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As players in the social and interpersonal world, people have their own conceptions of leadership; in other words, “We know it when we see it.” While many researchers recognize this, few study leadership with that notion in mind.
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Defining Leadership
A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
BY
MATTHEW R. FAIRHOLM, PH.D.
DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP STUDIES AND DEVELOPMENT, CEMM
MONOGRAPH SERIES
MS02-02
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE IN MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT
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© 2002 by the Center for Excellence in Municipal Management
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Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................................................1
“I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT.............................................................................................................1
HISTORICAL THREADS OF LEADERSHIP THOUGHT............................................................................2
Trait Theory.............................................................................................................................2
Behavior Theory......................................................................................................................5
Situational Theory ...................................................................................................................6
The Leadership and Management Distinction.........................................................................8
Values-based Transformational Leadership: Beyond Reductionism ...................................10
Values-based Transformational Theory...........................................................................................12
Values and Leadership....................................................................................................................12
THE MORALITY AND PHILOSOPHY OF LEADERSHIP: WHAT GREENLEAF AND BURNS BEGAN.............13
EMERGING VIEWS AND DESCRIPTIONS OF LEADERSHIP....................................................16
PERSPECTIVAL APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING LEADERSHIP........................................................17
FAIRHOLMS CONCEPTIONS ..........................................................................................................18
Leadership as (Scientific) Management................................................................................ 19
Efficient, Predictable Use of Resources, and Optimality..................................................................20
Individual Performance Issues, Organizing, Planning, and Direction ..............................................20
Incentivization and Control..............................................................................................................21
Leadership as Excellence Management ...............................................................................21
Continuous Process Improvement, Transforming Environments and Perceptions..........................23
Listening Actively, Being Accessible, and Expressing Common Courtesy......................................23
Motivation and Engaging Others in Problem Solving.......................................................................23
Leadership as a Values Displacement Activity .....................................................................23
Developing Individuals.....................................................................................................................25
Encouraging High Performance and Self-led Followers..................................................................26
Setting, Enforcing, and Prioritizing Values.......................................................................................26
Visioning and Communicating the Visions.......................................................................................26
Teaching, Coaching, and Empowering............................................................................................27
Trust Culture Leadership.......................................................................................................27
Trust and Ensuring Cultures of Trust...............................................................................................29
Fostering and Maintaining Shared Cultures and Prioritizing Mutual Cultural Values and Conduct..29
Team Building, Sharing Governance, and Group Performance ......................................................29
Spiritual (Whole Soul) Leadership.........................................................................................30
Liberating the Best in People and a Concern for the Individual.......................................................32
Developing Individual Wholeness While Building Community and Promoting Stewardship............32
Fostering an Intelligent Organization, Setting Moral Standards, and Modeling a Service Orientation
........................................................................................................................................................32
Inspiration........................................................................................................................................33
SUMMARY OF LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................33
CONCLUSION...............................................................................................................................35
REFERENCES...............................................................................................................................39
List of Tables
Table 1: Historical Threads Of Leadership Research And Theory ...............................................36
Table 2: Fairholm's Perspectives On Leadership Aligned With The Literature Review ...............37
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 1
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 1
Defining Leadership:
A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
Matthew R. Fairholm, Ph.D.
Introduction
Defining leadership is a recent aca-
demic activity, though the phenomenon
of leadership has been ever present in
human relations. Stogdill reminds us
that the word “leader” has origins back
to the 1300s and the word “leadership”
dates back to the 1800s. He reviewed
over 3,000 studies directly related to
leadership and suggested that there are
almost as “many different definitions of
leadership as there are persons who
have attempted to define the concept”
(Stogdill, 1974, p. 7). Bennis and Nanus
(1985) found 350 definitions from thou-
sands of studies. Rost (1991) found
221 definitions in 587 books and articles
written from 1900 to 1990.
These reviews of leadership studies and
definitions have certainly not closed the
book on leadership research. In fact,
many researchers lament the progress
(or lack of progress) made in under-
standing and defining leadership. Ben-
nis and Nanus (1985) conclude that
“[n]ever have so many labored so long
to say so little” (p. 4). Rost (1991) is
even more indicting when he comments
that “these attempts to define leadership
have been confusing, varied, disorgan-
ized, idiosyncratic, muddled, and, ac-
cording to conventional wisdom, quite
unrewarding” (p. 99). Yet these re-
searchers, and many others, continue
their work studying, defining, identifying,
and developing leadership.
Yukl (1988) encourages this continued
focus on leadership study. Rather than
cynically reflecting on past efforts, he
suggests we draw upon the many exist-
ing conceptualizations of leadership to
give us a better, more thorough grasp of
this necessarily elusive social phe-
nomenon. His attempts to grasp lead-
ership involve trying to integrate many of
the previous leadership theories into an
overarching “supermodel” of leadership.
“I Know It When I See It”
As players in the social and interper-
sonal world, people have their own con-
ceptions of leadership; in other words,
“We know it when we see it.” While
many researchers recognize this, few
study leadership with that notion in
mind. Researchers in the past have
failed to account for the personal, more
intimate idea of defining leadership for
oneself. They ignored the personal
frames of reference, world views, and
cultural constructs that call for each of
us to answer for ourselves the question,
“What is leadership?” Recently, Fair-
holm (1998a) has recognized this lack of
focus and began work on understanding
different leadership perspectives, or “vir-
tual realities,” within which people oper-
ate and measure the success or failure
of leadership.
Fairholm’s model will be discussed later
and will form the foundation for this re-
search effort. His model may presage a
significant thread for further research.
However, it is important to gain a basic
understanding of the historical threads
of leadership study that have woven the
research paths that we are on today.
While every effort is made to summarize
this review of leadership literature, the
field is such that it requires a fairly en-
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 2
compassing review of many ideas to
gain a proper and sufficient understand-
ing of the topic.
This summary first provides a review of
four historical threads of leadership
thought and discusses the debate about
the relationships between management
and leadership. It then turns to a dis-
cussion of broader philosophical trends
of leadership theory, such as values-
based transformational leadership,
leader/follower interactions and follow-
ership, and sense-making conceptions
of leadership. Fairholm’s model of
leadership virtual realities is then re-
viewed. In sum, what follows describes
how past approaches that focused on
leaders evolved into broader definitions
of leadership and now point to more
comprehensive understandings of lead-
ership in terms of ever-more encom-
passing individual conceptions of lead-
ership. Finally, the literature review
concludes with a brief overall summary.
Historical Threads of Leadership
Thought
Four threads of leadership thought help
us discover the evolution of leadership
thinking: trait theory, behavior theory,
situational theory, and values-based
transformational theory. The first three
threads lean toward a reductionist
methodology of understanding leader-
ship by aggregating data about leaders
and situations. Sanchez (1988) sug-
gests that the examination of leadership
theory using these three threads pro-
vides a useful framework for examining
the evolution of leadership thought. He
cites Lewin’s (1951) model of behavior
as a reasonable foundation for examin-
ing these three elements of leadership
(see Colvin, 1996). The model suggests
that behavior depends upon the individ-
ual’s involved and the circumstances of
that person’s environment or situation,
or B = F(P, S) – behavior is a function of
person and situation. Colvin (1996) simi-
larly describes the historical threads of
leadership to include the leader as a
person, the leader’s behavior, and the
leadership demands of the situation.
These three approaches mirror Fair-
holm’s (1991) review of leadership the-
ory in terms of what the leader is, what
the leader does, and in which situation a
leader is effective.
Although three of the historical threads
mentioned above are still commonly
used as a framework for understanding
leadership, a new way of approaching
the leadership theory goes beyond
these assumptions. A fourth thread, val-
ues-based transformational leadership,
begins to move the discussion towards
a more holistic approach to understand-
ing leadership. It moves the discussion
from the leader to the phenomenon of
leadership. This thread examines the
relationships between leader and fol-
lower and the activity of sharing, or com-
ing to share, common purposes, values,
ideals, goals, and meaning in our organ-
izational and personal pursuits.
This section begins by examining these
four threads of leadership research and
theory. First, trait theory is discussed,
then behavior theory followed by situ-
ational theory. Next is a review of val-
ues based transformational leadership
with accompanying discussions of
leader/follower relationships and mean-
ing sharing activities of leadership. The
last part of this section highlights the
growing consensus that leadership is
distinct from traditional views of man-
agement.
Trait Theory
Trait theory looks at the study of leader-
ship as the study of great leaders, or at
least, their traits and qualities. The first
attempts to codify leadership and de-
termine what "makes a good leader"
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centered on the belief that leaders are
born, not made (Galton, 1870; Wiggam,
1931, see Stogdill, 1974). This gave
rise to various forms of trait theory: the
idea that leadership depends upon per-
sonal qualities, personality, and charac-
ter.
In this sense, Carlyle’s (1841/1907) es-
say on heroes and our current fascina-
tion with celebrity figures can be viewed
as studies of leadership. More explicitly,
Dowd (1936) concludes that different
individuals in every society possess cer-
tain traits or qualities that define their
position in society, including leadership.
More comprehensively, Jennings (1960)
defined the “great man” theory of lead-
ership, wherein much of leadership
study can be found in biographies of his-
torical figures. These biographies may
explicitly or implicitly describe a concep-
tion of leadership, but they all belie the
belief that to understand leadership, it is
necessary to understand leaders. Fig-
ures such as George Washington (Clark
1995), Winston Churchill (Coote &
Batchelor, 1949; Emmert, 1981; Gilbert,
1981; Hayward, 1997), and Martin Lu-
ther King, Jr. (Carson, 1987), are often
dissected to discover secrets of leader-
ship.
The search for the set of qualities that
these great people and superior indi-
viduals possessed, led researchers to
an exhaustive search for particular
leadership traits. This search began
first by identifying generalities. Strength
of personality equating to leadership
was a consistent theme (Bingham, 1927;
Bogardus, 1934; Bowden, 1926; Kilbourne,
1935). From these general discussions
of the influence of personality, more
specific studies tried to identify the set of
qualities or traits that defined leadership
across the board. Stogdill’s (1974) re-
view of leadership trait studies identified
the following areas as important in suc-
cessful leaders: chronological age;
height; weight; physique, energy, health;
appearance; fluency of speech; intelli-
gence; scholarship; knowledge; judg-
ment and decision; insight; originality;
dominance; initiative, persistence, ambi-
tion; responsibility; integrity and convic-
tion; self-confidence; mood control or
mood optimism; emotional control; so-
cial and economic status; social activity
and mobility; biosocial activity; social
skills; popularity and prestige; coopera-
tion; patterns of leadership traits that
differ with situation; and the potential for
transferability and persistence of leader-
ship. Later studies focused on physical
characteristics, social background, intel-
ligence and ability, personality, task-
related characteristics, and social char-
acteristics (Stogdill, 1974). The focus
on the last two categories presage the
beginnings of behavioral theory.
Broadening the great person theory,
Scott (1973) discusses a theory of sig-
nificant people. Significant people are
the administrative elite who control the
“mind techniques” of others because
they do significant jobs and are superior
to everyone else. Their justification is
not for control, but rather to improve ef-
ficiency. Since people will benefit from
the techniques, it can be considered
morally correct. The result in improved
efficiency will enable the elite to handle
crisis situations better than before. An
equation representing this concept is
written: AE+MT = SP (administrative
elite + mind techniques = significant
people).
Charismatic leadership is rooted in trait
theory, though it is a topic of consider-
able debate. Conger and Kanungo
(1988) call charisma the elusive factor in
organizational effectiveness. Nadler
and Tushman (1990) say charismatic
leadership, involving enabling, energiz-
ing, and envisioning, is critical during
times of strategic organizational change.
Valle (1999) suggests charisma, in con-
junction with crisis and culture, helps
define successful leadership in contem-
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porary public organizations. Sashkin
(1982), however, views charisma as
leadership in wolves’ clothing. In other
words, charisma is a replacement for
leadership, not a trait that leaders nec-
essarily possess. Rutan and Rice
(1981) also question whether charis-
matic leadership is an asset or a liability
to organizations. The potential for good
and evil is too significant to ignore as
charismatic leaders influence others by
appearing “more than” human.
The focus on trait theory diminished
over the years. While the qualities and
traits of leaders were not ignored, re-
searchers began to link traits with other
requirements of leadership, such as be-
havior and situation. Drucker (1966)
uses trait theory as a springboard to un-
derstanding leadership in terms of per-
sonal discovery and proceeds to de-
scribe essential practices of effective-
ness management. Here we see the
synonymous usage of leadership and
management overlaid by a discussion of
traits and practices.
Bennis (1982) also finds roots in trait
theory as he studies how organizations
translate intention into reality. His study
focused on ninety CEOs of reputable
companies. By surveying these “lead-
ers” he reveals certain qualities of lead-
ership. Sashkin (1989) continues the
migration from trait theory towards a
more complex understanding of leader-
ship. He states that to understand lead-
ership, one must consider personal
characteristics and behaviors and situa-
tions.
Schein’s (1989) study of women and
leadership concludes that the traits of
leadership are virtually identical be-
tween men and women. Though some
disagree (see Rosener, 1990), the dis-
cussion often revolves around the typi-
cal traits and characteristics displayed.
Hackman and Johnson’s (1991) view of
leadership as a communication dynamic
reveals the specific skills and traits of
communication and articulateness that
are required for leaders to be success-
ful.
Though trait theory may be waning as
the dominant perspective in which to
understand successful leaders, and
hence leadership, recent research has
seen somewhat of a resurgence.
Jacques and Clement (1991) hearken
back to the superior individual, signifi-
cant people, and great man debates
when they suggest certain people are
innately better suited to leadership roles.
The most direct reexamination of trait
theory and leadership comes from Kirk-
patrick and Locke (1991). Their work
argues that though leadership study has
moved beyond traits, towards behaviors,
and on to situational approaches, a shift
back to a modified trait theory involving
the personal qualities of leaders is oc-
curring. They identified six traits leaders
possess as distinct from non-leaders.
However, they argue that the traits are
simply necessary, but not sufficient, for
success. Possessing these qualities
simply gives individuals an advantage
over others in the quest for leaders; it
does not predestine them to leadership.
More recently, the work by Goleman
(1995) on emotional intelligence
hearkens back to the trait theorists.
