All About Leadership: How Do I Lead?

Sections of this topic

    All About Leadership: How Do I Lead?

    • Extensive guidelines for leading oneself, other individuals, groups and
    Comprehensive, practical book by Carter McNamara

    Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting,
    Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
    and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.

    It seems there has been an explosion of articles about leading and leadership
    and what to do to be a great leader. Their suggestions can seem so broad and
    wide-ranging that it can be difficult to know just what to do next when trying
    to lead. Some seem so romanticized and idealized that it is hard to imagine
    anyone being a truly great leader. Yet, there are some practical skills needed
    in leading, and they can quite different depending on whether you are leading
    yourself, other individuals, groups or organizations — and on the situation
    each is in. This topic provides the resources to develop those skills. However,
    if you want to truly understand leadership (and this topic assumes that you
    do), then you should be acquainted with its broad context, including the diversity
    of theories, models and styles in leadership. This topic mentions all of those,
    as well.

    The guidelines and resources in this topic are not sufficient to develop
    strong competencies in leadership. Those competencies come from extensive experience
    in applying that information.

    Sections of This Topic Include

    What is Leadership?
    Different Definitions
    Views That There is a Difference Between Leading
    and Managing

    View That Separating Leading and Managing Can Be

    To Truly Understand Leadership, Know Its Broad Context
    Major Theories: Different Principles and Explanations
    of Leadership
    ——Behavioral Theory
    ——Contingency Theory
    ——Functional Theory
    ——Great Man Theory
    ——Path-Goal Theory
    ——Servant Leadership Theory
    ——Situational Theory
    ——Skills Theory
    ——Trait Theory
    ——Transactional Theory
    ——Transformational Theory
    ——Additional Perspectives on Theories of Leadership
    Major Models: Different Frameworks and Elements
    of Leadership
    ——Adaptive Leadership
    ——Appreciative Leadership
    ——Authentic Leadership
    ——Dynamic Leadership
    ——Heroic Leadership
    ——Systems and Complexity Leadership
    ——VUCA Leadership
    Conventional Styles: Different Ways of Leading
    ——Autocratic (Authoritarian)
    ——Charismatic Leadership
    ——Participative (Democratic) Leadership
    ——Laissez-Faire Leadership

    How to Lead Yourself, Others, Groups and Organizations
    How Do I Know Which Theory, Model or Style to Use?
    Core Skills to Lead In Any Situation
    How to Lead Yourself
    How to Lead Another Individual
    How to Lead a Group
    How to Lead an Organization

    Test – What is Your Own Preferred Leadership Style Now?

    Miscellaneous Topics and Perspectives in Leadership
    Miscellaneous Topics
    Miscellaneous Perspectives

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics


    Different Definitions

    Books and trainings about leadership often start by defining leadership. It
    is based on the premise that if you can come to your own definition, then you
    will be more clear about whether you are successfully leading or not, and you
    will be able to explain to your followers how you are leading them and why.
    When coming to your own definition, it helps to consider others’ opinions and

    Leadership Defined (includes numerous
    definitions of leadership)

    By Steve

    There are hundreds of definitions of leadership and this is not an attempt
    to come to a consensus on a definition. The hope is to get readers to reflect
    on what they believe about leadership. It is also an attempt to give blog participants
    a general sense of how certain “experts” are describing leadership,
    in the hope that you may come to your own definition, which can then be used
    to guide your work.

    What is Leadership?

    Some view leadership as a series of specific traits or characteristics. Others
    see it as comprised of certain skills and knowledge. And some, me included,
    think of leadership as a process. This view of leadership, as a process, places
    an emphasis on social interaction and relationship. This is the idea that leadership
    is a type of relationship, one that typically includes influencing others in
    a certain direction. This leads to my current working definition of leadership:
    Leadership is a relationship that involves the mobilizing, influencing, and
    guiding of others toward desired goals. This definition does not assume that
    the goals are shared or even explicit. The word desire simply means that someone
    in the relationship, perhaps just the person in a leadership role, wants a particular
    outcome. The following are some definitions that have a bias toward leadership
    as a process:

    • “Leadership is a process of giving purpose (meaningful direction)
      to collective effort, and causing willing effort to be expended to achieve
      purpose.” (Jacobs & Jaques)
    • “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual
      or a group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation.”
      (Hersey & Blanchard)
    • “Leadership is an attempt at influencing the activities of followers
      through the communication process and toward the attainment of some goal or
      goals.” (Donelly)
    • “Leadership is defined as the process of influencing the activities
      of an organized group toward goal achievement.” (Rauch & Behling)
    • “Leadership is interpersonal influence, exercised in a situation,
      and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of
      a specified goal or goals.” (Tannenbaum, et al)

    It has been my experience that many organizational leaders, knowingly or unknowingly,
    view leadership as a set of specific traits or skills. Below are a few definitions
    that are grounded in skills and, to a lesser extent, traits.

    • “Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that
      is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective
      action to realize your own leadership potential”. (Bennis)
    • “Leadership is about articulating visions, embodying values, and creating
      the environment within which things can be accomplished.” (Richards
      and Engle)
    • “Leadership is the creation of a vision about a desired future state
      which seeks to enmesh all members of an organization in its net.” (Bryman)
    • “It is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust,
      obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.” (Ciulla)

    These definitions are entirely valid perspectives — they are simply different
    from a leadership as process perspective. Having said that, it is my impression
    that, overall, definitions of leadership are becoming more process and relationship

    How Important Is It to Have a Definition of Leadership?

    In my role as a leadership consultant it is not necessary for me to share my
    clients definition of leadership – but it is important to know whether
    they have a definition and, if they do, what is included in that definition.
    If there isn’t an understanding of what leadership entails it diminishes
    the likelihood that the client will get what they want from our relationship.
    It is similar to a client looking to hire a consultant to increase employee
    engagement and, after digging a bit deeper with the client, discovering that
    what they are actually looking for is a way to improve the efficiency of work

    Common Definitions of Leadership Miss the Point

    by Carter McNamara,
    Authenticity Consulting

    Most definitions of leadership are in regard to leading other individuals.
    However, a common assertion is that you cannot successfully lead others unless
    you first can successfully lead yourself. That includes having skills in, for
    example, career development, personal development, personal productivity and
    personal wellness.

    Thus, perhaps are more accurate and encompassing definition of leadership is
    “the nature of activities in clarifying direction and influencing progress
    in that direction”.

    Various Other Definitions


    Concepts of Leadership
    Leadership in the
    Next Millennium

    Leadership (an Introduction)

    Is Leading Different than Managing?
    (Pros and Cons)

    Traditional views of management associate it with four major functions: planning,
    organizing, leading and controlling/coordinating. However, many educators, practitioners
    and writers disagree with this traditional view. They see leading as being quite
    different than managing. Yet, others continue to see the four functions as being
    highly integrated. After reading about the different opinions and definitions,
    what do you think?

    View That Leading is Different Than Managing

    Maintaining the Delicate Balance between
    Leadership and Management

    By Dr. Greg Waddell.

    Management and Leadership are two very different systems of human behavior.
    Both are essential to the success of an organization; yet, like the repulsing
    polarity of two magnets, they push against one another and, if not kept in balance,
    can end up ejecting one or the other causing great damage to the organization
    and its people. It is difficult, yet necessary, to maintain both strong leadership
    and strong management simultaneously.

    People are naturally reluctant to step into change and the discomfort we experience
    when we find ourselves in the midst of ambiguity. Much of what we call “organization”
    is the struggle to reign in that ambiguity and bring things back to a state
    of equilibrium. Management is about developing systems and processes that enable
    us to take dominion over chaos. It is an attempt to create a semblance of order
    and constancy in an inherently complex situation. It’s about designing
    plans and systems for monitoring progress and controlling outcomes. It involves
    solving problems, giving reports, having meetings, and developing policies,
    all for the purpose of bringing things to a place of efficiency, where the ambiguity
    is dispelled and people can feel comfortable again.

