice

4 Scenarios Where Autocratic Leadership Is Effective

What comes to your mind when you think of an Autocrat?

Is it a political tycoon ready to fight a war? Or a teacher with a bold mustache and a stick in his hand? Or a boss with his eyes popping out to coerce you to complete your assignment?

Intimidating personalty

That’s the mass perception of an autocratic leader. A person who is stubborn, hungry for power, and who treats his subordinates like slaves. 

Someone who would impose his decisions without asking for your opinion and is ready to punish you if you do not perform accordingly. But how accurate is this image of  Autocratic leadership? Well, an autocratic leader indeed assumes that people are naturally lazy, irresponsible, and not trustworthy. However, there are some situations where Autocratic leadership is the best way forward. With all the negative affirmations that are associated with its centralisation of power, we tend to ignore how effective it is.

I have boiled down five broad scenarios with autocratic leadership style examples where you can consider applying this leadership style. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. When dealing with people who have low self-motivation

In all organizations, some people lack the motivation to perform their best. They have a low self morale and tend to pass work on to others. If you let them be in their comfort zones, their laid-back attitude can be contagious to other employees in your organization as well.

Autocratic leadership pushes people out of their slumber. 

With a strictly no-nonsense approach, it brings in the much-needed fear factor to drive them. Through an authoritarian style of leadership, efficiency increases among such employees as the procedures and processes of the organization are precisely defined and enforced.

As an autocratic leader, you assign clear work, responsibilities, and build an atmosphere of commitment and accountability. You set up the deadlines and are able to develop a performance-oriented culture which keeps your employees on their toes.

Millennials possess a lot of passion and enthusiasm to perform, but they lack a sense of direction. You need to channelize their energy in order to bring out their full potential. If you fail to manage their zeal to work, they tend to get distracted and turn inefficient. 

Autocracy in an organisation helps you get the best of less experienced resources by giving them clear directions. You get to provide them with a purpose and groom their skills by pushing them into challenging assignments. 

It allows the leader to give straight forward instructions and define explicit methodologies. Since the inexperienced members are entirely new to the operations of your business, it becomes easier for them to interpret their tasks with these clearly described expectations.

2. When dealing with blue-collar workers

As an autocrat, your decisions are entirely individual. This technique can cause ego issues if you have people in your organization who have the skills to contribute to your decisions.

But when you are dealing with people who lack the qualifications, skills, and talent to respond to any decision-making process, the autocratic leadership style can be highly effective.

Such people can be workers, laborers, and other blue-collar employees. The reason as to why you can implement autocracy with them is that their feedback for decision-making is not going to impact the outcome. Also, giving them stern commands to complete their work is practical since they do not understand the intricacies of your business.

3. During times of emergencies or contingencies

Your business, at times, might face unforeseen situations like an unexpectedly large order with a strict timeline or emergencies like natural calamities, an economic crisis, blackouts, or disruption of communication channels.

During such abnormal circumstances, there is no time to waste. Quick and responsible decisions with swift actions are the need of the hour. You do not have the liberty to consult, discuss, and review the pros and cons of the available options.

Autocratic leadership style can come to your rescue when dealing with such exigencies. By using your power and authority as an authoritarian leader, you make people work towards achieving a common goal. You give them solid directions and coherent instructions which, in turn, helps in crisis management and implementing solutions at a rapid pace.

4. In some specific types of work environments

When you exist in work environments that require following precise specifications, and  where any deviation is unacceptable, you need to follow autocracy.

This can include professions like military, police, or fire services. Also, if your work involves a high degree of complexity or technical stuff that requires strict discipline, you need to use the attributes of the authoritarian leadership.

For instance, during surgery, or in manufacturing units or chemical factories, the outcome can be impacted by even the smallest of mistakes.

Autocratic leadership helps you reduce the risks in the businesses mentioned above by setting up protocols, manuals, and conventions that your employees are bound to follow. With an authoritarian modus operandi, you can expect subordinates to stick to the standard norms and practices, which increases safety as well as improves efficiency. 


As an autocratic leader, you need to remember that you are not supposed to ask for inputs from your subordinates for making decisions. You need to consider options and opt for the best one as per your understanding.

Therefore, you bear the responsibility and accountability for the outcome of any decision made. If something is not working, the blame will automatically fall on you.

Thus, you need to develop a high-level of expertise, in-depth knowledge of the industry, and business processes and operations to be an effective autocrat. Without these attributes, you can easily fail at establishing the authoritarian style of leadership.

What’s your opinion about the Autocratic style of leadership? Do you think there are more scenarios where it can be applied?

Do let us know in your comments below.