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What is Leadership? A Complex In-Depth Analysis

What is Leadership? A Complex In-Depth Analysis

Concept of Leadership Leadership - what is it? Many definitions have been offered, cultural stereotypes abound, numerous programs focus on leadership development, but the question remains. In fact, leadership is many different things to different people in different circumstances. When we think of leadership, we often think first of famous individuals. We may think of great political leaders: Washington, Churchill, Roosevelt. We may think of the leaders of social movements: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez. We may think of spiritual leaders: Jesus, Mohammed, Mother Theresa. Do we also include in our definition some of the infamous leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, or David Koresh? Obviously, leadership is not always or automatically good in and of itself. We are quickly reminded of the notion that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

An exploration of leadership also quickly takes us beyond the lists of the famous when we consider the examples of leadership in our own lives: family members, friends, teachers, ministers, and others who by their lives and examples have influenced and led us in various ways. When we look at leadership in communities we see many leaders who may never become famous but whose leadership is essential to the life of the community. We begin to see leaders all around us.

Leadership Defined Leadership is the ability to influence individuals or groups toward the achievement of goals. Leadership, as a process, shapes the goals of a group or organization, motivates behavior toward the achievement of those goals, and helps define group or organizational culture. It is primarily a process of influence.

Leadership is a dynamic or changing process in the sense that, while influence is always present, the persons exercising that influence may change. Possession of influence depends upon the situation and upon the relevancy of the individual's skills and abilities to the situation. For example, if a particular individual has the expertise that is required to solve a problem, then that individual may be assumed to have some degree of influence over others.

Although some managers are able to influence followers to work toward the achievement of organizational goals, the conferring of formal authority on a manager does not necessarily make that individual a leader. Yes, that individual has authority, but whether or not they are able to influence their subordinates may depend on more that just that authority.

Not all leaders are managers, and...

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