Leadership in Co-operatives

Leadership plays an important role in the management of the co-operative societies. It is the quality of leadership that usually determines the failures and success of a business organization. It has been observed that most of the failures of co-operative societies have because of ineffective leadership.

Meaning of leadership.

Leadership has different meaning to different people. It is the ability to influence people to strive willingly for mutual objectives. It is the ability of a person to make people work in harmony and confidence towards the achievement of the individual, organization and community goals. Some people believe that leaders are born. Others believe that leaders are made through learning experience. Both beliefs are true to some extent. A combination of the two beliefs makes even better leaders. In co-operative societies the committee is the governing authority and is subject to any directions from a general meeting and by-laws of the society.

leaderLeadership styles

There are four different leadership practices which may be classified according to the philosophy of the leaders towards their followers.

  1. Autocratic leader- This type of leader centralizes authority and decision-making himself or herself. There is no participation by the subordinates. They have to do what they are told. The leader takes full authority and assumes full responsibility. This type of leader is usually negative because followers are uninformed, insecure and afraid of the leaders’ authority. Unlike the dictatorial leadership he motivates the subordinates by providing their need satisfaction if they do what they are told to do (I will help you members if you obey me.)
  2. Democratic leader-This type of leader decentralizes authority. He invites the subordinates to participate in tackling problems. This happens in such a way that the group and the leader act as a social unit. The leader hold consultations with the subordinates regarding all problems and adopts and suggestions made by them if they are of use. It is for this reason that the members of the group have regard for the leader (Do you members agree with my views?)
  3. Free reign leader-This type of leader depend largely upon the group to establish its own goals and work out its own problems. The group members provide their own motivation. The leader is passive and the initiative is with the subordinates. This type of leader can produce good and quick results if the subordinates are highly educated and brilliant people. They should also have sincere desire to go ahead and perform their roles with responsibility (What do members think we should do?)
  4. Dictatorial leader-In this type of leadership followers do their work out of fear. They do what they are told. Such a leader threatens the subordinates with penalties and punishment. As a temporary measure such leadership get results but in the long run it fails. This is because it leads to the dissatisfaction of the followers (Your members must do what I say!)

Qualities of a good leader

The characteristics of a good leader in co-operatives cannot be sharply defined but can only be generalized as:

  1. Self confidence – A good leader must have self-confidence based on self-knowledge. This enables the leader to win the confidence of the members.
  2. Ability to communicate- A leader should have the ability to communicate instructions and views to others. One may have good ideas unless he or she can communicate effectively then the members cannot gain from such a leader.
  3. Integrity- Leadership functions best when it is founded on integrity and sincerity. It is more than just being honest. It requires one to have moral soundness and uprightness.
  4. Ability to inspire-A leader should have the ability to exert influence upon his/her followers. Whatever the issue should be for the good of the members.
  5. Intelligence- A good leader should have high intelligence than his or her followers. This should however not be too much higher than that of the members. It is said that the members prefer to be led by the people they can understand.
  6. Courage-A leader must also have courage to do things which he or she believes are right. This means that the leaders should be in a position of making decisions and standing by them.
  7. Flexibility of mind-With a lot of changes taking place in the country socially and economically, it s desirable that a leader should have flexibility of mind. The leader should be in position of changing with circumstances.
  8. Good Judgement-A good leader should have ability to make good judgement and have wisdom to look into the future. This should be for the good of the members and the co-operative society as a whole.
  9. Age-Age to some extent plays an important factor. It is presumed that those that have lived longer have earned experience. It is also quite possible that a young person may assume leadership because of his or her talent/trade.
  10. Time for public service-The most important qualification of a leader is that he or she must have spare time for the co-operative society. A person, who is too busy and does not have enough time to get the problems of the members solved, is not recognized as a good leader.
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