The Meaning of Leadership

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“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.” (Northouse) I use to believe that leadership shows the confidence that many people do not portray, because my thoughts were that leadership was a group of people who stand up for the things that they believe. After an extensive study on the meaning of leadership, I have come to find that there is no way to specifically define the meaning of leadership, but there are ways to grasp a better understanding of what the aggregate meanings entail. The big questions that we are faced with are these; how is leadership approached in life, when is it practiced and needed, and who are some leaders in history that portray great leadership skills.

Leadership can be defined as many things, but in an overall sense leadership is a process. A leader has a goal that is trying to be reached; in order to reach this goal the leader works with a follower. Leadership consists of influence, common goals, and group work. Great leaders must be persuasive and able to get people to follow what it is that they are trying to accomplish. In order for leadership to exist at all, influence must take place for the leader to achieve their goal, therefore to influence a situation you must have a certain amount of power in order for a follower to feel that they are following for a good reason. There are five bases of power: Referent power concerns if the follower is fond of the leader. Expert power acknowledges the leaders understanding and knowledge of the subject in which is being lead. Legitimate power is the status in which the leader holds, such as a job or group, etc. Reward power concerns the leaders ability to provide reward to the followers. The last one is Coercive power, which occurs when the leader has the ability to punish or penalize the follower. Without these five bases a leader would be unable to affect and influence the group of people who are working to achieve a common goal. There are two different theories, many believe that leadership is a trait that somebody is born with, and others believe that leadership can be learned. At the beginning of the semester I believed that leadership was a trait that someone is born with, and could not be learned. After learning about the different bases of power I found that if one can get a better understanding of their strengths and know where to make them stronger, these five bases of power could change and better as the strengths get stronger, therefore creating a leader out of someone who was not born with leadership skills. Although I believe that leadership is something that can be learned, I also believe that leadership traits are something that people can be born with. In Northouses’ book he describes the different traits that studies have found to be largely affective for a leader. These traits are intelligence, self-confidence, integrity, sociability, and determination. The reason that intelligence is important for a leader is because having strong “…verbal abilities, perceptual abilities, and reasoning appears to make one a better leader” (Northouse 20). Self-confidence is essential because a leader needs to be confident in themselves enough to get up and talk to people about their goals, as well as their plans to execute the goal. A leader must be determined in order to have enough desire to show initiative in the situation in which they are working towards as well as being persistent enough to accomplish the goal. In order for a leader to really persuade and influence the follower they must have integrity, because people are attracted to honesty and trustworthiness. Lastly, sociability is important for a leader because they must be able to reach out to the followers in order to contain any sort of power. There are two types of leadership: Assigned, and Emergent.

“Leadership that is based on occupying a position in an organization is assigned leadership…the person assigned to a...
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