Trait theory is a constant in leadership
studies. It is seemingly the most obvi-
ous avenue for researchers to embark
upon. However, it assumes that leader-
ship is simply an aggregation of the
qualities of good leaders. While trait
theory has its advantages, the quest for
a single list of universal qualities still
eludes researchers. History shows that
instead of reworking the reductionist
methodology of understanding leader-
ship, eventually theorists simply turned
their attention to a different focus: the
behavior of leaders.
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Behavior Theory
Behavior theory differs from trait theory
in that leadership is described not as
what leaders are like, but rather as what
leaders do – their behavior and func-
tions. Behavior theory describes lead-
ership as being the sum of two impor-
tant behaviors that great leaders seem
to hold in common: getting things done
and relating well with people.
This was a potentially more "scientific"
approach to leadership study, because
behaviors could be seen, observed,
measured, and potentially mimicked
(Stogdill & Coons, 1957). Along with
behavior theory in general, were specific
theories based on interaction and ex-
pectancy of roles, exchange activities
between leader and follower, and the
perceptions that followers have of lead-
ers (Follert, 1983; Graen & Uhl-Bien,
1995; Hollander, 1997; House, 1996;
Nolan & Harty, 1984). These behavior-
based theories did provide a way for
people to copy what other leaders have
done, but the behaviors in the end do
not prove to be generalizable.
Behavior theory is where much of the
confusion between leadership and man-
agement theory originates. The rise of
this research focus coincided with the
efforts to understand the rigors of man-
agement and executive authority in the
industrial age. Therefore, “leadership
theories” were in reality management
theories; the idea being that the best
people at the top of an organization
equal leaders and by studying what they
did, the mysteries of leadership will be
unfolded.
Many of the organizational theorists fo-
cused on the top of the organizational
hierarchy to understand management
practices (Argyris, 1957; Barnard, 1938a;
Barnard, 1938b; Follett, 1918 / 1998; Follett,
1926; Gouldner, 1954; Gulick, 1937; Ho-
mans, 1950; Maslow, 1943; Taylor, 1915;
Whyte, 1956). In these efforts, those at
the top were more often than not called
leaders. Therefore, what they did in
their management or titular headship
roles, the logic went, was leadership.
The roots of the confusion that persists
to this day, between what is leadership
and what is management, are easy to
see.
The classic Ohio State and Michigan
studies on leadership were the prime
example of and the watershed event for
the development of behavior theory in
leadership research. Hemphill (1950)
and others proceeded to discern from
factor analysis research two main ele-
ments of leadership behavior: consid-
eration and initiation of structure. The
Michigan studies verified these findings
with data describing relationship building
and task-focused orientations. From
these studies emerged the Leadership
Behavior Description Questionnaire
which assisted researchers in their goal
of understanding leader behavior
(Hemphill & Coons, 1957).
From these beginnings, Stogdill and
Coons (1957) edited a series of re-
search efforts describing and measuring
leader behavior. Jay (1967) popularized
managerial tactics by employing the ad-
vice and wisdom of Niccolo Machiavelli.
Blake and Mouton (1964) developed a
behaviorally-based grid describing lead-
ership behavior and positing an ideal
leader type based on the two factors of
the Ohio State studies. Gardner’s
(1987) review of the tasks of leadership
moves the discussion from management
to leadership, but retains the focus on
leader behavior. In many ways, writers
on total quality management (Deming,
1986; Juran, 1989) add the behavior
approach to good managerial leader-
ship.
Gardner’s (1990) argument that most of
leadership is learned reflects a behav-
ioral approach. It opened the door for
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many to write about organizational
learning and leadership (Kouzes & Pos-
ner, 1990; Senge, 1990; Heifetz, 1994;
Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 1993).
Much of what could be learned centered
on the power relationships that are in-
evitable in the leadership dynamic, even
though that dynamic was not yet clearly
defined (Fairholm, 1993). Much of the
contemporary practices of leadership,
and especially leadership development
training, emerged based on modern il-
lustrations of behavior theory (Drucker,
1990; Kotter, 1996; Vaill, 1996; Collins &
Porras, 1997).
Situational Theory
Situational theory suggests that behav-
ior theory is not adequate for the com-
plicated world of organizations and so-
ciety, because specific behaviors are
most useful only during specific kinds of
situations. Though there is a specific
theory of leadership labeled contingency
theory (see Fiedler, 1967), in the broad-
est sense contingency theory, also
known as situational leadership theory,
tries to define leadership through what
leaders do in specific situations that dif-
fer because of internal and external
forces. In this sense, leadership is not
something definable without the specific
context of the situation in which leaders
seem to emerge.
Studies began to focus on the environ-
ments in which leadership takes place.
The thinking was that situations deter-
mine what leaders do, and that behav-
iors must be linked to the specific envi-
ronment at hand. Situational theory,
contingency theory, and the more hu-
manistic models of leadership emerged.
It was during this emphasis of leader-
ship study that the desire to differentiate
between managers and leaders
emerged. Not all theorists thought it
necessary to make the distinction.
Nonetheless, the unique elements and
foci of leadership and management
made it necessary to begin to look at the
two as different and develop theories
accordingly.
Researchers began to look at a wide
range of variables that could influence
leadership style, and at different situa-
tions that would call for various leader-
ship behaviors or call forth those indi-
viduals that have various leadership
traits. Homans (1950) developed a the-
ory of leadership using three basic vari-
ables: action, interaction, and senti-
ments. Hemphill (1954) studied leader-
ship in terms of the situations in which
group roles and tasks are dependent
upon the varying interactions between
structure and the office of the positional
authority. Evans (1970) suggests that
the consideration (or relationship) as-
pects of leadership depends upon the
availability of rewards and the paths
through which those rewards are ob-
tained. Fielder's (1967) classic contin-
gency theory model suggests that lead-
ership effectiveness depends upon de-
mands imposed by the situation in that
task-oriented leaders are more effective
in very easy and very difficult situations,
and relationship-focused leaders do bet-
ter in situations that impose moderate
demands on the leader. Many re-
searchers have used Fiedler's approach
and his Least Preferred Coworkers
(LPC) methodology to verify his hy-
potheses (see Cheng, 1982; Offermann,
1984; Rice & Kastenbaum, 1983;
Shouksmith, 1983).
Hollander (1978) suggested practical
guidelines for leadership interactions in
different group circumstances. Hersey
and Blanchard (1979) built upon the be-
havioral work of Blake and Mouton, and
suggested that the best leadership style
depends upon the situation and the de-
velopment of the leader and the fol-
lower, concluding that empirical studies
suggest there is no normatively best
style of leadership and that effective-
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ness depends upon the leader, the fol-
lower, and other situational elements.
Nicholls (1985) reviewed Hersey and
Blanchard's model and suggested there
were fundamental flaws in the model
and provided ways to improve it. He
argued that their model violates three
logical principles – consistency, continu-
ity, and conformity. Nicholls’ model per-
forms all the functions of the original
model in relating leadership style to the
situation, while avoiding the problems
inherent in the original's fundamental
flaws. The model posits a smooth pro-
gression of the leader from parent to the
leader as developer, and balances the
task and relationship orientations in the
leader's style.
Hunt, Osborn and Marton (1981) de-
scribe the testing of a model of leader-
ship effectiveness that centers on nine
macro variables and the idea of leader-
ship discretion. Their macro variables
were represented by the complexity of
the environment, context, and structure
of a unit. Vecchio and Gobdel (1984)
studied the vertical dyad linkage (VDL)
model of leadership, suggesting that the
type and distribution of leader and fol-
lower interaction determines leader ef-
fectiveness. They determined that in-
group status was associated with higher
performance ratings, reduced propensity
to quit, and greater satisfaction with su-
pervision. Objective measures of actual
job performance yielded results that
were congruent with the prediction of a
positive correlation with subordinate in-
group status. Triandis (1993) contrib-
uted to this line of thought by studying
leadership in terms of triads.
Stimpson and Reuel (1984) studied the
variable of gender in determining the
kind of styles managers adopt. Results
showed that managers tended to model
the style of their boss and that females
evidenced this tendency to a greater
degree than males. Furthermore, when
the boss was a female, male subordi-
nate managers became somewhat more
participative than the boss, while female
subordinate managers became more
authoritarian.
Vroom and Yetton (1973) developed a
contingency model of decision-making
to determine effective leadership behav-
iors in different situations. Heilman, et
al. (1984) were some of the many re-
searchers who examined the validity of
Vroom and Yetton's contingency model.
They determined that the perspective of
the individual viewing a leader influ-
ences the way in which he/she evalu-
ates that leader's task effectiveness.
Data from this study indicate a consis-
tently more favorable affective response
to the participative than to the autocratic
leader, regardless of the subject’s per-
spective or the circumstances.
Contingency theory, especially in com-
bination with trait and behavior theory,
offered new avenues of research into
what makes leaders effective. Contin-
gency theory seemed to ignore the emo-
tive and inspirational attachment that
leaders tend to evoke no matter what
the situation. Yet, in so doing it gave
rise to researchers who focused on
those very issues. At times it was diffi-
cult to separate distinctly the theories
from each other as they morphed from
one to the other. The new avenues of
research included follower dynamics,
relationships, intrinsic and extrinsic mo-
tivation, organizational culture, organiza-
tional change, and power in an effort to
understand what variables influenced
the effectiveness of leaders. However,
contingency theory disappointed some
thinkers because it defined leadership
down to "it all depends." To answer this
lack of confidence in what makes an ef-
fective leader, leadership began to be
thought of in terms separate and distinct
from leaders and more as a theory of
social interaction or organizational phi-
losophy.
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The Leadership and Management
Distinction
As mentioned earlier, rising from behav-
ior theory and situational leadership
theory was a question of whether or not
leadership and management as con-
cepts and practices were the same
thing. This debate still goes on today.
The basic questions historically and
contemporarily revolve around whether
what has formerly been called and writ-
ten about as management is indeed the
same thing as leadership, whether they
are two subsets of each other, or
whether they are two distinct concepts.
Since Frederick Taylor's (1915) scientific
management approach to organizational
efficiency, management has been cen-
tral in the academic’s and practitioner's
study and structure of organizations.
Taylor’s work began to illustrate the
good and the bad of "management"
(Weisbord, 1987). Over time, the distinc-
tions of good and bad became deeper
and more socially profound. The labor
movement grew in opposition to "man-
agement" (meaning the positional, hier-
archical figure). The sterile approach of
many managers became stereotypical
of what was bad about organizational
life. On the other hand, the industrial
model with its emphasis on manage-
ment, is often given credit for much of
the success of modern industrial Amer-
ica. The Hawthorne Studies (Dickson &
Roethlisberger, 1966; Mayo, 1945; Ro-
ethlisberger, Dickson, & Wright, 1941)
showed that human systems needed to
be taken into account in organizations,
and most of the management theorists
of the time agreed.
Yet, amid this study and practice of
management, the meanings of words
such as "management," "manager,"
"leader," and "leadership" were defined
in similar ways, often blurring and con-
fusing the concepts. Efforts to study
these concepts and to develop a vo-
cabulary of management muddied the
definitions and differences, if indeed dif-
ferences existed at all. Some of the
confusion may have been caused by the
fact that more sophisticated “manage-
ment tools” were developed alongside
the notion that leadership was situ-
ational. Thus, the practices of a leader
looked very much like good manage-
ment practices. Understanding leader-
ship appeared similar to Justice Stew-
art’s (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964) descrip-
tion of how to distinguish art from hard-
core pornography – "I know it when I
see it" – or what Roger Smith described
as the abominable snowman – "you see
the tracks, but never the thing itself"
(Smith, 1995, p. 464).
Eventually, there arose a recognition
that management and leadership, while
both important, may not be the same
phenomenon. This is not to say that
managers and leaders need be different
individuals (though they may be), nor
that there are normative judgements
about the value of each. Simply, "doing
leadership" and "doing management"
are two different tasks.
In Leaders, Warren Bennis & Burt Na-
nus (1985) make clear that, “managers
are masters of routine, they accomplish,
they are efficient; whereas, leaders are
masters of change, they influence, they
are effective.” Mcfarland, Senn, and
Childress (1993) also make a point to
distinguish between the two, saying that
in the past the distinctions between
"leadership" and "management" were
blurred, and they were often used inter-
changeably (see also Kotter 1990; Fair-
holm 1991; Yukl 1998). Not so today.
Zaleznik (1977) suggests that organiza-
tions depend upon people who keep the
processes moving along, insure produc-
tivity, control, and schedule the use of
appropriate resources, but organizations
also need people who can infuse the
organization with purpose and common
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The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 9
values and help determine the character
of the organization and insure its long-
term survival. The skills and competen-
cies required to do the first critical activ-
ity are substantially different than those
needed to do the second one described.
The first is the domain of the manager;
the second is the domain of the leader
(see Fairholm, 1991).
While some authors and practitioners
continue to confuse the two concepts or
make no distinction (see Drucker, 1954;
Whetton & Cameron, 1998), more and
more the literature is asserting that
management is not leadership and
leadership is not management. Man-
agement is defined as the act of control-
ling, counting, and supervising other
people so that they perform in specific
ways to increase the overall productivity
of the system or operation (see Taylor
1915; see also Selznick 1983; Stodgill,
1974). Gulick's conception of
POSDCORB (an acronym standing for
planning, organizing, staffing, directing,
coordinating, reporting, and budgeting)
is the traditional realm of management
(Gulick, 1937; Stogdill, 1974). The
words "control", "supervision", "incen-
tives", and "inducements" are equiva-
lent, in many respects, to management.
Nelson (1997) challenges whether that
conception of management is sufficient
in today’s organizations. In his review of
motivation in today's work environment,
he explains that “managers have fewer
ways to shape employee behavior – co-
ercive and authoritarian behavior is no
longer an option. To be effective, to-
day’s managers must create supportive
work environments that can influence,
but not ordain, desired behavior and
outcomes” (p. 35). In saying this, Nel-
son suggests we need to change our
understanding of how individuals relate
to each other in the workplace.
