Defining Leadership

Write 2–3 pages in which you reflect on your own understanding of leadership and your approach to developing leadership skills, and explain how leadership differs from management.In the 21st century, the study of leadership is multidisciplinary, with contributions from the fields of history, philosophy, psychology, political science, business, and education (Northouse, 2007). There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it. Although we intuitively know what the word means, it has different meaning for different people. Manning and Curtis (2012) explained, “Leadership is social influence. It means leaving a mark. It is initiating and guiding, and the result is change” (p. 2).SHOW LESSBy successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:Competency 1: Evaluate the purpose and relevance of leadership.Develop a definition of leadership.Explain the importance of defining leadership.Competency 2: Evaluate how leadership strengths apply in the workplace and within the community.Describe strategies to develop leadership skills.Develop a definition of management.Explain the differences between leadership and management.ReferencesManning, G., & Curtis, K. (2012). The art of leadership (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Northouse, G. (2007). Leadership theory and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment. How do effective leaders model behavior for others?Is it possible to model leadership outside of the workplace?The resources provided here are optional. You may use other resources of your choice to prepare for this assessment; however, you will need to ensure that they are appropriate, credible, and valid. The BUS-FP3012 – Fundamentals of Leadership Library Guide can help direct your research, and the Supplemental Resources and Research Resources, both linked from the left navigation menu in your courseroom, provide additional resources to help support you.Capella MultimediaClick the link provided below to view the following multimedia piece:Three Circles of Effective Leadership | Transcript. attachedThis presentation is based on Blanchard and Zigarmi’s Leadership and the One-Minute Manager.Capella University Library ResourcesHopen, D. (2010). The changing role and practices of successful leaders. attached Journal for Quality and Participation, 33(1), 4–9.NBC Archives on Demand attachedClick Launch Video to view the Portraits of Leadership video from NBC Learn. This production assembles a collage of iconic leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., to illustrate concepts of everyday leadership. ATTACHEDBookstore ResourcesThese resources are available from the Capella University Bookstore: Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Introduction, “Making Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations,” pages 1–7.Chapter 1, “When Leaders Are at Their Best,” pages 9–40.Chapter 2, “Clarify Values,” pages 43–69.Chapter 3, “Set the Example,” pages 71–97.Rath, T., & Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths based leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow. New York, NY: Gallup Press.”Introduction,” pages 1–3.”Part One: Investing in Your Strengths,” pages 5–17.Research the definition of leadership and consider how the definitions you find match your own ideas of what leadership means. Based on your research and your own self-reflection, address the following:What is your definition of leadership?Why is it important to have a definition of leadership? How does your definition support your perspective on the concept of leadership?When you think about developing your leadership skills, what type of approach do you use? Do you develop a plan based on your definition, or do you simply follow your instincts?What is your definition of management?Explain the differences between leadership and management.Format your paper according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting guidelines, including a title page as well as a references page with APA-formatted citations. Your completed assessment should be 2–3 pages in length (page count not including the title page and references). Include references from at least two scholarly sources.


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Most leadership courses discuss ways to improve the leader. Topics include developing more effective
interpersonal skills, liaison abilities, motivational skills, and the like. While such skills are very important
elements in expanding leader effectiveness, they are not enough.
You see, leadership is more than just a leader’s traits, attributes, skills, or abilities. Leadership is a
relationship between leaders and followers. As the saying goes, if you think you are leading and look over
your shoulder to find no one there, you are just out for a Sunday walk. Effective leaders lead different people
differently. As Ken Blanchard wrote in Leadership and the One Minute Manager, “There is nothing so unequal
as the equal treatment of unequals” (p. 33). Effective leaders take the appropriate time to understand the
individual needs, skills, and maturity of their constituents.
There is an another aspect regarding the relationship between leaders and followers. While the word follower
may imply a passive role, being a follower is hardly passive. Followers play an active role in the leadership
process. They must be willing to learn and improve themselves and be open to new ideas and change. Most
important, they must be willing to actively engage in the leadership process themselves. As leadership is
about influence at any level, followers sometimes lead and leaders sometimes follow.
The process toward effective leadership does not stop here. Have you ever observed a leader use the same
leadership style with similar constituents and enjoy success with one group but failure with the other?
