Leadership Defined
Further Definitions of Leadership
What makes a good leader?
The Leadership Process
A Trait Approach To Leadership
A Behavioural Approach To Leadership 
The Blake And Mouton Managerial Grid 
A Situational Approach To Leadership 
The Blanchard Leadership Model 
Bibliography and further reading

Leadership Defined


Leadership is the ability to influence individuals or groups toward the achievement of goals.

Leadership, as a process, shapes the goals of a group or organisation, motivates behaviour toward the achievement of those goals, and helps define group or organisational culture. It is primarily a process of influence.

Leadership and management are different concepts.

  • Leadership is needed to create change.
  • Management is needed to create orderly results.

The leaders of an organisation are often the 'Directors'. Directors give an organisation direction where as managers cojole an organisation (or part of it) towards the directors overall aims.

Although some managers are able to influence followers to work toward the achievement of organisational goals, the conferring of formal authority on a manager does not necessarily make that individual a leader.

Not all leaders are managers, and similarly, not all managers are leaders. To be a leader, one must, by definition, have followers.

Conceptually, leadership is a reciprocal, transactional, and transformational process in which individuals are permitted to influence and motivate others to promote the attaining of group and individual goals.






Leadership emergence depends to a large extent on group members' perceptions. Groups generally require leaders when interpersonal processes need improvement or the efforts of individual members must be better co-ordinated.

Emergence of a leader depends on the perceptions with respect to the need for a leader and on the qualities of the individuals available to fill that role.

A number of factors determine who might emerge as a group's leader:

"Followers follow, if their leaders are perceived to be in a position to provide them with the means by which they can satisfy their needs.

To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn't know where he is going."

Joe Namath

We may generalise the reasons followers follow by saying that they expect their needs to be satisfied. If the leader somehow provides the follower with the means by which he or she may satisfy needs, then it is likely that the leader will have followers. This assumption is consistent with Maslow's assumptions about motivation.

Followers are motivated to follow -- to do the leader requests -- if they are in a position to satisfy their dominant needs. Similarly, Expectancy Theory assumes that people are motivated -- will see a reason to follow -- if there exists a perceived expectation that their efforts (the following) will lead to positive job outcomes and, finally, positive rewards.

In times of crisis, people become sensitive to the adequacy of their leadership. If they have confidence in it, they are willing to assign more than usual responsibility to the leader. However, if they lack that confidence, they are less tolerant of the leader than usual.

Furthermore, people are more likely to follow and to have critical decisions made by the leader if they feel that somehow they, the followers, are taking part in the decision-making process.

Although, the formal definition of leadership given above will serve us in our future discussions of leadership, Warren Bennis suggests a definition that is also interesting.

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality."

Warren G. Bennis

If leadership is to be pro-active, it requires vision. However, vision itself is not enough. In order to get others -- followers -- to move in the direction of the desired goal (the vision); the leader must also be able to communicate that vision. The followers must be motivated to follow. If the followers are inclined to act on reasoned argument then communication will serve to convey the rationale for the vision. On the other hand, the act of communicating may also touch the followers in an emotional way.

Further Definitions of Leadership


What makes a good leader?


It is generally accepted that good leadership is essential to the functioning of an organisation. This begs the question: What makes a good leader? It may be useful to think of the leadership process as the interaction between the situation, the leader, and the followers.



  • Motivation
  • Self-confidence
  • Skills
  • Physical attributes

Since leadership is a behaviour, it must, by definition, be a function of the leader's personality. Personality is defined as those relatively stable characteristics derived from culture, unique experiences, and biological makeup. If the leader's skills, and motivations to fulfil certain felt needs, are combined with his or her personality, then we might conclude that these factors contribute to leader behaviour.


  • Task orientation.
  • Relationship orientation.
  • Attempts to influence subordinates


Much of the leadership research has reduced leader behaviour to; ask orientation, relationship orientation, and the attempt to influence others (the similarity between these behaviours and McClelland's needs -- need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power can be seen). Leader behaviour thus influences the net result of the leadership process.



