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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds “What is leadership? Leadership is one of those magic things that’s hard to define, but pretty easy to identify when you see it. In recent years, it seems have been in short supply.” This was written by two journalists from the Washington Post, December, 2008, just after the financial crisis. And the definitions of leadership are infinite, but in all those definitions, the most common characteristic

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds is that: “Leadership involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person over other people to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and relationships in a group or organisation.” That’s a definition by Yukl. And a leader can do this by exerting several aspects, like leadership styles, behaviours, traits, motives, activities, et cetera. And why is leadership important in any situation? Well first of all leadership is a means and not an end in itself. And it’s a means to reach organisational goals. And in that sense, leadership is only one of the ingredients within an organisation that can enable organisations to reach certain goals.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds And research shows that leadership relates to all kinds of outcomes or goals, both at an interpersonal level and at a team or an organisational level. And outcomes can be things like job satisfaction, organisational commitment, performance, innovation, and creativity. So leadership can contribute strongly to very important results for organisations. The question then is, what is good leadership? And the conclusion that James Meindl draws when he talks about all the aspects that relate to leadership, he said that we suffer from the romance of leadership idea. And he said we may have developed highly-romanticized, heroic views of leadership. So apparently we all feel that if the performance of an organisation is either very good or very bad, it is all because of leadership.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 seconds And if it is so important, then there seems to be $1 million question. What is the best leader or the ideal leader for organisations? And that question has been omnipresent for decades, both in research and in organisations. And the main question then is, can we define what a good leader is? The funny thing is that leadership shows that there’s mainly one thing we can say about effective leadership. The strongest finding in leadership research is that it all depends on the context. So we cannot define what the good leader is. It all depends. And now complexity enters the scene.

Skip to 2 minutes and 45 seconds Because if the context is a complex world, and we can define it by characteristic of a system in which a great many heterogeneous elements interact with each other and their environment, and the context is complex and insecure, then the question is, can we define what good leadership is? What does this ask for leaders? From leaders? Can we describe what effective leadership is in these type of organisations or situations? And what does this ask from leaders themselves?

What is leadership?

This video introduces leadership. What is leadership? Why is leadership important? And, what is good leadership? That seems to be the million dollar question…

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Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World

University of Groningen

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