Effective leaders understand that leadership is a relationship among leaders, followers, and context. Context
may be a situation, circumstance, event, person, or even era. Context may refer to societal, organizational, or
other cultural perspectives. Context also may be viewed in terms of how leaders influence—organizationally,
in a group, or one-on-one.
No leadership skill or set of skills will work with every audience in every context. Effective leaders
understand that leadership is action. It is making positive influence with a thoughtful understanding of
behavior and skills of the leader, needs and expectations of the follower, and the context of the potential
Blanchard, K., & Zigarmi, P. (1985). Leadership and the One Minute Manager. New York:
William Morrow.
Subject Matter Expert:
Dr. Jeff Green
Interactive Design:
LaVonne Carlson
Instructional Designer:
Lee Scholder
Project Manager:
Alan Campbell
Leadership is a frequently used word, but there is no commonly accepted definition for the term.
Dictionaries generally define leadership as a person’s capacity to guide or direct others. Inherently,
leadership is associated with one person or group who assert authority over others, who are known
as followers. Although the basic construct of leader and followers has existed throughout recorded
history, leadership approaches shift as the situational factors that affect them change. Much
research and many articles describe common leadership attributes, and it’s worth noting that those
attributes are not found exclusively in people who have positions of authority. Countless tales
abound of everyday heroes, often under extraordinary circumstances. It is not the purpose of this
article, however, to delve into the specific characteristics associated with leadership. Instead, this
article addresses changing leadership theories and the conditions of the 21st century that are
requiring leaders to assume a new role and adopt new approaches.
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Organizations must deal with significantly different challenges these days, and the approaches of
21st century leaders must change accordingly to ensure sustainable success.
Enlarge this image.
Leadership is a frequently used word, but there is no commonly accepted definition for the term. This
situation is exacerbated because the differentiation between leadership and management is not
always clear; many people use the two interchangeably. Furthermore, adjectives, such as
transactional and transformational, often precede the word leadership, but these descriptors actually
may create more confusion than clarification.
Dictionaries generally define leadership as a person’s capacity to guide or direct others. There are
famous leaders from military, political, religious, sports, family, and other organizational types, as
well as from business. They are known for a variety of attributes including charisma and the ability to
inspire others to follow their suggested course of action-even during times of crisis.
Inherently, leadership is associated with one person or group who assert authority over others, who
are known as followers. In most cases, when two or more people are involved in an activity, the
leader sets the direction and the followers carry out the work – with or without the assistance of the
leader. On the surface, this arrangement appears to serve as the natural order of human interaction,
but there are boundaries to the degree of authority leaders can assert without being viewed as
dictatorial or abusive. The methods a leader chooses have a significant effect on followers’
perceptions and willingness to support the proposed approach.
Although the basic construct of leader and followers has existed throughout recorded history,
leadership approaches shift as the situational factors that affect them change. It would be foolish to
presume that leadership methods of the past would be equally useful today. On the other hand, the
characteristics of successful leaders may be more constant. Much research and many articles
describe common leadership attributes, and it’s worth noting that those attributes are not found
exclusively in people who have positions of authority. Countless tales abound of everyday heroes people who rise to leadership without official positions of authority-often under extraordinary
It is not the purpose of this article, however, to delve into the specific characteristics associated with
leadership. Instead, this article addresses changing leadership theories and the conditions of the
21st century that are requiring leaders to assume a new role and adopt new approaches.
Dominance and Authority
The way leaders exercise authority – particularly in regard to decision making – is central to the role
they play in an organization. Many leadership theories of the 20th century are extensions or
modifications of the work of Max Weber, a German lawyer, politician, historian, political economist,
and sociologist.1 He classified authority based on the following three patterns of domination:
* Rational-legal leadership is established by policies, rules, and laws. Government officials who
legislate, execute, and enforce regulations fall into this category.
* Traditional leadership extends from customs, habits, and social structures, and it often involves the
passing of position and power from one generation to the next, such as in monarchies or familyowned businesses.
* Charismatic leadership is based on an individual’s ability to inspire others and usually is tied to that
person’s personal characteristics.
