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     History of leadership can be traced far back to the time of creation, when God created all creatures including humans, and ordered Adam to oversee and named other animals (Gen.2:19- 20), thereby making Adam the first leader in existence. The history of research into the topic of leadership and leadership style can be broadly categorized into a number of important phases. Early studies on leadership (frequently categorized as ‘trait’ studies on leadership) concentrated on identifying the personality traits which characterized successful leaders. Trait theories assume that successful leaders have certain innate qualities which distinguish them from non-leaders.

    However, the difficulty in categorizing and validating these characteristics led to widespread criticism of this trait approach, signalling the emergence of ‘style’ and ‘Behavioural’ approaches to leadership. Style and Behavioural theorists shifted the emphasis away from the characteristics of the leader to the behaviour and style the leader adopted. The principal conclusion of these studies appears to be that leaders who adopt democratic or participative styles are more successful. In this sense, these early studies are focused on identifying the ‘one best way of leading’.

    Similarly to trait theories, the major weakness of style and Behavioural theories is that they ignore the important role which situational factors play in determining the effectiveness of individual leaders. It is this limitation that gives rise to the ‘situational’ and ‘contingency’ theories of leadership which shift the emphasis away from ‘the one best way to lead’ to context-sensitive leadership. Although each study emphasizes the importance of different factors, the general tenet of the situational and contingency perspectives is that leadership effectiveness is dependent on the leader’s diagnosis and understanding of situational factors, followed by the adoption of the appropriate style to deal with each circumstance. 

    However, in an apparent return to the ‘one best way of leadership’, recent studies on leadership have contrasted ‘transactional’ leadership with ‘transformational’ leadership. Transactional leaders are said to be ‘instrumental’ and frequently focus on the relationship with their subordinates. In contrast, transformational leaders are argued to be visionary and enthusiastic, with an inherent ability to motivate subordinates.

    Empirical studies into the links between leadership and performance have been lacking. One notable exception is the detailed study of the impact of leadership on performance. Thorlindsson (1987) suggests that variations in the performance of different fishing ships, under identical conditions, can be accounted for by the leadership skills of captains. Over a three-year period, Thorlindsson (1987) revealed that the leadership qualities of the ship captains accounted for 35 to 49 per cent of the variation in the catch of different crews. 

    Other studies which examine the links between leadership and performance coincide with the re-emergence of the ‘one best way to lead’ debate. Of particular relevance is the resurgence of interest in charismatic leadership, which is frequently referred to as transformational leadership. A number of researchers theorize that transformational leadership is linked to organizational performance.


    Concept and Meaning of Leadership

    Several authors have defined leadership in different dimensions. Among these include:

    “Leadership is a development of a clear and complete system of expectations in order to identify, evoke and use the strengths of all resources in the organization the most important of which are people”.

    “Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize your innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of your team to accomplish the mission. There is no one-size fits all approach, answer key or formula to leadership. Leadership should be the humble, authentic expression of your unique personality in pursuit of bettering whatever environment you are in” - Katie Christy, founder, Activate Your Talent

    “Leadership is about having a selfless heart and always being willing to reach out and lend a helping hand” - Bob Reina, CEO and founder, Talk Fusion “Leadership is about playing to strengths and addressing weaknesses in the most productive and efficient way possible. It's about knowing your team and yourself, and doing your best job to set both up for success”- Sammy Cohen, co-founder, Neon Bandits

    “Leadership is the ability to see a problem and be the solution. So many people are willing to talk about problems or can even empathize, but not many can see the problem or challenge and rise to it. It takes a leader to truly see a problem as a challenge and want to drive toward it. That is what causes people to want to follow, and a true leader has a following” - Andrea Walker- Leidy, owner, Walker Publicity Consulting

    “Leadership is having the humility to put your employees first so that the company can grow. Leaders should invest time [in] employees and make sure that they feel comfortable in the workplace. This increases the functionality and efficiency of the company” - Matthew Adams, director of communications, Tru-Colour Bandages

    “A leader is someone [who] leads by example and has the integrity to do the right thing even when it is not popular. A good leader has positive influence over others, inspiring them to become a better person and example for others to model their life against, as well” - Mark Little, founder and president, Diversified Funding

    “Leadership is serving the people that work for you by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Your workers should be looking forward to the customer and not backwards, over their shoulders, at you. It also means genuine praise for what goes well and leading by taking responsibility early and immediately if things go bad” - Jordan French, president, BNB Shield

