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What is leadership?

What is leadership?

A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. It means being able to inspire others and being prepared to do so.

Effective leadership is based upon ideas (whether original or borrowed), but won't happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act.

Put even more simply, the leader is the inspiration and director of the action. He or she is the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow his or her direction.

Youth leadership is the practice of teens exercising authority over themselves or others.

Youth leadership means “training young people as change agents in their communities”.

An important aspect of youth development is leadership programming. Youth leadership programs focus on youth developing the following:

The ability to analyze his or her own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and have the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out (including the ability to establish support networks in order to fully participate in community life and effect positive social change) and the ability to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinions and behaviors of others and serve as a role model (Strahle 2013).

Video examples of youth leadership:




Youth leaders are celebrated as hero/heroines, – but the energies behind their success are not yet well understood by youth, teachers and changemakers. Or why would they not push this everywhere? Here are key factors of success, and they are available to young people at school, everywhere. They are

1. Genuine Spirit / as you can see in the videos above; no one inspires like youth leaders

2. Huge Community / hundreds of youth, daily, for years, and countless more when they build links with other schools

3. Infrastructure / meeting place, printers, projectors, in morning, afternoons, often also on evenings and week-ends

4. Good Public Status / youth, vibrant, positive – everyone is for that; mayors love this photo opportunity

5. Good Media Coverage / youth, vibrant, positive, action, reader involvement; a dream come true for the one good journalist

6. Access to Funding / philanthropic clubs, in-kind sponsoring, donors, dynamic youth leaders always get support

7. Support on demand / from teachers, changemakers.

8. TIME! / mornings, several hours a day + week-ends, summer holidays! Adults have 9-5 days, then the kids, dinner, tv … when are they supposed to acquire changemaker skills, worldview, build teams and make huge impact?

We call them the Super Powers of Young People At School. They are less available to adults and teens outside school.

Leadership Styles

At some point in your life, you may take on a leadership role in some capacity. Whether you’re leading a small group or a big one, you might consider identifying with or adopting a defined leadership style.

Most young people develop their own style of leadership based on factors like experience and personality, as well as the unique needs of their group and the culture. While every leader is different, there are ten leadership styles commonly used at all levels in the society.

Why are leadership styles important?

As you develop leadership skills, you’ll likely use different processes and methods to achieve your objectives and meet the needs team you lead. To be effective as a leader, you might use several different leadership styles at any given time.

By taking the time to familiarize yourself with each of these types of leadership, you might recognize certain areas to improve upon or expand your own leadership style. You can also identify other ways to lead that might better serve your current goals and understand how to work with leaders who follow a different style than your own.

Remember, most leaders borrow from a variety of styles to achieve various goals at different times in their career. While you may have excelled in a role using one type of leadership, another position may require a different set of habits to ensure your team is operating most effectively.

By understanding each of these leadership types, and the outcomes they’re designed to achieve, you can select the right leadership style for your current situation.

Types of leadership styles:

1.    Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader is one who navigates a problem towards an improved solution by changing existing thoughts, procedures, and culture. Leading through example, inspiration, and engagement, the transformational leader will seek ways to get the best performance and potential out of each team member. It takes courage to be a transformational leader, one who challenges old ways of doing things in favor of better, more efficient, and more intuitive strategies.


What are the top qualities of a transformational leader?




When would you want a transformational leader?

Your corporation was once on the cutting edge of the electronic communication game, but suddenly, nobody wants to buy your fax machines. How did you get so out of touch? Time to bring in a dynamic leader with the capacity to change the focus, strategy, and techniques that once made your company successful but today make it look like a dinosaur.

Examples of transformational leaders from real-life:

Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs has to mandatorily be one of the names in the most iconic transformational leaders the world has ever seen. His passion for perfection, simplicity and sophistication drove the company and he made sure that it got engraved into every employee who worked at Apple. He constantly challenged his employees to think beyond what has already been done and made them create products that the world did not even know it needed.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Martin Luther King Jr’s struggle to end racism in America has inspired many across the globe. His passion for justice and his methods of protesting gathered worldwide support. He encouraged the masses to join the civil rights movement in America and ensured that the movement was not just about him or others who were prominent, but about humanity.

