Leadership – one word, countlesss definitions
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Leadership – one word, countlesss definitions

Leadership – one word, countlesss definitions

Everyone has an understanding of „leadership“, many have already defined „leadership“, and many will still define „leadership“, but there will never exist one commonly acknowledged definition of leadership.

Two extremes:

Leadership defined in 10 words: “Leadership is the power or ability to lead other people.” (Webster’s dictionary).

Leadership defined in 650 words: An elaborate study of Winston & Patterson in the beginning of the 21st century revealed over 90 variables that may comprise the whole of leadership, which led them to a new definition of leadership, the „integrative definition“ of leadership:

A leader is one or more people who selects, equips, trains, and influences one or more follower(s) who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and focuses the follower(s) to the organization’s mission and objectives causing the follower(s) to willingly and enthusiastically expend spiritual, emotional, and physical energy in a concerted coordinated effort to achieve the organizational mission and objectives. The leader achieves this influence by humbly conveying a prophetic vision of the future in clear terms that resonates with the follower(s) beliefs and values in such a way that the follower(s) can understand and interpret the future into present-time action steps. In this process, the leader presents the prophetic vision in contrast to the present status of the organization and through the use of critical thinking skills, insight, intuition, and the use of both persuasive rhetoric and interpersonal communication including both active listening and positive discourse, facilitates and draws forth the opinions and beliefs of the followers such that the followers move through ambiguity toward clarity of understanding and shared insight that results in influencing the follower(s) to see and accept the future state of the organization as a desirable condition worth committing personal and corporate resources toward its achievement. The leader achieves this using ethical means and seeks the greater good of the follower(s) in the process of action steps such that the follower(s) is/are better off (including the personal development of the follower as well as emotional and physical healing of the follower) as a result of the interaction with the leader. The leader achieves this same state for his/her own self as a leader, as he/she seeks personal growth, renewal, regeneration, and increased stamina–mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual–through the leader-follower interactions.

The leader recognizes the diversity of the follower(s) and achieves unity of common values and directions without destroying the uniqueness of the person. The leader accomplishes this through innovative flexible means of education, training, support, and protection that provide each follower with what the follower needs within the reason and scope of the organization’s resources and accommodations relative to the value of accomplishing the organization’s objectives and the growth of the follower.

The leader, in this process of leading, enables the follower(s) to be innovative as well as self-directed within the scope of individual-follower assignments and allows the follower(s) to learn from his/her/their own, as well as others’ successes, mistakes, and failures along the process of completing the organization’s objectives. The leader accomplishes this by building credibility and trust with the followers through interaction and feedback to and with the followers that shapes the followers’ values, attitudes, and behaviors towards risk, failure, and success. In doing this, the leader builds the followers’ sense of self worth and self-efficacy such that both the leader and followers are willing and ready to take calculated risks in making decisions to meet the organization’s goals/objectives and through repeated process steps of risk- taking and decision-making the leader and followers together change the organization to best accomplish the organization’s objectives.

The leader recognizes the impact and importance of audiences outside of the organization’s system and presents the organization to outside audiences in such a manner that the audiences have a clear impression of the organization’s purpose and goals and can clearly see the purpose and goals lived out in the life of the leader. In so doing, the leader examines the fit of the organization relative to the outside environment and shapes both the organization and the environment to the extent of the leader’s capability to insure the best fit between the organization and the outside environment.

The leader throughout each leader-follower-audience interaction demonstrates his/her commitment to the values of (a) humility, (b) concern for others, (c) controlled discipline, (d) seeking what is right and good for the organization, (e) showing mercy in beliefs and actions with all people, (f) focusing on the purpose of the organization and on the well-being of the followers, and (g) creating and sustaining peace in the organization–not a lack of conflict but a place where peace grows. These values are the seven Beatitudes found in Matthew 5 and are the base of the virtuous theory of Servant Leadership.

Reality check: How many words has your definition of leadership?