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Leadership Definitions and Management Challenges Essay

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2020

With the increase of management challenges, organizations have realized that leadership is essential for growth. In line with its importance, the concept of leadership has attracted discussions in management literature. Despite the agreement that lies in the varied roles of leadership, scholars have not come up with a distinct definition of this term. This paper will utilize classical literature to provide three different definitions of “Leadership.”

A Differentiated Role

Bass (4) defined Leadership through its differentiation role. Derived from the Role Theory, this definition is based on the assumption that individuals take different positions in groups within an institution. In the role theory, each position has an accurate definition that provides each group member with a role. For instance, as argued by Paige (65), while some individuals are born to rule, others are born to serve. According to Gordon (34), leadership concept was viewed as the interaction between individuals in a group. In such groups, each member had a unique role. As far as this position is concerned, differentiation was brought to create varied levels of influence within an organization. Bass (17) argued that through its differentiation role, leadership should integrate group functions so as to maintain unity of actions in achieving organizational objectives.

An Exercise of Influence

Leadership assumes the exercise of influence. As an exercise of influence, leadership focuses on the move towards generality. To define this term, Neustadt (29) viewed the concept of leadership as persuasion of change in how people conduct themselves. Furthermore, Bass (13) saw leadership as a process through which people influence activities within a group so as to achieve a common goal. This definition inclines to the interactive nature of relationships that exist between masters and their servants. To further strengthen this definition, Bass (17) noted that leadership focuses on individuals’ effort to change their behaviors.

Therefore, when a member of an organization effectively manages change, he is considered to be a successful leader. On the other hand, if other organizational members are rewarded or reinforced to change, it is viewed as effective leadership. In this definition, influence implies that there are varied extents through which individuals can influence each other within an organization. However, there does not exist a leadership influence that can work in the absence of a feedback relation. Therefore, in this case, influence is the primary role of a leader. As argued by Miller (65), while people view leadership as a discretionary influence, managers become leaders when they utilize opportunities in exerting influence over actions that go beyond the description of their roles.

A Form of Persuasion

Lastly, leadership is viewed as a form of persuasion. To come up with this unique definition, theorists have viewed leadership as the successful persuasion action which takes place in the absence of coercion (Bass 14). For instance, after examining America’s presidents, Neustadt (10) noted that leadership was entirely derived from an individual’s power to persuade others. In support of this view, Bass (4) noted that leadership involved the management of people by way of inspiring and persuading them rather than through direct or indirect threat of force. In most cases, this definition of leadership was preferred by scholars of politics and social movements. Used by industrial theorists, this definition was opposed the authoritarian leadership concepts.

Works Cited

Bass, Bernard M. Leadership, Psychology, And Organizational Behavior: a way of releasing the creative power of groups. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960. Print.

Gordon, Thomas. Group-Centered Leadership: a way of releasing the creative power of groups. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955. Print.

Miller, John A. Structuring/Destructuring: Leadership in Open Systems. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, 1973. Print.

Neustadt, Richard E. Presidential Power: The politics of leadership from FDR to Carter. New York: Wiley, 1980. Print.

Paige, Glenn D. The Scientific Study of Political Leadership. New York: The Free Press, 1977. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Leadership Definitions and Management Challenges'. 30 June.

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