Here are some meaningful terms which arise in connection with leadership. See the business dictionary for many more terms used in a wider context of business and organizational management.
accountability - Accountability equates to having ultimate responsibility for an area, activity, group, project, department, etc. This assumes (ideally) that the accountable person has the necessary authority and capability for such ultimate responsibility. Accountability is not fair or reasonable where authority and capability are inadequate for the responsibility concerned. Accountability is different to responsibility. Accountability is not generally delegated, whereas responsibility very commonly is. Accountability generally requires a person to have responsibility extending beyond the performance of a task or duty, to having freedom in determining and potentially changing how the responsibility is exercised. See the differences between accountability and responsibility in the leadership purpose section.
Action-Centred Leadership - (US-English, Action-Centered Leadership) A leadership model developed by English leadership expert, writer and theorist John Adair, based on three elements: Task, Team, Individual. See Action-Centred Leadership in this article, and the dedicated more detailed section on this website John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership theory.
Adair, John - a significant influence on leadership thinking and developer of the Action-Centred Leadership model - see also more detail about John Adair on this website in the dedicated section about John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership theory.
autocratic leadership - dictatorial method of leading - low concern for followers and high emphasis on task - typically reinforced with threat, punishment, and often ruthless exploitation of workers, who have little or no freedom to resist or desert. A feature of a strongly dictatorial application of the transactional leadership style.
authentic leadership - a generally commendable and positive leadership philosophy, with emphasis on openness and honesty, being true-to oneself, and similarly ethical and high-integrity behaviours - see authentic leadership.
behaviour (behavior in US-English) - often pluralized in referring to leadership behaviours, which are broadly how a leader acts - what the leader does and how the leader does it. There is a strong correlation between behaviour and style in the context of describing and understanding leadership theory. Like the word concept, and other quite vague terms, the word behaviour/behaviours needs to be clarified where it is important to understand its usage.
behavioural ideals (behavioral in US-English) - a category of leadership model, the thinking within which is most notably represented by Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid - see behavioural ideals - and Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid.
benevolent autocrat - a slightly contradictory term yet historically common type of leadership, in which the leader is both dictatorial and also caring (benevolent) at a basic level, as a strict parent might be with a small child. Alternatively regarded as paternalistic or patronizing. This highly specific and limited style of leadership can arise within styles/facets of leadership models, for example in versions of the 'Telling' mode of the Situational Leadership® model.
Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid - a leadership model within the category termed here as a 'behavioural ideals' model. The idea essential proposes a matrix of four main styles resulting from combining the relative emphasis given to 'concern for people' and 'concern for production' - see Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid.
Bolman and Deal - Lee Bolman and Terry Deal developed the Four Frame leadership model, categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, in which the central theme is switching leadership style/position according to the four organizational perspectives ('Four-Frame') of Structural, Human Resource, Political and Symbolic - see Bolman and Deal's Four Frame model - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
character - in the context of leadership this usually refers to the qualities of a leader, as in 'the character of the leader' (being good, appropriate, etc), and usually refers to issues of honesty, reliability, ethics, integrity, etc., as would indicate whether the leader is trustworthy and well-intentioned.
characteristic(s) - in the context of leadership equates to a/the feature(s) or quality(ies) of someone, usually a leader, more broadly then 'leadership character' above, and certainly extending to skills, attitudes and behaviours far beyond matters of trust and integrity. Characteristics may also refer to the features or qualities of other things, such as ('the characteristics of') an organization, or a model.
definition - an attempt to describe something (like leadership or management or narcissism) using as few words as possible, with minimal flexibility for confusion and interpretation. Certain terms, such as leadership virtually defy definition, because the meaning is so vast and variable.
description - an attempt to explain the nature of something as fully and as meaningfully as possible in as many words as the particular situation allows. Ideally descriptions are confined to the most relevant features for the context and the reader's precise needs.
effective leadership - common expression basically meaning good leadership, i.e., a leadership approach which achieves task/organizational aims while also satisfying all other needs and obligations of leadership for the situation. Since situations can change a lot for any given leader the term also implies leadership capability to adapt methods/styles, etc., in maintaining effectiveness.
ethics/ethical leadership - a flexible but very real and vital concept referring to the moral code applicable for a given situation. Within this notion there are many generally accepted universal rights and wrongs, for example not causing suffering to people; not stealing; not lying or cheating; but other less clear rights/wrongs. See the ethical leadership philosophy and the separate section on ethical management and leadership.
Fiedler's Contingency Leadership Model - a leadership theory categorised here as a Situational Contingency model, which focuses on the correlation between the leader's style (emphasis either on task or relationship) and the 'favourableness' of the situation in which the leader is leading - see Fiedler's Contingency model - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
Four Frame leadership model - a leadership theory developed by Lee Bolman and Terry Deal categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, advocating switching of leadership styles/positions according to four perspectives ('Four-Frame'), namely Structural, Human Resource, Political and Symbolic - see Bolman and Deal's Four Frame model - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
functional - in the context of leadership theory this word refers (particularly in this leadership guide) to a sub-category of leadership models - see functional leadership models - which focus on flexible leadership behaviour, and includes most notably John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership model.
