Writer's WebKey Leadership Terms and Definitions

Behavioral Theory: The behavioral approach to leadership is founded upon the idea that great leaders are made, not born. This hones in on dissecting the actions of leaders rather than internal or mental qualities of leaders.

Charismatic Leadership: When individuals possess an extraordinary quality that captivates others. It is in the relationship between the leader’s qualities and the followers’ devotion to the leader and belief in the leader’s cause that creates charisma.

Contingency Theory: According to this theory, leaders have general behavioral tendencies. The theory specifies situations where certain leaders (or behavioral dispositions) may be more effective than others. This theory depends upon three main variables: the leader-member relations, the task, and the power instilled in the leader position.

Courageous Followership: This style of followership maintains that followers must understand how to act in the leadership role. By being courageous followers, individuals provide dynamic support for leaders and do not hesitate to constructively speak truth to power.

E-Leadership: With the rise of technology in modern times, e-leadership is the idea of leadership taking place across distances via virtual communication. This style of leadership is more about the context rather than the figures of leadership.

Multiple Intelligences: There are seven types of intelligence that assist in leadership processes: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence.

Path-Goal Theory: This is a type of contingency and transactional leadership theory. It claims that leaders will provide or ensure the availability of valued rewards for followers (the “goal”) and then help them find the best way of getting there (the “path”). It is the leader's job help followers identify and remove roadblocks and provide emotional support as needed.

Servant Leadership: The idea that a truly great leader is a servant first.

Shared Leadership: This theory does not depend on one person, but on how people act together to make sense of the situations that face them. It describes leadership as a process shared among many individuals rather than one specific leader and a group of followers.

Situational Leadership: The premise of this theory is that different situations demand different kinds of leadership. To be an effective leader requires that a person adapt his or her style to the demands of different situations.

Toxic Leadership: Toxic leaders are people who engage in many destructive behaviors and exhibit particular dysfunctional personal characteristics. A few of these characteristics and behaviors are violating human rights, using cruel intimidation techniques, misleading followers by deliberate mistruths, and manipulating the basic fears and needs of the followers.

Trait Theory: Assumes that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. This theory identifies specific personality or behavioral characteristics that are present within most leaders. No exact list of traits has been determined by researchers of this theory because it is extremely subjective within different situations and contexts.

Transactional Leadership: Leadership based less upon the process, but instead based on a simple exchange between the leader and the followers of reward for applied effort.

Transformational Leadership: A form of leadership that encourages valuable and positive change in the followers. Thus, “transforming” followers for the greater good.


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