Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing
the ability of an individual or organization to "lead" or guide other
individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
Specialist literature debates various viewpoints, contrasting Eastern
and Western approaches to leadership, and also (within the West)
United States versus European approaches. U.S. academic environments
define leadership as "a process of social influence in which a person
can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a
Leadership seen from a European and non-academic
perspective encompasses a view of a leader who can be moved not only
by communitarian goals but also by the search for personal
Leadership can derive from a combination of
several factors.
Studies of leadership have produced theories involving traits,
situational interaction, function, behavior, power, vision and
values, charisma, and intelligence, among others.
1 Historical views
2.1 Early western history
2.2 Rise of alternative theories
2.3 Reemergence of trait theory
2.4 Attribute pattern approach
2.5 Behavioral and style theories
2.5.1 Positive reinforcement
2.6 Situational and contingency theories
2.7 Functional theory
2.8 Integrated psychological theory
2.9 Transactional and transformational theories
2.10 Leader–member exchange theory
2.12 Neo-emergent theory
3.3 Big Five personality factors
3.4 Birth order
3.5 Character strengths
3.7 Emotional intelligence
3.8 Gender identity
Self-efficacy for leadership
3.13 Social motivation
Autocratic or authoritarian
4.2 Participative or democratic
Laissez-faire or Free-rein
4.4 Task-oriented and relationship-oriented
Leadership differences affected by sex
8 Ontological-phenomenological model
Leadership is innate
Leadership is possessing power over others
10.3 Leaders are positively influential
10.4 Leaders entirely control group outcomes
10.5 All groups have a designated leader
10.6 Group members resist leaders
11 Action-oriented environments
12 Critical thought
14 See also
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The Prince argues that it is better to be
feared than loved.
Sanskrit literature identifies ten types of leaders. Defining
characteristics of the ten types of leaders are explained with
examples from history and mythology.
Aristocratic thinkers have postulated that leadership depends on one's
"blue blood" or genes.
Monarchy takes an extreme view of the same
idea, and may prop up its assertions against the claims of mere
aristocrats by invoking divine sanction (see the divine right of
kings). Contrariwise, more democratically inclined theorists have
pointed to examples of meritocratic leaders, such as the Napoleonic
marshals profiting from careers open to talent.
In the autocratic/paternalistic strain of thought, traditionalists
recall the role of leadership of the Roman pater familias. Feminist
thinking, on the other hand, may object to such models as patriarchal
and posit against them emotionally attuned, responsive, and consensual
empathetic guidance, which is sometimes associated with
Comparable to the Roman tradition, the views of
Confucianism on "right
living" relate very much to the ideal of the (male) scholar-leader and
his benevolent rule, buttressed by a tradition of filial piety.
Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness,
courage, and discipline ... Reliance on intelligence alone results in
rebelliousness. Exercise of humaneness alone results in weakness.
Fixation on trust results in folly. Dependence on the strength of
courage results in violence. Excessive discipline and sternness in
command result in cruelty. When one has all five virtues together,
each appropriate to its function, then one can be a leader. — Sun
Machiavelli's The Prince, written in the early 16th century, provided
a manual for rulers ("princes" or "tyrants" in Machiavelli's
terminology) to gain and keep power.
In the 19th century the elaboration of anarchist thought called the
whole concept of leadership into question. (Note that the Oxford
English Dictionary traces the word "leadership" in English only as far
back as the 19th century.) One response to this denial of élitism
came with Leninism, which demanded an élite group of disciplined
cadres to act as the vanguard of a socialist revolution, bringing into
existence the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Other historical views of leadership have addressed the seeming
contrasts between secular and religious leadership. The doctrines of
Caesaro-papism have recurred and had their detractors over several
centuries. Christian thinking on leadership has often emphasized
stewardship of divinely provided resources—human and material—and
their deployment in accordance with a Divine plan. Compare servant
For a more general take on leadership in politics, compare the concept
of the statesperson.
Early western history
The search for the characteristics or traits of leaders has continued
for centuries. Philosophical writings from Plato's Republic to
Plutarch's Lives have explored the question "What qualities
distinguish an individual as a leader?" Underlying this search was the
early recognition of the importance of leadership and
the assumption that leadership is rooted in the characteristics that
certain individuals possess. This idea that leadership is based on
individual attributes is known as the "trait theory of leadership".
