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What is Leadership?

Leadership is defined as the ability to influence groups of people in order to make them work and achieve prescribed goals.

Leadership, as a type of managerial interrelationship between the leader and the followers, is based on the combination of authority types most efficient for the current situation. Therefore, it is a function of the personalities of the leader, the followers, and the situational characteristics. It is obvious that there could not be one theory describing the whole phenomena of leadership.

The most well-known theories of leadership include:

The trait or "great people" theory of leadership, which considers the need for the best leaders to demonstrate certain personal characteristics allowing them to attract followers.

The behavioral theory of leadership, which relates the leader’sefficiency to his or her way of behaving and management style. This includes the ability to produce psychological effects on subordinates in order to coordinate their efforts in achieving goals.

The situational theory of leadership, which is based on the need to combine leadership qualities and certain behavior types depending on a particular situation.

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Based on the degree of leadership efficiency and formal support for a leader existing in the organization, four major types of managerial relations can be described:

  1. The nonefficient leadership type, based on a "master-servant" relationship, where the leader’s authority is almost absolute and the degree of a subordinate’s participation in the management of the situation and in the ability to reach the stated goals is very low.
  2. The authoritative management type, based on a classical "boss-subordinate" type of relationship, where the leader’s authority is supported by all the administrative documents and where the subordinate’s ability to reach the stated goals is quite high, but the participation in the management of the situation is still low.
  3. The democratic management type, based on an "elected supervisorsubordinate" type of relationship, where the group participates in choosing the leader and therefore participates highly in the management of the situation. Due to the dependency that the leader has on the group, the ability of management and the leader to achieve the stated goals of the company is not the greatest.
  4. The efficient leadership type, based on the new "leader-follower" type of relationship, where the leader gets the power from the members of the group, recognizing his or her high value for joint work. Given the leader’s ability to create an efficient communication system and preserve the group’s respect, both the group’s chance to reach the stated goals and the degree of participation in the management of the situation is the highest.

In the modern vision of leadership, the concept of leader is changing from being the most competent player in the group and individually influencing people using strong control, to not necessarily being the strongest technical expert and being most focused on team performance using commitment and developing the group’s feeling of ownership.

Therefore, the most modern views of leadership correspond to those believed to be successful approaches for good human resource management in projects. However, given the high diversity of people in project teams, a project environment also sets certain additional constraints on a leader’sefficiency. These constraints are both technical and psychological. In addition, the lack of formal authority that project managers have as leaders and the need to work with quickly changing temporary groups of people contribute to these constraints.