What it means to be a successful leader in today’s complicated and ever-transforming world is different from decades ago. What has now been considered successful leadership has changed from past years’ authoritative and heroic styles. In today’s environment, where the workforce is constructed of teams of diverse, multi-generational, and often global employees, leaders must understand how to influence, inspire, and coach their co-workers to push their potential while meeting the individual and the organization’s needs. Leaders must be authentic, compassionate, moral, and modest servants to their followers, who understand the benefits of mentoring their employees to become better selves.

Boy Scouts of America: Training leaders for tomorrow. By Bacastow, C. (2018) Content and user contributions on this site are licensed under CC BY: Attribution with attribution required.


Leadership is used to establish direction and influence others to follow.  Leadership is how an individual mobilizes people and resources to achieve a goal. It requires a learned set of skills and attributes that can be nurtured. Leaders inspire, challenge, and encourage others. They may persuade and influence, and they show resilience and persistence. All aspects of society have leaders. The concept of leader may call to mind a CEO, a prime minister, a general, a sports team captain, or a school principal; examples of leadership exist across various organizations.

Leaders motivate others to aspire to achieve and help them to do so. They focus on the big picture with a vision of what could be and help others to see that future and believe it is possible. This way, leaders seek to bring substantive changes to their teams, organizations, and society.

Leadership is a relationship between followers and those who inspire them and provide direction for their efforts and commitments. Without followers, there can be no leaders; good leaders often demonstrate followership. Leadership affects how people think and feel about their work and how it contributes to a larger whole. Influential leaders often mean the difference between increasing a team’s ability to perform or diminishing its performance, keeping efforts on track or encountering a disaster, and even between success or failure.

In this book, we will discuss the above mentioned concepts and other ideas.

Leadership. http://oer2go.org/mods/en-boundless/www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/leadership-9/defining-leadership-68/leadership-337-1044/index.html Except where noted, content and user contributions on this site are licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 with attribution required.

Leadership and Management

Leadership is one of the most essential concepts in management, and many researchers have proposed theories and frameworks for understanding it. Some have distinguished among types of leadership, such as charismatic, heroic, and transformational leadership. Other experts discuss the distinctions between managers and leaders, while others address the personality and cognitive factors most likely to predict a successful leader. The many dimensions of leadership indicate how complex a notion is and how difficult effective leadership can be.

There will be more discussion on leadership and management later in this book.

What is leadership? By Aaron Spenser. Lumens. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-principlesofmanagement/chapter/what-is-leadership/ Except where noted, content and user contributions on this site are licensed under CC BY: Attribution with attribution required.

What Does Successful Leadership Look Like?

Leadership success today has numerous gauges by which to measure against. While some may weigh heavily on profit margins, others may look to employee satisfaction and retention as better leadership proficiency metrics. For success today and in coming years, leaders must influence their organizations to be effective with an increasingly diverse workforce operating in a complex global environment. Leading these boundaryless organizations requires leaders who recognize that people are not just a means to an organizational outcome but are also an end in and of themselves (Latham, 2014). As Gordon and Yuki (as cited in Latham, 2014) attest, “While there is no shortage of concepts comprising the many leadership theories, there is little consensus on what constitutes effective leadership” (p.12).

Boy Scouts of America: Training leaders for tomorrow. By Bacastow, C. (2018) Content and user contributions on this site are licensed under CC BY: Attribution with attribution required.

Leadership Function and Styles

Leadership function refers to the main focus or goal of the leader.

An instrumental leader is goal-oriented and primarily concerned with accomplishing set tasks. We can imagine an army general or a Fortune 500 CEO would be instrumental leaders.

Expressive leaders are more concerned with promoting emotional strength and health and supporting people. Social and religious leaders—rabbis, priests, imams, directors of youth homes, and social service programs—are often perceived as expressive leaders. The longstanding stereotype is that men are more instrumental leaders and women are more expressive leaders. And although gender roles have changed, even today, many women and men who exhibit the opposite-gender manner can be seen as deviants and can encounter resistance. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s experiences show how society reacts to a high-profile woman who is an instrumental leader. Despite the stereotype, Boatwright and Forrest (2000) have found that both men and women prefer leaders who combine expressive and instrumental leadership.

Leadership styles.

Democratic leaders encourage group participation in all decision-making. They work hard to build consensus before choosing a course of action and moving forward. This type of leader is particularly common, for example, in a club where the members vote on which activities or projects to pursue. Democratic leaders can be well-liked, but there is often a danger that the danger will proceed slowly since consensus building is time-consuming. A further risk is that group members might pick sides and entrench themselves into opposing factions rather than reaching a solution.

Leadership Styles. OpenStax CNX. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/alamo-sociology/chapter/reading-leadership-styles/ License CC:BY: Attribution


As the name suggests, authoritarian leaders issue orders and assign tasks. These leaders are clear instrumental leaders with a strong focus on meeting goals. Often, entrepreneurs fall into this mold, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Not surprisingly, the authoritarian leader risks alienating the workers. There are times, however, when this leadership style can be required. Each leadership style can be effective and successful in different circumstances.

Directive Leadership

This type of leadership is defined as the type of leadership where leaders provide a direct and unambiguous approach to their followers. Since the subordinates will be provided with the necessary direction, guidance, and support, they will be required to achieve the expected results in exchange.

Laissez-Faire leadership

This type of leadership does not exercise strict control over their subordinates directly. Most people on the team are supposed to be highly experienced individuals. Thus, most of them do not need strict control and supervision. Due to the disadvantages of the Laissez-Faire leadership style, team members may lack communication and feedback for improvement. In the end, they may fail to meet the deadline for project completion.