    The problem is that, in a rapidly-changing environment, equilibrium can be
    deadly. The external environment today is a bit like whitewater rafting. To
    survive, you have to constantly shift your weight from one side of the raft
    to the other, thrust your paddle first to the left and then to the right, or
    use it to push off a rapidly approaching rock. This is when you need leadership
    rather than management.

    Leadership is about change. It’s about helping the organization define
    its vision, one that can take advantage of opportunities and avoid oncoming
    threats. It’s about challenging people to grow and to unleash their yet
    untapped potential. It’s about inspiring people to step into uncharted
    territory. Leaders get nervous when things are running too smoothly; often introducing
    innovative ideas just to stir things up a bit. CEO, Renato Beninatto of Milengo,
    a translation and localization industry, uses the term “chief instigator”
    to describe his job. Whereas managers constantly try to adjust to change, leaders
    are in the business of producing change.

    It’s important to understand that both are necessary for success. Unfortunately,
    some organizations I have been acquainted with continue to value management
    over leadership. In these situations, the leadership function can be mistakenly
    identified as subversive to the organization’s welfare. The call for unity
    is often a demand that those with innovative thoughts keep them to themselves.
    The status quo is confused with the sacred. If organizations are to stay afloat
    and thrive in today’s volatile environment, they must recognize that leadership
    is essential. In the Bible there is a saying about putting new wine into old
    wineskins and thus causing the wineskins to burst because they lack flexibility.
    The new wine must be put into new wineskins. Management tries to hold the wine
    in a manageable form. Leadership is the process of changing from the old, dried-out,
    leaky wineskins to the new, more resilient, more adjustable forms.

    View That Separating “Leading” from “Managing” Can Be

    by Carter McNamara,
    Authenticity Consulting

    Another view is that to be a very effective member of an organization (whether
    executive, middle manager, or entry-level worker), you need skills in all of
    the traditional functions of management, including planning, organizing, leading
    and coordinating activities — the key is you need to be able to emphasize different
    skills at different times.

    Yes, leading is different than planning, organizing and coordinating
    because leading is focused on influencing people, while the other
    functions are focused on “resources” in addition to
    people. But that difference is not enough to claim that “leading
    is different than managing” any more than one can claim that
    “planning is different than managing” or “organizing
    is different than managing”.

    The assertion that “leading is different than managing” — and the
    ways that these assertions are made — can cultivate the view that the activities
    of planning, organizing and coordinating are somehow less important than leading.
    The assertion can also convince others that they are grand and gifted leaders
    who can ignore the mere activities of planning, organizing and coordinating
    — they can leave these lesser activities to others with less important things
    to do in the organization. This view can leave carnage in organizations. Here
    is an example of a too-common situation that occurs in organizations when certain
    individuals see themselves as quite apart from the activities of planning, organizing
    and coordinating resources.
    Founder’s Syndrome —
    How Organizations Suffer — and Can Recover

    Additional Perspectives About Leading Versus Managing

    Management Styles (says they’re different and compares different

    The View
    From the Front Line

    vs. Leadership

    Things, Lead People



    It helps to be acquainted with the different major theories because it helps
    you to see leadership from a variety of different perspectives and, thus, to
    deepen and enrich your understanding of leadership in general. There are a variety
    of classifications for organizing information about leadership. In this section,
    a theory is considered to be a set of general ideas about why a certain system
    (for example, a person, process, team or organization) is behaving the way that
    it does. A model is a general framework that depicts a theory in action. A style
    is a particular nature or manner in how a theory or model is applied. Even those
    classifications can seem to overlap in the following paragraphs.

    Major Theories: Different Principles and Explanations of Leadership

    Most theories view leadership as grounded in one or more of the following three
    perspectives: leadership as a process or relationship, leadership as a combination
    of traits or personality characteristics, or leadership as certain behaviors
    or, as they are more commonly referred to, leadership skills. In virtually all
    of the more dominant theories there exist the notions that, at least to some
    degree, leadership is a process that involves influence with a group of people
    toward the realization of goals. — Steve

    After reading about the different theories, which one(s) do you favor and
    The theory that you choose depends on a variety of factors. See How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?

