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In general, leadership is a holistic field that arises from higher levels of power, the need to control others and exhibit power, ability to generate fear, force of superiority, as well as the need among group members for an influential group protector. This is too general and broad. To derive my personal definition of leadership, I will commence by stating what leadership is not.
Leadership is not seniority or an individual’s position in the organizational hierarchy. Although most people refer organizations’ senior executives as a company’s leadership, they are merely senior executives since leadership does not automatically occur when one reach a certain pay grade. Leadership does not also relate to titles as one does not need to have a title to lead. Also, leadership is not an adjective and has little to do with personal characteristics. In this regard, one does not need to have extrovert charismatic attributes to practice leadership, and people with charisma do not automatically lead. More importantly, leadership is not management, and management and leadership are not synonymous (Lussier & Achua, 365).
So, how do we define leadership? From my personal perspective, I define leadership as a practice of social influence with an aim of maximizing other people’s efforts toward the realization of certain goals (Lussier & Achua, 1). There are certain key elements in this definition. Leadership is rooted from social influence, but not from power or authority. Secondly, leadership requires others, which implies that they do not need to be ‘direct reports.' Thirdly, there is no mention of titles, personality attributes or traits in my definition since there are numerous paths and styles of effective leadership. Lastly, my definition includes a certain goal, not merly influence with no predetermined outcome.
To a certain extent, my leadership definition seemingly concurs with various definitions out there. For instance, Peter Drucker defined a leader as someone who has some followers. This definition is right, but too simplistic and incomplete. For example, an army captain may be assigned to command 200 soldiers, and by default, the soldiers will have to follow his orders. What is more, Warren Bennis defined leadership as the capacity of translating vision into reality. This definition is right, but incomplete since it seems to have overlooked the value of followers in actualizing vision. For example, every farmer has a vision for their garden, and can solely plant a lot of tomatoes to realize their vision. Bill Gates defined a leader as a person who empowers others. This definition is right as it has included others and empowerment, but it is, too, incomplete since it fails to mention ‘to what end.’ For example, I have seen many empowered rioting hooligans whose outcomes are devastating. Thus, Bill Gate’s definition of leadership lacks critical elements of vision or goals. Lastly, John Maxwell defined leadership as influence – nothing less, nothing more (Maxwell, 36) . Although it is astute to be precise, the reduction of this definition is too much. For example, a burglar with a weapon has substantial ‘influence’ over his/her victims, but such influence does not make a burglar a leader.
To conclude, what makes my definition more different from other academic definitions of leadership is that there is an inclusion of ‘maximizing other people’s efforts.' This phrase emphasizes on employee engagement, after which employees, generate discretionary effort. Therefore, a leader uses social influence to maximize the efforts of others so as to achievve the set goals. Thus, leadership refers to the process of social influence with an aim of maximizing other people’s efforts toward the realization of certain goals (Lussier & Achua, 31). A leader should have an objective or set goals that the group one is leading will aim at achieving.