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What is a Leader?

What is a leader?

A Leader is a credible person who can alters one's thought, feelings or actions in a manner that enlists others to pursue the accomplishment of a common goal.

What is a leader? If we take the definition from Wikipedia, leadership "is the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task." Thus, a leader is the person that practices this social influence.

All right, that's all very nice, but just exactly, what does the process of social influence really mean? If you've read the article, What is a Manager, you will notice that this concept of social influence isn't part of the manager's responsibility. We investigated this difference in details in the Leadership vs. Management article. To refine our understanding of what a leader is, let's take a deeper look into social influence as this is really what defines a leader.

Social influence

Social influence by Wikipedia's definition occurs when an individual's thoughts, feelings or actions are affected by other people. That means a leader must not only adopt behaviors that will affect his/her followers thoughts, feelings or actions, but these parameters must be affected in a manner that will contribute towards the goal. And that is where the art of leadership takes on all of its meaning.

Mr. Herbert C. Kelman provides an excellent paper Compliance, Identification, And Internalization Three Processes Of Attitude Change which provides us with some insights into how deep this influence has been ingrained into the thinking of our followers.

We as a leader should really strive to achieve internalization.

Internalization is the process that the recipient internalizes the change to its deepest level, actually believing that the change will be beneficial and therefore changes his/her belief system accordingly. This will result in a long lasting change. However, the only way this internalization process can take place is if the leader gains enough credibility among his followers.

So, what is a leader? How would you answer the question?

Share your thoughts

Leaders are constantly seeking to exchange their knowledge, because that's how we increase our leadership skills.

What Other Leaders Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other leaders to this page...

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