    Behavioral Theory

    This theory focuses especially on what highly effective leaders do. This theory
    is often preferred by educators because behaviors can rather easily be seen
    and duplicated. The major criticisms are that it doesn’t help leaders know when
    to use certain behaviors and to share their motives for using those behaviors.


    Theories of Leadership

    Contingency Theory

    This theory states that a leader’s effectiveness is contingent on how
    well the leader’s style matches a specific setting or situation. And how,
    you may ask, is this different from situational theory? In situational the focus
    is on adapting to the situation, whereas contingency states that effective leadership
    depends on the degree of fit between a leader’s qualities and style and
    that of a specific situation or context. — Steve

    Theory (Wikipedia)

    Is the Contingency Theory of Leadership?

    Functional Theory

    This theory focuses especially on the behaviors needed to help a group to improve
    its effectiveness and achieve its goals. The theory identifies the specific
    functions needed by leadership for addressing certain situations.

    Theory of Leadership


    Great Man Theory

    This theory focuses on the traits and actions of those who are considered to
    be great leaders, as if they were born with those traits of leadership — that
    leadership is a trait of those people, more than any skills that they had learned.

    Man Theory

    Man Theory of Leadership

    Path-Goal Theory

    This theory is about how leaders motivate followers to accomplish identified
    objectives. It postulates that effective leaders have the ability to improve
    the motivation of followers by clarifying the paths and removing obstacles to
    high performance and desired objectives. The underlying beliefs of path-goal
    theory (grounded in expectancy theory) are that people will be more focused
    and motivated if they believe they are capable of high performance, believe
    their effort will result in desired outcomes, and believe their work is worthwhile.

    Theory of Leadership

    Servant Leadership Theory

    This conceptualization of leadership reflects a philosophy that leaders should
    be servants first. It suggests that leaders must place the needs of followers,
    customers, and the community ahead of their own interests in order to be effective.
    The idea of servant leadership has a significant amount of popularity within
    leadership circles – but it is difficult to describe it as a theory inasmuch
    as a set of beliefs and values that leaders are encouraged to embrace. — Steve

    What is Servant
    Servant Leadership

    Situational Theory

    This theory suggests that different situations require different styles of
    leadership. That is, to be effective in leadership requires the ability to adapt
    or adjust one’s style to the circumstances of the situation. The primary
    factors that determine how to adapt are an assessment of the competence and
    commitment of a leader’s followers. The assessment of these factors determines
    if a leader should use a more directive or supportive style. — Steve

    Leadership Theory

    Situational Theory of Leadership

    Skills Theory

    This theory states that learned knowledge and acquired skills/abilities are
    significant factors in the practice of effective leadership. Skills theory by
    no means disavows the connection between inherited traits and the capacity to
    be an effective leader – it simply argues that learned skills, a developed
    style, and acquired knowledge, are the real keys to leadership performance.
    It is of course the belief that skills theory is true that warrants all the
    effort and resources devoted to leadership training and development. — Steve

    Skills Theory
    Theory of Leadership

    Trait Theory

    This theory postulates that people are either born or not born with the qualities
    that predispose them to success in leadership roles. That is, that certain inherited
    qualities, such as personality and cognitive ability, are what underlie effective
    leadership. There have been hundreds of studies to determine the most important
    leadership traits, and while there is always going to be some disagreement,
    intelligence, sociability, and drive (aka determination) are consistently cited
    as key qualities. — Steve


    What is the Trait
    Theory of Leadership

    Transactional Theory

    This is a theory that focuses on the exchanges that take place between leaders
    and followers. It is based in the notion that a leader’s job is to create
    structures that make it abundantly clear what is expected of his/her followers
    and also the consequences (i.e. rewards and punishments) for meeting or not
    meeting these expectations. This theory is often likened to the concept and
    practice of management and continues to be an extremely common component of
    many leadership models and organizational structures. — Steve



    Transformational Theory

    This theory states that leadership is the process by which a person engages
    with others and is able to create a connection that results in increased motivation
    and morality in both followers and leaders. It is often likened to the theory
    of charismatic leadership that espouses that leaders with certain qualities,
    such as confidence, extroversion, and clearly stated values, are best able to
    motivate followers. The key in transformational leadership is for the leader
    to be attentive to the needs and motives of followers in an attempt to help
    them reach their maximum potential. In addition, transformational leadership
    typically describes how leaders can initiate, develop, and implement important
    changes in an organization. This theory is often discussed in contrast with
    transactional leadership. — Steve

    is Transformational Leadership?