A number of works in the 19th century – when the traditional
authority of monarchs, lords and bishops had begun to wane –
explored the trait theory at length: note especially the writings of
Thomas Carlyle and of Francis Galton, whose works have prompted
decades of research. In Heroes and Hero Worship (1841), Carlyle
identified the talents, skills, and physical characteristics of men
who rose to power. Galton's Hereditary Genius (1869) examined
leadership qualities in the families of powerful men. After showing
that the numbers of eminent relatives dropped off when his focus moved
from first-degree to second-degree relatives, Galton concluded that
leadership was inherited. In other words, leaders were born, not
developed. Both of these notable works lent great initial support for
the notion that leadership is rooted in characteristics of a leader.
Cecil Rhodes (1853–1902) believed that public-spirited leadership
could be nurtured by identifying young people with "moral force of
character and instincts to lead", and educating them in contexts (such
as the collegiate environment of the University of Oxford) which
further developed such characteristics. International networks of such
leaders could help to promote international understanding and help
"render war impossible". This vision of leadership underlay the
creation of the Rhodes Scholarships, which have helped to shape
notions of leadership since their creation in 1903.
Rise of alternative theories
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a series of qualitative reviews of
these studies (e.g., Bird, 1940; Stogdill, 1948; Mann,
1959) prompted researchers to take a drastically different view of
the driving forces behind leadership. In reviewing the extant
literature, Stogdill and Mann found that while some traits were common
across a number of studies, the overall evidence suggested that
persons who are leaders in one situation may not necessarily be
leaders in other situations. Subsequently, leadership was no longer
characterized as an enduring individual trait, as situational
approaches (see alternative leadership theories below) posited that
individuals can be effective in certain situations, but not others.
The focus then shifted away from traits of leaders to an investigation
of the leader behaviors that were effective. This approach dominated
much of the leadership theory and research for the next few decades
Reemergence of trait theory
New methods and measurements were developed after these influential
reviews that would ultimately reestablish trait theory as a viable
approach to the study of leadership. For example, improvements in
researchers' use of the round robin research design methodology
allowed researchers to see that individuals can and do emerge as
leaders across a variety of situations and tasks. Additionally,
during the 1980s statistical advances allowed researchers to conduct
meta-analyses, in which they could quantitatively analyze and
summarize the findings from a wide array of studies. This advent
allowed trait theorists to create a comprehensive picture of previous
leadership research rather than rely on the qualitative reviews of the
past. Equipped with new methods, leadership researchers revealed the
Individuals can and do emerge as leaders across a variety of
situations and tasks.
Significant relationships exist between leadership emergence and such
individual traits as:
Openness to experience
While the trait theory of leadership has certainly regained
popularity, its reemergence has not been accompanied by a
corresponding increase in sophisticated conceptual frameworks.
Specifically, Zaccaro (2007) noted that trait theories still:
Focus on a small set of individual attributes such as "The Big Five"
personality traits, to the neglect of cognitive abilities, motives,
values, social skills, expertise, and problem-solving skills.
Fail to consider patterns or integrations of multiple attributes.
Do not distinguish between the leadership attributes that are
generally not malleable over time and those that are shaped by, and
bound to, situational influences.
Do not consider how stable leader attributes account for the
behavioral diversity necessary for effective leadership.
Attribute pattern approach
Considering the criticisms of the trait theory outlined above, several
researchers have begun to adopt a different perspective of leader
individual differences—the leader attribute pattern
approach. In contrast to the traditional approach,
the leader attribute pattern approach is based on theorists' arguments
that the influence of individual characteristics on outcomes is best
understood by considering the person as an integrated totality rather
than a summation of individual variables. In other words, the
leader attribute pattern approach argues that integrated
constellations or combinations of individual differences may explain
substantial variance in both leader emergence and leader effectiveness
beyond that explained by single attributes, or by additive
combinations of multiple attributes..
