Master Research Paper


Leadership Skills and Guidelines

Organizations need leaders who are effective to run them. However, not everyone that is a leader is effective. They range in their abilities. Some individual’s people readily follow while others people do not. There are skills that an effective leader demonstrates. This Section will ask you to research and report some of the skills effective leaders have, guidelines for leadership, and the importance of leadership in organizations.

Required Reading:

Please refer to each Activity for required readings within Activity Resources.

Assignment 3   Leadership Skills and Guidelines

Leadership skills focus on the ability of an individual in the position of a leader motivating people to move toward a specific goal. To be an effective leader, one must be trained to know best practices. Leadership is a skill that can be honed and improved upon given the proper research and application. Some leaders are born others build up to a leadership role through hard work and honing of their skills and knowledge.

Activity Resources:

Main Task: Analyze Leadership Skills Best Practices
For this activity write a paper in which you analyze the leadership skills and guidelines recommended based on the current best practices. Conduct research and use at least three peer-reviewed journal articles that have been published within the past five years to support your paper. Be sure to address the following questions in your paper:

  1. What are some guidelines for exercising authority? Reward Power? Coercive Power?
  2. Which skills are most important at lower, middle and higher levels of management?
  3. How important is top level leadership in organizations?
  4. Describe how selection and placement can be used to improve leadership in organizations.

Support your paper with minimum of three (3) resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.

Length: 5-7 pages not including title and reference pages


Leadership Skills and Guidelines


Introduction. 2

Guidelines for exercising authority. 3

The most important skills at lower, middle, and higher levels of management 5

Importance of top-level leadership in organizations. 6

How selection and placement can be used to improve leadership in organizations. 7

Conclusion. 7

References. 9


For organizations to succeed, they need to be run by effective leaders. Although all organizations are headed by leaders, not all of them provide effective leadership. Some leaders are good at winning over their followers’ hearts while others are not. Effective leaders demonstrate skills that influence most of the people within the organization to become ardent followers. This paper explores the various skills that effective leaders possess. It also examines various guidelines for leadership while at the same time emphasizing the importance of leadership in organizations.


In terms of leadership skills, focus should be on the ability by the individual holding the leadership position to motivate people to work towards a certain goal. For one to become an effective leader, training is necessary. This is because it enables the individual to know and understand various aspects of best practices. In essence, it is possible for leadership skills to be honed and continually improved upon.

It is imperative that proper research is carried out and the findings derived to be applied in the appropriate manner (Yukl, 2013). At the same time, it is necessary to appreciate that some leaders are born while others build up skills that make them effective leaders. For those leaders belonging to the latter category, there is a need for hard work in efforts to hone the appropriate skills and knowledge.

In the investigation of various aspects of leadership, this paper analyzes the skills and guidelines that are recommended on the basis of current best practices. One of the core issues addressed in this discussion is the various guidelines for exercising authority including reward power and coercive power. Attention is also focused on the skills required for higher, middle, and lower levels of management. Lastly, the paper examines aspects of selection and placement as mechanisms for improving leadership in organizations.

Guidelines for exercising authority

            In literature on leadership, much has been said regarding guidelines for exercising authority. Some of the most commonly discussed guidelines include coercive power, reward power, legitimate power, and referent power (Yukl, 2013). These guidelines are also commonly referred to as bases of power. In this literature, the objective is normally to ascertain the various ways through which leaders use power as a guideline or basis for winning over the hearts of new followers and extending their influence over the existing followers.

            In coercive power, the manager forces employees to comply with orders by threatening to punish them. Research shows that in most cases, coercive power leads to compliance only on a short-term basis (Prewitt, Weil, & McClure, 2011). In the long run, it generates dysfunctional behavior. Employees who are exposed to this form of power tend to be dissatisfied with their jobs. They also lack commitment, leading to ultimate withdrawal or turnover.

In most Western countries, a sharp decline has been observed as far as coercive power is concerned, particularly during the second half of the twentieth century. Various factors have contributed to this trend, one of them being increased awareness of rights and responsibilities among employees. Moreover, most employers in the West have come to appreciate and adopt more effective types of power.

Additionally, quality management theorists have on the forefront in highlighting the negative effect of coercion on overall productivity in the organization (DeChurch, 2010). These theorists suggest that coercive power leads to a decline in creativity and productivity in the organization. In most cases, organizational leaders who use coercive power are greatly influenced by the prevailing environment of fear and insecurity. Nevertheless, despite its disadvantages, coercive power continues to play a critical role even in organizations that adhere to provisions of quality management theories.

During an economic crisis or when the organization’s survival is under a serious threat, coercion becomes the primary source of power. Leaders who are desperate to streamline the operations of their organizations for the sake of survival resort to the use of coercive power. such leaders threaten to fire or terminate the employment contracts of every employee who fails to adhere to the survival goals of the organization.

Reward power, on the other hand, entails the use of a reward by the leader to appreciate the good work done by the employee. The rewards that managers give range from improved work schedules to monetary compensation. In some cases, the leader may choose to reward the employee by simply praising him sincerely for a job well done. When a leader uses reward power flexibly, it serves as a strong motivator for employees. Conversely, organizations should refrain from rigidly relying on rewards because of the entire system may end up backfiring. For instance, unscrupulous employees may use unethical and illegal means of meeting the quotas that have been rigidly fixed as a requirement for one to qualify for a reward. Moreover, employees may neglect their jobs and start focusing all their attention to the rewards before them.

