The evolution of leadership definitions essay

History of leadership

Leadership has for long been the centre of focus for many organizational and psychological researches. The terms “leader” and “leadership” have quite a wide gap regarding their coming into existence. “Leader” came to being in the early 1300s whereas “leadership” surfaced centuries later in 1700s (Stogdill, 1974). Scientific research on leadership started far much later in the twentieth century (Bass, 1981). From then on, research on the topic has intensified. This essay seeks to track the changes in the definitions of leadership from the turn of the 20th century up to the present.

The evolution of leadership definitions

Defining leadership has not been that easy for scholars and practitioners. It is now more than a hundred years since academicians started researching on leadership. Through this period, the definition of leadership has undergone numerous changes. Factors such as the prevailing politics, world affairs and people’s perceptions have been responsible for this evolution of definitions. It is commonplace that persons from different social and cultural backgrounds may not view leadership in the same way. Rost (1991) examined materials published between the years 1900 and 1990. He ended up with over 200 definitions of leadership. This served as a good history on the evolution of leadership definitions through the century.

1900-1929 – During this period, leadership tended towards a central dominating power. Take the example of one leadership conference in 1927, where they defined leadership as the ability to bring the led to total respect, obedience, loyalty and cooperation through imposing the will of the leader. This left the led with little or no contribution to what ought to be achieved (Moore, 1927, p. 124).

1930s – The mainstay of leadership through this decade was influence as opposed to domination. Leadership was characterized by an individual’s characteristic traits interacting with those of a given group. The take was that the leader could change the led, and also the led could influence the leader in one way or another.

1940s – According to Hemphill (1949), leadership was basically the manner in which an individual behaves when in charge of a group of people. Copeland (1942) had earlier differentiated leading by persuasion from leading by coercion, which he coined “drivership”.

1950s – This decade comprised three themes around leadership:

Continuance of group theory – Leadership was seen in terms of the actions of leaders when in group activities.

Goal theory – Leadership was a portrayal of the character of the leader.

Effectiveness theory – Leadership was taken as the ability of an individual to improve the effectiveness of a group.

1960s – This is the decade when leadership scholars largely agreed on the definition for leadership. Among these was Seeman (1960), who defined leadership as character that mobilizes people to pursue a common goal. He asserted that one cannot be a leader without that ability to bring the minds of people to focus on a common goal.

1970s – The idea of organizational behaviour surfaced in this decade. As such, Rost (1971) viewed leadership as influencing a group to work towards a common organizational goal. Burns (1978) later nailed it when he defined leadership as that overall process of teaming up persons with particular intentions, and various political, social and economical inclinations, and causing them to work towards some common objective.

1980s – The topic of leadership received much attention among scholars during this period. Many are the definitions that mushroomed. Scholarly advances were generally on the peak during this particular decade. Here are just a handful of the themes that characterized this era.

Follow the leader – Definitions dwelt on the need for followers to do as the leader wished, without much room for the followers to reason as to whether the leader’s wishes are something to take up and pursue (Rost, 1991).

Influence – A large chunk of definitions during this decade included the word influence. And when the need arose to differentiate management with leadership, scholars painted leadership as non-coercive influence.

Traits – Peters & Waterman (1982) released In Search of Excellence. This national bestseller ignited the view of leadership as a trait.

Transformation – The view of leadership as a transformational process is attributed to Burns (1978). He asserted that leadership involves a group of people collaborating in such a manner that they raise one another to greater levels of motivation and integrity.

Into the 21st century – There is still contention among scholars and academicians whether leadership and management point to the same thing or different processes. The current emphasis is on the process of leadership, which involves an individual exerting influence on a a group of people to accomplish some common objective. Here I outline the most common leadership approaches of the 21st century.

Authentic Leadership – Leaders have to be original and genuine in their leadership

Spiritual leadership – Spiritual leaders are those who employ their godly calling to guide other members with similar beliefs

Servant leadership – Leaders have to exhibit unequaled degrees of caring, and put the followers’ needs at the forefront

Adaptive leadership – Leaders are required to enable their followers adapt to harsh times by proactively confronting issues.

An analysis of the more than 200 definitions of leadership point to at least one thing that all scholars agree on: There is no single definition of leadership and never will be in the near future. The geographical, cultural, social, political and generational differences are to apparently to blame, since these factors shape people’s view of leadership. Leadership up to now remains a multi-faceted complex concept whose definition is far from being singularized (Rost, 1991).



Bass, B. M. (1960). Leadership, Psychology and organizational behaviour. New York: Harper.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Copeland, N. (1942). Psychology and the soldier. Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publications.

Hemphill, J. K. (1949). Situational factors in leadership. Columbus: Ohio State University, Bureau of Educational Research.

Moore, B. V. (1927). The May conference on leadership. Personnel Journal, 6, 124–128.


Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment  Help Service Works

1.      Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2.      Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3.      Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4.      Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essaysmile and order essay PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!

order custom essay paper