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Catherine Smith is one of the head of Human Resource Department of a telecommunications company with several established companies in the African continent. The name of the Company is Airtel Company. I once had an opportunity interview her in a given company premises on three issues. The first one was the leadership attributes that she believed were effective and desirable, how a person's cultural values might influence their leadership behavior, and finally, whether there exist gender differences for leadership.
On leadership attributes, Catherine Smith cited the following as the most effective qualities. First and foremost, she argues that an effective attribute in a leader, is that of setting high standards for him or her as well as the followers. In this case, leaders ought to have visions in which they will be determined to achieve. Secondly, Smith asserts that living by example is crucial in leadership. By so doing, they will not only mentor their followers but also living the standards set. In a nutshell, a leader ought to become an embodiment of the standards he or she espouses. Thirdly, Smith says that should be able to make wise and informed decisions when necessitated by situations. For a leader, failure ought not to be an option even if faced with extreme dilemmas. Last but not least, the ability of leaders to instill hope on people. This is informed by the fact that people develop and grow to their highest potential if they have hope in them.
Besides leadership attributes, I also asked Catherine Smith about how a person's cultural values might affect his or her leadership behavior. She argues that personal- cultural values can alter the behaviors of leadership styles. This happens in cases where organizational practices and culture exist and affect she functions of leaders. In some organizations, leaders are supposed to align their leadership styles with what the organization requires.
Asked about the gender differences in leadership, Smith asserts that there exist definite gender stereotypes of leadership styles. She says that there feminine leadership tend to emphasize on peoples relationship, employ democratic style of leadership, as opposed to men. Masculine leadership, on the other hand, stress on the achievement of organizational goals. In a nutshell Smith argues that men and women do engage in different leadership styles.