What is a Leader; What is Leadership?

My Thoughts on Leaders and Leadership

Leading the Way

A simple definition of leadership is the act of leading. Something that a leader does. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions: …

A person who leads: such as…


//The tour leader recommended several restaurants in the area.

b: a person who directs a military force or unit //leaders of the army

2 a: a person who has commanding authority or influence //a leader in the reform movement

b: the principal officer of a British political party

c: party member chosen to manage party activities in a legislative body

//the majority leader such a party member presiding over the whole legislative body when the party constitutes a majority //the leader of the House

d: Conductor – sense C //the orchestra’s leader

3: a first or principal performer of a group //The concertmaster is the leader of the violin section.

group of men in military uniforms
Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt on Pexels.com

This tells us who leaders are, but it doesn’t really tell us what leadership is.

Years ago, when I was working on my doctoral dissertation involving leadership in nursing, I discovered the following information:

The literature of the 21st century still does not provide a clear distinction among such terms as leader, manager, statesman, boss, or teacher. (Rose, E. 2015).

Is it any wonder we have trouble finding good leaders, have different ideas of what makes a good leader, and which of the numerous leadership theories and styles are the best? Of the above definitions the one I most relate to suggests authority and influence are traits of a leader. Many leaders do have authority; however, authority and influence do not always go together.

Leadership discussion has been ongoing for centuries. Egyptian hieroglyphics reveal symbols for leader, leadership, and follower according to Bass (in Wren, Ed.,1995).

Leadership theories have evolved over time. Leaders can be born or developed, is a continuing discussion. Born or developed, some people have more aptitude than others. We each have strengths and talents, areas needing development, and some things we should not attempt. We have much to learn.

Despite my years of reading and learning about leadership, I know I still have much more to learn. Leadership encompasses many topics. Topics involved in leadership include: psychology, communication, change, management, body language, personalities, education, leadership styles, and leadership theories.

Lao Tzu’s philosophy regarding leaders is one with which I resonate. I strive to be a leader who is humble, supports and guides others, and ensure needed supplies are available. This is a leader as I would happily follow.

You will be a leader many times in your life. You already have been, I am sure. As you do your best, I encourage you to remember humility, and that everything you do will influence everyone and the entire world. We do not live in a silo.

I have a series of leadership topics I will be writing about for this year. I don’t think it will be any problem for me to do this, as I am passionate about leadership and the important role it plays in our world. My focus is nursing leadership. The world needs leadership everywhere. We need ethical, loving, open-minded leaders. My goal is to share all I learn and know about leadership, and to keep learning.

Till next week – be grateful for all you have, no matter how small.

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