Leadership: Definitions, Differences, Importance, Characteristics, 8 Functions, Traits, Styles, Types of Power

Table of Contents

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the ability to influence individuals or groups toward the achievement of some particular goal or goal. Leadership, as a process, shapes the goals of a group or organization, motivates behavior toward the achievement of those goals, and helps define group or organizational culture. It is primarily a process of influence.

Leadership is a dynamic force essential for the success of any human group effort. Without leadership, no organization or enterprise can flourish. In fact, it is vital to the survival of a business.

For all the technological changes that name taken place in the business industry, the need for human leadership is no less today. Leadership is an important aspect of managing. It can be said that management works when the manager like his role as leader.

Definition of Leadership

These are the definitions of leadership explain below:

Leadership is the initiation of acts which result in a consistent pattern of group interaction directed towards the solution of a mutual problem.

J.K. Hemphill

Leadership is the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.

Harry Trumann

Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is the human factor which kinds a group together and motivates it towards goals.

Keitlo Davis

Thus, Leadership may be defined as a humanized activity of influencing a group of people to act for the attainment of group goals.

Difference Between Leadership and Management

Although some managers are able to influence followers to work toward the achievement of organizational goals, the conferring of formal authority upon a manager does not necessarily make that individual a leader.

Yes, that individual has authority, but whether or not they are able to influence their subordinates may depend on more than just that authority. The fundamental difference between a manager and a leader:

  • A manager administers, but a leader innovates,
  • A manager maintains while a leader develops,
  • A manager focuses on systems and structures, whereas a leader’s focus is on people,
  • A manager relies on control, but a leader inspires trust,
  • A manager keeps an eye on the bottom line, while a leader has an eye on the horizon,
  • A manager does things right, a leader does the right thing.

These are the points of difference between leadership and management:

Basis of Difference Leadership Management
1. Meaning Leadership is a process of influencing people to direct their efforts towards the attainment of some particular. Management is the process of getting things done through others.
2. Power and Authority Leadership is based on power. The Power may be desired from format authority or from any other source. in superior position. Management is based on authority which is delegated to a management position by a person.
3. Structures Leadership structures are more flexible, open, informal, and dynamic than management. Management is bound by an organized formal structure.
4. Goal Leaders achieve goals by inspiring others. Managers achieve goals by directing others.
5. Existence of Position The existence of Existence a Leaders position depends on the pleasure of his followers. The existence of a manager’s IXhition is independent of the coil of his subordinates. It depends on the terms and conditions of his service
Difference Between Leadership and Management

Types of Power in Leadership

Let us try to understand each of these types of power in leadership:

  1. Reward Power
  2. Coercive Power
  3. Legitimate Power
  4. Referent Power
  5. Expert Power
Types of Power in Leadership
Types of Power in Leadership

Reward Power

Reward power is based on the subordinate’s perception that the leader has the ability to control rewards that the followers are looking for; for example, the leader’s ability to influence the decisions regarding pay, promotion, praise, recognition, increased responsibilities, allocation and arrangement of work, granting of privileges, etc.

Coercive Power

Coercive power is based on fear and the subordinate’s perception that the leader has the ability to punish or to cause an unpleasant experience for those who do not comply with directives.

Examples include withholding pay raises, promotions, or privileges; allocation of undesirable duties or responsibilities; withdrawal of friendship or support; formal reprimands or possibly dismissal. This is in effect the opposite of reward power.

Legitimate Power

Legitimate power is based on the subordinate’s perception that the leader has a right to exercise influence because of holding a particular position in the hierarchy of the organizational structure. Legitimate power is thus based on authority and not on the nature of personal relationships with others.

Referent Power

Referent power is based on the subordinate’s identification with the leader. The leader is able to influence the followers because of interpersonal attraction and his personal charisma. The followers obey the leader because of their respect and esteem towards him.

Expert Power

Expert power is derived from the subordinate’s perception of the leader as someone who has access to information and relevant knowledge.

Importance of Leadership

Without Leadership, an organization would only be a confusion of people and machines. The importance of Leadership is as follows:

  1. Determines Goals and Guides for It
  2. Boosts Morale
  3. Team-Spirit
  4. Optimum Use of Human Resources
  5. Facilitates Change
  6. Other Importance
Importance of Leadership
Importance of Leadership

Determines Goals and Guides for It

A leader plans goals & policies for his group. The trigger is a person’s will to do, show the way and guide group members toward group accomplishment. He created enthusiasm for, performance (best) among his followers.