Mahatma Gandhi – Another popular example in the list of transformational leaders in the world. Mahatma Gandhi gave the Indian freedom movement a sense of direction and purpose. He was able to make it a truly mass movement that till then existed in fragmented interests and limited to either extreme elite participation or participation of the extreme poor. By preaching his theory of non violence, Gandhi was able to bring in each citizen of India into the freedom struggle and make every single person’s contribution count.

Barack Obama – The first black President in the history of the United States of America, Barack Obama was an extremely popular and a humane leader. He was respected all over the world and his sense of humanity and compassion made it possible for world peace to be maintained to a great extent. Obama encouraged his staff to be open and ideate without any boundaries. His compassion and sense of understanding towards his employees made him approachable and thus increased the efficiency of his entire administration to a great extent.

Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Mandela’s dream of destroying apartheid was widely shared and he was successful to a large extent. His charismatic leadership style and compassion for humanity made him a great and affectionate leader. He connected with the masses and worked towards their upliftment in the society and envisioned a better future for blacks across the world.

2.    Democratic Leadership

Also sometimes called participative leadership, democratic leadership requires collaborative energy, delegation of responsibilities, and group-level decision making. This demands a leader who knows how to cultivate participation, empower team members, and work directly alongside team members at every level. With democratic leadership, while a team hierarchy may still exist, influence, power and the ability to contribute to decisions may be widely distributed across tiers and departments. This means the right leader will know when to act, when to authorize, how to mediate conflict, and how best to synthesize the talents of team members.

What are the top qualities of a democratic leader?

Actively Engaged



When would you want a democratic leader?

You’ve got a team of talented Major League Baseball players, a mixed squad of experienced veterans and gifted prospects, each earning more than a million dollars a year to swing a bat at a ball. Some of these guys have championship rings, one or two might even be headed to the Hall of Fame. They aren’t looking for a manager to boss them around. Some of the today’s most successful baseball managers have taken a more democratic approach to the game, giving their players the opportunity to contribute to key decisions, to nurture their talents along individual paths, and to assume their own key leadership roles on and off the field. This more collegial approach to leadership is increasingly finding support — in contrast to the iron-fisted, chair-throwing, drop-and-give-me-50 coaches of the old days.

Examples of Democratic leaders from real-life:

Google: Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed their Internet search engine while pursuing their doctorates at Stanford. After obtaining initial financing, they did something unusual. Brin and Page followed the advice of experienced entrepreneurs and hired Eric Schmidt to jump-start their company. Incorporating a blend of autocratic, laissez-faire and democratic leadership styles, the Novell and Sun executive brought experience into Google’s dugout. The three immediately began scouting experienced talent to set up democratic/participative teams. Today, Google remains relatively democratic in its approach to product development under CEO Page.

Mayo Clinic: A nonprofit organization with a reputation as one of the most cutting-edge healthcare research facilities in the world, the Mayo Clinic thrives on democratic/participative leadership values. Founded by Dr. William Mayo and his family, the hospital, healthcare and research facility attracts some of the most brilliant minds in the medical field because it gives them opportunities to work collaboratively among peers on democratic teams. Although the processes required in the medical research industry often call for an extremely autocratic approach, healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic cannot succeed without democratic/participative leaders.

Amazon.com: When it launched, Amazon was known for selling books. The company prospered by embracing all three of Lewin’s leadership models. It started as a laissez-faire company, with Jeff Bezos as final arbitrator of all key decisions. He recruited a lot of veteran computer programmers from nearby software companies and quickly implemented a democratic/participative leadership model. Today, Amazon sells everything imaginable, including cloud services and big data security storage. Amazon is necessarily autocratic because of its commitment to timely customer service. At its core, however, the company retains its democratic values among C-suite executives, division heads and project directors.

3.    Autocratic Leadership

To sum up this leadership style in one sentence: “It’s my way, or it’s the highway.”

An autocratic leader holds singular authority in a team or group. This is a common leadership style in which all key decisions go through a top figure and in which most members of the team answer to a hierarchy that leads up to this figure. While autocratic leadership is rarely very popular with team members, it’s the preferred strategy in teams where the members perform streamlined functions, where control is more critical to success than creativity, and where there is scant threshold for error. The autocratic leader prefers to take charge, and while he or she may be receptive to input and feedback, this individual will make all final decisions according to personal discretion.


What are the top qualities of an autocratic leader?




When would you want an autocratic leader?

You run a regional chain of supermarkets with a slim profit-margin. While you do a good volume of business, factors such as food spoilage, breakage, and theft are cutting into your revenue. You need somebody to come in and right the ship, which means ensuring employees are effectively rotating stock, reducing habits that result in breakage, and taking steps to mitigate shoplifting. Because you largely employ a staff that works for low wages, has limited professional training, and is prone to high turnover, good results require constant oversight. You need a leader that keeps a watchful eye on management, employee behavior, and outcomes in each location as well as one with the authority to intervene where results are less than desired.

Examples of autocratic leaders from real-life:

Julius Caesar brought the Roman Empire into the role of a global superpower.

John Smith helped to establish the colonies in the New World that would eventually form into the United States.

Henry Ford created an assembly line process which helped to make the automobile affordable for more households, despite the fact that he failed at his first auto startup, the Detroit Automobile Company, in just 18 months.


4.    Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is a style in which team leaders take a hands off approach to decision-making and task-completion. This style of leadership gives team members a wide latitude when it comes to managing projects, solving problems, and resolving disagreements. In most instances, leadership simply provides a clear set of expectations, the resources needed for task completion, and accountability to the stakeholders. This style of leadership can be effective in select contexts, but it can be challenging to motivate team members or establish accountability when implemented in the wrong setting.

What are the top qualities of a laissez-faire leader?




When would you want a laissez-faire leader?

You preside over a team of experienced product developers tasked with the challenge of inventing an innovative, biometric refrigerator alarm for stubborn dieters. You may know how to manage the big picture stuff, but these experts all know more about biometrics, refrigerators, and alarms than you ever will. In a setting like this, where most organizational members are skilled, creative, highly-motivated and capable of working independently, a laissez-faire style of leadership can offer the freedom needed for creative thinking and experimentation.

Examples of laissez-faire leaders from real-life:

Queen Victoria: Phrases such as “Heaven helps those who help themselves”, were often used to promote the laissez faire leadership style during the Victorian Period in the UK. This era is also known as the Age of Individualism, as many people worked hard using their own skills and talents to help create one of the world’s richest and strongest countries at the time, with Queen Victoria staying out of business unless it was necessary.

Warren Buffet: Buffet, whose success stories have been well-documented, has surrounded himself with people who he knows can perform their tasks creatively and adequately without his help, and only intervened when needed to correct an unfavorable situation, not to mention that he would even allow mistakes to happen for his people to learn from them.

Paul Allen: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen shows all the characteristics of a laissez faire leader. He has shown the typical laissez faire framework through his hands-off approach to leading people. He likes to challenge and be challenged with new ideas, leaving the best and most innovative people to do the required job.

Allen’s style was much more about aiding people to find their passion, rather than leading them later on. He once said,

Something that is characteristic of me is the breadth of my interests. I’m trying to show people that they can activate their own passions, and find their own path.”

5.    Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leadership refers to a team leadership through a highly formalized set of processes, procedures, and structures. Here rules, policies, and hierarchies form a clear set of expectations as well as an explicit chain of command. At each level of a bureaucracy, team members are beholden both to their immediate higher-ups and to a larger ecosystem of rules and procedures. Bureaucratic leaders lead by channeling established rules, enforcing existing structures, and presiding over specific segments of the hierarchy.


What are the top qualities of a bureaucratic leader?




When would you want a bureaucratic leader?

You run a company that processes insurance claims for individuals affected by weevil infestations, but of course, there are more than 60,000 kinds of weevil, and insurance providers require a different form for each one of them. This means your organization must process a dizzying array of forms, deal with an enormous number of people every day, and navigate a complex array of regulatory minutiae. The only way your organization can do this effectively is through a clearly delineated hierarchy, strict procedural norms, and rigid enforcement of the rules that ensure forms are processed correctly, information is verified accurately, and individual matters are addressed only when all proper steps have been taken.