Wheatley (1997) offers a broader dis-
cussion of the distinction. She suggests
that traditional management activities
are used to change organizations by
“tinkering with incentives” and reshuf-
fling organizational pieces and parts, but
that “these efforts are doomed to fail,
and nothing will make them work. What
is required is a shift in how we think
about organizing” (p. 22). She contin-
ues that even though most of us
“learned to play master designer, as-
suming we could engineer people into
perfect performance….You can't direct
people into perfection; you can only en-
gage them enough so that they want to
do perfect work” (p. 25).
But confusion persists about what else
besides management is necessary.
Much of this confusion is due to a lack
of precise definition. Nirenberg’s 1998
study of organizational behavior text-
books revealed much about how leader-
ship is reviewed in the literature and
taught in schools. He concludes “lead-
ership, as presented in the selected
texts, is a collection of control theories
that ignores essential aspects of the
leadership concept. Furthermore, these
texts imply that leadership is achieved
by being promoted into a supervisory
role“ (p. 84). He goes on to suggest
that the definition of leadership itself
has been undergoing a
transformational shift unrecorded in
the texts. Leadership, according to
the texts, like the concept of
management, has been thought to
mean the act of getting things done
with and through people, albeit in a
kinder, gentler way. Typically, the
authors simply say it is the process
of influencing others. Nelson and
Quick, for example, define
leadership as ‘The process of
guiding and directing the behavior of
people in the work environment.’
Manager could replace leader in
this definition without losing any
meaning (Nirenberg, 1998, p. 84,
emphasis added).
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Nirenberg suggests the notion of lead-
ership is changing dramatically. He
seems to suggest that whereas position
was the predictable domain of man-
agement, relationship becomes the dis-
tinct realm of leadership.
Further refining what leadership may be,
some have explicitly differentiated
headship and leadership, where head-
ship refers to managerial position and
authority. Differentiating between the
structure of headship and the philoso-
phy of leadership allows us to see that
leadership is, and perhaps always has
been, distilled throughout the organiza-
tion, developing individuals into leaders
in their own right.
Baruch (1998) clarifies the distinction
further in a 1998 study, the aim of which
was to explore whether studies focusing
on the phenomenon of leadership were
examining actual leadership cases or
another phenomenon – appointment-
ship:
There is a significant difference
between the two. Appointmentship
is a case where a person is granted,
through an external authority, certain
power and responsibilities over other
people. The emergence of
leadership, however, is concerned
with inner processes, where people
recognize and are ready and willing
to be influenced by a person. As
results, it is not simple, and perhaps
even misleading to draw an analogy
from one phenomenon to the other.
Even worse is ignoring the
difference and referring to one
phenomenon as if it was actually the
other (p. 101, emphasis added).
Kotter (1990) continues to differentiate
between leadership and management.
He suggests management is about cop-
ing with complexity and leadership is
about coping with change. These two
activities demand different sets of skills
and different organizational perspectives
that substantially distinguish between
the two activities. In a similar vein, Ac-
kerman (1985) discusses the difference
between leadership and management,
arguing that leadership is followership
based on personal attraction while man-
agership is followership based on ac-
ceptance of organizational position.
A description of leadership, then, should
distinguish leadership from manage-
ment. Once again, this does not mean
that one person cannot be both a leader
and a manager. Just as quantum phys-
ics teaches us that light is both a particle
and a wave but never at the same time,
one individual may perform both man-
agement and leadership, but not at the
same time (see Wolf, 1989). As the
characteristics of particle light are dis-
tinct from the nature of wave light, so
are the characteristics, perspectives,
and values set of management distinct
from those of leadership. The two are
complementary, but not the same.
Leadership encompasses technologies
and mindsets that are different (not nec-
essarily better) than management.
Values-based Transformational
Leadership: Beyond Reductionism
As alluded to earlier, researchers have
attempted to answer the questions of
where leaders have gone as they de-
scribe what it really means to be a
leader. But still the focus of many is on
the leader, as if to say leadership can
only be understood by studying specific
individuals in specific situations. Stogdill
suggests that although the endless ac-
cumulation of bewildering findings has
not produced an integrated understand-
ing of leadership, the overarching ap-
proach to understand leadership must
be based on valid experimental findings
(Stogdill, 1974). This is an emphatic
reiteration of the idea that the best way
to understand leadership is to under-
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stand the leader's being, doing, and ac-
commodating – the who, what, and
when of leadership.
There are some, though, who go be-
yond the mere study of leaders. Rec-
ognizing that studying individual leaders
may not facilitate a better understanding
of leadership, these researchers reject,
implicitly or explicitly, the idea that lead-
ership per se is a summation of the
qualities, behaviors, or situational re-
sponses of individuals in a position of
authority. To study leaders is not, in this
sense, to study leadership.
Spitzberg (1987) supports this idea. He
presents questions that are intended to
understand leadership, not developing
or training leaders. He continues that
“those who wish to develop leaders
must understand much more than the
current state of knowledge about lead-
ership if they are to do more than en-
gage in documentation of trivia. Lead-
ership development is an important per-
sonal and social goal. But it is a goal
dependent upon better understanding
the nature of leadership” (p. 33). There
is an implicit acceptance that leadership
is something more expansive than the
title "leader" and that an integrated un-
derstanding of leadership requires a
broader more holistic approach. That is,
one must try to understand the “nature
of leadership.”
Here a clear distinction must be made.
The terms "leader" and "leadership" are
not the same, nor are they interchange-
able. The confusion and imprecise use
of each term in describing certain phe-
nomena may be at the core of the con-
fusion (and dissension) among those
who study the topic. Indeed, this confu-
sion exists even in this literature review.
As the views of different authors are
presented it becomes clear that leader
and leadership are often used inter-
changeably.
While studying the qualities, behaviors
and situational responses of those who
claim to be, or are given the title of
leader is a useful perspective – it is also
limiting. This type of researcher more
often than others confuse leadership
and management. They view leader-
ship study from a reductionist perspec-
tive with the case studies of leaders ag-
gregating to the essence of leadership:
leaders, therefore, define leadership. A
different approach to leadership re-
search, however, views leadership as
something beyond the sum of individual
leader styles, behaviors, and qualities.
Leadership from this approach encom-
passes a unique conception of individual
interaction. In this sense, leaders do not
define leadership; rather, leadership de-
fines what a leader is, what a leader
does, and how a person can be one.
Unfortunately, not every researcher and
author on leaders and leadership make
distinct the definitions of the terms
“leader” and “leadership.” In fact, they
may not recognize the need for distinc-
tions and clarifications. However, the
literature does reflect these two different
approaches and it behooves research-
ers to acknowledge them. One per-
spective is very much an aggregation or
mechanistic system. The other is much
more a philosophy. This philosophical
perspective frees one of the notions that
leadership is positional, hierarchical, or
managerial and allows for leadership to
be more pervasive in organizations and
life because leadership is not tied to
structure, qualities, or birth. This ap-
proach allows leaders to develop, be-
cause it is developmental in nature. It
moves us from mundane cookie-cutter
approaches to power relationships and
allows us to accept creativity, flexibility,
and inherent, emerging order. The ap-
proach is inspirational, rather than
merely motivational. The quest from this
more holistic approach is to study what
leadership actually is. The attempt, it is
assumed, will yield different and more
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precise definitions of "leadership" than
we have had in the past, and will, as a
consequence, change our definitions of
"leader" based on the elements of these
more precise definitions.
Values-based Transformational The-
ory
When researchers focus on a broader,
more philosophical conception of lead-
ership, they focus less, or not at all, on
the traditional observable phenomena of
specific individual characteristics, be-
haviors, and situations. Rather they fo-
cus more on the broader, less definable
aspects of a certain kind of relationship
between people. The elements of this
relationship deal more with values, mor-
als, culture, inspiration, motivation,
needs, wants, aspirations, hopes, de-
sires, influence, power, and the like.
The emphasis is not on studying specific
leaders in specific situations, doing spe-
cific things. Rather, the focus is on the
common relationship elements exhibited
over time that characterize this thing
called "leadership."
Throughout the development of man-
agement and leadership theory, it has
only been recently that researchers be-
gan to think about leadership in ways
that transcend the trait, behavioral, or
contingency theories that have domi-
nated debate (see, for example, (Burns,
1978; Covey, 1992; Cronin, 1984; Fair-
holm, 1991; Greenleaf, 1977; Rost,
1991; Spitzberg, 1987; Wheatley,
1992/1999). Values-based transforma-
tional theories are a recent (late 1980s
and early 1990) example of a shift in
methodologies. This shift began to dis-
tinguish leadership and management
and change our focus from the leader to
the phenomenon of leadership.
Some authors recognized that there are
ways to look at leadership that tran-
scend and/or encompass the theories of
the past and allow us to look at leader-
ship in more "complete" ways. This is
not necessarily new. Barnard (1938b)
and Follett (1918 / 1998) were two of the
few writers who, early on, seemed to
transcend a reductionist discussion of
managerial leadership and move to-
wards a more contemporary philosophi-
cal approach to interpersonal relation-
ships. Burns tried to do this in his 1978
book, but it has only been recently that a
more holistic view of leadership has
emerged. A look at a few values-based
transformational theories follows.
Values and Leadership
Many leadership theorists believed there
was something unique about leadership
that transcended the situation and re-
mained constant despite the contingen-
cies. Values-based transformational
theory defines this something as the
leader tapping into long-held beliefs and
personal or organizational values that
inspire others to move in certain direc-
tions and develop in certain ways (see
Bass & Avolio, 1994; Bennis & Nanus,
1985; Bennis, 1984b; Burns, 1978;
Covey, 1992; Cuoto, 1993; DePree,
1989; Fairholm, 1991; Greenleaf, 1977;
Manz & Sims, 1989; O'Toole, 1996;
Quinn & McGrath, 1985; Rost, 1991).
This values leadership philosophy al-
lows a leader to overcome the patholo-
gies of today's organizations (and socie-
ties) because it recognizes the need to
develop the individual, letting him or her
express their values and flourish inde-
pendently, while maintaining a function-
ing organization that fulfills its goals in
an excellent manner.
In a more practical sense, values lead-
ership encompasses the actions of
leaders who internalize and legitimize
the values of the group and teach these
values to followers who internalize and
express them in their individual behav-
iors. Leaders in this sense are teachers
first and foremost (Tichy, 1997) , with a
unique capacity to understand the val-
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ues that enervate a group and individu-
als, and communicate them effectively.
Upon these principles also rest the
communitarian notion of the good soci-
ety. That is, one that “must rely largely
on its members’ realization that the
ways they are expected to conduct
themselves are in line with the values in
which they believe, rather than because
they fear public authorities or are driven
by economic incentives” (Etzioni, 1996,
p. 86). In this way, leaders create a cul-
ture of trust that allows individuals to act
in ways supportive of the group values
and goals while enhancing their auton-
omy because of self-led activity (see
Fairholm & Fairholm, 2000; Fairholm,
1994; Kouzes & Posner, 1993; Mitchell,
1993).
Fairholm (1991) suggests that values
leadership is the philosophy that seeks
to meld individual actions into a unified
system focused on group desired out-
comes and is only possible if a few crite-
ria are met. First, the members of the
organization must share common val-
ues. Second, leadership has to be
thought of as the purview of all mem-
bers of the group and not just the
“heads.” Third, individual development
and fulfilling group goals are the focus of
leadership. And fourth, shared, intrinsic
values must be the basis for all leader
action. Values become the bridge that
links the individual (and groups of indi-
viduals) with the tasks that are required
or expected of the group.
This values view of leadership is much
different than previous studies in leader-
ship, going beyond the leader and fo-
cusing on the phenomenon itself in
terms of values displacement, culture,
and teaching. Instead of studying the
leader, values-based transformational
leadership theory engages the entire
process of leadership taking into ac-
count such things as traits, behavior,
and situations, but not being dependent
on them. It is a transcending point of
view that intends a holistic understand-
ing of leadership.
The Morality and Philosophy of
Leadership: What Greenleaf and
Burns Began
Much of values-based transfor-
mational theory owes its beginnings to
the work of Robert Greenleaf and
James MacGregor Burns in the late
1970s. Greenleaf (1977) proposed a
thesis he himself labeled unpopular:
that more servants should emerge as
leaders and that we should follow only
servant-leaders. Trying to understand
what it takes for leaders to solve the
woes of society, Greenleaf describes
how service, first and foremost, qualifies
one for leadership and that service is
the distinctive nature of true leaders. In
his book, Servant Leadership, Greenleaf
traces this idea from conception to po-
tential application, but peppers the dis-
cussion with a serious focus on the
need for and the ways to serve. He
moves the discussion of leadership to-
wards an explicitly moral dimension and
toward an overarching so-
cial/relationship phenomenon.
Robert Greenleaf defines servant lead-
ership as the natural feeling that one
wants to serve, to serve first. Then,
conscious choice brings one to aspire to
lead. The difference manifests itself in
the care taken by the servant to first
make sure that other people’s highest
priority needs are being served (see
Greenleaf, Frick, & Spears, 1996). A
characteristic of servant leadership is to
serve the real needs of people, needs
that can only be discovered by listening.
Greenleaf asserts that leadership is
about choosing to serve others and
making available resources that fulfill a
higher purpose, and in turn, give mean-
ing to work. He suggests there is a
moral principle emerging that guides
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leadership, and perhaps always has:
the only authority deserving one's alle-
giance is that which is freely and know-
ingly granted by the led to the leader in
response to, and in proportion to, the
clearly evident servant stature of the
leader. Adherents to this will not casu-
ally accept authority of existing institu-
tions. Rather, they will freely respond
only to individuals who are recognized
as leaders because they are proven and
trusted as servants.
Such servant leaders serve first, natu-
rally, then a conscious choice brings
them to aspire to lead. This is a much
different dynamic, Greenleaf says, than
lead first, then decide to serve. Servant
leaders constantly ask four major ques-
tions: 1) Are other people's highest pri-
ority needs being served? 2) Do those
served grow as persons? 3) Do they,
while being served, become healthier,
wiser, freer, more autonomous, more
likely themselves to become servants?
4) What is the effect on the less privi-
leged in society, or will they at least not
be further deprived? Ultimately,
Greenleaf’s servant leadership model
assumes that the only way to change a
society (or just make it go) is to produce
people – enough people who will
change it (or make it go) – who simply
want to serve.