    “Leadership is the ability to unapologetically express and see out your business vision. Leadership is using your intuition to guide you, and inspiring your team to come along for the ride. Leadership is listening to that ‘inner voice’, even when it is risky, scary, and challenging the status quo” - Makenzie Marzluff, founder, Delighted By

    “Leadership is the ability to help people achieve things they don't think are possible. Leaders are coaches with a passion for developing people, not players; they get satisfaction from achieving objectives through others. Leaders inspire people through a shared vision and create an environment where people feel valued and fulfilled” - Randy Stocklin, co-founder and CEO “Leadership is having a vision, sharing that vision and inspiring others to support your vision while creating their own” - Mindy Gibbins-Klein, founder, REAL Thought Leaders

    “Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished” - Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO, of Snuggwugg

    “Effective leadership is providing the vision and motivation to a team so they work together toward the same goal, and then understanding the talents and temperaments of each individual and effectively motivating each person to contribute individually their best toward achieving the group goal” - Stan Kimer, president, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer

    “Leadership is the art of serving others by equipping them with training, tools and people as well as your time, energy and emotional intelligence so that they can realize their full potential, both personally and professionally” - Daphne Mallory

    “Leadership is being bold enough to have a vision and humble enough to recognize achieving it will take the efforts of many people — people who are most fulfilled when they share their gifts and talents, rather than just work. Leaders create that culture, serve that greater good and let others soar”. - Kathy Heasley, founder and president, Heasley & Partners

    “My perspective of a leader is an individual who knows the ins and outs about the business so they can empathize with followers. In addition to being a positive influence on the people they are leading, leadership is about setting the tone, motivating, inspiring, thinking big, and never [giving] up when others feel like quitting” - Alexis Davis, founder and designer, Hoo-Kong by Alexis Davis

    “A true leader is secure in creating a framework that encourages others to tap into their own skills and ideas and freely contribute to the whole of the project or company.” - Judy Crockett, owner, Interactive Marketing & Communication

    “In my experience, leadership is about three things: To listen, to inspire and to empower. Over the years, I've tried to learn to do a much better job listening actively, making sure I really understand the other person’s point of view, learning from them, and using that basis of trust and collaboration to inspire and empower. It’s about setting the bar high, and then giving them the time and resources to do great work.” - Larry Garfield, president, Garfield Group “Leadership is knowing when to be in front to lead and guide a team during the journey, and when to step back and let others take the lead. Much like an athlete who knows exactly what position to move to on the field at any given time, a true business leader understands the delicate balance of how to help others become leaders, fuel career ambitions, then give them the chance to shine.” - Dan Schoenbaum, CEO, Redbooth

    “Too many people view management as leadership. It's not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others up and working toward a common mission, build influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way” - Kurt Uhlir, CEO and co-founder, Sideqik

    “Leadership is when someone is willing to stand up front to be either the target or the hero to take responsibility for the success or failure of a given goal. Not everyone has the guts to be a leader and [take] personal risks that they may encounter.” - Darlene Tenes, founder and designer, CasaQ

    “Leadership is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks to create reward” - Katie Easley, founder, of Kate Ryan Design

    “A leader is someone who has the clarity to know the right things to do, the confidence to know when she's wrong and the courage to do the right things even when they're hard” - Darcy Eikenberg, founder, RedCapeRevolution.com

    “Leadership is the behavior that brings the future to the present, by envisioning the possible and persuading others to help you make it a reality.” - Matt Barney, founder and CEO, LeaderAmp

    “Leadership is caring more about the cause and the people in your company than about your own personal pain and success. It is about having a greater vision of where your company is trying to go while leaving the path open for others to grow into leaders.” - Jarie Bolander, COO and co­founder, Lab Sensor Solutions “A leader is a person who takes you where you will not go alone.” - Susan Ascher, CEO, founder and president, SusanAscher.com

    “Leadership means using one's influence to help guide others in successfully achieving a goal without desire for recognition, without worry of what others think and with awareness of issues, internal or external, that might change the results sought." - Marie Hansen, dean of the college of business, Husson University

    “Leadership is not about finding ways to lead better or to motivate your team. It's about being there from the beginning as equals and becoming a mentor when they need you to be one." - Michael Womack, co-founder, hovelstay.com

    "Leadership styles differ, but at the core, good leaders make the people they are leading accomplish more than they otherwise would. The most effective leaders do this not through fear, intimidation or title, but rather by building consensus around a common goal." - Tom Madine, CEO and president, Worldwide Express

    "Leadership is inspiring others to pursue your vision within the parameters you set, to the extent that it becomes a shared effort, a shared vision and a shared success." - Steve Zeitchik, CEO of Focal Point Strategies

