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Leadership

This book is not about leadership of others. Instead, it is about something more fundamental and more powerful—self-leadership. It is about the leadership that we exercise over ourselves. In fact, if we ever hope to be effective leaders of others, we need first to be able to effectively lead ourselves. To understand better the process of self-leadership and how we can improve our capability in this area, it is useful first to explore the meaning of the term leadership.

There are a seemingly endless number of definitions and descriptions of leadership—largely as a result of the vast number of persons who have researched and written about the subject (and the equal vastness of their different viewpoints). One widely recognized name associated with the topic is the now deceased—Ralph M. Stogdill. Dr. Stogdill authored a handbook of leadership, published in 1974, which reviewed theory and research on the subject. Since that time this book has been revised by Bernard M. Bass, most recently in 1990.[1] The book has pointed out that leadership has been conceived of in many ways, including the art of inducing compliance, a personality concept, a form of persuasion, a set of acts or behaviors, an instrument of goal achievement, an effect of group interaction, a differentiated role, and the exercise of influence. All of these descriptions have some merit. The most useful definition of leadership—to focus on the idea of self-leadership—however, is simply “a process of influence.” This short definition is a broad and meaningful one that recognizes both the importance of human influence in determining what we are and what we do and the complexity involved (influence takes place not as an isolated event, but as a process involving many parts).


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