    Leadership: What are the Differences that Make a Difference?

    Additional Perspectives on Theories
    of Leadership

    Leadership Theories

    Leadership Theories
    Leadership Theories

    Major Models: Different Frameworks and Elements of Leadership

    The following models usually have a suggested framework and/or set of elements
    to implement that model of leadership. However, some of the following models
    have also been mentioned as theories or styles. As with the different theories,
    an acquaintance with the different models can further your understanding of
    leadership. After reading about the different models, which one(s) do you
    favor and why?
    The model that you choose depends on a variety of factors.
    See How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?

    Adaptive Leadership

    The adaptive leader needs to be able to connect organizational change to the
    core values, capabilities, and dreams of the relevant stakeholders. The adaptive
    leader seeks to foster a culture that collects and honors diversity of opinion
    and uses this collective knowledge for the good of the organization. The adaptive
    leader knows that change and learning can be painful for people, and is able
    to anticipate and counteract any reluctant behavior related to the pain. The
    adaptive leader understands that large scale change is an incremental process
    and that he/she needs to be persistent and willing to withstand pressure to
    take shortcuts.

    Leadership in Action – A Civic Leadership Coaching Scenario

    and Resiliency in Leadership

    Adaptive Change

    Strain: Seeing the Need for Change

    Change Your Ally

    The Role of Adaptive Change Leader
    Skills for Leading the Fall
    the Fall without becoming the “Fall Guy”

    Appreciative Leadership

    Appreciative leadership asserts that we all never fully “arrive”
    … instead, we all do the best we can a day at a time, using the best tools
    and resources that are available to us. Appreciative leadership shares generative
    stories and practical tools that can help each of us to feel that we belong
    and are valued, and to walk that path a little more consistently and consciously.
    In so doing, it may help others do the same – and make the world kinder,
    better place. — Steve


    Leadership: Appreciative Leadership

    for Appreciative Leadership

    Also consider

    Authentic Leadership

    Authentic leadership asserts the need for leaders to be truly authentic human
    beings in their roles as leaders. Authenticity has a variety of interpretations
    in this approach, ranging from being respectfully honest and direct with others
    in the moment to be fully self-realized human beings. Critics assert that we
    must be careful about how we interpret authenticity so that we do not romanticize
    and idealize the concept to the extent that no human being could ever achieve
    that status – and thus the approach inadvertently becomes inauthentic in itself.

    Authentic Leadership Can Be Bad Leadership
    Authentic Leadership – Dare to Be Yourself

    Also consider

    Dynamic Leadership

    Dynamical leaders pay attention to three conditions to ensure an effective,
    highly functioning organization: coherence, resilience, and fitness. Coherence
    can be thought of as an interdependence of parts. Dynamic leaders are constantly
    scanning their environment for potential surprises, and regard blips and trends
    as pieces of a larger puzzle to be solved. Resilience is the ability to integrate,
    re-calibrate and recover quickly when challenged. — Steve

    to Dynamical Leadership by Royce Holladay

    Dynamically: Achieve What Others Say is Impossible

    Heroic Leadership

    Heroic leadership is when followers are greatly influenced by a leader in whom
    they have strong confidence to solve complex problems and achieve great goals
    — in that sense, the leader is their hero. Critics caution us to not take this
    to extremes, that is, that the hero is not to be seen as someone who can save
    us from any situation. Rather, the heroic leader is someone that we greatly
    respect and, thus, we are willing to follow him or her.

    We Really Just Looking for Leaders to Save Us From Ourselves?

