Leadership occurs in all walks of life where group activity is involved. In this discussion we are concerned with the managerial or administrative leadership in big organisations and the Government.
The dictionary meaning of ‘to lead’ is ‘to excel’, ‘to be in advance’, ‘to be prominent’. The other meaning, also from the dictionary is to ‘to guide others, to be head of an organisation; to hold command’. The first definition emphasises the individual nature of leadership and the second one the managerial leadership. These meanings, however, do not bring out the full implications of leadership as it is understood in the administrative and managerial leadership. These meanings, however, do not bring out the full implications of leadership as it is understood in the administrative and managerial context. Various scholars of public administration have described it differently.
Pfiffner has described leadership as “the art of co-ordinating and monitoring individuals and groups to achieve desired ends”. While distinguishing it from command he said that ideally leadership involves more of persuasion than command so that the authority is accepted naturally. However, he felt that the two cannot be separated. The leader continues to occupy a formal position of authority and command even as he uses persuasive methods to achieve compliance. The two reinforce each other.
Koontz and O’Donnell have described leadership as “the activity of persuading people to co-operate in the achievement of a common objective”.
Terry has defined leadership as “the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for mutual objectives”.
Seckler-Hudson observe that, “Leadership in large organisations may be defined as influencing and energising people to work together in a common efforts to achieve the purposes of the enterprise”.
Bernard said “Leadership refers to the quality of the behaviour of individuals, whereby they guide people in respect of their activities in organised effort”.
Both Bernard and Mary Parker Follett felt that the leadership instead of being an unidirectional command phenomenon from leader to the subordinates, is a multi dimensional commodity depending upon:
- The leader;
- The followers; and
- The conditions – internal and external.
- The leader influences the group and in turn gets influenced by it and the prevailing condition.
The leadership is thus a complex phenomenon which pervades the entire group activity. Several theories have been developed to explain various facets of this phenomenon. We will study some of these theories in brief.