Leadership. What is Leadership?

In the broadest sense of the word, a leader is someone who brings people together and guides them toward a common goal.

Anyone can tell others what to do, but effective leadership requires much more than the ability to assign tasks to a group.

Throughout history, much has been written about what it means to be a leader. Chinese military general and "Art of War" author Sun Tzu described a leader as one who "cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to proper methods and discipline." Nineteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle believed leaders were born and not made, while English philosopher Herbert Spencer argued that leaders were the result of the society in which they lived.

The decades that followed brought countless studies and research reports that detailed a wide variety of skills, styles and characteristics related to leadership. Researchers at the University of Michigan identified three specific types of leaders (task-oriented, participative and relationship-oriented) in the 1940s and '50s. In the '70s, author Ralph Stogdill named capacity, achievement, responsibility, participation, status and situation as the six categories of personal factors associated with leadership. Research published in the Harvard Business Review in 2000 by author and psychologist Daniel Goleman uncovered six different leadership styles:

  • Visionary leader - Leads with an enthusiastic motivational approach towards a long term goal / vision.
  • Democratic leader - Leads bearing in mind everyone's opinion and by promoting total participation in the decision making process.
  • Coach/Mentor - Leads with the scope of a trainer - teacher and is focused in getting team members better and more independent.
  • Pacesetting leader - Leads full of ambition and determination. He or she is possessed by the desire to win and will stop at nothing in order to secure it.
  • Command leader - Leads with the use of direct orders and does not tolerate insubordination and weakness.
  • Affiliative leader - Focuses on interpersonal relationships and cares more to be accepted and to contribute to the longevity and well being of the team.



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