There are as many definitions of leadership as many authors. I have compiled few widely recognized and accepted concepts by renowned authors; these shall cover all complementary and contradictory views on the concept of leadership:
Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants and a successful leader is one who can understand people’s motivations and enlist employee participation in a way that marries individual needs and interests to the group’s purpose (Prentice, 1961).
Leadership is an interaction between two or more members of a group that often involves a structuring or restructuring of the situation and the perceptions and expectations of members (Bass B. , 1990).
Great leaders are self-confident people who have extraordinary capacity to make decisions when other crumbles. They are confident, but not arrogant. Great leaders are often described as having humility and vulnerability (Kotter J. , 2005).
The successful leaders are those who are keenly aware of the forces which are most relevant to their behavior at any given time. They accurately understand themselves, the individuals and groups they are dealing with, and the company and broader social environment in which they operate (Tannenbaum & Schmidt, 1973).
Leadership role is one of ten managerial roles, albeit the most important one. The other nine managerial roles are: 1)figurehead, 2) liaison, 3) monitor, 4) disseminator, 5) spokesperson, 6) entrepreneur, 7) disturbance handler, 8) resource allocator, 9) negotiator (Mintzberg, 1973).
Leadership is all about 1) envisioning goals, 2) affirming values, 3) motivating, 4) managing, 5) achieving a workable level of unity, 6) explaining, 7) serving as a symbol, 8) representing the group externally, 9) renewing (Gardner J. , 1987).
The outstanding leadership is a combination of self-mastery and social intelligence (Goleman, 2008).
Leadership is a process whereby one individual influences other group members toward the attainment of defined group or organizational goals (Yukl, 1998).
Leadership is as a process, that (a) involves influencing others, (b) occurs within a group context, and (c) involves goal attainment (Northouse, 2001).
Leadership is the ability to increase followers’ sense of self-efficacy by increasing self worth and communicating confidence, high expectations and then linking followers’ goals to mission, which serves as a basis for identification; is generating faith by connecting behaviors and goals to a dream of a better future (Shamir, 1995).
Leadership is a set of traits, qualities and behaviors possessed by the leader that encourage the participation, development, and commitment of others within the organization. In addition to interpersonal skills, leaders are also expected to display excellent information processing, project management, customer service and delivery skills, along with proven business and political acumen. They build partnerships, ‘walk the talk’, show incredible drive and enthusiasm, and get things done (Bolden & Gosling, 2006).
The leader is an energizer, catalyst and visionary equipped with a range of abilities (communication, problem solving, people management, self-awareness and so on) that can be applied across a diverse range of situations and contexts. Furthermore, leaders demonstrate innovation, creativity and think ‘outside the box’. They identify opportunities, like to be challenged and are prepared to take risks (Bolden & Gosling, 2006).
“A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Manager’s ability to lead effectively differences depends on
è His ability to diagnose and to understand differences
è His awareness of, and ability to select appropriately from a variety of behaviors
è His awareness of, and ability to deal with, his own feelings – particularly those which might reduce his social sensitivity (diagnose insight) and his action flexibility (ability to act appropriately) (Schmidt & Tannenbaum, 1960)
To be successful leader, one needs to require 1) awareness of what is going on in groups (the group process or underlying behavior as well as the tip of the iceberg the actual content of the discussion), 2) then one needs understanding which means in this context knowing that a particular function is required, and 3) one should have the skill to do it well enough to be effective (Adair, 2009).
Leadership is a substitute for “the collective leaders who are in office” or “the leaders in an administration (Rost, 1991).”
Professional leadership is about providing direction, process, and coordination to the members of an organization for the purpose of attaining the organization’s goals (Mastrangelo, Eddy, & Lorenzet, 2004).
Personal leadership is about the personal behavior of leaders in performing the responsibilities of professional leadership, including demonstrating expertise, building trust, caring and sharing for people, and acting in a moral way (Mastrangelo, Eddy, & Lorenzet, 2004).
Successful leaders have vision; inspire and motivate; communicate and clarify the vision; stay focused; take risks; persevere; have ability to overcome adversity and handle difficult situations; are concerned for people’s welfare; are highly sensitive to social cues; are the right person, at the right time and know the right action (Cacioppe, 1997).
The successful leader has an ability to be in the present and see the situation free from preconceived ideas (Cacioppe, 1997).
Leadership is to motivate employees to adopt new behaviors and, for some strategies, to infuse new values and attitudes (Daft & Marcic, 2001) .
Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others (its followers) to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004).
Leadership is to visualize and concretize the ethos of values in the work and objectives of the work groups. He has to define and articulate the work goals and purposes in terms of a larger and imaginative vision. He has to impart and sustain a vision in which work excellence, duty, and cooperation of people are seen to be related to his eternal purposes. He should transmute small, selfish, and parochial objectives of individuals into larger social and spiritual goals (Rastogi, 1987).
Leaders are those individuals who are capable of taking an ambiguous situation and framing it in a meaningful and acceptable way for the followers (Pierce & Newstorm, 2003).
Leadership is like social antennae – they use complex mix of cognitive and observational skills to recognize what followers are consciously – and unconsciously – signaling leader (Goffee & Jones, 2005).
Leadership is the activity of engaging the important but confounding conditions in multi-systemic domains that are necessarily undergoing profound change (Brueggemann, 2001).
A leader is someone who’s not afraid to push things into an uncomfortable range for a group, who’s not afraid to bring up something that the group is not ready to deal with and not let it drop, who doesn’t just articulate a common vision that’s comfortable for everybody, but articulates a vision for the group that moves the group to do some work that they may not be comfortable with, but that in the end, proves to be the most creative kind of work that they could be doing (Parks, 2007).
The best of all leaders are the ones who help people so that eventually they don’t need them.
Then come the ones they love and admire.
Then comes the ones they fear.
The worst let people push them around (and therefore aren’t leaders at all).
People won’t trust leaders who don’t trust them.
The best leaders say little but people listen to what they say, and when they’re finished with their work, the people say we did it ourselves.
– Lao Tzu
Leadership is about authenticity, integrity, will or the drive to lead, self-belief, and self-awareness (Higgs, 2003).
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight Eisenhower
Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too. – Robert Half
Leadership is a choice, not a position (Covey S. , 2009).
Give Me a Lever Long Enough … And Single-handed I Can Move the World (Senge, 1990).
There is no magic recipe to create a leader. Some part of the leader may be innate to the individual. Others are gained in watching models of leadership in one’s experience (Andolsen, 2008).
Leadership is more judgment than knowledge, more art than science, more human relations than savvy. This is why it cannot be learned like a formula or conferred like a title (Neuschel, 2007).
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