  • Expert
  • Referent
  • Legitimate
  • Reward
  • Coercive


Leader behaviour is also a function of the power of the leader. Power (as per French and Raven) may be derived from a number of sources:



  • Task & technology
  • Legal-political constraints
  • Subordinate needs, values, personalities
  • Scope of formal authaurity.



In an organisational context, the leader's behaviour invariably interacts with the environment. Thus, situational variables come into play. The type of job, technology, organisational politics, and the formal authority afforded the manger may influence the power available to the leader.





  • Subordinate effort/skill,
  • group cohesion,
  • role clarity
  • resources.



A Trait Approach To Leadership


Most people consider that good leadership is somehow defined in terms of traits or characteristics. They would measure good leadership by attempting to isolate the characteristics of leaders of organisations deemed to be successful (by whatever terms that success is measured in).

Do Julius Caesar, Napolean, Hilter, Stalin, Mao, Gandhi, etc. have a common trait?

The problem with the trait approach lies in the fact that almost as many traits as studies undertaken were identified. It became apparent that no such traits could be identified. Although some traits were identified in a considerable number of studies, the results were generally inconclusive.

This approach is confounded by questions about how to find commonality or the ability to generalise from an examination of the traits of leaders as diverse as Stalin, Hitler, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Churchill, Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher. Do these leaders have any trait in common? Is this a trait all leaders must possess?

Although there was little consistency in the results of the various trait studies, some traits did appear more frequently than others:

A Behavioural Approach to Leadership


The results of the trait studies were inconclusivetraits measure . Traits, among other things, are hard to measure. It revealed problems such as how; do we such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, or diligence?
As a result of these shortfallsat looking , rather than concentrating on what leaders are, as the trait approach urged, the behavioural approach forced what leaders do.

To measure traitsthe trait problems with , one relies on constructs, which lacked reliability, and, given differing definitions, also lacked validity. After the approach became evidentevidencerely on empirical . , researchers turned to an examination of leader behaviours. With behaviours, researchers could Behaviours, contrary to traits, could be observed. It was thus decided to examine the behaviours of successful leaders.

Initially the number of behaviours identified was staggeringcategorisedgrouped or . The . However, over time, it appeared that the key behaviours could be most prominent studies were those undertaken by the University of Michigan and by Ohio State Universitystudies arrived at similar Interestingly, both . conclusions. Both studies concluded that leadership behaviours could be classified into two groups.
Rensis Likert identified two styles of leader behaviour:
These two styles of leader behaviour were believed to lie at the ends of a single continuumgenerally behaviour . Likert found that employee-centred leader tended to be more effective.

Ohio State Studies identified two leadership behaviors:

  • Initiating Structure; Characteristics of high initiating structure are;-
  • Leaders of high producing groups.
  • Leaders rated highly by superiors.
  • Low morale, high grievance rates, high staff turnover.
  • Consideration; Characteristics of high consideration are;-
  • Leaders of groups with high morale.
  • Leaders of groups with lower productivity.
  • Loyal long term workforce.

To test managers for their preferred leadership behaviour, the Ohio State Studies developed two measures:

1. The LBDQ (Leader Behaviour Description Questionnaire) :- Measures subordinates perception of Leader Behaviour.
2. The LOQ (Leader Opinion Questionnaire) :- Measures Leader perception of own style.

Both the production-oriented and the people-oriented leadership behaviours appear to offer positives and negatives. However, since showing high concern for both people and production need not necessarily be inconsistent in one leader, it was concluded that such leaders might have an edge over those who show a propensity to act in only one of these dimensions.

The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid


The results of behavioural studies were incorporated into a grid proposed by Blake and Mouton. The Managerial Grid utilises the Concern for People versus Concern for Production dichotomy proposed by both the Ohio State and University of Michigan studies.