Examples of Bureaucratic leadership in real-life:

Winston Churchill: While the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, showed a number of different leadership qualities, bureaucratic leadership is definitely among the strongest models he used. Churchill had charisma, which he used during the Second World War, but he also relied on a heavily structured system to get things done. Churchill’s key bureaucratic leader traits were his decisive nature and persistency to follow the plan. In his famous speech, Churchill said,

“Whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Churchill was also a detail-oriented leader, something that is a key trait in the bureaucratic framework. He wanted to know everything involving different aspects of the government and wartime military effort.

He smartly said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Colin Powell: Colin Powell is another great political example of a bureaucratic leader. His leadership style has roots in the military, which is an organization that often utilises the bureaucratic model. Powell quickly rose through the ranks in the US military, becoming a general and eventually the first black member of the Join Chiefs of Staff. His leadership skills were recognized in 2001, when he became the US Secretary of State.

Alfred P. Sloan / General Motors: Another example of a bureaucratic business leader comes from the early 1920s in the form of Alfred Sloan. The American businessman was elected president of General Motors and under his leadership, the company reformed its approach to leadership and management. He didn’t just change the way General Motors was managed, but also influenced the whole of the industry. Sloan “bureaucratised the entrepreneurial function”. He created a hierarchical organization, which focused on following rules and taking calculated risks. He decentralized a number of the functions, allowing individual sections of the organization to manage themselves. Sloan was a meticulous leader, although sometimes rather ruthless as well.

6.    Servant Leadership

Servant leadership refers to a decentralized style in which a leader satisfies the needs of stakeholders first. An approach to leadership formed in contrast to the drive for power or material acquisition, this style places the leader on the front lines of day to day operation. From this vantage, the leader works directly with team members at every level to make decisions. Servant leaders empower team members, interact directly with clients, and recognize their team’s role as part of a community or larger eco-system.

What are the top qualities of a servant leader?




When would you want a servant leader?

You run a small but growing brokerage company. Your organization is comprised of smart, talented, and experienced financial advisers and stockbrokers. The top priority for your company is to help your customers achieve success. That success translates into success for your employees, your company, and your public reputation. This is a scenario in which a decentralized approach to leadership and customer-first orientation can yield the best results. Here, servant leadership will work alongside those talented advisers and brokers to ensure customers and other key stakeholders get results.

Examples of Servant leaders in real-life:

Martin Luther King, Jr.: King did not always want to be the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, but he just knew that there was a need for equality. By putting other people’s needs first, he was able to leave a lasting legacy, which proves that anyone can make a difference through a humble and serving perspective. Until today, some of King’s speeches are still listened to regularly, as people see them as having a ring of truth.

Nelson Mandela: Standing before his people, Mandela said that he was a humble servant with a passion for his people and the desire to see them enjoy equality. Sometimes, he would take his speeches to the streets, putting his personal well-being at risk, and at other times, he endured harsh conditions in prison just to make his statements heard.

Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi was bound to be dangerous when he opposed the British ruling officials during his time, but he strongly believed that serving others would be the best way to lose oneself. His protests were peaceful, where he often did it through logical discourse and fasting. Eventually, his ideas won out, freeing India from colonialism. Even if his goal was not to become famous, he was then widely regarded for his work.

Mother Teresa: Through her faith, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving other people. Like other servant leaders, she had her critics from time to time, but there was no one who could question her motives behind her desire to help others. Also, she never sought personal recognition, though she insisted on significant changes and was not afraid to express opinions that others would hesitate to say. Eventually, many call her to become a saint, with a life that many people consider as a miracle.

7.    Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership succeeds best in a context of order, structure, and rigid hierarchy. While it may sound similar in name to transformational leadership, it’s almost exactly the opposite. Here, roles are clearly and strictly defined. The job of leadership is to ensure individuals perform their roles correctly and effectively, and that group performance produces positive outcomes. Often, a clear system of penalties and rewards for performance is in place, including pay bonuses and opportunities for upward mobility. A good transactional leader will use those rewards and penalties to identify strengths and weed out weaknesses among personnel. Transactional leaders may prize the status quo. Where change is needed, a transactional leader will typically implement it within existing systems and structures rather than through major structural transformation.


What are the top qualities of a transactional leader?




When would you want a transactional leader?

You’re a military general presiding over multiple interdependent units. The stakes of your mission are high, the organization is complex, and the chain of command is of critical importance. At every level, leaders both above and below you in the hierarchy must take a transactional approach of strict rules enforcement, with the command chain implemented explicitly, and with instructions given and followed from the top down. Discipline and conformity are critical in this context.

