What Is Leadership?

Updated: Jul 23

Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company's needs.

Here's what you need to know about leadership, and some examples of how it can benefit businesses.

What Is Leadership?

Leadership captures the essentials of being able and prepared to inspire others. Effective leadership is based upon ideas—both original and borrowed—that are effectively communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act.

A leader inspires others to act while simultaneously directing the way that they act. They must be personable enough for others to follow their orders, and they must have the critical thinking skills to know the best way to use the resources at an organization's disposal.

In business, leadership is linked to performance, and any leadership definition has to take that into account. Therefore, while leadership isn't intrinsically linked to profit, those who are viewed as effective leaders in corporate contexts are the ones who increase their company's bottom line.

Managers may be more likely to preserve existing structures because they themselves operate within that structure. They may have bosses above them, so they have less freedom to break rules in the pursuit of lofty goals. Leaders, on the other hand, often operate fairly independently. That allows them to tolerate a greater amount of chaos, so long as they believe it will be worth it in the end.

However, the leader's devotion to innovation can sometimes come at a cost. Chaos and high-pressure work environments can create interpersonal issues. When such issues arise, a manager is more likely to see it as their duty to smooth over problems between employees. Leaders can sometimes be so singularly focused on achieving lofty goals that they let interpersonal issues and employee welfare fall to the wayside.