    Center for Heroic Leadership

    Also consider
    Transformational Leadership Overly Heroic?

    We Really Just Looking for Leaders to Save Us From Ourselves?

    Systems and Complexity Leadership

    This approach to leadership is from the believe that “today is so interconnected
    and interdependent that leaders need to differentiate situations that are complex
    from those that are complicated – think Everglades (Complex) versus Rolex
    watch (complicated) or customer relations (Complex) versus financial spreadsheet
    (complicated).” — Carol

    with the Butterfly – Part I (also see parts II through V)

    the Dynamic between Uncertainty and Understanding

    Also consider
    the “Unleashing the Power” series in the
    section Leading Yourself

    VUCA Leadership

    The VUCA framework focuses on the competencies needed to lead and act effectively
    in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world. The framework is based
    on the premises that the world is changing rapidly as never before and, thus,
    any static form of leadership soon becomes obsolete. — Carol

    Prime – A Leader’s Response

    the Dynamic between Volatility and Vision

    the Dynamic between Ambiguity and Agility

    Turbulence or Designed Instability?

    Also consider


    Conventional Styles: Different Ways of Leading

    Different styles of leadership can range from very directive and influential
    to very supportive and consensus-based. The style that you use depends on a
    variety of factors. After reading about the different styles, which one(s)
    do you favor and why?
    The style that you choose depends on a variety of
    factors. See How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?

    Overview of Conventional Styles


    Adapt your leadership style
    Are you an Innovator, an Entrepreneur, or a Manager?
    You a Crisis Manager?

    Autocratic (Authoritarian) Leadership

    Autocratic leaders rarely solicit information from those they lead, rather
    these leaders make decisions based on their own perspectives, assumptions and
    conclusions. This style is the opposite of the participatory leaders.

    Advantages & Drawbacks of the Autocratic Leadership Style
    Is Autocratic Leadership Relevant Today?
    Culture, Cars, and Leadership

    Charismatic Leadership

    Charismatic leaders influence others by the nature of their personality, for
    example, by being highly visionary, inspirational and motivational. As with
    other styles of leadership, the charismatic leader can influence others for
    highly moral or immoral reasons.

    is Charismatic Leadership?

    Leadership: The Elusive Factor in Organizational Effectiveness

    Participative (Democratic)

    Participative leadership is when the leader encourages other to take part in
    decision-making and problem-solving. It can range from decisions being made
    by the leader after suitable discussion to decisions being made by consensus
    of the participants. This approach often results in stronger understanding and
    commitment to the outcomes of the participation.

    Advantages of Participative Leadership


    Laissez-Faire Leadership

    This style can be seen as a hands-off style in which the leaders delegate responsibilities
    and decisions to the followers. The leaders do not see themselves becoming involved
    unless their is a problem that requires it.

    Leadership: A Definition

    is Laissez-Faire Leadership?

    Different Domains of Leadership — Each
    Needing Different Skills

    There are at least five different domains or primary areas of focus of leadership,
    each of them requiring somewhat different skills in leadership. This is often
    forgotten. For example:

    1. Leading yourself requires skills, for example, in self-confidence, assertiveness
      and stress management.
    2. Leading other individuals requires skills, for example, in delegating, mentoring
      and coaching.
    3. Leading groups requires skills, for example, in team building, facilitation
      and team performance management.
    4. Leading organizations requires skills, for example, in strategic planning,
      organizational change and organizational performance management.
    5. Leading communities requires skills, for example, in community organizing
      and collaboration.

    The skills in leading can increase in complexity as the primary focus of leadership
    expands. Also, the types of the skills can overlap and be highly integrated
    with each other as the primary focus expands.

    Unfortunately, we too often focus primarily on that second domain and then
    make strong assertions about what are always the most important leadership skills,
    forgetting that it really depends on the primary focus of the leadership.
    All Aspects of Leadership – 20 Different Perspectives on Leadership


    How Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?

    Key Considerations When Deciding How to Lead

    Your decision depends on the following. If you are leading another person,
    group or organization, then you might discuss the considerations with the other
    person or the leaders of the group or organization.

