Leadership is a widely discussed topic both on scholarly and on practical levels. The vision of leadership has changed over the centuries. At some points of the history, authoritarian leaders were praised (i.e. Adolf Hitler in Germany or Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union). These leaders ruled through intimidation of the masses. At other points, democratic leaders, who stressed their roles as empowered employees, were popular. These leaders ruled/rule taking into account the wishes of the public and try to serve the interests of the people. My definition of leadership, whether it is actually business or political leadership, is based on understanding that it is a consistent process of motivating other people in making maximal efforts to achieve the set goals.
The definition above emphasizes the role of motivation as a kind of influence on other people. It is apparent that leadership is only possible when a person can influence other people. Those formal leaders who are appointed in organizations may often be unable to motivate people around since they may lack social influence, while in many organizations informal leaders exert strong influence and can motivate other people well.
Further, an important element of the definition is goal setting. An effective leader, I believe, should be able to set clear goals, which would be understandable, achievable, and interesting for the employees. Besides, the leader should envision certain steps that will be taken in order to achieve the goal. Also, the leader should be able to explain the goal in detail and explain how every person can contribute individually to reaching the set goal.
Importantly, leadership includes an ability to motivate and influence other people the way that start making not just any efforts, but maximal efforts. This is I believe to be true leadership. Once the motivation is organized properly, leadership can reap good results as the motivated employees will strive to achieve the set goal through effective work.
A significant part of the provided definition is the element of process. While many people perceive leadership as a quality, this understanding is quite restrictive. Leadership should be better defined through the concept of process as a dynamic, rather than static, notion. Leadership is working to motivate and support people rather than simply radiating leadership as a personal attribute.
Importantly, this definition of leadership does not automatically imply formal leadership through superiority or appointed position in a company. Leadership stems from a personal ability to motivate people, foster the achievement of common goals, and set these goals in a clear way.
Finally, the best way to understand the nature of leadership is to see it not just as a matter of charisma and strong character or authority that put the leader above other people, but to understand the leader as a part of the community and as a kind of empowered member of the same community. Just as one Chinese philosopher by the name Lao Tzu, who lived in 600 B.C. rightfully said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists. Not so good, when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say “we did it ourselves.” (Holden Leadership Center).
To sum up, this paper has discussed the definition of leadership as a dynamic process motivating other people in making maximal efforts to achieve the set goals. It has also clarified the definition of leadership through focusing on its vital elements. The paper has provided the understanding of a leader’s position as an empowered member of the community.
- Holden Leadership Center. “Great Leadership Quotes.” University of Oregon. N.d. Web. 1 December 2013.