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Leadership as a Broad Concept

In Bernard Bass’s Meaning of Leadership, he touches on the idea that there is no concise and rigid definition of “leadership”. Professor Bezio mentioned this same issue on the first day of class, and I am curious to see how we start to broadly define it throughout the course.  “The meaning of leadership may depend on the kind of institution in which it is found”, this quote from the article hones into the idea that leadership looks different in every situation, every institution, and every person. There is no way to have one simple definition.

Bass’s Concepts of Leadership illustrated that the leadership qualities that society values has changed overtime, and will continue to. In my Leadership and the Social Sciences class we discussed that there are many cognitive, interpersonal, and personality traits that all prove to be important to have as a leader. These include integrity, self-confidence, wisdom, expertise, authoritarianism, passion, and many more. The historical views of leadership discussed in this article from time periods as far back as B.C. times seem to emphasize power and authority as the most necessary traits to have to become a successful leader. 

In today’s society I believe we value more than just law and order and power within our leaders. As followers, we want to relate to our leaders on a more personal level and follow them because they are passionate, not simply because they seem to be powerful and mighty. 

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6 Comments

  1. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    I had never previously thought about leadership on such a broad scale. Before, whenever i thought of leadership I would always define it as telling someone what to do or being a good example to others. In reality, I aggree with your point that leadership is all relative to the situation and is not concrete.

  2. Morgan Crocker Morgan Crocker

    I agree that today’s society would value more than just law and order and power within a leader, I feel like today’s society shows more respect to people that we can relate to and understand on a personal level. I also agree with the meaning of leadership depending on the kind of institution. I can think my captain on the track team shows great leadership skills on the track, but that does not mean she will show great leadership skills if she were to be the president or even just the captain of a different sport.

  3. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    I liked your comment on how people today want to relate to their leaders more than just look up to them. I agree with this and find myself looking for leaders who do not put themselves above the “lay people”, but show their more human side allowing people to truly connect to them. Being able to lead their people and relate to them is one of the most respectable qualities a leader can have in my opinion.

  4. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    Sara, you make a great point in addressing the evolution of societal norms surrounding leadership. That said, I believe the political and economic structure of the United States perpetuates antiquated methods of leadership dominated by masculinity and status. The limited social mobility of our economy allows for complacency and offers very little incentive for powerful people who meet traditional standards of leadership to change.

  5. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    After reading Bernard Bass’ Meaning of Leadership, I also wondered how we would define leadership as we progressed with the course. I agreed with all of Bernard Bass’s descriptions of leadership and now realize that leadership does not have a singular definition. As Bernard Bass mentioned, the definition of leadership is multifaceted and ranges from being able to persuade people to being able to comply with them. Bass incorporates many valid descriptions of leadership; however, I would add that leadership is also carried out through leading people by example.

  6. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I completely agree that now as a society we are kind of leaning towards less outwardly powerful and authoritative leaders, and we now see that trait in leaders as a red flag. Now in America, the majority of the people want a leader that isn’t so “mighty” or toxically masculine, which definitely shows that we are moving in the right direction in terms of choosing, teaching, and embodying leadership

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