What is leadership: person, result, position or process, or all or none of these?

Grint, Keith; Smolovic Jones, Owain and Holt, Clare (2016). What is leadership: person, result, position or process, or all or none of these? In: Storey, John; Hartley, Jean; Denis, Jean-Louis; t'Hart, Paul and Ulrich, Dave eds. The Routledge Companion to Leadership. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 3–20.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-...


Research into leadership - at least in written form - can be traced back to Plato in the West and Sun Tzu in the East, but we do not seem to be any nearer a consensus as to its basic meaning, let alone whether it can be taught or its moral effects measured and predicted, than we were well over two millennia ago. This cannot be because of a dearth of interest or material: on 29 October 2003, when one of the authors first tried to answer the question "what is leadership?", there were 14,139 items relating to "leadership" on Amazon.co.uk for sale. Assuming you could read these at the rate of one per day, it would take almost 39 years just to read the material, never mind write anything about leadership or practise it. Just two months later, that number had increased by 3 per cent (471 items) to 14,610. Assuming this increase was annualized, we could look forward to just under 20,000 items by the beginning of 2005, 45,000 by 2010 and 100,000 by 2015. In fact in January 2015 there were 126,149 items, so the increase is exponential. It should be self evident that we do not need more "lists" of leadership competences or skills, because leadership research appears to be anything but incremental in its approach to "the truth" about leadership: the longer we spend looking at leadership, the more complex the picture becomes.

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