Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Deakin University's online course, What is Leadership?. Join the course to learn more.
Female executive standing before an audience of staff with raised hands taking questions.
Recap your understanding of this week's foundation leader and leadership principles.

Revisiting key leadership principles

This week we’ve looked at some of the basic principles that underpin the question, ‘what is leadership?’.

In this step we sum up the basic principles of leadership in preparation for Week 2, ‘Leadership in practice’.

Your leader role models and what they say about you

Leader role models help us understand more about ourselves or the person following their chosen leader because, ultimately, there will never be universal agreement about whether someone is a ‘real’ leader or not.

Even if we agree on who is a leader, we often have different reasons for why we think this. As such, talking about who is a leader tells us more about the individual rather than the leader themselves. This is why I take the position that leadership is a process. It’s also a practice; a thing we do.

Definitions of leadership

While there are many competing definitions about what leadership is really about, they all converge around four key elements: leader, followers, influence and goal. For this reason, leadership may be defined as the process of influencing a group of individuals towards a goal (Rauch & Behling).

Theories of leadership

This week also introduced you to various leadership theories and approaches that we’ll discuss further next week. While leadership theories are longstanding, their study within organisations has largely been a 20th century phenomenon.

Great Man theories led to trait leadership and then leader behaviours and styles. This was followed by contingency leadership, transactional/transformational leadership and then implicit leadership theories.

More contemporary approaches have a greater focus on ethics and social responsibility as seen in authentic leadership, servant leadership, spiritual leadership and dispersed leadership. As such, we start to see that the way we view leadership has shifted significantly over time.

Your task

Based on what you’ve covered this week, what else could you add to this summary?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments. You’re also encouraged to provide feedback on other learners’ posts.


Rauch & Behling (1984) as cited in Rost JC 1993, Leadership for the twenty-first century, Greenwood Publishing Group, CT, p. 76.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

What is Leadership?

Deakin University

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: