Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Definition of Leadership


David V. Day and John Antonakis offer a comprehensive study into leadership with their textbook, The Nature of Leadership (2012). As difficult as it is to define leadership, they offer their definition of leadership before proceeding with their 600 page volume. They write:
...leadership can be defined in terms of (a) an influencing process-and its resultant outcomes-that occurs between a leader and followers and (b) how this influencing process is explained by the leader's dispositional characteristics and behaviors, follower perceptions and attributions of the leader, and the context in which the influencing process occurs (: 5).
As John Maxwell defines it simply (some say too simply), 'Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less'.

Two other aspects of leadership are worth noting and defining:
Leader Development - 'Leader development is the expansion of an individual's capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes' (Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004).
Leadership Development - 'Leadership development is the expansion of an organization's capacity to enact basic leadership tasks needed to accomplish shared, collective work (Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004).

The challenge with leadership theory, is attempting to explain a somewhat intangible concept called, 'influence'. What behaviours and attributes do 'influential leaders' have? Why and how do people's perceptions of the capacity of a leader change? What leadership styles are needed in what contexts?

Defining leadership is difficult enough, but exemplifying leadership qualities and understanding the complexities that great leadership entails is another.

Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

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