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What is Leadership?

            What is leadership? Most people have their own unique opinions regarding what they feel the answer to the previous question should be, but who is to say they are right, and that their thoughts on leadership are "ideal?" The vast majority of true leaders takes an amalgam of leadership styles and apply these styles fit their unique situations. In his book "An Integrative Theory of Leadership," author Martin Chemers defines leadership as " a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of other in the accomplishment of a common task" (Chemers, 1997: 1). The most powerful term in the previous statement is "influence." Influence is a leader's most powerful ally, and most potent adversary, as it is the foundation of a leader's effectiveness. There are other highly beneficial aspects to a leader's success, such as charisma, honesty, competency, caring, trustworthiness, etc., but they are not paramount to success. A leader is nothing if he or she is unable to influence his or her constituents, but, provided he or she has the ability to influence the constituents to work towards the "common task," the other attributes commonly accepted as being crucial to effective leadership become secondary. If one considers what attributes a first-time leader possesses regarding qualities associated with effective leadership, it becomes readily apparent that the "new guy" often has very few. Despite this common conception, a leader that cannot influence his or her constituents, regardless of which attributes he or she possesses, is a lame duck. However, if "effective leadership" requires all of these attributes, the "effective leader" would very quickly die out. There will always be the "lucky few" who always seem to possess these skill right from the starting gates, but for the majority of up - and - coming leaders, these attributes come only with experience. According to Chemers, there are three fundamental requirements a person must meet in order to become anything that resembles an effective leader, which make up his integrative model.

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