French and Raven - John French and Bertram Raven developed the notable Sources of Power leadership theory, categorised here as a leadership philosophy. The Sources of Power theory might also be regarded as a partial leadership model, since it is structured and contains flexible correlations of a particular dimension of leadership, being the relationship between leader and followers and especially followers' perceptions of the leader, which determine the leader's power - see French and Raven's Sources of Power.
Hersey and Blanchard - Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard created the Situational Leadership® proprietary leadership model - their interests are now more separated; Hersey's organization has gone on to develop other 'Situational-branded' organizational models and products beyond leadership; Blanchard has since developed Situational LeadershipII® and other proprietary organizational development offerings - see Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership® model.
House's Path-Goal Theory - a leadership theory developed by Robert House, categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, in which the personal needs and benefits accruing to the group in achieving a task (goal) are correlated to a correspondingly suitable approach (path) of leading the group - see House's Path-Goal Theory - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
integrity - equates to and encompasses honesty and discretion, also and is a foundation of forming trust between people, especially between leader and followers, supplier and customers, etc.
Kouzes and Posner - James Kouzes and Barry Posner initially developed Kouzes and Posner's Trait Theory, explained here within the leadership Trait Theory section (categorised here as a sub-category of leadership models). Kouzes and Posner subsequently developed their ideas into (what is generally regarded as) a Functional leadership model, known as Kouzes and Posner's Five Leadership Practices model, which has become proprietary (a marketed, branded offering, as well as academically driven) under the brand of 'The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®' (also referred to as Kouzes and Posner's 'Leadership Challenge Model'), based on development of their trait-based research into a five-part functional leadership approach, containing the following elements: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enabling Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.
leadership - motivating others to achieve an aim - see more detail at definitions of leadership.
leadership concept - a rather vague term usually referring to a single theory or aspect of leadership, but used very loosely and more widely than this. The term needs clarifying and questioning if understanding its precise meaning is important.
leadership model - a structure or framework or process which can be used to learn, teach, apply and adapt leadership - or a tool that enables people to lead effectively and grow as leaders - see more detail at leadership terminology definitions. In general the term is used rather loosely; in this article the term leadership model is a lot more specific, and refers to the main category of leadership theories explained in this article, leadership models.
leadership philosophy - an approach to leading that is driven by a set of values and beliefs. These values govern the aims that a leader pursues and how he or she acts. This can be underpinned by beliefs about wider issues than leadership - see more detail at leadership terminology definitions. In general the term is used rather loosely; in this article the term leadership philosophy is a lot more specific, and refers to a lesser but nevertheless very significant category of leadership theories explained in this article, leadership philosophies.
leadership style - a particular and relatively narrow behaviour, or set of behaviours, that are used by real-life leaders, and which may arise to a degree as an aspect or mode of leadership within a leadership model - a leadership style alone is very inadequate for teaching, applying and adapting leadership methods - see more detail at leadership terminology definitions. In general the term is used rather loosely; in this article the term leadership style is a lot more specific, and refers to a lesser category of leadership theories explained in this article, leadership styles.
Lewin's Three Styles Leadership Model - Kurt Lewin's leadership theory categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model. Lewin's ideas essentially propose three styles or leadership positions in relation to the corresponding needs/demands of followers. The three styles are Authoritarian, Participative and Delegative - see Lewin's Three Styles model - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
method - a general term usually referring to a modular or procedural approach, or to a process. The term 'leadership method(s)' usually refers to a series of actions which together form a process, and which may be described or represented by a leadership model.
morals/morality - equating to ethics - this refers to a sense of fairness, 'rightness', honesty, truth, etc., especially relating to the treatment of people.
Path-Goal Theory - a leadership theory developed by Robert House, categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, in which the personal needs and benefits accruing to the group in achieving a task (goal) are correlated to a correspondingly suitable approach (path) of leading the group to achieve the goal - see House's Path-Goal Theory - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
process - in the context of leadership a process is a step-by-step series of actions designed to achieve a result, and typically evident in leadership models.
principles - often used in the context of leadership, for example in the widely used expression, 'principles of effective leadership', or 'effective leadership principles' - principles here means simply 'important basic points', or foundations. Principles in this context may also imply an ethical sense, or equate to doing things right or morally correctly, or legally.
qualities - in the context of leadership this is usually a general and loose term equating to the characteristics of a leader.
responsibility - a duty or set of duties that a person is given, or ideally agrees to deliver/achieve. This is different to accountability. Responsibility may more easily be delegated than accountability See the differences between responsibility and accountability in the leadership purpose section. Also see the article on delegation, which is crucially relevant to responsibility in leadership and management.
