Leadership is difficult to define, mostly because of its fluid nature. For our purposes, we will examine three definitions and combine them for a synthesized meaning. Burns described leadership as a “reciprocal process of mobilizing persons with certain motives and values” (Burns, 1978) to achieve both mutual and individual goals (Burns, 1978). The second definition for examination comes from the Transformational leadership process. Here, the leader is guiding the follower to “accomplish more than is usually expected of them” (Northouse, 2019) by pushing them just a bit more each time. Lastly, Northouse defined leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group…to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2019), and even goes on to explain that because leadership is a process, anyone can lead (Northouse, 2019).
With these definitions, we can begin to synthesize meaning. We learn that leadership is a process where the leader influences and is influenced by the followers (Burns, 1978; Northouse, 2019). Additionally, to lead, motivation or (Northouse, 2019) encouraging specific common values (Burns, 1978) must be included. We must also acknowledge that leaders require followers and followers require leaders (Burns, 1978). Therefore, we can define leadership as a reciprocal process where at least one person exerts influence and motivation on another to accomplish a goal. As the motivation or objectives change, the leader and follower roles may change too. Because these roles can be interchangeable, we are naturally guided to discuss followership.
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