Frederick W. Gibson
Fred E. Fiedler
University of Washington
The actions of a person who, whether elected, appointed, or emerging by group consensus, directs, coordinates, and supervises the work of others for the purpose of accomplishing a given task. This excludes, for example, fashion or opinion leaders, and leaders of groups designed to enhance the growth or adjustment of their members, or to provide for the members' enjoyment. It has been said that there are as many definitions of leadership as people who write about it. Although this may be poetic license, there is no doubt that the number of definitions is considerable.
Leadership has fascinated humanity for at least as long as the existence of written records. Plato's Republic (about 500 B.C.E.) is an early example, but there are even earlier references to leadership in ancient Egyptian documents. The popular concern with leadership is perhaps best seen by the more than 7,500 empirical leadership studies that have been reported in the literature (Bass 1990). The reasons for the popularity of this topic are not difficult to find. Leadership is an ever-present social phenomenon in all cultures. Furthermore, the quality of leadership frequently determines the fate of a group or an organization. In addition, a leader is almost always required whenever a job cannot be done by one person alone. Leadership has been a peculiarly American concern, in large part