Boosts Morale

Morale is the internal feeling of a person. A good leader can arouse the will to, cooperate among the employees. He transforms lukewarm desires for achievement into burning passions for successful accomplishments.


A leader provides a healthy & satisfying work climate by harmonizing individuals to accomplish group goals. He tries to reconcile conflicts & create team spirit among his group.

Optimum Use of Human Resources

Leadership can leave man’s vision to higher sights, raise man’s standard to higher performance, and build man’s personality beyond his normal limitations. A leader can influence the activities and behavior of his followers to contribute their best.

Facilitates Change

Leaders can induce and introduce change. They are instrumental in conceiving change. They introduce change by convincing their followers about the positive effects of the change.

Other Importance

The other importance of leadership:

  1. Creates confidence and enthusiasm among his group members.
  2. Leadership acts as a catalyst that transforms potential into reality.
  3. Leadership plays a vital role in ensuring the survival and effectiveness of the organization.
  4. Leadership is necessary in the organization in order to create a work environment that is productive and satisfying for human beings.

  5. Leadership helps maintain order and discipline in the organization.

  6. Leaders play a crucial role in resolving conflicts arising in the group.
  7. A leader is a bridge between group members and top management.

Characteristics of Leadership

The following are the important characteristics of Leadership:

  1. Leadership is Process of Influence
  2. Leadership is Function of Motivation
  3. Leadership is Related to a Situation
  4. Personal Quality
Characteristics of Leadership
Characteristics of Leadership

Leadership is Process of Influence

A leader can be regarded as successful only when he is able to influence the behavior, attitude, and beliefs of his subordinates.

Leadership is Function of Motivation

Leadership is the function of motivating people to attempt willingly to attain organizational objectives. Leaders are considered successful when they are able to encourage and develop self-confidence in their subordinates.

Leadership is Related to a Situation

It means leadership styles are different for different circumstances. It is always related to a particular situation, at a given point in time, and under specific circumstances.

Personal Quality

A leader should be courageous, should have willpower, should possess physical and nervous energy, and have enthusiasm, self-confidence, and moral qualities.

Functions of Leaders

The most important functions of Leaders are as follows:

  1. Goal Setter
  2. Organization of Different Activities
  3. Achieving Co-ordination
  4. Representing
  5. Motivation of Employees
  6. Guiding Employers
  7. Building Employee’s Moral
  8. Managing Time
Functions of Leaders
Functions of Leaders

Goal Setter

A leader performs the role of goal setter for his subordinates. He also acts as a guide and teacher.

Organization of Different Activities

A leader divides all the activities of the organization among the different subordinates in a systematic manner. It may reduce the chances of conflicts between employees.

Achieving Co-ordination

A leader integrates the individual’s goal with the organizational goal and creates a community of interest. A leader shares all the information, which is related to the organizational goal with the employees, and it may achieve coordination in the organization.


A leader is a representative of his subordinates. He also tries to fulfill the psychological needs of his subordinates.

Motivation of Employees

Motivation is necessary for accomplishing desired results from the subordinates. A good leader motivates his subordinates for better performance. A leader motivates his subordinates by giving them monetary or non-monetary rewards.

Guiding Employers

A leader guides and directs the subordinates to achieve a unity of purpose. He is always present to solve the problems which his subordinates may face.

Building Employee’s Moral

Good leadership is very important for increasing employee morale. The leader shapes the thinking and attitude of the subordinates according to the objectives of the organization.

Managing Time

One of the important functions of a leader is to ensure the timely completion of activities undertaken by his/her team members.

Leadership Traits

The traits/qualities of a successful leader are as follows:

  1. Energy
  2. Emotional Stability
  3. Human Relations Skill
  4. Empathy
  5. Objectivity
  6. Personal Motivation
  7. Communication Skill
  8. Teaching Ability
  9. Social Skill
  10. Technical Competence
  11. Administrative Skill
  12. Intelligence
Leadership Traits
Leadership Traits


A leader should be energetic. The energy both mental and physical are required for a job.