James MacGregor Burns (1978) adds to
this philosophical approach. He is not
simply trying to talk about biographies of
those who in the past have been labeled
leaders. He is not trying to develop a
list of qualities or even techniques that
"leaders" in the past have developed or
used. He delves into the true nature of
leadership -- not what it "looks like on
others," but what it conceptually is.
Burns embarks on a more philosophical
approach to understanding and describ-
ing leadership. He points a way to a
general theory of leadership.
If nothing else Burns explicitly states
there should be a "school of leadership,"
that leadership is a legitimate field of
study. This field should marry the here-
tofore "elitist" literature on leadership
and the "populistic" literature on follow-
ership. Burns begins this marriage by
differentiating between transactional and
transformational leadership, helping us
to begin to recognize the difference be-
tween management and leadership. His
greatest, self-stated, concern, however,
is with the idea of moral leadership and
its power, influence, and capacity to
change and inspire people.
Most of what the world remembers of
this work is Burns' distinction between
transforming and transactional leader-
ship. Transactional leadership is de-
fined this way:
Such leadership occurs when one
person takes the initiative in making
contact with others for the purpose
of an exchange of valued things.
The exchange could be economic or
political or psychological in nature: a
swap of goods or of one good for
money; a trading of votes between
candidate and citizen or between
legislators; hospitality to another
person in exchange for willingness
to listen to one’s troubles. Each
party to the bargain recognizes the
other as a person. Their purposes
are related, at least to the extent that
the purposes stand within the
bargaining process and can be
advanced by maintaining that
process. But beyond this, the
relationship does not go. The
bargainers have no enduring
purpose that holds them together;
hence, they may go their separate
ways. A leadership act took place,
but it was not one that binds leader
and follower together in a mutual
and continuing pursuit of a higher
purpose (pp. 19-20).
Burns defines transforming leadership
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this way:
Such leadership occurs when one or
more persons engage with others in
such a way that leaders and
followers raise one another to higher
levels of motivation and morality.
Their purposes, which might have
started out as separate but related,
as in the case of transactional
leadership, become fused. Power
bases are linked not as
counterweights but as mutual
support for common purpose. . . .
The relationship can be moralistic, of
course. But transforming leadership
ultimately becomes moral in that it
raises the level of human conduct
and ethical aspiration of both leader
and led, and thus it has transforming
effect on both (p. 20).
These two conceptions seem to be the
easiest to grasp, explain, and "put into
practice." However, what Burns hopes
will be implemented is his general the-
ory of moral leadership (developed in
part by understanding the transforma-
tional and transactional distinction) not
the institutionalization of this distinction
in management texts and consulting
practices. In a sense, his observations
of these two phenomena became, to his
cursory readers, the point, instead of
serving to elucidate the more general
point of moral leadership that he was
trying to develop. And yet, this distinc-
tion between transformational and
transactional leadership is powerful and
compelling. Transformational leader-
ship, as opposed to the transactional or
managerial leadership, forms the foun-
dation of recent leadership study.
Burns' observations regarding trans-
forming and transactional leadership
serve to support his general theory of
leadership and the structure of moral
leadership. Burns answers some impor-
tant questions about the role of values
(the leader’s and the follower’s) and
which ones should be mobilized and
how. He concludes by this surmise:
“leaders with relevant motives and goals
of their own respond to the followers’
needs and wants and goals in such a
way as to meet those motivations and
bring changes consonant with those of
both leaders and followers, and with the
values of both" (p. 41). To make the
point even more sharply, Burns con-
cludes that
to control things – tools, mineral
resources, money, energy – is an
act of power [management], not
leadership, for things have no
motives. Power wielders may treat
people as things. Leaders may not.
. . . I define leadership as leaders
inducing followers to act for certain
goals that represent the values and
motivations -–the wants and needs,
the aspirations and expectations – of
both leaders and followers. And the
genius of leadership lies in the
manner in which leaders see and act
on their own and their follower’s
values and motivations (Burns,
1978, pp. 18-19).
The leader taps into and shapes the
common values, goals, needs, and
wants to develop and elevate others in
accordance to the mutually agreed upon
values set and foster appropriate
changes. Leaders address the needs,
wants, and values of their followers (and
their own) and, therefore, serve as an
independent force in changing the
makeup of the followers' values set
through gratifying motives.
What Burns has done is to create a
theoretical understanding of leadership,
with certain definitions and perspectives
so that the study of leadership practice
will be both more focused and more ac-
curate. Much of his definitional work
revolved around the concepts of power,
motives and values. Power and the
power-wielder have already been
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quickly reviewed. Motives and values
deserve more attention.
From his conceptual work on values and
motives, and drawing upon the themes
outlined earlier, Burns develops a gen-
eral theory of leadership. His theory is
not limited to the political or corporate
world, but applies also to the social
world, the family, the volunteer group,
and the work unit. Burns' conception of
leadership goes beyond the political
theory and historical biographies that he
uses to develop his themes. He argues
that leadership is, at heart, philosophi-
cal. He argues it involves a relationship
of engagement between the leader and
follower based on common purpose and
collective needs. The key to leadership
is the discerning of key values and mo-
tives of both the leader and follower
and, in accordance with them, elevating
others to a higher sense of perform-
ance, fulfillment, autonomy, and pur-
pose.
The development of this general theo-
retical framework of leadership has
dramatically altered the study and appli-
cation of leadership principles. Burns'
work is an essential part of any study
into the true nature, purpose, and appli-
cability of leadership in today's organiza-
tions. Not all accept this approach.
Perhaps this explains why some of the
recent literature on leadership misses
the point about understanding leader-
ship holistically – focusing on the check-
lists and measurements of "effective"
leadership and often confusing true
leadership with management functions.
Burns’ great service to the study of
leadership may lie less in the popular
distinction between transactional and
transformational leadership (though this
ushers in the contemporary distinctions
between the technologies of leadership
and those of management) and more in
the elevation of leadership as a philoso-
phical and developmental relationship
between people who share common
purpose, motivations, and values.
Both Greenleaf and Burns deserve rec-
ognition for their part in enhancing the
study and practice of leadership by tran-
scending the traditional focus on the
leader and focusing on the more perva-
sive, holistic philosophy of leadership.
Emerging Views and Descrip-
tions of Leadership
The conceptual work of Greenleaf and
Burns lays a foundation for other ways
of viewing leadership by differentiating
between leadership and management in
terms of values and relationships. To-
day, some begin to define leadership in
more sophisticated and specific terms
drawing upon experience and the dis-
tinctions between management and
leadership that may have been evident
throughout organizational life, but only
now have been made explicit.
Drath and Palus (1994) take a construc-
tivist approach to describe the essence
and process of leadership as establish-
ing values and context that gives mean-
ing to individual action and social inter-
action. That meaning creation is lead-
ership, however, only when it is found in
a community of practice.
Another way of describing the leader-
ship phenomenon is to understand or-
ganizational relationships in terms of
frames or metaphors. In this sense,
Bolman and Deal (1984; 1997) suggest
that frames become windows on the
world, filtering out some things and or-
dering the world. They suggest manag-
ers pervasively use frames or meta-
phors whether they know it or not and
these frames dramatically influence a
manager’s organizational stance and
the organizational activities that take
place. Leadership, in this sense, may
be described as seeing organizations in
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 17
multiple ways while maintaining a set of
core beliefs and acting on them. Lead-
ership is contingent on the metaphor or
image of the organization that is chosen
to be used to describe the condition or
nature of the organization. In this
sense, leadership is not defined as "one
thing" but as an effective understanding
of, and adept use of, the dominant or-
ganizational metaphor. This differs
somewhat from the contingency ap-
proach. Instead of the contingencies
defining what leadership is, leadership is
required in some sense to define, at
least to identify, the bounds of the con-
tingencies. The idea of metaphor or im-
ages in organizational life is reinforced
as a useful way to understand the roles
and responsibilities of organizational
actors and the organizations in which
the operate. (Harmon & Mayer, 1986;
Kass & Catron, 1990).
Relatedly, post-modernist theory may
reject the notion of leadership. In part,
this rejection may come from the post-
modern critique of the idea of leadership
that it is simply another construct of
power and potential domination. In-
deed, post-modernism is justified in dis-
counting leadership theory, if leadership
theory is grounded squarely in the func-
tionalist paradigm (see Burrell & Mor-
gan, 1979) against which it is predomi-
nately reacting. Nevertheless, it is a
narrow critique. Recent leadership the-
ory suggests that leadership can be un-
derstood in fundamentally relationship
contexts – the kind of positions post-
modernists are wont to adopt (see
DePree, 1989; Fairholm, 1991; Fair-
holm, 1997; Greenleaf, 1977; Wheatley,
1992; Fairholm, 1998a; Fairholm,
1998b).
Again, Burns (1978) points out that con-
temporary leadership literature has
jumped the hurdles that history and in-
tellectual narrowness presented. As
Burns states, “at last we can hope to
close the intellectual gap between the
fecund canons of authority and a new
and general theory of leadership”
(Burns, 1978, p. 26). The idea of frames
or worldviews to help describe leader-
ship in practice may be a way of an-
swering the critiques of leadership and
adopt a research approach that Burns
encourages.
Using the concept of frames, metaphors
or paradigms to better understand the
phenomenon of leadership is promising.
While leadership may indeed encom-
pass certain elements, the individual’s
ability to understand or apply those ele-
ments may be limited by the perspec-
tives they (and, perhaps, their followers)
bring to organizational and social life. It
is in this direction that research may be
fruitfully focused to determine leadership
conceptions that would inform both the
theory and practice of leadership. As
Pfeffer (1993) suggests, “paradigm de-
velopment is theoretically important” to
any field (p. 599).
Perspectival Approach to Under-
standing Leadership
A fifth thread of leadership research,
then, may indeed be a thread that fo-
cuses on a perspectival approach to ho-
listically understanding the leadership
phenomenon. Paradigmatic, perspecti-
val, or worldview, conceptions of how
we look at the world are not new in the
literature. Some suggest there are life
filters that shape our moral and psycho-
logical development. Barker (1992) uses
the term paradigm to suggest a system
or pattern of integrating thoughts, ac-
tions, and practices. Graves (1970) de-
scribes different states of being. Each
state of being, or level of existence, de-
termines actions, relationships, and
measures of success. Though the
states of being are somewhat hierarchi-
cally arranged, Graves’ research shows
that a person need not grow to higher
levels or states of being. This is similar
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 18
to Kohlberg’s (1984) model of moral de-
velopment. Other authors see culture
as shaping the way we view things in
our everyday experiences (see
Herzberg, 1984; Hofstede, 1993; Quinn
& McGrath, 1985; Schein, 1992).
Harman (1998), in reviewing the history
of science and knowledge, suggests
there are three ways of seeing and
knowing the world which are commen-
surable with each other. They include
the M-1, or materialistic monism per-
spective, the M-2, or dualism perspec-
tive, and the M-3, or transcendental mo-
nism perspective. Postmodern writers
further suggest that people produce (or
co-produce) the realities in which they
operate and constantly change that real-
ity through continual, critical interaction
or discourse with others (see Farmer,
1995; Harmon, 1997; Rorty, 1991).
Burrell and Morgan (1979), building on
Kuhn’s (1962 / 1996) work on para-
digms, suggest that four paradigms
dominate and are incommensurable
with each other, including functionalism,
interpretivism, radical humanism, and
radical structuralism.
McWhinney (1984) touches on the im-
portance of looking at paradigmatic per-
spectives in studying leadership. He
argues that the different ways people
experience reality result in their having
distinctly different attitudes toward
change, and that understanding these
different concepts contributes to new
understanding of resistance to change
and the modes of leadership. Morgan
(1998) also suggests that the way we
see organizations influences how we
operate within them and even shapes
the types of activities that make sense
within them. Some work on frames and
perspectives have been done. How-
ever, more explicit work linking these
ideas to leadership is helpful (see
Fairholm, 1998a; Fairholm, 1998b).
While the practice of leadership is
something people recognize in social
and organizational life, the theory of
leadership is continuing to be refined.
From trait theory to behavior theory to
contingency theory, from values based-
transformation theory to a distinction
between leadership and management,
researchers and theorists are attempting
to understand leadership better with a
clear knowledge that they are not yet
there. Perhaps the next step in leader-
ship thought is to look at leadership in
broader, more philosophical, more holis-
tic terms, recognizing that individual
perspectives are brought to bear on un-
derstanding leadership. While leader-
ship may contain certain elements,
these elements may not be understood
fully nor put into practice at all, except
through individual conceptions of what
leadership is.
Fairholm’s Conceptions
This research draws upon the concep-
tions outlined by Fairholm (1998b).
Fairholm’s five conceptions are de-
scribed below supported by elements
found in contemporary leadership litera-
ture (see Table 3).
Fairholm suggests that people hold al-
ternative ways of viewing the world.
These perspectives shape not only how
one internalizes observation and exter-
nalizes belief sets, they also determine
how one measures success in oneself
and others. Thus, Fairholm says, “defin-
ing leadership is an intensely personal
activity limited by our personal para-
digms or our mental state of being, our
unique mind-set” (p. xv). Our leadership
perspective defines what we mean
when we say “leadership” and shape
how we view successful leadership in
others. He uses the metaphor of virtual
reality computer technology to help ex-
plain how people live in and are shaped
by the reality they perceive.
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In terms of the leadership phenomenon,
this perspectival, or virtual reality, ap-
proach suggests that individuals hold
alternative conceptions of what leader-
ship actually is and use this conception
to measure their own leadership activi-
ties and the relative success of others.
When one mentions leadership, indi-
viduals immediately draw upon their
conceptions to internalize the conversa-
tion, define leadership for themselves,
and judge whether or not others are ex-
ercising leadership. Frustration and
confusion surrounding the definitions of
leadership and the lack of agreement on
what leadership is can be explained by
understanding that individuals may sim-
ply have multiple conceptions of the
phenomenon.
Leadership as (Scientific) Manage-
ment
The first perspective Fairholm describes
equates leadership with management,
specifically the type of management that
draws upon the scientific management
movement of the first part of the 20th
century. At that time, much emphasis
was placed on the officers of manage-
ment understanding the best way to
promote and maintain productivity
amongst the employee ranks. The ex-
ecutive functions and skills that Gulick
(1937) outlined (namely, planning, orga-
nizing, staffing, directing, coordinating,
reporting, and budgeting - POSDCORB)
operationalized the role of organiza-
tional actors.
This perspective of leadership views
“management” as getting the job done
through predicting, shaping, controlling
and measuring the work of others.
Mintzberg (1975) adds to our under-
standing of this perspective of leader-
ship by suggesting a set of managerial
characteristics and by outlining various
roles that managers (read, also, as
leaders in this perspective) play in or-
ganizations. Mintzberg’s characteristics
and roles highlight the elements of this
conception of leadership, and include:
1) managers produce a great quantity of
work at an unrelenting pace; 2) they pre-
fer variety, fragmentation and brevity; 3)
they prefer specific, explicit issues that
are on the current agenda, not long-term
seminal issues; 4) managers are at the
center of a communication network of
contacts; 5) they prefer verbal media in
communicating; and 6) they seek to be
in control of their own affairs. The ten
roles Mintzberg highlights as central to
management include the interpersonal
roles of figurehead, leader, and liaison;
the informational roles of nerve center,
disseminator, and spokesman; and the
decisional roles of entrepreneur, distur-
bance handler, negotiator, and resource
allocator.
Allison (1980) continues refining the ac-
tivities of management by separating the
functions of general management into
three categories: 1) strategy, including
establishing objectives and priorities and
devising operational plans; 2) managing
internal components, including organiz-
ing and staffing, directing personnel and
the personnel management system, and
controlling performance; and 3) manag-
ing external constituencies, including
dealing with external units subject to
some common authority, dealing with
independent organizations, and dealing
with the press and the public. Allison
builds directly on Gulick and Urwick’s
elements of management, reinforcing
the perspective that leadership is at
least the same thing as management, if
not a subset of management.
Drucker (1966) stresses that effective-
ness in management roles, such as
those described above, can be learned.
He identifies five practices essential to
managerial effectiveness: recording and
analyzing where the time goes; choos-
ing to advance organizational contribu-
tions; knowing where and how to mobi-
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 20
lize strength for best effect; setting up
the right priorities; and acting rationally
based on good decision-making. These
principles fit nicely into the perspective
of leadership as management. Not only
are they applicable to the organization,
but also to the manager him or herself
and in this way solidifies the link by
equating good management with good
leadership, and good managers with
good leaders. More directly, Whetton
and Cameron (1998) believe manage-
ment encompasses leadership as typi-
cally defined. They state that "manag-
ers cannot be successful without being
good leaders, and leaders cannot be
successful without being good manag-
ers, …effective management subsumes
effective leadership" (p. 14). In the
same vein, Drucker (1954) suggests
that it is nonsense to separate man-
agement from leadership. He views the
two concepts as part and parcel of the
same job. They are different to be sure,
but only as different as the right hand
from the left or the nose from the mouth.
In this sense, they fall into what Rost
(1991) has labeled the “industrial lead-
ership paradigm, where leadership is
good management” (p.109).
Essentially, this perspective assumes
that leadership equals management in
that it focuses on getting others to do
work the leader wants done, essentially
separating the planning (management)
from the doing (labor). Key elements of
this perspective include: control, predic-
tion, verification, headship, and a sci-
ence-based measurement. More spe-
cifically, leadership elements associated
with this perspective include the follow-
ing ideas.
Efficient, Predictable Use of Re-
sources, and Optimality
Gilbreth (1912) focuses much of his
work on ensuring the predictability of
work processes and devotes much at-
tention to the measurement of resource
allocation and productivity (see also
Gulick & Urwick, 1937; Taylor, 1915).
Gulick and Urwick (1937) promote effi-
ciency as an overarching value. Seck-
ler-Hudson (1955) argues that "effective
utilization of human resources and ma-
terial to reach the known goal" will be
regarded as the measure of effective-
ness in managerial positions. Drucker
(1966) says that part of being an effec-
tive manager is knowing and ensuring
where and how to mobilize strength for
best effect. Taylor (1915) suggested
that managers need to figure out the
fastest, most efficient, and least fatigu-
ing way of doing things. Selznick (1983)
suggests that managers control, count,
and supervise other people so that they
perform in specific ways to increase the
overall productivity of the system or op-
eration.
Individual Performance Issues, Orga-
nizing, Planning, and Direction
Millett (1954) suggests that managing in
the public service is in large part a quest
for effective performance. Newcomer
(1997) places emphasis on helping new
public managers focus on their individ-
ual performance and on the perform-
ance of public servants in general. Box
(1999), Bozeman (1990), and Ingraham
and Romzek (1994) emphasize per-
formance measurement and appraisal in
their discussions of public management.
Mooney (1931) reviews five principles of
organizing units: coordinative principle;
scalar principle; hierarchy principle;
functional principle; staff and line princi-
ple. Gulick (1937) offers that leadership
is required to rationalize operations and
locate responsibility at the top in efforts
to organize work activities. He also de-
fines the manager’s direction role func-
tion as decision making. Drucker (1966)
stresses five organizing and planning
skills essential to success: managing
time; choosing what to contribute to the
particular organization; knowing where
and how to mobilize strength for best
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The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 21
effect; setting up the right priorities; and
good decision-making. Mintzberg’s
(1975) roles of management outlined
above have a strong orientation towards
planning and coordination activities.
Price (1965) posits that decisional au-
thority and planning inexorably flows
from the executive suite to the technical
office.
Incentivization and Control
House (1996) describes a path-goal
theory of leadership that prescribes
leaders’ behavior in terms of followers
perceptions and motivations. Drucker
(1954) explains management by objec-
tives which tries, among other things, to
operationalize organizational incentives.
Dowd (1936) suggests the importance
of leadership in maintaining control in
institutions. Jay (1967) used Machiev-
elli’s The Prince to review issues of
managerial control and incentives.
Gouldner (1954), in reviewing issues of
organizational control, describes three
possible responses to a formal bureau-
cratic structure: mock - where the for-
mal rules are ignored by both manage-
ment and labor; punishment-centered -
where management seeks to enforce
rules that workers resist; representative
- where rules are both enforced and
obeyed.
Leadership as Excellence Manage-
ment
The second perspective of leadership
suggests that leadership is management
with a focus on what has recently been
called the excellence movement. Popu-
larized by Peters and Waterman (1982)
in the early 1980’s, this perspective fo-
cuses on systematic quality improve-
ments with a focus on the people in-
volved in the processes, the processes
themselves, and the quality of products
that are produced by the processes. The
work of leadership is to create innova-
tion in an environment of honest mana-
gerial concern for all stakeholders.
The Total Quality Movement (TQM) of
the 1980s is closely linked to this per-
spective of leadership. The skills high-
lighted in TQM specifically, and the ex-
cellence movement in general, link di-
rectly to the definitions of leadership that
are illustrative of this perspective. The
general framework of leadership as ex-
cellence management revolves around
an organizational cultural change based
on a management philosophy of meet-
ing customer requirements through con-
tinuous improvement of people, proc-
ess, and product. Elements of the man-
ager/leader behavior in this perspective
includes role modeling, using quality
processes and tools, encouraging com-
munication, sponsoring feedback and
fostering a supportive environment. The
mechanisms to achieve success include
training, communications, recognition
systems, teamwork, and customer satis-
faction programs.
In the TQM movement, a leader is suc-
cessful as he or she 1) defines mission,
2) identifies system output, 3) identifies
customers, 4) negotiates customers’ re-
quirement, 5) develops a “supplier
specification” that details customer re-
quirement and expectation, and 6) de-
termines the necessary activities re-
quired to fulfill those requirements
(Ross, 1993).
Deming (1986) introduced a new phi-
losophy of management when he out-
lined his Total Quality Management
ideas. The key ideas in Deming’s phi-
losophy are subsumed in his fourteen
points or philosophical principles; an
emphasis on system stability; use of sta-
tistical control mechanisms to under-
stand the system and point to areas for
real improvement of the system; and an
emphasis on a clearly defined and
broadly understood aim (vision) for the
system that intends to optimize (maxi-
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 22
mize benefit to all stakeholder) the sys-
tem. According to Deming, the leader’s
job is to transform the system from what
it is to one consistent with the fourteen
points (principles) he enunciates, which
include: 1) create consistency of pur-
pose with a plan, 2) adopt the new phi-
losophy of quality, 3) cease dependence
on mass inspection, 4) end the practice
of choosing suppliers based on price, 5)
find problems and work continuously on
the system, 6) use modern methods of
training, 7) change from production
numbers to quality, 8) drive out fear, 9)
break down barriers between depart-
ments, 10) stop asking for productivity
improvement without providing methods,
11) eliminate work standards that pre-
scribe numerical quotas, 12) remove
barriers to pride of workmanship, 13)
institute vigorous education and retrain-
ing, and 14) create a structure in top
management that will push every day on
the above 13 points.
The essence of the Deming philosophy
is much more than just statistical quality
control. It is a leadership paradigm in-
volving a new conception of the role of
management. It involves the use of
prediction techniques and scientific
methods, but adds to the work of man-
agement the essential element of build-
ing relationships, encouraging commu-
nication, and inculcating pride for and
rewarding quality work. This approach
focuses on a refined sense of manage-
ment and leadership, and reliance on
profound knowledge, quality, and sound
techniques.
Crosby’s view of the TQM and excel-
lence movements has a much more
managerial feel (see Ross, 1993). His
absolutes of quality management in-
clude: quality is defined as confor-
mance to requirements, not “goodness;”
the system for delivering quality is the
prevention of poor-quality through proc-
ess control, not appraisal or correction;
the performance standard is zero de-
fects, not “that’s close enough;” and
rather than measure quality through in-
dices, the measurement of quality is
based on the price of nonconformance
to the quality process.
Juran (1989) also built on Deming’s
work. His approach to excellence man-
agement focused on the managerial di-
mensions of quality planning, quality
control, and quality improvement. His
ten steps to quality improvement in-
clude: 1) build awareness of opportuni-
ties to improve, 2) set goals for im-
provement, 3) organize to reach goals,
4) provide training, 5) carry out projects
to solve problems, 6) report progress, 7)
give recognition, 8) communicate re-
sults, 9) keep score, and 10) maintain
momentum by making annual improve-
ment part of the regular systems and
processes of the company.
Rago (1996) presents an example of
excellence leadership in his case study
of a planned TQM-type organizational
transformation in a Texas State public
agency. Although there were many
successes over the course of events,
they were marked by a series of strug-
gles that had roots in a mixture of uncer-
tainty regarding the next steps to take
and in the need for the agency’s senior
managers to personally transform the
way they go about their work. The
struggle for managers to make this per-
sonal transformation is an important as-
pect of the study and points to deeper
leadership issues.
Kee and Black (1985) discuss overarch-
ing leadership concerns about bringing
this perspective to the work of public
administration. They suggest that im-
plementing the ideas of the excellence
movement to the public sector may face
some distinct challenges to success.
These challenges include: identifying
the customer; determining core values;
promoting risk-taking. They are chal-
lenges because of the unique public
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
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contexts that make these elements diffi-
cult to agree upon or wrap ones hands
around. They suggest there are some
similarities, however, with the private
sector that allows for this perspective to
be useful and successful in the public
context. These similarities include:
people need to succeed; vision counts;
simple structures, lean staff; measure-
ment.
The role and functions of leadership in
this perspective emphasize quality and
productivity process improvement rather
than just product and people over either
product or process, and require the
management of values, attitudes, and
organizational aims within a framework
of quality improvement. Some of the
key elements of this perspective include
being sensitive to the human relations
needs of workers along with the produc-
tivity demands on them, improving the
process, having a concern for perform-
ance excellence/quality, and focusing on
stakeholder development and interac-
tion. More specifically, leadership ele-
ments associated with this perspective
include the following ideas.
Continuous Process Improvement,
Transforming Environments and Per-
ceptions
The work of Deming (1986), Juran
(1989), Ross (1993), and Rago (1996)
outlined above illustrate the significance
and concepts of this element. Davis
and Luthans (1984) test the position that
leadership exists as a causal variable in
subordinate behavior and organizational
performance by evaluating the impact of
specific process improvements.
Listening Actively, Being Accessible,
and Expressing Common Courtesy
Heifitz (1994) emphasize the importance
of listening and accessibility in manage-
rial roles. Fairholm (1991) mentions that
expressing common courtesy and re-
spect for others are significant parts of
leadership. Deming (1986) also makes
a point that TQM initiatives must place
significant emphasis on the individual
and on individual expression.
Motivation and Engaging Others in
Problem Solving
Vroom and Jago (1988) encourage the
engagement of followers in defining
problems and solving those problems in
a context of participation throughout the
organization. Hughes et al. (1993) state
that “many people believe the most im-
portant quality of a good leader is the
ability to motivate others to accomplish
group tasks” (p. 327). Roethlisberger et
al. (1941) emphasize the impact of hu-
man influences in personal and organ-
izational motivation. McGregor et al.
(1966) summarize various perspectives
and research findings concerning the
managerial imperative of motivation.
Herzberg et al. (1959) also emphasize
the role of motivation in organizations
and unpacks the meaning and tools of
motivation.
Leadership as a Values Displace-
ment Activity
The third perspective of leadership sug-
gests that leadership is essentially a re-
lationship between leader and follower
that allows for typical management ob-
jectives to be achieved in ways different
from prediction and control. Leadership
success is dependent more on values
and shared vision than it is on prediction
and control. Fairholm (1998b) suggests
that this may be what pre-modern lead-
ership ideas reflect. He suggests that
modern management as described in
the first two perspectives arose to allow
for predictability and stability to counter
the previous organizational structures
based on personality, traits, charisma,
and shamanism that yielded unpredict-
ability in organizational systems (p.57-
58).
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 24
Rost (1991) points out that leadership
as good management is what the “twen-
tieth-century school of leadership” is all
about. What is needed, in Rost’s view,
is a new paradigm of leadership that in-
cludes the interplay between leaders
and followers. Values leadership does
this. This perspective suggests that the
unilateral nature of scientific manage-
ment and the predictable process im-
provement techniques of excellence
management are insufficient to describe
the leadership phenomenon. Leader-
ship is rather better described as a rela-
tionship activity where the leader helps
the led aspire to common goals by com-
ing to mutually shared values and aspi-
rations.
