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Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments by Art Padilla

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Toward a synthesis: what is leadership?

The distinctive and disjointed nature of leadership research makes it difficult to summarize comprehensively what has been posited over the past century. Inductive studies have illuminated isolated leadership behaviors and patterns. As a group, they do not provide much of a global picture of the larger, and inherently more interesting, problem of the leadership and followership processes. In spite of thousands of published papers and books, broader qualitative approaches to the study of leadership remain rare. However, these are the sorts of inquiries that bring comprehensive or holistic insights to a topic where there is still a significant lack of consensus about the major questions. In spite of the problems of summarization, it is useful to attempt to describe what we know about leadership and followership before moving on to greater detail in the next chapters.

Remember, leadership is not a person. It is instead a dynamic and interactive process involving a triangle with three connected elements: a leader, followers, and the environmental contexts. Leaders, no matter how brilliant or diligent, cannot lead by themselves. They need followers. And followers always have the choice to follow or not. The organizational environment defines the space within which leaders and followers interact. This process leads to consequences, which might be destructive or constructive.

Destructive or toxic leadership situations, discussed in detail in Chapter ...

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