Emotional Stability

It enables a leader to act with confidence. It avoids anger and deals with his subordinates with understanding.

Human Relations Skill

A leader should have human relations skills. It requires an understanding of human behavior.


It enables him to look at things objectively and from another’s viewpoint.


It prevents him from getting emotionally involved.

Personal Motivation

A leader is personally motivated and enthusiastic to get the job done.

Communication Skill

The communication skills of a leader should be powerful. It is the ability to talk and write clearly and forcefully.

Teaching Ability

A leader should have the technical ability. It will help him to develop and inspire his subordinates.

Social Skill

It enables him to understand people and know their strengths and weaknesses and presents himself as a friendly and approachable person.

Technical Competence

A leader should be technically competent. It provides him with effective working knowledge and insight into the operations under his guidance.

Administrative Skill

A leader should have administrative skills. It helps to implement plans & policies and to organize and mobilize resources in a pragmatic manner.


A leader should be intelligent. It makes him think scientifically.

Leadership Styles

Every leader usually develops his own style of leadership style of every leader are differ from the other. There exist different leadership styles. The main leadership styles are:

  1. Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership
  2. Democratic Leadership
  3. Faire Leadership
  4. Paternalistic Leadership
  5. Bureaucratic Style of Leadership
Leadership Styles
Leadership Styles

Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership

An autocratic leader takes all decisions solely. He centralizes power and tells his group members what to do and expects them to obey his order without any question or remark. This can be further categorized as:

  1. Hard Boiled/Negative/Pure Autocrat: Such leaders use heavy negative influence. They superimpose their orders/decisions on subordinates. He uses fear of punishment to carry out his orders.

  2. Benevolent Autocrat: Such leaders try to use positive leadership techniques by using praise and pats on the back to secure personal loyalty for achieving acceptance of their own decisions.

  3. Manipulative Autocrat: Such leaders make the subordinates feel that they are actually participating in the decision-making even though managers have made the decisions themselves.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leaders decentralize authority and encourage subordinates’ participation in decision-making. He believes in the free flow of two-way communication. He tries to lead through persuasion and example rather than through fear or force.

Faire Leadership

This type of leader prefers to give little or no direction and seeks to lead his group with a very loose rein, allowing his subordinates a great deal of freedom. Free-rein leadership helps subordinates train and develop them independently. This style is suitable where subordinates are duty-conscious and highly competent.

Paternalistic Leadership

This style of leadership adopts the paternal or fatherly attitude as the right one for the relationship between the leader and his group.

Its objective is to help, guide, protect, and keep the followers happily working together as members of a family. It is based on the ground that, “Happy employees work harder” while otherwise stated employees will work harder out of gratitude.

Bureaucratic Style of Leadership

It is also referred to as rules-centered or procedure-centered leadership. It is less dynamic and less proactive. It is noticed in the Indian sector, often criticized for delay and favoritism. This is also a very rigid style.

FAQs Section

What is the meaning of Leadership?

Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is the human factor that kinds a group together and motivates it toward goals.

What is the simple definition of leadership?

Leadership is the initiation of acts that result in a consistent pattern of group interaction directed toward the solution of a mutual problem.

What are the types of power in leadership?

Reward Power, Coercive Power, Legitimate Power, Referent Power, and Expert Power are the types of power in leadership.

What is the importance of leadership?

These are the importance of leadership given below:
1. Determines Goals and Guides for It
2. Boosts Morale
3. Team-Spirit
4. Optimum Use of Human Resources
5. Facilitates Change
6. Other Importance.

What are the characteristics of leadership?

Leadership is a Process of Influence, Leadership is a Function of Motivation, Leadership is Related to a Situation, and Personal Quality are the characteristics of leadership.

What are the functions of leaders?

The most important functions of Leaders are as follows:
1. Energy
2. Emotional Stability
3. Human Relations Skill
4. Empathy
5. Objectivity
6. Personal Motivation
7. Communication Skill
8. Teaching Ability
9. Social Skill
10. Technical Competence.

What are the different Leadership styles?

Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership, Democratic Leadership, Faire Leadership, Paternalistic Leadership, and Bureaucratic Style of Leadership are Leadership styles.