This conception begins to separate the
distinct technologies of leadership and
management. Sashkin and Rosenbach
(1998) review the development of this
perspective highlighting the work of
Burns (1978) and Bass (1985) in defin-
ing transactional leadership and trans-
formational leadership. The former has
come to be known as management and
the latter has been known to better de-
scribe the unique leadership phenome-
non. Sashkin and Rosenbach describe
elements of transactional leadership to
include contingent-reward dynamics and
management-by-exception. Transfor-
mational leadership, on the other hand,
points to the less measurable elements
of charisma (noting that charisma is the
result of transformation leadership, not
the cause), inspiration, individualized
consideration, and intellectual stimula-
tion.
Sashkin’s Visionary Leadership Theory
(see Sashkin & Rosenbach, 1998)
states that leaders take everyday
managerial tasks – a committee meeting
for example – as opportunities to incul-
cate values. Leaders “overlay” value-
inculcating actions on ordinary bureau-
cratic management activities. Without a
sound base of management skills, this
would never be possible; without man-
agement, there could be no leadership.
Thus both are important – but they are
different. This third conception of lead-
ership, then, separates the management
technologies from the leadership tech-
nologies and may form a bridge be-
tween the former two perspectives and
the latter two that will be discussed later.
The skill sets and functions of values
leadership differ from those of manage-
ment and excellence management.
Kouzes and Posner (1990) suggest that
leaders challenge the process, inspire a
shared vision, enable others to act,
model the way, and encourage the
heart. Sashkin (1989) describes the
value of the Leadership Behavior Ques-
tionnaire (LBQ) in sorting out the key
elements of leadership. These ele-
ments fit nicely into the conception of
values leadership. They include clarity,
communication, consistency, caring,
creating opportunities, being self-
confident, having a need for power, and
using vision.
Two distinctive elements that emerge in
this perspective are organizational vi-
sion and values. These elements help
define and guide the leader/follower re-
lationship. Though some in practice
short-change the power of vision by
simply borrowing common phrases
found in other organizations’ vision
statements, as if from a “vision ware-
house,” the power of sincerely articu-
lated vision, forms the foundation of
leadership activities (see Thornberry,
1997). Collins and Porras (1997) de-
scribe vision as a vivid description with
an artistic and emotional component.
Vision serves to make explicit the organ-
izational purpose or reason for being
and inspires organizational members in
their work efforts. Barker (1992) de-
scribes vision as dreams in action, that
are leader initiated and then taught to
followers. Vision is neither rhetoric nor
platitude; it provides direction and guid-
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 25
ance and aligns people. Common ad-
vice in setting a vision include: 1) senior
management must get in touch with
their leadership responsibilities, 2) craft
vision, 3) don’t wait for perfection, 4)
have fortitude, and 5) remember that
visioning can happen at all levels.
Vision is almost always connected in the
literature to some sense of cultural be-
liefs or values. Burns (1978) says that
values are standards that can be used
to establish choices made, determine
equity, and balance policies and prac-
tices. Thayer (1980) states that values
are operationally similar to objectives,
goals, ends, purposes, or policies. Fair-
holm (1998b) suggests that values are
statements of oughts; they are broad
general beliefs about the way people
should behave or some end state that
they should attain.
Values may be defined in terms of their
instrumental nature or in terms of their
terminal results. Instrumental values
encompass the beliefs and desires that
help us achieve certain ends. Terminal
values are those ends that people hold
in esteem. Examples of values in the
public sector include respect for life, lib-
erty or freedom of choice, justice, unity,
happiness (see Fairholm, 1998b). Oth-
ers include integrity, trust, listening, re-
spect for followers, those that O’Toole
define as the Rushmorean values (see
O'Toole, 1996).
Kidder (1995) undertook a more com-
prehensive study of values in an effort to
outline certain universally held values, if
such existed. He conducted interviews
all over the world and concluded that
there are some common values held by
people regardless of culture or national-
ity. These include love, truthfulness,
fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, re-
sponsibility, and respect for life. Others
included courage, wisdom, hospitality,
peace, and stability. What good comes
from knowing these codes of values?
Kidder responds by saying:
“It gives us a foundation for building
goals, plans, and tactics, where
things really happen and the world
really changes. It unifies us, giving
us a home territory of consensus
and agreement. And it gives us a
way - not the way, but a way - to re-
ply when asked, ‘Whose values will
you teach?’ Answering this last
question, as we tumble into the
twenty-first century with the twenti-
eth's sense of ethics, may be one of
the most valuable mental activities of
our time” (p. 9).
The values leadership approach de-
pends upon an understanding of values,
what they are generally and which they
are specifically, and how we as people
come to share them and use them to
accomplish group and individual goals.
The values leadership perspective is the
integration of group behavior with
shared values through the leader setting
values, and teaching those values to
followers through an articulated vision
that leads to excellent products and ser-
vice, mutual growth and enhanced self-
determination. Some of the key ele-
ments of this perspective include: eve-
ryone has values and those values trig-
ger behavior, group shares values in
common, values provide the goals (vi-
sion) and measures of success, individ-
ual change and development and group
productivity are equally considered core
purposes. More specifically, leadership
elements associated with this perspec-
tive include the following ideas.
Developing Individuals
Barnard (1938b) states that executives
induce people to convert their abilities
into coordinative effort and that organi-
zations are cooperative systems
wherein the function of the executive is
to maintain a dynamic equilibrium be-
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tween the needs of the organization and
the needs of employees. Fairholm
(1991) focuses on the social interactions
within organizations and a reliance on
values that allows the leader to not only
evoke excellent results from the organi-
zation, but also, more importantly, de-
velop individual followers into leaders in
their own right. Sullivan and Harper
(1996) provides thoughts on the mean-
ing of leadership and a commitment to
shared values, how to identify objectives
and maintain a long-term vision, when to
challenge the status quo, and how to
invest in and nurture employees.
Encouraging High Performance and
Self-led Followers
Bennis and Nanus (1985) describe a
leaders as one who commits people to
action, who converts followers into lead-
ers, and who may convert leaders into
agents of change. Manz and Sims
(1989) say the most appropriate leader
is one who can lead others to lead
themselves. This they call “superlead-
ership” and suggest that leaders be-
come "super" because they can possess
the strength and wisdom of many per-
sons by helping to unleash the abilities
of the "followers" (self-leaders) that sur-
round them. Rost (1991), as stated
above, argues for a paradigm of leader-
ship that includes the interplay between
leaders and followers.
Setting, Enforcing, and Prioritizing
Values
Conger (1991) posits that leaders de-
pend upon values. They depend upon
the melding of individual values into the
values of the organization and vice
versa. Covey (1992) describes a per-
spective of leadership that emphasizes
a reliance on principles. Fairholm
(1991) espouses a philosophical con-
ception of leadership that is values-
driven, change-oriented, and develop-
mental – grounded in specific values for
American public administrators embod-
ied in the Constitution and Declaration
of Independence. Frost and Egri (1990)
say there is a need for perspectives
large enough to embrace the fact that
we are living, valuing beings--and to
place that value-centric fact at the core
of our studying the leadership question.
Nirenberg (1998) suggests that “ulti-
mately, diversity of thinking will usher in
a new concern for exploring shared val-
ues and the impact of serious values-
based differences in organizations. Ul-
timately, leadership is the expression of
values" (p. 95). As outlined before,
Kidder (1995) explains an important as-
pects of setting and prioritizing values.
Bennis (1982) held that leadership is
concerned with organizations' basic
purposes and general directions center-
ing on doing the right things, not merely
doing things right.
Visioning and Communicating the
Visions
Felton (1995) expounds on the impact of
language and rhetoric on leadership,
leaders, and followers as an area that
deserves more attention, especially
when highlighting the values-laden and
inspirational essence of leadership. To
define rhetoric may also be to define
leadership – moving people to action, by
moving their feelings with stirring verbal
tools. Sashkin (1989) explains ways to
express, explain, extend, and expand
the vision. Cleveland (1972) asserts that
decision making in the future will call for
continuous improvisation on a general
sense of direction that may be thought
of as a vision. To Bennis (1982), how
organizations translate intention into re-
ality and sustain it is the central ques-
tion, answered mainly by communicat-
ing a direction and vision. Nanus (1992)
suggests that a key function of leader-
ship is creating a compelling sense of
direction by visioning.
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Teaching, Coaching, and Empower-
ing
Tichy (1997) says teaching is what
leaders do and posits that teaching is
leading (see also Fairholm 1997).
McFarland, Senn, and Childress (1993)
discuss the idea of bringing out the best
in others in terms of developmental
coaching and empowerment activities.
Sullivan and Harper (1996) discuss how
to invest in and nurture employees.
O’Toole (1996) posits that the most diffi-
cult challenge of leadership is bringing
about change without imposing one's
will on others and suggests a strategy of
empowerment and teaching based on
legitimate values.
Trust Culture Leadership
Values leadership differentiates leader-
ship and management, but still focuses
much on the role of the leader in the re-
lationship. The next conception, trust
culture leadership, shifts the focus more
on the interaction between leader and
the led and recognizes the follower as
having a much more influential role in
the leadership relationship. This focus
on the follower is important in this con-
ception because of the emphasis on
teams, culture, and mutual trust be-
tween leader and follower.
Rosenbach and Taylor (1989) con-
ducted research that suggests the quali-
ties we find in good leaders are the
same we find in good followers. Pitt-
man, Rosenbach, and Potter (1998)
further outline this line of inquiry. They
note the fundamental dimensions of fol-
lowership are performance initiative and
relationship initiative. Performance ini-
tiative is defined by the follower’s ability
to do the job, work with others, use self
as a resource, and embrace change.
Relationship initiative includes the fol-
lower identifying with the leader, building
trust, engaging in courageous commu-
nication, and negotiating differences.
Placing these dimensions on a grid, fol-
lowers’ styles, they continue, include 1)
the contributor, high in performance and
low in relationship, 2) the politician, low
in performance and high in relationship,
3) the subordinate, low in performance
and low in relationship, and 4) the part-
ner, high in performance and high in re-
lationship.
Nolan and Harty (1984) agree that fol-
lowership and leadership share many of
the same characteristics. They argue
that little attention has been paid to the
relationship between followership and
leadership in educational administration,
although the behaviors required of good
followership are similar to those required
of good leadership. Chaleff (1997)
notes that followers’ skills are learned
informally, but they are essential for ef-
fective organizational leadership. This
is especially poignant as we conceive of
leadership in terms of teams and shared
culture. Followers play a key role in the
success of teams and co-produce the
shared culture that is essential for lead-
ership to be present.
Fairholm (1998b) states that the leader’s
role is to build unity, a team, out of dif-
ferent individuals. This activity is not a
function of amalgamation, but of aligning
individual concerns with the core es-
sence of the group (p. 103). The first
goal in leading a diverse workforce is to
define common values and customs.
The second is to integrate and accultur-
ate workers into the team culture, its
value systems, and operating practices.
Leadership, then, is a process of build-
ing a trust culture within which leader
and follower can relate in accomplishing
mutually valued goals using agreed-
upon processes. In this sense, leader-
ship is a sharing, not a starring role.
Wildavsky (1984) mentions that leader-
ship is a consequence of corporate cul-
ture, and culture is a result of leader-
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The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 28
ship. The two are intertwined. This also
relates to the values connotation of the
work of leadership. While leaders
shape values, they are made manifest in
the culture through attitudes fostered
and rites, rituals, myths, strategies and
goals assumed. Values establish the
foundation for more specific operational
and interpersonal work standards used
by the group. Selznick (1957) asserted
that the function of the institutional
leader is to help shape the environment
in which the institution operates to de-
fine new institutional directions, infusing
the organization with values.
Barker (1992) states that strong cultures
act as intellectual and emotional para-
digms. Schein’s (1992) definition of cul-
ture links it to leadership: A pattern of
shared basic assumptions that the
group learned as it solved its problems
of external adaptation and internal inte-
gration, that has worked well enough to
be considered valid, and therefore, to be
taught to new members as the correct
way to perceive, think, and feel in rela-
tion to those problems (p. 279). This
conception requires the leader to be a
teacher because we learn to have these
shared patterns. Schein also suggests
that culture and leadership must be un-
derstood together. If one wishes to dis-
tinguish leadership from management or
administration, one can argue that lead-
ers create and change cultures, while
managers and administrators live within
them. Schein convincingly argues that
organizational cultures are created in
part by leaders, and one of the most de-
cisive functions of leadership is the
creation, the management, and some-
times even the destruction of culture. In
this sense, leadership and culture are
conceptually intertwined. Schein warns
that if one is not aware of the need to
manage cultures, those cultures will
manage you.
Sashkin and Sashkin (1994) suggest
five strategies for leaders to create a
successful team culture: 1) value-based
staffing, 2) using conflict constructively,
3) modeling values in action, 4) telling
stories about heroes and heroines, and
5) creating traditions, ceremonies, and
rituals. Dreilenger (1998) states that
one of the roles of leadership is to over-
come organizational cynicism by build-
ing culture through accountability and
high ethics and eliminating causes of
mistrust.
This conception of leadership assumes
that follower development, team suc-
cess and building effective cultures de-
pends upon trust. Fairholm (1998b)
states that common values build trust,
and trust is the foundation of coopera-
tive action. The kind of leadership that
grows out of shared values only flour-
ishes in a climate within which individu-
als can accept the individuality of others
without sanctioning all of their behavior
or words. Without trust, he warns, cul-
tural values can become strictures, im-
peding individual and group progress
(see pp. 77-78).
Kouzes and Posner (1993) in summariz-
ing their research suggest people want
leaders who are credible. They state
that leaders we admire do not place
themselves at the center; they place
others there. This reinforces the notion
of follower involvement in the leadership
phenomenon. Credibility includes being
honest, competent, and inspiring and
doing what you say you will do. Credibil-
ity is the foundation of leadership and
underlying the causes of credibility is
trust. Fairholm and Fairholm (2000) re-
inforce the importance of trust in the
leadership activity, and outline elements
that might disrupt interpersonal and or-
ganization trust. They outline individual,
organizational, and societal forces that
hinder the development of trust. They
also outline institutional and personal
barriers to building a trust culture.
