Leaders Learn: 8 Quick Definitions of Leadership

Warren Buffet once said, “A Leader is someone who can get things done through other people”  While “there are as many definitions of leadership as there are people trying to define it” (Stodgill, p.259), there are some definitions which provide us a good representative sample.

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Note: The information presented in this article is taken from Gary Yukl’s book (p.3),  Leadership in Organizations)

“Most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted over other people to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and relationships in a group or organization” (Yukl, p.2)

Leadership is (Yukl, p.3):

  1. The behavior of an individual directing the activities of a group toward a shared goal
  2. The influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with the routine directives of the organization
  3.  The process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal achievement
  4. About articulating vision,s embodying values, and creating the environment within which things can be accomplished
  5. A process of giving purpose (meaningful direction) to collective effort, and causing willing effort to be expended to achieve purpose
  6. The ability to step outside the culture…to start evolutionary change processes that are more adaptive
  7. The process of making sense of what people are doing together so that people will understand and be committed
  8. The ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organization

Stogdill, R.M. (1974). Handbook of Leadership: A survey of the literature. New York: Free Press.

Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in Organizations, 8th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall