Three Aspects of Leadership

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Leadership is defined as a process by which an individual influences others to obtain goals. There are three aspects that should be addressed when explaining leadership. One aspect is that leadership is a social influence process; leadership could not exist without a leader and one or more followers. Another leadership aspect is compliance; all of the leader’s directions must be complied with voluntarily. Compliance is what separates leadership from other influence-based formal authority. Finally, leadership results in the followers’ behavior, that is purposeful and goal-directed which must be in some organized setting (Leadership Theories and Studies, 2009).

Some people believe leadership and management are one in the same; however, this is not true because management involves planning, staffing, directing and controlling and, a manager is a person who performs these functions (Leadership Theories and Studies, 2009). The term manager is a formal title given to a person who has authority by virtue of his or her position or office. (Leadership Theories and Studies, 2009) Leadership, by contrast, is about influence; leaders use factors other than just their formal authority to influence subordinates. There are three major leadership theories developed from the 1930s to the 1970s which attempt to explain why some leaders are better than others, these theories are: trait leadership (1930s and 1940s), behavior leadership (1940s and 1950s), and contingency leadership (1960s and 1970s).

The trait leadership theories assume that people inherit certain abilities and traits that make them better suited for leadership than others (Stroup, 2004). The trait theories originated from an earlier impression called the “great man” theories pop...

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