Leadership is a key concept in understanding how to improve staff behaviour and effectiveness.


A basic definition of a leader is 'someone who exercises influence over other people'.

This can be expanded into a more complex definition: 'Leadership is an interpersonal influence directed toward the achievement of a goal or goals'.

  • Interpersonal - between people.
  • Influence - the power to affect others.
  • Goal - something that we need/want to achieve.

Leadership is a conscious activity and is concerned with setting goals and inspiring people to provide commitment to achieve the organisation's goals.

Leadership should not be confused with the related concept of management.

Theories and research relating to leadership

There are many theories relating to leadership. In this knowledge bank we focus on the following theories (please click on the appropriate links to explore further):

Trait theories

Trait theories argue that good leaders have certain natural attributes or qualities that allow them to lead (such as a cheerful personality, or fairness).

Leaders are therefore born, not made.

Style Theories

Style theories argue that certain leadership approaches or 'styles' can be learnt and used by a manager, depending on the situation

Contingency Theories

Contingency theories of leadership suggest that there is no correct style, or approach. Instead, successful leadership involves adapting to the particular circumstances in which the leader finds themselves.

Created at 8/10/2012 10:03 AM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 11/13/2012 2:55 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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