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Understanding Leadership. Essay

2728 words - 11 pages

Introduction1. Contrary to popular thinking, the term "leadership" is comparetively recent addition to the English language. In fact the word did not come into common usage until the late 19th Century. Although the words "lead" and "leader" have a much longer history, they usually referred only to authority figures. The birth and evolution of the idea of "leadership" focuses on a much more complex concept that reaches beyond the single leader. In fact, contemporary definitions most often reject the idea that leadership revolves around the leader's ability, behaviors, styles or charisma. Today, scholars discuss the basic nature of leadership in terms of the "interaction" among the people involved in the process: both leaders and followers. Thus, leadership is not the work of a single person; rather it can be explained and defined as a "collaborative endeavor" among group members. Therefore, the essence of leadership is not the leader, but the relationship.What is Leadership?2. "Leadership is a process where by an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal". Leadership is a process means that it is not a trait or characteristic that resides in the leader, but is a transactional event that occurs between the leader and his or her followers. Process implies that leader affects and is affected by followers. Leadership involves influence; it is concerned with how the leader affects followers. Without influence, leadership does not exist.3. Leadership is a process rather than an event. As situations change, roles and behaviors of leaders and followers may also change. In defining leadership, we learn that respected leaders act ethically and model many different theories based on social exchanges. Most forms of social interactions are based on an exchange, thus leadership represents an attempt to study the leader as an entity possessed of characteristic traits and occupying rather inertly a status position relative to other individuals who are not too clearly related to him. Actually, the leader emerges as a consequence of the needs of a group of people and of the nature of the situation within which that group is attempting to operate. Another way of considering the problem of defining leadership is in terms of group goals. It can be said that the leader is the individual who is able to lead the group toward its goals.4. What makes a person a leader? How do we acquire such traits? Leadership is the ability of one person to control and exert influence over many. There is a clear distinction between someone who possesses the ability to lead and someone who does not. Throughout human history able leaders have aroused millions of people and brought them under their control yet, the origins of this gift are still debatable. Beginning over a century ago, scientist and philosophers pondered what it takes to become a great leader. A leader's character and the influence that present and past theories play in the leader's life and the...

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