Monday, January 17, 2005

The Leadership Thesis: Introduction

Courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online at

Main Entry: lead·er·ship
Pronunciation: 'lE-d&r-"ship
Function: noun
1 : the office or position of a leader
2 : capacity to lead
3 : the act or an instance of leading
In this discourse on leadership, I hope to provide a much clearer definition of leadership. Leadership is difficult to fathom because it is an abstract concept and has many different facets. In this discussion, I hope to analyze all of those facets one by one and eventually create a clear definition and thesis of leadership: a general theory of leadership, if you will.

The many attributes of leadership seem as if they can fall under one of two broad distinct categories: strategy and tactics. Strategic leadership gives the overall vision or end that needs to be accomplished. Meanwhile, tactical leadership deals with the details of achieving that vision or end. You need both, and each category would define a good leader in different ways. A war requires a general to oversee the entire military campaign. Meanwhile, commanders need to be on the field to guide the troops. Likewise, a CEO may create and execute an excellent strategy to guide a corporation to profitability and market dominance. However, tactical leaders are needed to manage sales teams, maintain efficient operations, and develop innovative products.

It will be particularly interesting to see whether leaders in the two categories (i.e. strategy and tactics) need to share leadership attributes at all, and how easy it would be for them to switch from role to role; certainly, everyone has their own skillset, but how necessary is it to actually have those lauded "transferable" skills?

Since the topic of leadership is so broad, I expect this study to wander like a meandering river, jumping from one category to the other, and back again at will. However, I am sure that it will be an interesting and enlightening journey. Your comments will be welcome and requested.

Next: Integrity
Previous: Preface

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