Leadership is a highly valued commodity. Given the volatility in world affairs and our national political climate, the public’s desire for constructive leadership is higher than it has ever been. People continue to be fascinated by who leaders are and what leaders do. They want to know what accounts for good leadership and how to become good leaders. Despite this strong interest in leadership, very few books clearly describe the complexities of practicing leadership. I have written Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice to fill this void.
Each chapter describes a fundamental principle of leadership and how it relates in practice to becoming an effective leader. These fundamentals are illustrated through examples, profiles of effective leaders, and case studies. The text comprises 14 chapters: Chapter 1, “Understanding Leadership,” analyzes how different definitions of leadership have an impact on the practice of leadership. Chapter 2, “Recognizing Your Traits,” examines leadership traits found to be important in social science research and explores the leadership traits of a select group of historical and contemporary leaders. Chapter 3, “Understanding Leadership Styles,” explores how a person’s view of people, work, and human nature forms a personal philosophy of leadership and how this relates to three commonly observed styles of leadership: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Chapter 4, “Attending to Tasks and Relationships,” describes how leaders can integrate and optimize task and relationship behaviors in their leadership role. Chapter 5, “Developing Leadership Skills,” considers three types of leadership skills: administrative, interpersonal, and conceptual. Chapter 6, “Engaging Strengths,” discusses the emerging field of strengths-based leadership, looking at how several assessment tools can help one to recognize their own strengths and those of others and then put those strengths to work as an effective leader. Chapter 7, “Creating a Vision,” explores the characteristics of a vision and how a vision is expressed and implemented. Chapter 8, “Establishing a Constructive Climate,” focuses on how important it is for leaders who are running groups or organizations to provide structure, clarify norms, build cohesiveness, and promote standards of excellence. Chapter 9, “Embracing Diversity and Inclusion,” discusses the importance of inclusive leadership and best practices for creating inclusive environments. Chapter 10, “Listening to Out-Group Members,” explores the nature of out-groups, their impact, and ways leaders should respond to out-group members. Chapter 11, “Managing Conflict,” addresses the question of how we can manage conflict and produce positive change. Chapter 12, “Addressing Ethics in Leadership,” explores six factors that are related directly to ethical leadership: character, actions, goals, honesty, power, and values. Chapter 13, “Overcoming Obstacles,” addresses seven obstacles that followers may face and how a leader can help them to overcome these. Finally, Chapter 14, “Exploring Destructive Leadership,” analyzes the causes of toxic leadership and discusses practical ways to confront and nullify it.
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