There are many different definitions and concepts concerning the term leadership. The definition which is provided by BusinessDictionary.com refers to leadership as any activity that is intended to lead a group of people or an institution. Thus, the term includes the ability to lead people. Most scholars define the term according to the context or the situation in which it is applied. I define leadership as a process of social influence in which an individual can enlist assistance and support of others with a main objective of accomplishing a given task. Therefore, leadership is the inherent ability in an individual to influence others to support a common cause. However, when assessing individuals, what constitutes a great leader becomes a tricky question due to the lack of a standard measure of leadership or how much of a leader an individual is. Other approaches to leadership suggest that it can be better understood by critically analyzing some individuals in certain situations. Those who support this approach to defining the term of leadership center on the traits, behavior, and situational response of individuals who are claimed to be leaders or state it themselves.
Why leadership means different things to different people
Many people have come into conversations where they say the same words but mean different things. However, whatever happens around the term, leadership is an issue of debate. Some people use this term in order to blame or boast as a measure of success. In some cases, the language may be the same but the term may be used differently. This also applies to the styles and implications to the context in which it is used. There are many factors that influence the way in which people lead, therefore, it is vital to understand the context of leadership in order to be effective in implementing leadership principles and standards.
In an article by Bass “The Meaning of Leadership”, the author claims that there are many different definitions of the term leadership as there are individuals who have made efforts to describe the term (38). However, leadership is seen as an abstract term which cannot be defined with physical properties. This should sound as a warning to those who are trying to define the term.
Leaders define leadership
In most organizations, leading is mainly concerned with setting directions and making sure that the ultimate goal is achieved. However, the nature of leadership in an individual depends on the context of the prevailing situation and the need of participants. It is true that leaders tend to be the most successful people in any organization. However, some individuals take a very expansive view of the term by including internal strategy as well as organizational culture into its definition. Some people are more constrained in defining the term; hence, an assumption can be made that there are various definitions of the term. Nonetheless, it should also be understood that there s a difference between the term leadership and management.
Schoening posits that leaders are individuals who have the capacity to influence others with the main aim of changing their beliefs and making them willingly perform activities which they would not otherwise do (155). The definition is slightly similar to the definition which was provided above, since it relies on personality. Alternatively, leadership is defined as the attributes within which an individual makes him or her hold a position of authority. However, a leader is a person who is passionate to an extent of sacrificing his needs for the betterment of others. In addition, others define the term of leadership as a trait of an individual who puts the needs of other people before his/her own ones. This supports the notion that leadership is observed when an individual gives himself or herself to the greater good of other people with no exception of reward.
According to Schoening, the most interesting definition of the term leadership is that it is a mindset of total personality accountability for the outcomes which are achieved without fault or blame when an organization or a team obtains bad results (21). On the other hand, there are various ways to be a self-leader, which is an individual that many long to be. However, it should be noted that true leadership is very proactive, particularly, when it comes to addressing issues and the ability of an individual to anticipate an imminent roadblock and to take measures in a proactive manner. Others believe that leadership is self-differentiation by simply making an individual to be the part of others.
It is important to note that leadership does not refer to a situation where an individual is in charge or powerful position. It simply means that an individual has the characteristics to be caring for others and assisting or motivating others in achieving a common goal. The best way to understand the argument of definition of the term leadership is that it is practiced through human attitudes and actions. In addition, leaders show more empathy than ego-individuals and remain dedicated to the success or betterment of the whole and not merely an advancement of an individual.