In legitimate power, employees hold the belief that it is the manager’s right to give all orders on the basis of his position. A case in point is the orders hat uniformed police officers give in a scene of crime. The uniformed officers earn this authority by virtue of shared beliefs regarding their duties and responsibilities within the community. In corporate environments, the position occupied by the manager gives him legitimate power to give orders to employees who occupy lower ranks within the management hierarchy. However, although legitimate power may prevail, some employee may comply without feeling a sense of cooperation or commitment to the organization. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between those who comply whole-heartedly and those who comply without any feeling of a sense of commitment.

Referent power is different from legitimate power in several ways. One of them is that in referent power, respect for a manager is required. It is through such respect that the employee feels the need to emulate as well as identify with him. The organizational leader has to earn this respect by leading by example. Trust is also needed for referent power to exist. In some cases, employees tend to be unaware that their manager is influencing their behavior in significant ways. When faced with difficult situations, such  employees do what they think their manager would do in a similar situation. In this case, the manager’s behavior becomes a point of reference for employees.


            However, some mistakes occur in the process of applying referent power, particularly in cross-cultural situations. In these situations, some misunderstandings occur regarding how employees should identify with their bosses. Moreover, in some countries such as the US referent power tends to be hampered by the use of titles and dress codes as in indicators of legitimate power (Films Media Group, 2011). For this reason, proponents of referent power advice managers to dress in the same way as their subordinates and to assign themselves titles that portray modesty such as “coach”, “facilitator”, and “associates”.

The most important skills at lower, middle, and higher levels of management

            For higher levels of management, the most important skills are those that involve the determination of policies, plans, and objectives of the entire organization. Such leaders also need to be able to mobilize resources. For this reason, it is evident that most of the activities of higher-level managers involve thinking, deciding, and planning. To do this, these top-level managers should first and foremost possess the requisite administrative skills. They also need conceptual skills more than they need technical skills. These skills are necessary for them to succeed in living up to the expectations of shareholders and all the other stakeholders in the organization.

In middle-level management, the most important skills include the ability to execute policies and coordinate the activities of all departments in an organization. They also need to be skilled in giving recommendations to top-level managers. These managers also form a link between lower-level management and higher-level management. To achieve these goals, these managers should first and foremost possess coordination and communication skills. Moreover, they require technical and managerial skills to be able to carry out their organizational roles effectively.

In contrast, the primary duty of lower-level management is to direct employees and to develop their morale. They form a link between the middle-level management and all workers within the organization. These managers need to have basic management skills in addition to communication and technical skills. Management skills enable them direct and control employees in day-to-day operations. On the other hand, communication skills enable them inform their superiors about performance levels and other aspects of the production process.

Importance of top-level leadership in organizations

            Top-level leadership is important for the long-term survival of the organization. The top leaders of an organization are responsible for identifying its core goals and objectives. These leaders are responsible for ensuring that the organization is on the right track as far as adherence to its vision and mission is concerned. Moreover, this level of leadership plays a critical role in the management of the available resources. For instance, the top-level managers make decisions on the amount of dividends to be paid out to shareholders. They are also responsible for securing new sources of additional capital. In other words, these organizational leaders must always ensure that the strategic interests of the organization and all its stakeholders are protected.

How selection and placement can be used to improve leadership in organizations

            Leadership in organizations can be improved a great deal through selection and placement. When the right employees are selected and put in the right positions of leadership, company success is inevitable. Companies can achieve this goal by ensuring that they devote a lot of attention to selection and placement just as they do with regard to financial planning (Yang, 2010). This is because, after all, errors made during selection and placement end up having a financial impact as well as negative effects on the overall strategy  of the company.


            In conclusion, for a person to become an effective leader, he or she must demonstrate skills that end up having a positive influence on people within the organization to the extent of transforming them into followers. Moreover, every leader has to understand various guidelines for exercising authority. The most commonly used guidelines include reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, and referent power. It is imperative for a leader to know which type of power is most suited to his circumstances. For instance, throughout the second half of the twentieth century, a sharp decline has been observed with regard to the use of coercive power.

            Moreover, the skills that should take precedence in leadership vary from one position of authority to the other. For instance, the most critical skills as far as lower-level managers are concerned are slightly different from those needed by middle-level managers. Similarly, top-level leadership plays the most critical role in organizations. This is why it is extremely important for human resource managers to make the best selection and placement decisions if leadership in organizations is to be improved.


DeChurch, L. (2010). Leadership across levels: Levels of leaders and their levels of impact. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(6), 1069–1085.

Films Media Group. (2011). Doing the job: Basic job skills. Retrieved from

Prewitt, J., Weil, R., & McClure, A. (2011).  Developing Leadership in Global and Multi-cultural Organizations. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2(13), 13-20.

Yang, J. (2010). Middle Manager Leadership and Frontline Employee Performance: Bypass, Cascading, and Moderating Effects. Journal of Management Studies. 47(4), 654–678.

Yukl, G. (2013). Results on Strategy Cascading, Context, and Leadership Style. New York: Columbia University Press.

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