Mary Parker Follett expanded Weber’s model by adding a fourth category, authority of the situation
or expertise.2 In her famous essay, “The Giving of Orders,” Follett advocated that leaders must
possess the “attitude required for cooperative study and decision.” She felt that orders should be
depersonalized, based on circumstances, rather than positional authority. Furthermore, she felt that
this approach would foster collaborative decision making, where managers and employees would
“discover” the most appropriate decision. Fundamental to her perspective was the belief that people
want to direct their lives and resent orders given by others; only through “joint study of the situation”
can employees maintain a sense of self worth and the value of their expertise – particularly if the
decision requires action contrary to their normal inclinations. Follett also developed the circular
theory of power, distinguishing between “power-over” and “power-with” (coercive vs. co-active
power), advocating for power sharing and employee participation.
In 1938, Chester Bernard, former president of New Jersey Bell, wrote Functions of the Executive in
which he presented “a systems view of organizations containing a psychological theory of motivation
and behavior, a sociological theory of cooperation and complex interdependencies, and an ideology
based on meritocracy.”3 His consent theory of authority contends that managerial authority “requires
ability to persuade rather than command, and legitimate authority is based on functional skills and
not hierarchical position. Organization personnel accept a communication as authoritative when
they: understand it; believe it is not inconsistent with organizational purpose; believe it compatible
with their personal interest as a whole; are able mentally and physically to comply; and is acceptable
within a zone of indifference.”4
As the 20th century progressed, participative management, empowerment, and other similar
approaches became increasingly prevalent. Leaders began to move from the command-and-control
model to a greater reliance on teamwork and distributed decision making. This role change – from
largely autocratic to more democratic – hasn’t been easy, however, and many leaders still struggle
with the challenge of being held accountable for achieving goals along with expectations to avoid
micro-managing staff members’ work and foster creativity – and to do all this during difficult economic
Leadership experienced another paradigm shift when the concept of servant leader originated in a
1970 essay by Robert Greenleaf.5
* “Essentially, servant leadership not only asks the leader to share decision-making authority with
employees, it inverts the traditional leadership pyramid, which had leaders at the top and
subordinate/followers at a lower level. The two following quotations describe Greenleafs model and
the way it manifests:
* “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant – first to make sure that other
people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do
those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more
autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least
privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”
Factors Affecting 21st Century Leaders
Modern businesses operate in an environment that is considerably different than what existed just a
short while ago. New leadership approaches must reflect these changing conditions for individuals
and organizations to succeed. Some of these will refine the models developed over the last 50
years, and others are likely to introduce entirely new requirements. Many factors have been
identified as potentially changing the face of leadership, and here are a few that are mentioned
The pace of technological change continues to increase – sometimes at an alarming rate. New
technologies affect not only the design and delivery of products and services but also the essence of
leadership. Lt. Col. Kenneth H. Pritchar notes that “Shifting demographics, rapidly changing
technology, and other factors will require new patterns of leadership,” and he lists “tactical, technical,
and technological (information/computer) proficiency” as one of four core competencies for modern
This reality certainly has not escaped the notice of any leaders, but it has not generated consistent
responses in their leadership approaches. It is somewhat amazing that there still are leaders who
cannot use a personal computer proficiently, who don’t know what social networking means, and
who don’t understand the influence of the Internet on their organizations.
On the other hand, recognizing the effects of the technological revolution is not sufficient for leaders
to succeed in the 21st century. There are many questions that are difficult to answer but that will
influence decisions in almost every other area. Ultimately, leaders must bring curiosity and an open
mind to their considerations of technology. They may not be able to learn and personally use all the
new tools, but they better be willing to work with staff members and employees to figure out how
those developments can be leveraged to increase customer and employee satisfaction, stimulate
innovation, improve processes, and boost the bottom line.
Global Reach
As Marshall Goldsmith points out in his webinar, “The 21st Century Leader,”7 no organization is
immune to the global marketplace. Whereas many businesses maintained a domestic focus and
were successful in the past, that approach would be a bit like wearing blinders today. Now, almost
every business uses products and/or services from other nations. Beyond that, however,
organizations that provide their own offerings over the Internet are likely to have international
customers. Competitors are no longer local or even within the same country, and this creates many
associated leadership concerns, such as those listed below:
* Regulations and laws vary among countries. What is allowed in one market may be prohibited
somewhere else. Identifying these differences and how they affect decisions can be time consuming
and costly.
* Customer preferences – particularly those of consumers – can be highly dependent on cultural
archetypes. There are numerous case studies of organizations spreading the distribution of highly
successful products/services to a new location and running into failure. In some cases, the business
identified the cultural barriers and made appropriate adjustments. In others, the start-up costs were
wasted when the company abandoned the market.