In sum, this perspective places two obli-
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 29
gations on leaders: first, to create a
common culture where all members can
trust one another to do their part to at-
tain agreed-upon results; second, to in-
sure that the trust culture that is created
allows individual members to grow to-
ward their personal self-development
goals. Low trust cultures force us to
manage, not lead.
Trust cultural leadership is a process of
building trust cultures within which
leader and follower (in an essentially
voluntary relationship) relate to accom-
plish mutually – valued goals using
agreed-upon processes from a variety of
individual cultural contexts. Some key
elements of this perspective include:
unified, effective, harmonious culture of
mutual trust; planned actions to create
trusting environment based on common
values; volunteerism based on trust
(people choose to follow those they
trust); and trust as the “organizational
glue” that allows unified collective activ-
ity. More specifically, leadership ele-
ments associated with this perspective
include the following ideas.
Trust and Ensuring Cultures of Trust
Malmberg (1999) suggests the ability to
manage outcomes will be driven by their
self-satisfaction with the job, and main-
tenance of an ethical correlation be-
tween their feelings and their sense of
what is correct versus what is expedient.
Success as leaders is increasingly de-
pendent on achieving positive, trusting
relations with others. Mitchell (1993)
focuses on the potential danger posed
by strong leaders and argues that trust-
worthy leadership involves reliable
stewardship and social responsibility.
As outlined above Kouzes and Posner
(1993), Schein (1992), and Fairholm
(1998a) also express a needed focus on
trustworthiness, credibility, and cultures
of trust. Fairholm (1994) holds that cul-
ture affects and influences the leader-
ship of a group and, therefore, leaders
should cultivate a culture of trust.
Fostering and Maintaining Shared
Cultures and Prioritizing Mutual Cul-
tural Values and Conduct
Quinn and McGrath (1985) present a
conceptual framework designed to pro-
vide consistency and structure to the
environment of human perceptual val-
ues while at the same time illuminating
the fundamental tensions and para-
doxes that often exist among values.
They continue to illustrate the models'
analytical power by using it to map a
major facet of organizational behavior-
leadership – as a framework of compet-
ing values – and by showing how differ-
ent types of organizational forms must
be congruent with their cultural sur-
roundings if organizations are to be ef-
fective. Hollander (1997) discusses the
followers' impact on leadership and the
nature of cultural relationships. Selznick
(1983) states the art of creative leader-
ship is the art of institution building,
which means infusing the organization
with values. Hofstede (1993) highlights
the integral nature of culture by support-
ing with relevant research that the idea
of building culture-free theories of man-
agement is not well-founded. Collins
and Porras (1997) outline habits of suc-
cessful companies including the devel-
opment and maintenance of big, hairy,
audacious goals (BHAGs) that shape
and prioritize the energy, values, and
purposes of the organization.
Team Building, Sharing Governance,
and Group Performance
Gardner (1990) states that leaders
should share leadership tasks unoffi-
cially because the vitality of middle and
lower levels of leadership can produce
greater vitality in the higher levels of
leadership. Kaufman (1969) outlines
pros and cons to increased decentrali-
zation in government bureaucracies and
examines the intricacies of sharing gov-
ernance with the people being gov-
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erned. Luke (1998) expresses a model
of catalytic leadership that respects and
rewards the interconnectedness found
in organizational life. Nolan and Harty
(1984) focus on the followership aspects
of the leadership relationship and de-
scribes some behaviors that bring lead-
ers and followers together. Fraser
(1978) considers different types of group
structure, and their relationship to what
happens in group interaction. Fairholm
(1994) suggests that sharing govern-
ance within groups helps effective
teams and team leaders to emerge.
Spiritual (Whole Soul) Leadership
The fifth perspective builds on the ideas
of values and trust culture maintenance,
focusing attention on the whole soul na-
ture of both leader and led. This per-
spective assumes that people have only
one spirit that manifests itself in both our
professional and personal lives and that
leadership engages individuals at this
level. Spirit in the work place has no real
relationship to religion in the workplace.
The elements of spirituality as under-
stood in this perspective define who the
person is, not just what his or her moral
stance is or the religious doctrines he or
she espouses.
This perspective may encounter difficul-
ties in contemporary work organizations.
Spiritual matters have not formed a ma-
jor part of modern leadership or man-
agement theory, and there are limits on
spirituality in the workplace arising from
traditional theory and practice. However,
leaders in the modern organization can
and do link our interior world of moral
reflection and the outer world of work
and social relationships (see Fairholm,
1998b, p. 133). We take our whole self
with us everywhere we go, whether to
home, to work, to church, to the PTA,
etc.
Jacobsen (1994) defines spirituality as a
way of understanding our world, and an
inner or personal awareness. In corpo-
rations, spirituality refers to the inner
values of the leader and followers – the
mature principles, qualities and influ-
ences that people implicitly exhibit in
behavior and interactions with other
people. A whole soul leadership focus
sees transformation of self, others and
the team as important. It involves the
heart and mind, spiritual values and in-
tellectual skills. It involves inner cer-
tainty, the essence of self, and the basis
of comfort, strength, happiness. Spiritu-
ality is the source of personal meaning,
values, life purposes, and personal be-
lief systems and reflects the experience
of the transcendent in life (see Fairholm,
1997).
Leadership in this conception requires a
holistic, integrated approach. Cound
(1987) says that through personal ef-
forts, leaders assure that the team’s
value system is integrated and holistic in
nature so they do not have to sacrifice
values. Autry (1992) concludes that a
holistic approach includes organizational
services and programs that address
both the professional and personal lives
of stakeholders. Herzberg (1984) ex-
plains that leaders and organizations
earn loyalty from their members when
they help unify beliefs that fit into the
underlying “mystery systems” of their
cultures.
Greenleaf’s (1998) writings suggest that
organization members concern them-
selves with matters of the spirit, which
informs the perspective of whole soul
leadership (p. 55). He builds on the
trust cultural perspective by suggesting
that achieving many small-scale com-
munities within the organization may be
the secret of synergy in large institutions
and the way leaders may influence the
whole individual within large-scale or-
ganizations. Formidable obstacles
stand in the way of maturing leaders
and followers. This is mainly attributed
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 31
to acting on “the principle that knowl-
edge, not the spirit, is power. Knowl-
edge is but a tool. The spirit is of the
essence” (p. 25). Vision, Greenleaf
states, is needed to lift the sights of
those that know and release their will to
act constructively, because the only test
of leadership is that somebody follows –
voluntarily. Vision is required to open
others to a willingness to use what they
know and to work to extract hard reality
from a dream.
Burns’ (1978) effort to describe a model
of moral leadership is guided by the no-
tion “that levels of wants and needs and
other motivations, combined with hierar-
chies of values, and sharpened by con-
flict, undergird the dynamics of leader-
ship” (p. 30). At the point of action,
leadership is intensely individual and
personal. Leadership is a process of
morality to the degree that leaders en-
gage with followers on the basis of
shared motives and values and goals –
on the basis, that is, of the followers’
“true” needs as well as those of leaders:
psychological, economic, safety, spiri-
tual, sexual, aesthetic, or physical. Only
the followers can ultimately define their
own true needs, but the first task of
leadership is to bring to consciousness
the followers’ sense of their own needs,
values, and purposes. Essentially the
leader’s task is consciousness-raising
on a wide plane. The leader’s funda-
mental act is “to induce people to be
aware or conscious of what they feel –
to feel their true needs so strongly, to
define their values so meaningfully, that
they can be moved to purposeful action”
(p. 44). Burns suggests that “the ulti-
mate test of moral leadership is its ca-
pacity to transcend the claims of the
multiplicity of everyday wants and needs
and expectations, to respond to the
higher levels of moral development, and
to relate leadership behavior – its roles,
choices, style, commitments – to a set
of reasoned, relatively explicit, con-
scious values” (p. 46).
Vaill (1989) concludes that it is possible
to lead a spiritual life at work in a typical
western organization, be it public or pri-
vate, profit or non-profit, large or small,
successful or not successful. In fact,
human organizations are inherently
spiritual places where a spiritual life is
invited by human organizations. Lead-
ership of the whole person allows this
spiritual element of work to be made ex-
plicit and valid. There is really no place
to hide, no extra-organizational place to
be more spiritual than seems to be pos-
sible in everyday organizations. Vaill
suggests that if spiritual life is not possi-
ble in organizational life, then he must
reluctantly conclude that he must give
up the idea of spiritual life, for one can-
not get away from organizations, espe-
cially as organizations are coming to be
understood (see Weinberg, 1996;
Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers, 1998). He
helps define organizations as spiritual
environments. Fostering organizational
conditions and events where people
have the feelings and experiences of a
personal, whole soul, spiritual dimension
is not an engineering problem because
human beings are not material instru-
ments. It is because organizations are
valuing systems, that leadership of the
whole soul is a credible and perhaps
more inclusive perspective. Vaill out-
lines five dimensions of organizations as
valuing systems and highlights the spiri-
tual connotations of each, that include:
the economic, the technical, the adap-
tive, the communal, and the transcen-
dent.1
Spiritual, or whole soul, leadership is the
integration of the components of work
and self – of the leader and each fol-
1 These five dimensions seem to correspond with Fair-
holm’s five conceptions of leadership. While this con-
nection is not made explicitly in this research, the coin-
cidence is too significant to ignore and may represent
an interesting area of future research.
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 32
lower – into a comprehensive system
that fosters continuous growth, im-
provement, self-awareness, and self-
leadership so that leaders see each
worker as a whole person with a variety
of skills, knowledge and abilities that
invariably go beyond the narrow con-
fines of job needs. Some key elements
of this final perspective include: concern
for and integration of the whole-soul, the
inner self, of leader and led; enhancing
self awareness and meaning in life; fo-
cusing on the core values – the spirit of
the leader and led – not facts about per-
sonality or situation; understanding that
a clear sense of the “spiritual” dimension
of self and group members has a trans-
formational effect on organizations,
forms, structures, processes, behavior,
and attitudes. More specifically, leader-
ship elements associated with this per-
spective include the following ideas.
Liberating the Best in People and a
Concern for the Individual
Argyris (1957) suggests a very neces-
sary link between individual personality
and the organization’s dynamics and
success. Herzberg (1984) suggests that
organizations do much for individual’s to
understand “mystery systems,” meaning
those elements of life that give meaning
and self-efficacy. Levit (1992) hypothe-
sizes that the motive force behind the
influence of a leader is meaning and
purpose, and that if leaders are to clarify
meaning and purpose for others, they
themselves must have a greater-than-
average sense of purpose and meaning.
Jacobsen (1994) reveals through his
research that spirituality plays a vital
role in the personal and professional
activity of the participants in organiza-
tions. Burns (1978) suggests that the
purpose of transforming leadership is to
raise followers and leaders to high lev-
els of existence. Nelson (1997) states
that to be effective, “today's managers
must create supportive work environ-
ments that can influence, but not ordain,
desired behavior and outcomes” (p.35).
Autry (1992) feels that love and caring
for people as individuals is central to
leadership.
Developing Individual Wholeness
While Building Community and Pro-
moting Stewardship
Barnard (1938b) claims an individual is
always the basic factor in organizations
and that the goal of the executive is to
combine sentiment and rationality within
the organizational structure. Drath and
Palus (1994) argue that leadership is a
sense-making activity, but that meaning
creation is leadership, however, only
when it is found in a community of prac-
tice. Block (1993) suggests that the
stewardship concept defines leadership
as service overcomes self-interest in
organizational and social life. DePree
(1992) states that while leadership is a
serious meddling in people’s lives, the
active pursuit of common good gives us
the right to ask leaders and managers of
all kinds to be not only successful, but
faithful to certain core, fundamental val-
ues. Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers
(1998) suggest as a basic principle of
leadership that to create better health in
a living system, the leader and the fol-
lowers need to connect themselves to
more of themselves in terms of core
values, self-awareness, and holistic per-
spectives.
Fostering an Intelligent Organization,
Setting Moral Standards, and Model-
ing a Service Orientation
Senge (1990) advises that only leaders
who can develop and work within a
learning organization will be successful
and suggests four core disciplines: per-
sonal mastery, mental models, shared
vision, and team learning. Vaill (1996)
recommends that managers actively
and continually learn to be able to cope
with the complexities and rapidity of
change in today’s organizations. Bar-
nard (1938b) makes explicit reference to
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 33
the executives moral responsibilities as
does DePree (1992), Covey (1992), Gini
(1997), and Fairholm (1997). Prince
(1995) states that in essence the leader
can influence the moral conduct of oth-
ers by demonstrating the desired behav-
ior, rewarding ethical behavior, and pun-
ishing unethical conduct. Greenleaf
(1977) suggests that more servants
should emerge as leaders and, more
dramatically, that we should follow only
servant-leaders. His models and theo-
ries have brought service to the forefront
of much of the leadership literature.
Inspiration
In speaking of creativity and empower-
ment, Berry (1997) suggests that "man-
agers cannot command people to be
entrepreneurial; they can only hope to
inspire them to try something new or go
the extra mile for a customer" (p. 32).
Greenleaf (1977), Fairholm (1997), and
Burns (1978) focus attention on the in-
spirational aspects of leadership.
Wheatley (1997) says “most of us were
raised in a culture that told us that the
way to manage for excellence was to tell
people exactly what they had to do and
then make sure they did it. We learned
to play master designer, assuming we
could engineer people into perfect per-
formance. But you can't direct people
into perfection; you can only engage
them enough so that they want to do
perfect work” (p. 25).
In very general terms, these five per-
spectives are an elaboration of one
general theme – that values are key in
the leadership phenomenon. Burns
(1978) made this a central point in his
work. The notion that values play a key
role in leadership provides a way to
frame the variety of individual perspec-
tives about values, organizations, and
leadership. The first two perspectives
key on values that depend upon organ-
izational hierarchy and authority. The
last three take into account a more per-
sonal approach to values. Values lead-
ership makes the case for values dis-
placement as the task of leadership.
