Leadership is a position of power held by an individual in a group, which provides him with an opportunity to exercise interpersonal influence on the group members for mobilizing and directing their efforts towards certain goals. The leader is at the center of group’s power structure, keeps the group together, infuses life into it, moves it towards its goals and maintains its momentum.
He may emerge in a group by virtue of his personality characteristics and qualities or by virtue of common consent by group members. In the latter case, the leader derives his power from the group members. He continues in the leadership position at the pleasure of group members collectively. Leadership position exists in most group settings irrespective of the size of the group.
For example, a leader of national or international standing commands widespread influence over a large number of people while the influence of the leader of a small work group in an organization is very limited. Both are leaders in their own right and fulfill our definition of leadership.
Leadership is an influential process. The leader is in a position to shape, regulate, control and change the attitudes, behavior and performance of his group members. The latter are supposed to comply with the former’s desires and directives and partially suspend their own judgment and discretion. There exists a particular relationship between the leader and his group members which is characterized by interpersonal and social interaction.
In a group, the leader and his followers play the roles expected of them and thereby seek to justify their respective positions. Some leaders may be able to play their role effectively whereby they succeed in getting the willing cooperation and commitment of their followers, beyond the normal call of duty.