4 Different Approaches to Leadership—The Lazy Leader's Definition of Leadership

Four windows of the same view, each with a different perspective.

What’s your definition of leadership? Does it have something to do with leadership traits or characteristics? Can we develop leadership potential? Or is leadership an innate skill? To help you decide, here are 4 different approaches to leadership.

But first, why ask such questions?

The clearer we are about what leadership means, the more likely we are to expand our leadership skills.

Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realise your own leadership potential. – Warren Bennis

4 Different Approaches to Leadership

So, let’s make a brief journey through 4 different approaches to leadership.

In Leadership: A Very Short Introduction, Keith Grint introduces four definitions of leadership:

  • leadership as position,
  • leadership as person,
  • leadership as result, and
  • leadership as process.

Whilst other commentators use different definitions, I think these approaches to leadership, although not universal, do cover most perspectives. Bear in mind that each definition need not be mutually exclusive.

Leadership as position

Position-based leadership assumes it is where people operate that makes them leaders.

This view usually takes the form of authority in a formal hierarchy. For instance, the general or CEO. This definition implies that the character of the leader is less important than their position.

Do people follow or do as they’re told?

Chef doesn’t mean that you’re the best cook, it simply means boss. – Tom Colicchi
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