    "For me, leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What's more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective." - Kendra Coleman, consultant, Sheppard Moscow

    "Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day." - Jonas Falk, CEO, OrganicLife "Leadership is influencing others by your character, humility and example. It is recognizable when others follow in word and deed without obligation or coercion." - Sonny Newman, president, EE Technologies

    "Leadership is the collective action of everyone you influence. Your behavior — your actions and your words — determines how you influence. Our job as leaders is to energize whatever marshals action within others." - David Casullo, president, Bates Communications

     Principles of Leadership

    To help you be, known, and do; (U.S. Army, 1983) follow these eleven principles of leadership:

             Know yourself and seek self-improvement - In order to know yourself, you have to understand your behaviour, and know your attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interaction with others.

             Be technically proficient - As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees' tasks.

             Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions - Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later -- do not blame others. Analyse the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.

             Make sound and timely decisions - Use good problem-solving, decision-making, and planning tools.

             Set an example - Be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do but also see. We must become the change we want to see - Mahatma Gandhi.

             Know your people and look out for their well-being - know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.

             Keep your workers informed - know how to communicate with not only them but also seniors and other key people.

             Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers - help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.

             Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished - communication is the key to this responsibility.

             Train as a team - Although many so-called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams...they are just a group of people doing their jobs.

    Type of Leaders


    According to Mullins L.J (1985), the following have been identified as notable six types of leaders. These include:

            Charismatic leader: This is a leader who gains influence mainly from strength of personality. The difficulty with charismatic leadership is that few people possessed the exceptional qualities required to transform all around them into willing followers. Another issue is that personal qualities or traits of leadership cannot be acquired by training; they can only be modified by it.

            Traditional leader: This is a leader whose position is assured by birth e.g. kings, queens and tribal chieftains. This is another category to which few people can aspire. Except in the small family business, there are few opportunities for traditional leadership at work.

            Situational leader: This is a leader whose influence can only be effective by being in the right place at the right time. The kind of leadership is temporary in nature to be of much value in a business. What is looked for is someone who is capable of assuming a leadership role in a variety of situations over a period of time.

            Appointed leader: This is a leader whose influence arises directly out of his position e.g. most managers and supervisors. This is the bureaucratic type of leadership where legitimate power springs from the nature and scope of the position within the hierarchy. The problem here is that, although the powers of the position may be defined, the job­holder may not be able to implement them because of weak personality, lack of adequate training or other factors.

             Functional leader: This is a leader who secures their leadership positions by what they are. In other words, functional leaders adapt their behaviour to meet the competing needs of the situation.

             Principle-Centred leader: This is a leader, whose approach to leadership is influenced by moral and ethical principles, involving consideration of equity, justice, integrity, honesty, fairness and trust.

    Qualities of leaders

    Research shows that there is a consistent set of traits, characteristics and qualities of good leadership that people look for in their leaders. 75,000 people, on six continents over a period of 15 years were asked to identify the characteristics and qualities of good leadership (J M Kouzes & B Z Posner, 2002, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass). These were the results:

             Honesty: The number one quality identified by this research is honesty. The respondents explain that a good leader must be honest to the oath of office that saw him to power and also to his number of followers. They added that a good leader must be morally upright, unpretentious, reasonable in situations and impartial.

             Forward Oriented: A good leader must be forward-oriented. He must always see the goal to be achieved and the challenges ahead. He must have the “Can Do” behaviour within him. This quality is very close in comparison with the Conceptual skill of leadership. This means seeing things before others and the ability to predict or forecast what tomorrow will bring.

             Competence: A good leader must be competent technically, in human relations wisely. He must not be a specialist in a field but a generalist. He must be able to lead others to the very rightful part. He must have the ability to propel others to achieve results.

             Inspiring: A good leader must be able to inspire his followers to attain goals and objectives. He must be able to stimulate others to do things and make things happen.

             Intelligent: A good and effective leader must be intelligent. He must be sensible and rational. He must be a first-class decision-maker; he must be able to correct anomalies within his team.

             Fair Minded: He must be able to keep a par between rigidity and flexibility. That is, he must not be too hard in his policies and decision and not be too easily discouraged to change his painstakingly predetermined made decisions.

             Broad-Minded: A leader must be vast in thought and deed. He must be wide and exposed to both challenges and opportunities ahead.

             Self-control: Another very important quality of a good leader is self-control or self-discipline. He must train himself to have comfortable and proper behaviour which will carry others along and sustain the module operandi of the organization.

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