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Organizational Leadership Defined

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

There are many definitions of the term leadership. Stogdill (1974) argued that the number of leadership definitions is as many as the people who have attempted to define it (p. 7). However, a literature review of the hybrid term organizational leadership yields not as many results. Therefore, this report assumes that an organization is a symbolic and literal place where a group of people work together. This blog proposes a theoretical analysis of leadership as a multidimensional notion that draws from three conceptual viewpoints.

The first lens is the classification system by Bass and Stogdill (1990) and the interpretation of leadership as the "focus of group process" (pp. 12–19).

The second lens combines Bass and Stogdill's (1990) theory with social identity theory that considers leadership a function of intragroup influence (Hogg, 2001, p. 184).

The third lens examines organizational leadership through a system view of an organization that examines the interaction between the individual and group level learning behaviors of the organization and introduces patterns of behavior that help the organization adapt and grow (Senge, 2006, p. 24).

The synthesis of three lenses yields the definition of organizational leadership as the process in which the organizational leader uses affective, cognitive, and psychomotor abilities to influence intragroup behaviors of organizational members to optimize the system adaptability and increase the capacity for growth (Bass & Stogdill, 1990, pp. 12–19; Hogg, 2001, p. 184).

Leaders' degree and quality of personal authenticity, learning disposition, wisdom, and strategic capabilities contribute to the leadership outcome (Avolio et al., 2009, p. 434). Organizational leadership is also an open system with dyadic characteristics that occurs as a byproduct of exchanging power between leaders and followers, at times in a global context. To reach and stay in a steady state, the leaders need to consider flux and provide change management strategies to mitigate harmful internal and environmental factors. Additionally, for the open system to avoid negative entropy, leaders must avoid leadership drift by gaining personal authenticity through self-knowledge.

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