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Concept of Leadership - A reflection

Before we talk about the Concept of Leadership, we should have an idea of what it is and then what the requisites are for its existence. Then, we must find out what it takes for that something to exist. "Leadership" is no different. People flock to "leadership" courses and programs, but how many really know what they are flocking to or why? "Leadership" might be compared to a set of clothes in that we must know what the article is and then what it takes to wear it. You must have a size X frame to wear a size X shirt, for example. Not only is there the question of a proper fit, but the person must ask her or himself why s/he want to put that shirt on. Just because it technically can fit, is it desirable to wear it? If it is a dress shirt, you would not to wear it while repairing an automobile or cleaning a horse stall.

We can look back to Moses, Xenophon, and Shaohao several thousands of years ago for examples of who are regarded as leaders. Yet, one can point to pre-history in referring to legends, evidencing people thinking that leadership seems to have existed almost forever. Indeed, if we look at animals, we see dominant individuals. Even beehives have their queens and a rather well established hierarchy of decision-making. We can point to territory, efficiency of performing tasks, and personal security as reasons for hierarchy. Dominant roles are held both by males in patriarchal societies and women in matriarchal ones, although the latter have been more common. Patriarchal societies are comparatively in the existence of humanity a more recent development.

We already discussed the contextual usage of the word in Etymology of Lead and various concept of leadership that different societies have attached to its meaning throughout history.

It was said in an article, Reflection on motivational theories, that the most fundamental form of leadership is between two persons, where one may do so little as guide the other. That guidance, even suggestive in form, demarcates an inequality between the two, one following the other, even if it is meant taking advice. From this simple level, that mere advice can escalate to pure dominance, "do this or else...". From the two individuals, we logically can proceed to groups, where one or more persons can guide or lead others. For example, there may be a committee of persons who act in an advisory capacity for the others, either as an authority or a general population. At still a more intense level, one can find an autocratic leader who simply issues commands for another person or a group.

The controlling variable in all these situations, thus the very nature of the concept of leadership, is inequality in function, where one entity (group or individual) follows another. It is immaterial the degree of guidance in determining whether a leadership situation exists. The person others follow is the leader. Naturally, there may be more complicated situations where roles are reversed, as in pure democracies. For example, a city council following the advice of a committee, or a State government abiding to the dictates of a bankruptcy court.

As one can imagine the nature of the population(s) in all these cases is quite varied with respect to temperaments, ability to do tasks, and so forth. It can be expected, also, that the styles of leadership will vary, not only across situations, but within the same situation. On one level the leadership may simply be of a consultative nature, and in the next moment, it will be more directive. The reasons for such changes are just as variegated as the situations. One central question does emerge from all this, however, and that is Be a Leader - What does it take?

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