Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Research of the Nature of Leadership Activities 1

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Research of the Nature of Leadership Activities 1

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Leadership is a topic that is now a matter of high interest and attention, as reflected in a large number of books and articles on the subject (Yukl, 2010). Despite the enormous amount of professional and popular literature, the concept of leadership is associated with many unanswered questions and controversial conclusions. One of the most important theoretical problems is the lack of uniform definitions of leadership as such, resulting in a lack of practically applicable characteristics of leadership activities. Findings presented in literature mostly talk about how to act like leaders, emphasizing their personal characteristics, or describing different leadership styles and types of leaders. A leader is mostly seen as a complex entity equipped with features that make him/her ideal for the role of a leader. Excessive research on characteristics carried out in the past decades, however, did not reveal which features guarantee leadership success (Northouse, 2010). Practical examples also show that the personality that does not have the selected features, still may be an effective leader too (Ulrich et al., 2009). On the other hand, it cannot be explained why leaders even though they possess leadership characteristics based on the research, unexpectedly fail.

Looking back on the extensive research concerning the characteristics of leaders, we know very little about what leaders actually do in their daily work, or how they do it. Comprehensive studies on this topic exist, resulting in a completely non-specific and metaphorical understanding of the whole concept of leadership based on personality, charisma or holding certain positions. Leadership should be seen more widely and same applies to the characteristics of leadership and leadership styles, as well as how are leaders manifested outwardly through their work, what is the nature of their work. Comprehensive understanding of leadership involves not only understanding the personality of a leader, his/her value orientation, properties and characteristics, i.e. "Who is a leader?" and a style of leadership used by a leader, that is, "How does he/she lead?", but also actions that a leader performs, i.e., "What is he/she doing in fact?"

1.Literature overview

Leadership is a concept that in managerial language, despite more than half a million books about leaders did not have a clear and unambiguous interpretation. According to Crainer (1995) there are about 400 definitions of leadership - "it's a real minefield of misunderstandings and differences, through which theorists and practitioners have to walk". The definition of leadership is arbitrary and largely subjective. Stogdill (1948) after a comprehensive review of the literature on leadership concluded that "there are almost as many definitions of leadership as those who have tried to define this concept". Confusion is caused mainly due to using other misleading terms such as management, administration, power, authority and control to describe similar phenomena. "It seems that the concept of leadership has always escaped from us, or appears in a different form to mock with its sliding properties and complexity. That's why we invented endless definitions to deal with it ... and now this concept is yet not well defined", says Bennis (1959).

Leadership is defined in different ways. First, leadership occurs in groups. Leadership is "the behavior of an individual directing the activities of a group toward a shared goal." (Hemphill, Coons, 1957) Similarly Northouse (2010) says that "leadership involves influencing a group of individuals who have a common purpose". Second, leadership is a process or transactional event that occurs between the leader and the followers, it is not a trait or characteristic of leader. "Leadership is realized in the process whereby one or more individuals succeed in attempting to frame and define the reality of others" (Smircich, Morgan, 1982) Jacobs and Jaques (1990) pointed out that "it is a process of giving purpose to collective effort, and causing willing effort to be expended to achieve purpose". …

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