    1. What you believe to be the most important explanation for successful leadership
      (which theory you prefer?)
    2. What you believe to be the most important framework and elements in successful
      leadership (which model you prefer?)
    3. Your natural style (do you prefer mostly to give advice to direct others
      or ask thoughtful questions to bring out wisdom and conclusions from others?)
    4. Whether you are leading yourself, another individual, a group or an organization
      (different skills are needed for each)
    5. The culture — the nature — of the other person, group or organization
    6. The life cycle and strategic priorities of the group or organization (see
      Basic Overview
      of Life Cycles in Organizations

    Resort to Needed Competencies for a Situation?

    The above considerations can make it rather challenging when trying to determine
    how to lead. That is why leadership development programs often focus on desired
    competencies. A competency is a set of needed knowledge (new useful information),
    skills (effective application of that knowledge) and abilities (natural or instinctive
    expertise to use skills in a variety of situations) to do a certain task or

    Competencies can be identified by using a variety of methods. For example,
    by observing others who already have strong skills and abilities in leading.
    Another source is to research various best practices or standards of excellence
    in leading. Then a training and development program is customized to develop
    those competencies in others.

    to Develop a Leadership Competency Model

    Competencies for the Common Good


    Some Suggested Core Competencies to Lead In Any Situation

    Various experts would disagree on what skills and practices should be required
    for leaders in organizations. Various roles and skills are listed throughout
    the next sections in this topic. However, it would be difficult to undertake
    them without having the following core competencies.

    There is a vast range of articles suggesting core competencies for leaders.
    Many of them are referenced in

    How to Lead Yourself

    Reminder: As stated above, there are several considerations when deciding how
    to lead. Be sure to read How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?
    before using the resources
    listed in this section.

    Most information about leadership seems to start from the opinion that leading
    is about leading other people. However, you cannot effectively lead others unless
    you can first effectively lead yourself. Thus, this is the most important area
    of leadership.

    Setting Direction

    Development (includes several topics, for example, career planning,
    finding jobs, etc.)

    Development (includes several topics, for example, assessments,
    setting goals, etc.)

    Effectively Leading Yourself

    Productivity (includes several topics, for example, decision making,
    problem solving, etc.)

    Wellness (includes several topics, for example, self-confidence,
    assertiveness, etc.)

    Forgotten Type of Leadership – Self-Leadership

    Also consider

    the Power of your Story-I

    the Power of your Story-II

    the Power of your Story-III

    the Power of your Story-IV

    the Power of your Story-V

    the Power of your Story-VI

    Your Leadership Story
    Unleashing the Power of Your Story
    Unleashing the Power of your Story Leadership for Our Era

    Also consider
    The “Butterfly” series in the subsection
    “Systems-Based Leadership” in the section Major Models and Approaches.

    How to Lead Another Individual

    Reminder: As stated above, there are several considerations when deciding how
    to lead. Be sure to read How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?
    before using the resources
    listed in this section.

    The activities in leading other individuals who report directly to the leader
    in an organization is often referred to as Supervision,
    so that topic also might also be useful to you.

    Setting Direction (depending on the situation)

    Performance Goals

    Various Methods of Influencing Individuals



    “Advanced” — Effectively Leading Other Individuals



    Conflict (Managing
    Interpersonal Conflict)

    Difficult People


    Power and Influence

    and Inclusion

    from all 4Quadrants

    Also consider
    What is Supervision? How Do I Supervise?
    Guide to Management and Supervision
    do you serve?

    to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People

    Commitment: Get Rid of “It’s Not My Job!”

    Summary Principles for Staying Sane When Leading Others
    How Does a Young New, Supervisor Lead?
    Career Transition: From Technical Expert to Effective People Manager
    Creating the Container for Connection
    Just 3 Rules

    How to Lead a Group

    Reminder: As stated above, there are several considerations when deciding how
    to lead. Be sure to read How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?
    before using the resources
    listed in this section.