The assumption made by Blake and Mouton is that there is a best leadership style (behaviour). However the combined score indicates the overall leadership skills.

On the basis of the Managerial Grid:-

The best set of behaviours - a high concern for production, coupled with a high concern for employees. 'EFFECTIVE TEAM'
a high concern for production but little or no regard for people. 'SLAVE DRIVER'
not concerned about production but takes great care of employees. 'COUNTRY CLUB'
the least desirable style providing impoverished leadership with little concern for production or people. 'DON'T CARE'


A Situational Approach To Leadership


Leadership is obviously a complex process that involves intricate social relationships in diverse organisational settings. Contingency theories of leadership recognise that there is no one best leadership style. These theories focus on determining which leadership styles will be most effective under specific conditions.

The Blanchard Leadership Model


The Blanchard Leadership Model takes a situational perspective of leadership. This model assumes as fact that the developmental levels of a leader's subordinates play the greatest role in determining which leadership styles are most appropriate (leader behaviours). According to this conceptualisation, leader behaviours fall along two styles, (1) directive behaviour, and (2) supportive behaviour. This categorisation is not dissimilar to those of the Ohio State Leadership studies and the University of Michigan studies.


  • one-way communication
  • followers' roles spelled out
  • close supervision of performance
  • two-way communication
  • listening, providing support & encouragement
  • facilitate interaction
  • involve follower in decision making
  • Putting the leadership behaviours identified by the Blanchard together on a grid. The similarity between this figure and the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid is quite obvious. Four leadership styles result:


    This grid does not differ very much from the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid. But this model expands on previous approaches by taking situational variables into account.
    For Blanchard the key situational variable, when determining the appropriate leadership style, is the readiness or developmental level of the subordinate(s). Their model identifies and groups 4 such developmental levels:













    The Blanchard model combines the behaviour grid (similar to the Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid) with the Developmental Levels of subordinates to arrive at some conclusions about appropriate leadership styles. In other words, the Developmental Level (D1, D2, D3 or D4) of the Subordinates determines which of the four leadership styles (S1, S2, S3, or S4) is respectively correct.
    Hersey Blanchard Situational Leadership Model.

     Bibliography and further reading


    Bowman, C (1992) ‘Interpreting competitive strategy’ in D Faulkner & G Johnson (eds.) The Challenge of Strategic Management London: Kogan Page Ltd.
    Forster, J & M Browne (1996) Principles of Strategic Management Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd
    Hassard, J & M Parker (1993) Postmodernism and Organisations London: Sage Publications
    Baker, Betsy and Beth Sandore. "Motivation in Turbulent Times: In Search of the Epicurean Work Ethic." Journal of Library Administration 14, no. 4 (1991): 37-50.
    DeLisi, Peter S. "Lessons from the Steel Axe: Culture, Technology, and Organisational Change." Sloan Management Review 32, no. 1 (autumn 1990): 83-93.
    Walton, Richard E. "Promoting Organisational Commitment and Competence." In Up and Running: Integrating Information Technology and the Organisation, 73-90. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1989.
    Hingston, Peter (1985) "The Greatest Little Business Book." Hingston, Scotland. ISBN 0 906555 01 9
    Liddane, Joe, BA, FCA. Consultant editor. (1987) (Various contributors) "The Manager's Handbook". Sphere Books, London.
    Handy, Charles, (1993) "Understanding Organisations." Penguin Books.
    Ratzburg, Wilf H. (1999) "Organisational Behaviour." Geocities, Athens.
    Sharma, Shikha (1995) "Motivation Theory" Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto.
    Herzberg, Frederick (1966) "Work and the Nature of Man."
    Clayton, Alderfer. "ERG Theory"
    Wellins, Byham, and Wilson, (1991) "Empowered Teams" Jossey-Bass Publishers,
    Harrison, Lee Hecht (1997) "Beyond Downsizing: Staffing and Workforce Management for the Millennium"