Tuesday,19 June, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1381, (15 - 21 February 2018)
Tuesday,19 June, 2018
Issue 1381, (15 - 21 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

The psychology of leadership

It is essential that Egyptian employers understand new concepts of managerial psychology in order to help the country to advance, writes Samir Sobhi

 

Leadership is one of the most elusive personality traits that managers and others yearn for, since it is often the characteristic that can inspire others to strive for excellence and work more diligently.

Consequently, it is this drive in the workforce that leads to the innovations we often read about in the news headlines. What many do not realise, however, is how human psychology comes into play in a manager’s leadership and the relationship he or she has with his or her employees.

In recent years, psychology has become one of the most important scientific disciplines. A cornerstone of modern psychological study is the realm of developmental psychology, which seeks to explore the mental growth and changes a human being goes through during his or her lifetime from childhood to old age.

Developmental psychology also explains how mental, social and cultural capacities fuse to form a complete human consciousness. Furthermore, it has been said that a person’s mental development is a process by which his or her habits change. This in turn causes a transformation in his or her emotional intelligence. As such, the study of developmental psychology focuses on the changes an individual goes through, and how both genetic and environmental factors come into play in forming his or her personality.

More importantly, this field also concentrates on how a person interacts with his or her peers and how basic human instincts adapt throughout a person’s professional life. In the grand scheme of things, this can demonstrate how a human being’s behaviour evolves in relation to his or her environment.

These findings are not mere theoretical concepts, however. On the contrary, they can be applied to many practical aspects of everyday life, especially when it comes to how modern managers run their departments. Modern managers do not take the well-being of their employees lightly, as they know full well that their employees have basic material and other needs that have to be taken into consideration.

According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1907-1970), a leader of the workforce must be versatile and effective in a number of ways, including in supervision, guidance, and the care of his or her employees’ personal needs. Nevertheless, Maslow also argues that such a leader has his or her own personal needs that need fulfilling, if effective leadership is to be assured.

Maslow subscribes to the notion that a leader needs to be in a long-lasting relationship and have security in his or her personal life. Moreover, an effective leader also needs to have a family in order to gain a sense of permanence, he says. Additionally, he or she requires positive reinforcement from his or her colleagues, supervisors and even employees. The most important aspect of Maslow’s theories is that once an individual (employer or manager) achieves his or her basic needs, he or she will start pursuing greater ambitions and more meaningful goals.

With the advances in managerial psychology, it is essential that Egyptian employers understand such concepts in order to create a more successful workforce. Egyptian management scholar Abdel-Rahman Tawfik has warned us against falling into the trap of Egyptian exceptionalism, causing us to ignore these breakthroughs abroad.

New developments have occurred in Japan in artificial intelligence, such that scientists have designed robots that can replace teachers, for example. These devices have been shown to be effective translators that are able to translate into the country’s native tongue. Not only could artificial intelligence in time eliminate the need for teachers and translators, but it could eventually also eliminate the need for specialised education altogether. Because such advances are in their infancy, they can still seem like something out of science fiction. However, with time such fantastical scenarios will become part of our everyday reality.

Another innovative idea that has come into fruition in modern times is that of consumer demand being the primary force driving production. Consumer desire for new clothing materials was a driving force behind the use of synthetics in place of cotton, for example. Likewise, consumer demand for alternative fuel sources has led to advances in the renewable energy sector.

It is for such reasons that we should strive to be two steps ahead of any crisis instead of waiting for that crisis to happen. We must be vigilant and search for newer ways of dealing with problems instead of relying on traditional or out-of-date methods. Our current problem with the water supply is the perfect opportunity for us to find newer and alternative solutions to an old and familiar problem.

To achieve this, there must be more of a division between the legislative and executive branches of government. The former should guide, while the latter should not so much enforce as operate intellectually to ensure that the best solutions are selected. If we head in this direction, we should be able to accomplish whatever we have in our imaginations.

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