Scouller's Three Levels of Leadership Model - a model developed by James Scouller, categorised here as an Integrated Psychological model. Scouller proposed three levels of leadership development to help leaders understand firstly what they have to do behaviourally in their role, and secondly how to grow their leadership presence, know-how and skill. It is notable for embracing the strengths of the older models while integrating an important new element - the leader's psychology. The three levels are Public Leadership, Private Leadership and Personal Leadership - see Scouller’s Three Levels model.
servant leadership - a leadership concept categorised here as a leadership philosophy, in which the leader's priorities are the followers interests, and the interests of the wider situation, rather than the leader's own interests. - see servant leadership.
Situational - a categorising term for range of leadership models in which the leadership behaviour and positioning is determined and influenced by the situation, especially including the nature of the followers, notably including Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership® model. The category here is seen to be closely similar to models which are regarded as 'contingency leadership' theories - see Situational/Contingency models.
Situational Leadership® - a popular, sophisticated, and and highly regarded proprietary leadership model theory developed by Hersey and Blanchard, categorised here within the Situational/Contingency sub-category of leadership models - it essentially proposes a four-square matrix according to task and relationship relative priority, which also offers a progressive development of leadership positions according to maturity/capability of followers - and see Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership® model and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
skills - often used in the term 'leadership skills' whereby it has a narrowing effect on the meaning of leadership, since proper effective leadership is not constrained to skills alone, and entails behaviours, attitudes, experience, integrity, ethics, honesty, authenticity, etc.
Sources of Power - a specific concept of leadership developed by French and Raven, categorised here as a leadership philosophy; the theory is arguably also a 'mini-model', being structured and containing flexible correlations, of a particular dimension of leadership, notably the relationship between leader and followers and especially followers' perceptions of the leader, which determine the leader's power - see French and Raven's Sources of Power.
Tannenbaum and Schmidt Leadership Continuum - a novel and highly applicable theory categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, which focuses on the particular dimension of a leader's control emphasis according to group or followers' maturity/capability. The theory offers a sliding scale or continuum enabling selection of appropriate levels of leadership control, especially concerning delegated responsibility and group freedom. The model is especially helpful for delegation and succession management - see Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Continuum - and the more detailed webpage on Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Continuum - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.
theory - An overall, over-arching term referring to the thinking and potentially scientific and academic analysis and explanation of how and why something works and thereby how to control or manage the processes and causes-and-effects involved. Leadership theory is very broad and refers to the study of leadership in all of its forms. The term 'a leadership theory' instead refers generally and loosely to a model or philosophy or style of leadership, or even more loosely may equate to other very broad terms, such as concept or idea.
trait(s) - in the context of leadership the word trait has become used (optionally) with a capital T, as in in 'Trait theory', or 'Trait-based theory', a sub-category of leadership models. Trait here means a characteristic of a leader. Trait theory refers to the study, analysis, and potential application of leadership according to the idea that effective leaders can be identified and developed by reliably knowing which traits enable a leader to be effective. This idea seems yet to be proven.
transforming leadership/transformational leadership - here transforming/transformational leadership is categorised as a leadership style. The concept and terminology of 'transforming leadership' were first described alongside a 'transactional leadership' style, by James MacGregor Burns. Transforming refers to to the growth of followers via the encouragement and support to over-achieve expectations. Transactional refers to a trade or exchange between leader and followers, most obviously being pay in return for work, or other incentives offered by leadership in return for extra efforts by followers. Transforming leadership is (by Burns certainly, and elsewhere commonly) paired with the 'Transactional leadership' style, as a two-part choice or switch of styles for leaders. Transformational leadership is a more progressive leadership style than transactional leadership, which is a more traditional style than transformational. The term 'transforming' later became popularly called 'transformational' after the work of Bernard Bass, who developed the transformational idea to suggesting four essential leadership actions for effective transformational leadership: building trust; motivating inspirationally; enabling creativity; and supporting individual growth - see transformational and transactional leadership styles. These theories are particularly connected to the Psychological Contract, which offers an excellent way to understand each approach, and especially managing the balance between them.
transactional leadership - here transactional leadership is categorised as a leadership style. As explained above, the concept and terminology of 'transactional leadership' was first described alongside a 'transforming leadership' style, by James MacGregor Burns. Transactional refers to the traditional employer/employee exchange typified by being paid to in return for doing work, extending to other incentives offered by leadership in return for extra efforts and inputs by followers. Transactional leadership is paired with the 'Transforming' style as either a way to analyse organizational leadership cultures, but also serves as a leadership style-switch available to leaders. Transforming equates to the growth of followers via the encouragement and support to over-achieve expectations, as the main theme. ('Transforming' later became popularly 'Transformational' after the work of Bernard Bass) - see transformational and transactional leadership styles.
types - type in the context of leadership usually refers to a leadership style or to distinct mode of leadership behaviour within a leadership model, as in 'leadership type'. Alternatively the word type(s) has a looser meaning when used as 'type of leadership', which could refer to any aspect of leadership theory, and would need clarifying if appropriate.
values-based leadership - a concept of leadership here categorised as a leadership philosophy, chiefly in which leaders draw on their own values and followers' values for direction, inspiration and motivation. Values in this context refer to principles or standards of behaviour, and what is deemed important in life - see values-based leadership.
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