The next perspective goes further to
generalize shared values in a culture
characterized by mutual, interactive
trust. The final perspective makes the
case that when engaging in leadership
not all the values the leader or led hold
are important, but only the core, soul
values – the ones we just will not com-
promise, that define the true essence of
leadership just as they define the indi-
vidual as a person.
Fairholm’s model suggests that “while
there is a kind of evolutionary order to
our understanding, each leadership vir-
tual reality has adherents today. They
can be ranked hierarchically along a
continuum from managerial control to
spiritual holism” (Fairholm, 1998b, p.
xix). He goes on to suggest that “per-
haps each of us has to move through
each virtual leadership environment, ac-
cepting one for a while before we are
ready to experience the next” (pp. xxiii-
xxiv).
Summary of Literature Re-
view
Leadership is a reality that people ac-
cept (even long for), but rarely under-
stand enough to describe. Defining
leadership not as a quality, technique, or
methodology, but rather describing
leadership as a philosophy, in no way
implies leadership is something we can-
not learn or apply. Leadership is in a
very real way a philosophy adopted by
some, implicitly understood by most. As
a philosophy, leadership can be learned,
studied, understood, and applied by
people who are so inclined. The ethics
of leadership is not found necessarily in
its philosophical underpinnings but
rather in its application by would be
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 34
leaders (whether good or bad).
Many have studied leadership as a qual-
ity or bunch of qualities, as a collection
of techniques or behavior, or as a meth-
odology or system of contingencies.
The first attempts to codify leadership
and determine what "makes a good
leader" centered on the belief that lead-
ers are born not made. This gave rise
to various forms of trait theory: the idea
that leadership depends upon personal
traits, personality, and character. The
great man (person) theory and many of
the psychology-based theories of lead-
ership depend on this perspective.
However, because it was so difficult to
come up with a definitive list of traits or
qualities that all leaders held in com-
mon, theorists shifted to studying behav-
ior instead of inborn traits. This was a
potentially more "scientific" approach to
leadership study, because behaviors
could be seen, observed, measured,
and potentially mimicked. Along with
behavior theory in general, were specific
theories based on interaction and ex-
pectancy of roles, exchange activities
between leader and follower, and the
perceptions that followers have of lead-
ers. These behavior-based theories did
provide a way for people to copy what
other leaders have done, but the behav-
iors did not prove to be generalizable.
Therefore, studies began to focus on the
environments in which leadership takes
place. The thinking was that situations
determine the activities of leaders and
that behaviors must be linked to the
specific environment at hand. Situ-
ational theory, contingency theory, and
the more humanistic models of leader-
ship emerged. It was during this em-
phasis in leadership study that the de-
sire to differentiate between managers
and leaders emerged. Not all theorists
thought it necessary to make the distinc-
tion. Nonetheless, the unique elements
and foci of leadership and management
suggest that the two are different and
theories should be developed accord-
ingly.
To understand the true significance of
studying the philosophy of leadership,
we must explicitly determine the differ-
ence between management and leader-
ship. In the past, the idea of leadership
has suffered as it has been defined at
best as being synonymous with good
management and at worst as just an-
other skill that makes up the competent
manager. As we observe organizations,
two critical competencies seem to
emerge that past theory has labeled
management. Fairholm (1991) explains,
“We need competent, dedicated man-
agers to provide continuity of process, to
insure program productivity, and to con-
trol and schedule the materials needed
for production or service delivery. We
also need people who can infuse the
organization with common values that
define the organization, determine its
character, link it to the larger society,
and insure its long-term survival” (p. 41).
However, the skills and competencies
required to do the first are substantially
different than those needed to do the
second. When theorists and practitio-
ners do not make that distinction, they
confuse the issue of organizational suc-
cess and set individuals up for failure.
One useful difference between man-
agement and leadership that other au-
thors sometimes make implicitly is the
idea that headship is not always leader-
ship, even though much of the literature
assumes it is. Differentiating between
the structure of headship and the phi-
losophy of leadership allows the concept
of leadership to be spread throughout
the organization, allowing individuals to
develop into leaders in their own right.
Leadership is the art of influencing peo-
ple to accomplish organizational goals,
while management is the science of
specifying and implementing means
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 35
needed to accomplish the same ends.
In a sense, the pure leader is a philoso-
pher and the pure manager is a tech-
nologist. Fairholm (1991) goes further
to say, “as one moves up the organiza-
tional ladder to higher and higher levels
of responsibility, a point is reached
where the nature and scope of compe-
tencies changes. One no longer prac-
tices management skills but moves on
to something else – to leadership fo-
cused on values, changing the character
of the institution, and long-term survival
issues. What was learned on the way
up has little value once one reaches the
pinnacle of the hierarchy” (p. 42).
This distinction helps clarify the contri-
butions of such writers as Greenleaf and
Burns. They approach leadership as a
phenomenon to be understood inde-
pendent of a particular leader. In fact
the test of who is or is not a leader de-
pends upon how one uses or imple-
ments the technologies of leadership.
Other authors began to view leadership
as something to understand and be ap-
plied without directly linking to the activi-
ties of perceived leaders.
This approach to leadership study be-
gan to clear up at least some of the con-
fusion that characterizes leadership
thought. Researchers began to notice
and accept divergent views of leader-
ship in the literature and in practice.
Frameworks to understand these differ-
ing views are just now emerging. Fair-
holm’s (1998b) model of leadership as
virtual realities is one such framework,
unique to leadership theory. Conceiving
of leadership in terms of virtual realities
or alternative world views allow theorists
and practitioners to better ground their
leadership activities. Five perspectives
culled from experience and literature
include: leadership as management,
leadership as excellence management,
values leadership, trust cultural leader-
ship, and spiritual, or whole soul, lead-
ership. While these perspectives are
unique and identifiable, they are related
because they build upon each other to
create increasingly more sophisticated
and encompassing conceptions of lead-
ership.
Conclusion
There is more confusion and debate
about what leadership is than ever be-
fore. But there is also much progress in
understanding what it is. There is a
need to continue to place the leadership
phenomenon in a context that can be
easily understood so that the debate will
be more useful, more enlightening, and
more productive in the quest to under-
stand the true nature of leadership. This
understanding will help organizational
actors place themselves appropriately
as leaders in governance and societal
issues.
Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas
The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 36
Table 1: Historical Threads of Leadership Research and Theory
Historical Thread Characteristic Concepts Five Illustrative Authors
1. Trait Theory
(who)
Leadership depends upon who the leader is
and what the leader is like (Leaders are…)
Great person theory
Leadership depends upon personal qualities,
personality, and character
Wiggam, 1931
Dowd, 1936
Jennings, 1960
Scott, 1973
Kirkpatrick and Locke,
1991
2. Behavior
Theory
(what)
Leadership depends upon what the leader
does (Leaders do…)
Managerial Grid
Describes leadership as being the sum of two
important behaviors that great leaders seem to
hold in common: getting things done and relat-
ing well with people
Hemphill, 1950
Hemphill and Coons, 1957
Stogdill and Coons,1957
Blake and Mouton, 1964
Kouzes and Posner, 1990
3. Situational
Theory
(when)
Leadership depends upon which situations are
conducive to leadership and when the leader
can emerges (Leaders emerge depending
on…)
Situational and Contingency Theories
Leadership depends upon what leaders do in
specific situations that differ because of unique
internal and external forces; leadership is not
definable without the specific context of the
situation in which leaders seem to emerge
Homans, 1950
Fielder, 1967
Vroom and Yetton, 1973
Hollander, 1978
Hersey and Blanchard,
1979
4. Values-based
Transformational
Theory
(why)
Leadership depends upon values and vision
(Leaders believe and articulate…)
Leader/follower relationships and the Leader-
ship/ Management debate
Emphasis is not on studying specific leaders in
specific situations, doing specific things, rather,
what are the common relationship elements
exhibited over time that characterize this thing
called "leadership"
Greenleaf, 1977
Burns, 1978
Bennis and Nanus, 1985
Fairholm, 1991
Covey, 1992
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Table 2: Fairholm's Perspectives on Leadership Aligned with the Literature Review
Leadership Perspective Leadership Elements Illustrative Citations
Ensure efficient use of resources to ensure
group activity is controlled and predictable Gilbreth, 1912; Gulick & Urwick, 1937;
Seckler-Hudson, 1955; Taylor, 1915
Ensure verifiably optimal productivity and re-
source allocation. Drucker, 1954; Gilbreth, 1912; Gulick &
Urwick, 1937; Selznick, 1983; Taylor,
1915
Measuring/ appraising/ rewarding individual
performance Box, 1999; Bozeman, 1993; Drucker,
1954; Gilbreth, 1912; Millett, 1954; New-
comer, 1997
Organizing (to include such things as budget-
ing, staffing) Drucker, 1954; Drucker, 1966; Gulick,
1937; Seckler-Hudson, 1951
Planning (to include such things as coordina-
tion and reporting) Drucker, 1966; Malmberg, 1999; Mintz-
berg, 1975; Price, 1965
Incentivization House, 1996; Kohn, 1995; Drucker, 1954
Control Dowd, 1936; Drucker, 1954; Gouldner,
1954; Jay, 1967; Taylor, 1915
Scientific Management
Direction Drucker, 1966; Mintzberg, 1975; Price,
1965
Foster continuous process improvement envi-
ronment for increased service and productivity
levels
Deming, 1986; Juran, 1989; Ross, 1993
Transform the environment and perceptions of
followers to encourage innovation, high quality
products, and excellent services.
Deming, 1986; Juran, 1989; Peters &
Waterman, 1982; Rago, 1996
Focusing on process improvement Davis & Luthans, 1984; Deming, 1986;
Ross, 1993
Listening actively Fairholm, 1991; Hefitz & Laurie, 1998
Being accessible (to include such things as
managing by walking around, open door poli-
cies)
Deming, 1986; Hefitz & Laurie, 1998
Motivation Deming, 1986; Herzberg, 1987; Herzberg,
Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959; Hughes,
Ginnett, & Curphy, 1993; Juran, 1989;
McGregor, Bennis, Schein, & McGregor,
1966; Roethlisberger, 1956
Engaging people in problem definition and
solution Deming, 1986; Rago, 1996; Vroom &
Jago, 1988
Excellence Management
Expressing common courtesy/ respect Deming, 1986; Fairholm, 1998a
Help individual become proactive contributors
to group action based on shared values and
agreed upon goals
Barnard, 1938; Fairholm, 1991; Kouzes &
Posner, 1990; Sullivan & Harper, 1996
Encourage high organizational performance
and self-led followers Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Fairholm, 1991;
Kotter, 1996; Manz & Henry P. Sims,
1989; Rosenbach & Taylor, 1989; Rost,
1991
Setting and enforcing values Conger, 1991; Covey, 1992; Fairholm,
1991; Frost & Egri, 1990; Nirenberg, 1998;
O'Toole, 1996
Visioning Barker, 1992; Collins & Porras, 1997;
Kouzes & Posner, 1990; Nanus, 1992;
Sashkin, 1989; Thornberry, 1997
Cleveland, 1972
Focusing communication around the vision Felton, 1995; Kouzes & Posner, 1990;
Sashkin, 1989; Sashkin & Rosenbach,
1998
Values Prioritization Bennis, 1982; Burns, 1978; Covey, 1992;
Fairholm, 1998b; Kidder, 1995
Teaching/ Coaching Fairholm, 1991; Rost, 1991; Tichy, 1997
Values Leadership
Empowering (fostering ownership) McFarland, Senn, & Childress, 1993;
O'Toole, 1996; Rost, 1991; Sullivan &
Harper, 1996
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The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management Page 38
Leadership Perspective Leadership Elements Illustrative Citations
Ensure cultures conducive to mutual trust and
unified collective action Dreilinger, 1998; Fairholm, 1998b; Kouzes
& Posner, 1993; Schein, 1992; Malmberg,
1999; Mitchell, 1993
Prioritization of mutual cultural values and or-
ganizational conduct in terms of those values. Hofstede, 1993; Hollander, 1997; Schein,
1992; Selznick, 1983
Creating and maintaining culture through vi-
sioning Collins & Porras, 1997; Schein, 1992
Sharing governance Fairholm, 1994; Gardner, 1990; Kaufman,
1969; Rosenbach & Taylor, 1989; Rost,
1991
Measuring/ appraising/ rewarding group per-
formance Fairholm, 1994; Fraser, 1978; Gardner,
1990; Luke, 1998
Trust Fairholm, 1994; Kouzes & Posner, 1993
Fairholm, 1998a; Fairholm & Fairholm,
2000
Team Building Luke, 1998; Sashkin & Sashkin, 1994;
Tuckman, 1965; Fairholm, 1998a; Nolan &
Harty, 1984
Trust Cultural Leadership
Fostering a shared culture Conger, 1991; Quinn & McGrath, 1985;
Schein, 1992; Wildavsky, 1984; Nolan &
Harty, 1984
Relate to individuals such that concern for the
whole person is paramount in raising each
other to higher levels of awareness and action
Argyris, 1957; Burns, 1978; Cound, 1987;
DePree, 1989; Herzberg, 1984; Levit,
1992; Fairholm, 1998a
Best in people is liberated in a context of con-
tinuous improvement of self, culture, and ser-
vice delivery.
Autry, 1992; Jacobsen, 1994; Manz &
Henry P. Sims, 1989; Nelson, 1997;
Senge, 1998
Developing and enabling individual wholeness
in a community (team) context Barnard, 1938; Cound, 1987; Drath &
Palus, 1994; Herzberg, 1984; Vaill, 1989;
Greenleaf et al., 1996
Fostering an intelligent organization Senge, 1990; Senge, 1998; Vaill, 1996
Setting moral standards Barnard, 1938; Burns, 1978; Covey, 1992;
Gini, 1997; Prince, 1995
Inspiration Berry, 1997; Burns, 1978; Fairholm, 1997;
Greenleaf, 1977; Wheatley, 1992/1999
Liberating followers to build community and
promote stewardship Block, 1993; DePree, 1992; Fairholm,
1997; Vaill, 1989; Wheatley & Kellner-
Rogers, 1998
Spiritual Leadership
Modeling a service orientation Greenleaf, 1998; Greenleaf, 1977;
Greenleaf, Frick, & Spears, 1996
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