Leadership Defined

1. Leadership Defined

Leadership has been described from various perspectives and defined by different concepts. Based on the descriptions of leadership provided in this week’s lecture and readings, present a personal definition of leadership and explain why your definition is appropriate and relevant to the practice of leadership today. Provide an example of a current leader who embodies this definition. Explain how this individual is a relevant example of your personal definition of leadership.

2. Theories of Leadership

Many schools of thought have developed throughout history that proposes various theories about the source and development of leaders, how leaders are discovered, and how they can be identified. Early leadership theories focused on the qualities that distinguished leaders from followers; subsequent theories looked at other variables such as situational factors and skill levels. Evaluate the similarities and differences between two approaches or theories of leadership: the trait approach and behavioral theory; the Situational Leadership® Model and authentic leadership theory; or the transformational and transactional leadership theories. Begin by providing a brief summary of the two approaches or theories of leadership you have chosen to analyze. Then, examine the common characteristics and differences between the two approaches or theories you selected. Use a minimum of two scholarly sources to support your post. Cite your sources according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.

Required Resources

Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.


Hourston, R. (2013, April 24). 7 steps to a truly effective leadership style. Forbes. Retrieved from

Week One Lecture

When we think of leaders in today’s world, we often think first of the big names in the news: politicians, top-earning CEO’s, humanitarians, or sports figures. Yet there are leaders working in all organizations, large and small. Leadership is present in the world of business and in sports, but it also around us every day, in all facets of our lives: our families, schools, communities, churches, social clubs, and volunteer organizations. There are qualities that make any leader effective whether one is leading a school, a basketball team, a business, or a family.

Leadership Defined

Before we can examine what makes an effective leader, we need to know what leadership means. Leadership has been a topic of interest to historians and philosophers since ancient times, but scientific studies began only in the twentieth century. Scholars and other writers have offered countless definitions of the term leadership. Burns (1978) offers that leadership is “one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth” (p. 2). Bennis and Nanus (1985) emphasize this sentiment when they state that “multiple interpretations of leadership exist, each providing a sliver of insight but each remaining an incomplete and wholly inadequate explanation” (p. 4). An often-cited study, and one of the most comprehensive reviews of the leadership literature, was conducted by Stogdill (1974), who found that “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept” (p. 7). Definitions of leadership include:
• “Leadership can be conceptualized as an interaction between a person and the members of a group: One person, the leader, influences, while the other person responds” (Gordon, 1955, p. 10).
• Leadership is “the initiation and maintenance of structure in expectation and interaction” (Stogdill, 1974, p. 15).
• “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing” (Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 21).
• Leadership “is the ability to step outside the culture … to start evolutionary change processes that are more adaptive” (Schein, 1992, p.2).
• Leadership is “the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations” (Kouzes & Posner, 1995, p. 30).
• “The essence of leadership is not giving things or even providing visions. It is offering oneself and one’s spirit” (Bolman & Deal, 1995, p. 102).
Leadership can also be defined as an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real-life changes in outcomes that reflect their shared purposes. As a result, leadership involves people in a relationship, influence, change, a shared purpose, and it requires taking responsibility to make things happen.
Most of us are aware of famous leaders, but most leadership that changes the world starts small and may begin with personal frustrations about events that prompt people to initiate change and inspire others to follow them. Your leadership may be expressed in the classroom, your neighborhood, community, or volunteer organizations. Concepts of leadership, and our attempts to define it, will continue to evolve over time.

Forbes School of Business Faculty

Bennis, W. & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper and Row.

Bolman, L & Deal, T. (1995). Leading with soul. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Gordon, T. (1955). Group-centered leadership: A way of releasing the creative power of groups. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (1995). The leadership challenge: How to keep getting extraordinary things done in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schein, E.H. (1992). Organizational culture and leadership (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Stogdill, R.M. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New York: Free Press.

BUS 660 WK 1 DQs
My personal definition is that leadership is the process of social influence through supporting the efforts of others towards achieving the ultimate goal. The definition is relevant in today’s leadership as employees needs close supervision and interaction with the leaders. This is useful in motivating the workers towards performing better in the workplace. It also ignores the concept that leaders should have some traits such as charisma. This implies that anyone can become a leader only if he or she can influence other people towards achieving the organizational goals. In addition, the definition emphasizes on the significance of cooperation between the leaders and the followers (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2012).
An example of a current leader who appreciates the leadership definition is Jim Sinegal, the Costco Cofounder and CEO. Sinegal argued that the best approach to motivating employees it to encourage them with their own actions and convictions. He highly discouraged the need to use commands towards employees. Costco Company’s performance has increased tremendously over the years. Moreover, the CEO recognizes the need to interact regularly with employees in order to create strong relations. Considering his social influence, Sinegal helped the company to grow and succeed in the international retail markets. This indicates the impacts of the leadership definition in motivating employees to perform better using their own self-interests and capabilities.
The transformational and transactional leadership theories form some of the most prominent leadership models. Some of the authors argue that transformational leadership augments the transactional leadership theory leading to increased group and organizational productivity. In terms of transformational leadership model, a transformational leader is an individual who inspires employees towards achieving exceptional outcomes in the organization. Such leaders focus on the developmental needs of the employees (Hughes et al., 2012). Most importantly, the transformational leaders change the follower’s perception on old issues creating new motivation for performance. Thus, the transformational leadership theory focuses on creating a positive among the followers by taking care of their personal interests. The model of transformational leadership was developed by J.M Burns in 1978. According to Hourston (2013), the transformational leadership model includes four elements including charisma, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and personal attention.
On the other hand, the transactional leadership model is based on group performance and supervision of the organizational activities. The transactional model of leadership involves the motivation and directing of employees by fulfilling their own self-interest. The leaders usually use a process of rewards and punishment to motivate its followers. There are four elements associated with transactional leadership model including laissez-faire, passive management, active management, and contingent rewards. Under the model of transactional leadership, there are two main factors including contingent reward and the management by exception (Schyns & Schilling, 2011). The contingent rewards give employees rewards motivating them for good performance. While, the management by exception helps in maintaining the status quo as well as instituting correction strategies to improve organizational performance.
There are exists various differences between the transactional and the transformational leadership theories. The transactional leadership model works with the existing organizational culture. Since, the leadership approach is responsive. In contrast, the transformational leadership model seeks to change the existing organization through the implementation of new ideas and strategies (Schyns & Schilling, 2011). Therefore, the transformational leadership theory seeks to bring about positive changes in the organization. While, the transactional leadership theory supports the existing organization processes to improve performance. In spite of all, both leadership theories helps in developing appropriate strategies for organizational success. Another similarity is that they both expand the coverage of the cultural and organizational boundaries towards improving organizational performance (Hourston, 2013). This indicates that both transactional and transformational leadership models are relevant in improving organizational performance. Unlike the transactional model, the transformational is critical in fostering better changes to the organizational processes and systems.

Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience, 7th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Schyns, B., & Schilling, J. (2011). Implicit leadership theories: Think leader, think effective?. Journal of Management Inquiry, 20(2), 141-150.
Hourston, R. (2013, April 24). 7 steps to a truly effective leadership style. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2013/04/24/7-steps-to-a-truly-effective-leadership-style/.

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