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Leadership

Introduction

Leadership it seems is part of the human condition. Mankind is a social animal, most comfortable in groups; where there are groups there are those who take the lead and those who follow. Leadership comes in many forms - autocratic, entrepreneurial, charismatic, transformational, facilitative, servant - the context should dictate what is most appropriate for successful outcomes.

While most of us think we understand what leadership is, an agreed universal definition is elusive. It can be an art, a science, a process, an attribute, or a set of qualities and capabilities. Warren Bennis offers pause for thought around just what leadership is in his statement:

'Leadership is like beauty: it's hard to define, but you know it when you see it.'

And this leads us to the critical issue. We can intellectualise around the concept of leadership but in fact, it is experienced in the moment. We know it when we experience or feel it; it is only then that we are willing to buy in and 'follow.' It is an activity and a process as much as a property. Effective leadership, therefore, cannot be just about rank, privilege, birthright, title or money but more about followership; about the permission and hence 'authority' to lead that followers confer. Indeed, the only definition of 'leader' is someone who has followers. So, let's ask what it will take to achieve followership in 21st century contexts? How is this different from the past, and just what qualities, attributes, and capabilities will it take to succeed?