Part I – A Personal Theory of Leadership – Introduction

Leadership has been defined, described, dissected, and diagnosed by leaders, followers, researchers, philosophers, educators, and students throughout history.

The very utterance of the word evokes images of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi as they led their world through turbulent times. It also forces us to realize that Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse-tong, and Joseph Stalin were great leaders in their own right. They simply practiced bad leadership. (Kellerman, 2005)  It could even be argued that without the lens of hindsight, those that followed them counted each as a great leader, regardless of the effects of their leadership on others. Therefore, as John Maxwell stated, I must conclude that, “leadership is leadership, no matter where you go or what you do.” (Maxwell J. C., p. 8)

Consequently, I must decide what type of leader I want to be, and what type of leadership I want to practice.  Positive, effective leadership, like most things, is much easier to discuss than to accomplish. To accomplish positive, effective leadership requires desire, dedication, understanding, and direction.  Thus, I must study to gain the understanding from which will dawn a direction to which I can dedicate my attitudes and behaviors in a way that ultimately fulfills my desire to be a great leader who practices good leadership. To that end, the purpose of this article is to establish a definition of and a framework for effective leadership. From this definition, I will enumerate the key components, values, and goals of effective leadership. Moving from theory to practical application, I will identify traits, skills, and behaviors exemplified by leaders. I will then consider how my understanding and appreciation for leadership has changed as well as discuss ways in which I will apply this knowledge.

Kellerman, B. (2005). How Bad Leadership Happens. Leader to Leader, Winter, 41-46. Retrieved from
Maxwell, J. C. (1998). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Be sure to check out:

  • Part 2 to see how I define leadership.
  • Part 3 to discover the key components of leadership.
  • Part 4 to understand the leadership values I count as most important.
  • Part 5 to uncover the goals of effective leadership.