Examples of Transactional leaders in real-life:



Bill Gates: Bill Gates is a great example of a transactional leader. As a transactional leader, he used to visit new product teams and ask difficult questions until he was satisfied that the teams were on track and understood the goal.

8.    Situational Leadership

Situational leadership refers less to one specific style of leadership and more to the idea of leadership as an inherently adaptable responsibility. Situational leadership remains highly flexible at all times, capable of adjusting strategies, procedures, and vision according to a team’s circumstances, demands, and even to a shifting culture. The situational leader possesses the agility to adapt strategy to changing dynamics. This calls for a leader with the emotional intelligence to recognize team needs and the skill to act on those needs. The result is a leader who guides a team through transformation, collaborates at the team-level with personnel and, where necessary, takes decisive, unilateral action.

What are the top qualities of a situational leader?




When would you want a situational leader?

Your small chain of coffee shops verges on the next leap forward. After a few years of steady growth, you’re investing considerable capital into a handful of new locations and menu items. You expect a period of transformation, followed by another steady period of rapid growth, and eventually, a sustainable phase of modest and incremental growth. At that point, your company may even go public, but it’s hard to know for certain. To weather this journey with steady leadership, you’ll want a situational leader, one with the instincts and adaptability to lead according to each phase’s demands.

Examples of situational leaders in real-life:

General George Patton, one of the high-ranked leader of the American military utilized the situational leadership style. As a famous situational leader, his philosophy to win the war was focused on analyzing the situation. He believed that it was necessary to change plans to fit the unexpected situation.

George Bush Jr.: Former US President George Bush's response and decisions following the suicide bombing attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the unsuccessful target in Washington D.C. on September 11, 200,1 marked by 9-11 Tragedy.

9.    Cross-Cultural Leadership

Cross-cultural leadership acknowledges the increasingly global nature of our society. The level of collaboration, competition, and partnership across international borders have spiked due to web technology and the deconstruction of global trade barriers. Cross-cultural leaders recognize that every country has different societal norms, leadership practices, and cultural realities. This type of leader knows how to navigate these differences to unite culturally-diverse partners, achieve unified goals, and create pathways to common ground. The cross-cultural leader understands that diversity is a virtue and a resource rather than an obstacle.


What are the top qualities of a cross-cultural leader?




When would you want a cross-cultural leader?

You’re starting a blockchain consulting group comprised of technical gurus, financial experts, and marketing professionals. Your dream team of consultants consists of former business partners and colleagues working in major financial centers all over the world. You hope to unite this diverse group to serve a common set of goals while giving each team member the freedom to contribute unique talents. Your ability to help this team find common ground while ensuring each participant feels respected and comfortable will depend on how well you manage a culturally diverse set of customs, practices, mannerisms, and expectations.

10. Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership depends significantly on the compelling personality of the leader. This type of leader will inspire others through commitment, conviction, and positive example. Charismatic leaders will usually possess strong communication skills, the capacity for exceptional personal empathy, and the strength of personality to positively define team culture. The truly charismatic leader effectively creates a sense of shared purpose, nurtures the passions of team members, and unites personnel behind a single vision. This style of leadership is often particularly valuable in times of crisis.

What are the top qualities of a charismatic leader?



Personally invested

When would you want a charismatic leader?

After years of mismanagement and even a small dose of executive corruption, your accounting firm “cleaned house.” Old leaders and managers were fired in a cloud of scandal, leaving the confidence of employees shaken and the firm’s public reputation stained. A charismatic leader has been hired to preside over the company as it repairs its image and restores the trust of its employees. This leader brings passion and commitment as well as the ability to appeal to the personal interests and emotional instincts of employees, who are wary of their company’s integrity. This leader will be critical to bringing the firm back from the dead.

Examples of Charismatic leaders in real-life:

Charismatic leadership quotations

Mother Teresa: “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Martin Luther King: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Pope John Paul ll: “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

Ronald Reagan: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Winston Churchill: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Lee Iacocca: “Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can’t be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people.”

Jack Welsh: “The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important — and then get out of their way while they do it.”

(Adapted from www.thebestschools.org)