    Note that some experts believe that the dynamics of a collection of about 12
    people or less is quite different than a collection of 12 or more — 12 or more
    becomes more like what we think of as an “organization” with a distinct
    culture. Many people think of a “team” as apart from a group — they
    think of a team as a collection of people with a specific purpose and organized
    to achieve certain goals.

    Methods of Influencing Groups

    Problem Solving and Decision Making



    “Advanced” — Effectively Leading Groups

    Management in Groups

    Dynamics (basics about nature of groups, stages of group development,

    Thinking (seeing larger structures and patterns in processes of
    groups and organizations)


    How to Lead an Organization

    Reminder: As stated above, there are several considerations when deciding how
    to lead. Be sure to read How
    Do I Know Which Theory, Model and Style to Use?
    before using the resources
    listed in this section.

    The topic of leading large groups and organizations is often referred to as
    organizational change and development. Thus, the topic Guidelines,
    Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
    will be especially
    useful to those following the links in this section.

    Setting Direction

    Analysis (environmental scan and SWOT analysis)

    Direction (mission, vision, values and goals)

    Methods of Influence

    Performance Management (includes numerous methods and movements)

    “Advanced” — Effectively Leading in Organizations

    Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents


    Change – Part 1

    Competencies and Change – Part 2

    a Dilemma

    from all 4Quadrants

    Test – What is Your Own Preferred Leadership
    Style Now?

    First, you might find out what your preferred leadership style is now. Take
    this online quiz:

    Your Leadership Style?

    Do you want to change anything about your style or leadership skills? You can
    improve your skills in a rather informal approach or in a carefully designed
    and systematic approach. The latter is often referred to as a leadership development
    program. Here are guidelines for either approach.

    How to
    Design Your Leadership Development Program


    Miscellaneous Topics in Leadership

    Women in Leadership

    Power, and Leadership

    and Senior Organizational Leadership

    in Leadership

    Greatly Exaggerated Demise of Heroic Leadership: Gender, Power,
    and the Myth of the Female Advantage

    Women Leading Change

    Unconventional Views of Leadership

    Transformational Leadership Overly Heroic?

    We Really Just Looking for Leaders to Save Us From Ourselves?

    Leading Nonprofits

    The vast majority of guidelines about leading for-profit and
    government organizations also apply to nonprofits, so do consider
    the above information in this topic.

    Building in Nonprofits

    Leading a Nonprofit Organization

    Cultivating Meaning

    and the Quest for Meaning

    Miscellaneous Perspectives on Leadership

    There is a great deal of anecdotal information about leadership — much of
    it seems more in the realm of spiritual development than leadership. For example,
    leaders are encouraged to have integrity, compassion, vision, charisma, fortitude,
    humility, listening skills, decision-making skills, problem-solving skills,
    authenticity, strong ethical principles, continuous learning, courage, wisdom,
    humor, tenacity, balance, strong sense of purpose, assertiveness, facilitation
    skills, planning skills, knowledge of the industry, change management skills,
    coaching skills, delegation skills and meeting management skills.

    They are encouraged to deftly switch between different modes of leading, e.g.,
    adaptive leadership, appreciative leadership, authentic leadership, charismatic
    leadership, heroic leadership, participative leadership, servant leadership,
    transformational leadership and VUCA leadership but rarely autocratic leadership
    or Laissez-Faire leadership.

    Here are some additional perspectives about leadership.
    New Paradigm
    in Management (including in Leadership)

    for Leadership Impact – Influence Others

    and Leadership

    Creative Leadership No-Brainer, Part I

    Creative Leadership No-Brainer, Part II

    Attributes of a Leader

    Actions of Leaders

    Tips to Delivering Customer Value (a Leadership Challenge)

    $125,000 Thank You



    Leadership – The 5 Basic Rules

    a Peak Performing Leader Through Flow

    Leaders Evolve Fast Enough

    Warriors – Leaders for Complex Times

    Freedom to Be Foolish

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Leadership

    In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
    have posts related to Leadership. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts.
    Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog
    or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.

    Leadership Blog

    Supervision Blog

    For the Category of Leadership:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
    want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
    Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been
    selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

    Related Library Topics

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