* Most organizations that open foreign operational sites engage leaders from the home office or its
domestic locations. Few of these hard working, previously successful leaders receive any education,
training, or even information on the beliefs and practices of the countries to which they have been
assigned. Most are so consumed with relocation and new responsibilities that they never stop to
consider that their views of leadership, authority, the workplace, etc., are likely out of sync with local
employees’ perspectives.
Succeeding in a global business environment requires much more than common sense; intense
study and different leadership practices are essential to achieving goals and avoiding costly
Knowledge Workers
In his seminal book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker wrote, “Every knowledge worker is an
‘executive’ if, by virtue of his position or knowledge, he is responsible for a contribution that
materially affects the capacity of the organization to perform and to obtain results.”8
Much was written in the last century about the shift from manufacturing to service and its effect on
the economy. Then, Drucker coined the phrase “knowledge worker,” and a whole new issue
emerged. Technology and global reach make it possible to amass an immense amount of facts and
data in a short time, but no individual leader can track all of this new information, let alone absorb
and apply it appropriately.
This forces modern leaders to accept the reality that they never will have all the knowledge needed
to make the best decisions and encourages them to engage associates and other resources in the
decision-making process. Obviously, this situation provides a boon for participative management
and empowerment, but it also makes leaders vulnerable – and, in some cases, it engenders
interpersonal competition and mistrust. After all, how can a leader expect to maintain his/her position
if a subordinate knows more about the work?
That is the exact situation that many leaders face today, and more will encounter it in the near future.
The key to success is to act in direct opposition to the most common natural tendencies. Instead of
trying to “out-think” and “out-smart” subordinates, leaders need to do everything possible to support
these knowledge workers, including providing constant positive feedback, continuing opportunities to
acquire new information, and publicly acknowledging the contributions of others.
This is an excellent example of where the servant leadership approach is mutually beneficial. The
leader becomes the servant of the knowledge worker, striving diligently to ensure the growth of that
individual’s capabilities. At the same time, however, the leader gains a positive reputation for having
a workgroup that meets goals in a timely and cost-effective way and without destructive conflict,
which ultimately proves the leader’s worth.
Work Force Composition
Legal requirements and moral imperatives persuade organizations to hire, promote, and equitably
support a diverse work force. Diversity no longer is limited to the traditional areas monitored by the
U.S. government, and a compliance attitude is no longer sufficient to organizational success.
Embracing all types of diversity whole-heartedly is key to tapping into the broad range of
perspectives that best reflect the company’s customers and other stakeholders. Anything less
increases the risk that decisions will not reflect significant viewpoints and potentially will be
undermined or even face active resistance, including legal action.
One of the most complex aspects of this environmental change is that each leader has his/her set of
preferences – backgrounds, experiences, appearances, etc., that are most comfortable. These can
create unintentional filters that affect hiring and management practices.
When noted author R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr. spoke at a Harvard University conference, he
explained, “Diversity means differences, and it already exists in some form in most settings. There
are old and young members of the work force, people with families and without, those with
numerous degrees and those with none. The hard part in embracing diversity in a meaningful way is
in separating requirements to do a good job from preferences and traditions that have grown up over
time and are seen as job requirements.”9
A quick scan of the workers in most factories and offices makes the increasing presence of diversity
obvious – different ethnicities and appearances are apparent, accents representing different
countries of origin are heard, attendance data reflects varying religious and family practices – and
even the scent of foods drifting from the lunch room are more varied. All of these differences require
more flexibility from leaders on a day-to-day basis, and organizations are searching for creative
ways to accommodate these different needs. On many occasions, co-workers view these differences
as annoying, and leaders must deal with more than their personal perspectives; they must openly
advocate for and enforce tolerance and understanding.
One of the most interesting challenges in this arena is the difference in styles among the four
generations that currently are represented in most workplaces.10 In particular, gaps between the
baby boomer generation, who occupy the bulk of the management positions, and the millennial
generation, who comprise most of the knowledge worker positions, require changed approaches.
Social Responsibility
Expectations for organizations regarding social responsibility are changing rapidly. Just 30 years
ago, environmental consciousness was viewed as a “tree-hugger” mentality. Now legislation exists
at all levels of government in the United States and most countries around the world, limiting
organizations’ potential negative impacts on the government. Most leaders are not only aware of the
effects their firm’s processes can have …
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