Laissez-faire leaders provide a suitable environment for subordinates and empower them to make decisions themselves. As the subordinates have full decision-making authority, laissez-faire leaders do not usually give feedback on the accomplished tasks.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is the style where the leader rewards or punishes the employee for the task accomplished. Several studies on leadership found that when transactional leadership is employed in the organization, the mutual trust between the leader and the task-holder develops. Employees will be punished if there is a mistake in the work of subordinates. Thus, employees may perform not at their best, and they may be afraid of making a mistake. As a result, they are less likely to work on new projects and learn new skills and knowledge. In contrast, employees who perform at their best are rewarded well, motivating them to work harder.

Transactional leadership, a system based on rewards, is used to motivate followers. Though, the motivation given through such an approach does not last long.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders are reported to work based on a balanced approach. This can be explained by the fact that they help their subordinates to solve some of the challenging issues. At the same time, they teach their subordinates how to tackle problems in a similar context. Therefore, researchers believe that the role of transformational leaders can be observed in bringing their employees’ motivational level to the self-actualization stage. Moreover, the most common qualities used to describe transformational leaders’ personality include charisma and intellectual stimulation. Another name for transformational leadership is a facilitator. In other words, team members and leaders motivate each other to achieve high performance and motivation levels. Thus, it is considered one of the most commonly adopted types of leadership, where team members encourage each other by different means to achieve organizational goals and long-term plans. Unlike other types of leadership, this type of leadership has a high level of communication between the team members. Therefore, the case of transformational leadership was related to increased motivation levels, higher job satisfaction, commitment, productivity, and performance. Thus, transformational leaders’ control, vision, and enthusiasm for inspiring their followers lead to higher results in management. In this context, the three essential components of transformational leaders need to be reviewed.

  1. Individual consideration (Mumford et al. 2000).
  2. intellectual stimulation, which means encouraging the followers to see the issue from the other side and broaden their outlook on specific matters.
  3. Inspirational motivation, where the leader stresses the particular importance of an employee in the team, which helps the organization to reach the goal and successful cooperation and accomplishment of the project (Chen et al. 2005).

Transformational leadership this style serves to improve the collaboration among organization members (Keegan et al., 2004; Bass and Avolio J., 1990; Pearce, 1981). Transformational leaders let their followers feel like part of the organization. Such leaders have a strong inspirational vision to encourage the organization’s employees to care more about the company’s goals than their own goals and interests. Such leaders are believed to be enthusiastic and energetic.


  • Bass, B. and Avolio, J. (1990). The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press
  • Chen, H., Beck, S., and Amos, L. (2005). Leadership Styles and nursing faculty job satisfaction in Taiwan. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 37, 374–380. Crossref
  • Keegan, A. E., and Den Hartog, D. N. (2004). Transformational leadership in a project-based environment: a comparative study of the leadership styles of project managers and line managers. International journal of project management, 22(8), 609-617. Crossref
  • Mumford, M., Zaccaro, S. J., Johnson, J. F., Diana, M., Gilbert, J. A. and Threlfall, K. (2000). Patterns of leader characteristics: Implications for performance and development. The Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 115–133. Crossref

Leadership Styles and Job Performance: A Literature Review. By Mohammed Al-Malki,  Wang Juan. https://researchleap.com/leadership-styles-job-performance-literature-review/Licensed under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Formal vs. Informal Leadership

Generally speaking, individuals assigned titles and authority positions are expected to provide leadership. Because that leadership role is officially recognized, this is known as formal leadership. However, plenty of individuals have formal leadership positions but do not provide strong leadership. This is often problematic and can leave the organization lacking direction and purpose.

Some individuals do not have official leadership positions but exhibit leadership qualities and practices. They help create the company vision with innovative ideas and inspire and motivate their coworkers. When leadership is exhibited without an official position, it is known as informal leadership. This is a valuable trait for an employee to have

Aaron Spenser and Lumens. What is leadership? https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-principlesofmanagement/chapter/what-is-leadership/Except where noted, content and user contributions on this site are licensed under CC BY: Attribution with attribution required.

When asked, “What do leaders do?” many professionals will respond that the leader’s singular job is to “get results.” Daniel Goleman (2000), in his article “Leadership That Gets Results,” expresses that virtually no quantitative research has demonstrated which precise leadership behaviors yield positive results. He continues that thousands of “leadership experts” have made careers of evaluating and coaching executives, all in pursuit of producing business people who can transform and turn bold objectives into reality – strategic, financial, or organizational.

Several common threads emerge from the core literature which can be drawn upon to define successful leadership. While Latham’s (2014) work, similar to the research of Palmer, Walls, Burgess, and Stough (2001), admits to the benefits of transformational leadership, as does the research of Bottomley, Burgess, and Fox (2014); Latham (2014) concedes transformational leadership does not entirely meet the needs of today’s complex environment and workforce. Instead, Latham (2014) supports the concept of servant leadership, much as Rohm and Osula’s (2013) research concludes, stating that servant leadership appeals to the needs of a multi-generation labor force. The research findings of multiple works agree that there is no singular answer to a leadership approach but instead settle on the realization that multiple approaches, used appropriately, are more apt to render positive outcomes.

Boy Scouts of America: Training leaders for tomorrow. Bacastow, C. (2018) Content and user contributions on this site are licensed under : CC BY: Attribution with attribution required.

  • Bottomley, K., Burgess, S., & Fox III, M. (2014). Are the Behaviors of Transformational Leaders Impacting Organizations? A Study of Transformational Leadership. International Management Review, 10(1), 5–9.
  • Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that Gets Results. Harvard business review, 78(2), 4-17.
  • Latham, J. R. (2014). Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research. Quality Management Journal, 21(1), 11-15.
  • Rohm Jr., F. W., & Osula, B. (2013). Scouting and Servant Leadership in Cross-Cultural Perspective: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 3(1), 26.


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