In the film “Twelve Angry Men” the jury is sent to a small room to deliberate. Before any formal discussion, they cast a vote. Eleven of the jurors vote “guilty.” Only one juror votes “not guilty.” After conclusion of deliberations, all the jurors vote “not guilty”. Does the juror who was the only one to vote not guilty at the start be said to have leadership qualities? Let us see what really leadership is?
John C. Maxwell defined leadership as: “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” According to Rauch & Behling: “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal achievement.” Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their classic book on leadership, Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge have this to say: “There is a profound difference between management and leadership and both are important. To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion and an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence.” One thing that is common in different definitions of leadership is the role of influence. But how the leader creates influence that is necessary to lead successfully. One thing is certain that authority and power do not create influence and there is something more profound that helps in creating influence. It must be kept in mind that there can be no leader without followers. Analyzing the relationship between a leader and his/her followers taking in to account the traits that a good leader must have would help in reaching correct conclusions about the relationship in the context of leadership.
A leader is expected to have the following traits: Confidence, commitment, creativity, capacity, positive attitude, empathy, ability to inspire, conscientiousness, emotional stability communication, capability, ability to delegate, honesty, a clear vision. The above traits indicate a presence of qualities, which help in pursuing goals irrespective of obstacles, and depict, courage, innovation, tenacity of purpose, emotional intelligence, the character of a person, the ability to look far away in future and abilities required to manage people effectively. Let us see how the leader creates influence and what is the role of the above traits in affecting attitudes of the followers? The followers might be told by the leader himself or by others about the qualities possessed by their leader. They might have heard stories about his successes. But is this enough to profoundly affect and motivate followers to follow him? There appears to be a missing link. Why should they believe that he is the right person to follow irrespective of what he is supposed to or professes to have, in other words why should they TRUST him?
Trust is defined as “assured resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle, of another person; confidence; reliance”.
Rousseau says: “Trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.” According to Mary Renault: “How can people trust the harvest, unless they see it sown”? From the above definitions and meaning of trust it is clear that to accept the vulnerability associated with trusting someone the presence of positive expectations like integrity, justice and veracity is essential. Leadership traits play an important role in this regard and unless there is a practical demonstration of what is expected of a good leader it is difficult for the followers to expect well and develop trust. Trusting someone you barely know is like recommending something you haven’t tried. Ann Radcliffe says: “I never trust people’s assertions, I always judge of them by their actions.” Leading by personal example is the name of the game. What can be a greater example than Tariq Ibin- Ziyad who after landing at Gibraltar and burning all the boats addressed his troops thus: “Brothers in Islam! We now have the enemy in front of us and the deep sea behind us. We cannot return to our homes, because we have burnt our boats. We shall now either defeat the enemy and win or die a coward’s death by drowning in the sea. Who will follow me?” And rest is history. If a leader by his conduct shows that he has a vision and true character, capability, tenacity of purpose, compassion, empathy, is fair and consistent and has good management skills he will create a bond of trust with his followers. Thus, it can be said with conviction that it is nothing, but trust that is the most important binding force between a leader and his followers and it is the driving force behind the influence through which a leader leads.