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W H AT WO R K S - A N E S S AY

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
We believe that leadership is a process that is ultimately concerned with fostering change. In contrast to the notion of “management,” which suggests preservation or maintenance, “leadership” implies a process where there is movement – from wherever we are now to some future place or condition that is different. Leadership also implies intentionality, in the sense that the implied change is not random – “change for change’s sake” – but is rather directed toward some future end or condition which is desired or valued. Accordingly, leadership is a purposive process which is inherently value-based. Consistent with the notion that leadership is concerned with change, we view the “leader” basically as a change agent, i.e., “one who fosters change.” Leaders, then, are not necessarily those who merely hold formal “leadership” positions; on the contrary, all people are potential leaders. Furthermore, since the concepts of “leadership” and “leader” imply that there are other people involved, leadership is, by definition, a collective or group process. In short, our conception of leadership comprises the following basic assumptions: Leadership is concerned with fostering change. Leadership is inherently value-based. All people are potential leaders. Leadership is a group process. These assumptions, in turn, suggest a number of critical questions that must be addressed in any treatise on leadership effectiveness: What values should guide the leadership process? Toward what end(s) is the leadership effort directed? How do individuals initiate change efforts? How are leadership groups formed? How should leadership groups function? What alternatives to the traditional “leader-follower” model are most likely to be effective? What are the most effective means of preparing young people for this kind of leadership? Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin. Leadership Reconsidered: Engaging Higher Education in Social Change. Battle...

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