What is Leadership?

Find out what makes a great leader, with
James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.

Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. – Professor Warren G. Bennis

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The word "leadership" can bring to mind a variety of images. For example:

  • An army officer, leading an assault on an enemy position.
  • An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his party to follow.
  • An executive, developing her company's strategy to beat the competition.

Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to "win" as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.

Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.

In this article, we'll focus on the process of leadership. In particular, we'll discuss the "transformational leadership" model, first proposed by James MacGregor Burns and then developed by Bernard Bass. This model highlights visionary thinking and bringing about change, instead of management processes that are designed to maintain and steadily improve current performance.

Note:

Leadership means different things to different people around the world, and different things in different situations. For example, it could relate to community leadership, religious leadership, political leadership, and leadership of campaigning groups.

This article focuses on the Western model of individual leadership, and discusses leadership in the workplace rather than in other areas.

Leadership: A Definition

According to the idea of transformational leadership, an effective leader is a person who does the following:

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