Behavioral and style theories
Main article: Managerial grid model
In response to the early criticisms of the trait approach, theorists
began to research leadership as a set of behaviors, evaluating the
behavior of successful leaders, determining a behavior taxonomy, and
identifying broad leadership styles. David McClelland, for
example, posited that leadership takes a strong personality with a
well-developed positive ego. To lead, self-confidence and high
self-esteem are useful, perhaps even essential.
A graphical representation of the managerial grid model
Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lipitt, and Ralph White developed in 1939 the
seminal work on the influence of leadership styles and performance.
The researchers evaluated the performance of groups of eleven-year-old
boys under different types of work climate. In each, the leader
exercised his influence regarding the type of group decision making,
praise and criticism (feedback), and the management of the group tasks
(project management) according to three styles: authoritarian,
democratic, and laissez-faire.
In 1945, Ohio State University conducted a study which investigated
observable behaviors portrayed by effective leaders, They would then
identify if these particular behaviors reflective in leadership
effectiveness. They were able to narrow their findings to two
identifiable distinctions  The first dimension was identified as
"Initiating Structure", which described how a leader clearly and
accurately communicates with their followers, defines goals, and
determine how tasks are performed. These are considered "task
oriented" behaviors The second dimension is "Consideration", which
indicates the leader's ability to build an interpersonal relationship
with their followers, to establish a form of mutual trust. These are
considered "social oriented" behaviors.
The Michigan State Studies, which were conducted in the 1950s, made
further investigations and findings that positively correlated
behaviors and leadership effectiveness. Although they similar findings
as the Ohio State studies, they did contribute an additional behavior
identified in leaders. This was participative behavior; allowing the
followers to participate in group decision making and encouraged
subordinate input. Another term used to describe this is "Servant
Leadership", which entails the leader to reject a more controlling
type of leadership and allow more personal interaction between
themselves and their subordinates.
The managerial grid model is also based on a behavioral theory. The
model was developed by Robert Blake and
Jane Mouton in 1964 and
suggests five different leadership styles, based on the leaders'
concern for people and their concern for goal achievement.
B. F. Skinner
B. F. Skinner is the father of behavior modification and developed the
concept of positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement occurs when
a positive stimulus is presented in response to a behavior, increasing
the likelihood of that behavior in the future. The following is an
example of how positive reinforcement can be used in a business
setting. Assume praise is a positive reinforcer for a particular
employee. This employee does not show up to work on time every day.
The manager of this employee decides to praise the employee for
showing up on time every day the employee actually shows up to work on
time. As a result, the employee comes to work on time more often
because the employee likes to be praised. In this example, praise (the
stimulus) is a positive reinforcer for this employee because the
employee arrives at work on time (the behavior) more frequently after
being praised for showing up to work on time.
The use of positive reinforcement is a successful and growing
technique used by leaders to motivate and attain desired behaviors
from subordinates. Organizations such as Frito-Lay, 3M, Goodrich,
Michigan Bell, and Emery Air Freight have all used reinforcement to
increase productivity. Empirical research covering the last 20
years suggests that reinforcement theory has a 17 percent increase in
performance. Additionally, many reinforcement techniques such as the
use of praise are inexpensive, providing higher performance for lower
Situational and contingency theories
Main articles: Fiedler contingency model, Vroom–Yetton decision
model, path–goal theory, and situational leadership theory
Situational theory also appeared as a reaction to the trait theory of
leadership. Social scientists argued that history was more than the
result of intervention of great men as Carlyle suggested. Herbert
Spencer (1884) (and Karl Marx) said that the times produce the person
and not the other way around. This theory assumes that different
situations call for different characteristics; according to this group
of theories, no single optimal psychographic profile of a leader
exists. According to the theory, "what an individual actually does
when acting as a leader is in large part dependent upon
characteristics of the situation in which he functions."
Some theorists started to synthesize the trait and situational
approaches. Building upon the research of Lewin et al., academics
began to normalize the descriptive models of leadership climates,
defining three leadership styles and identifying which situations each
style works better in. The authoritarian leadership style, for
example, is approved in periods of crisis but fails to win the "hearts
and minds" of followers in day-to-day management; the democratic
leadership style is more adequate in situations that require consensus
building; finally, the laissez-faire leadership style is appreciated
for the degree of freedom it provides, but as the leaders do not "take
charge", they can be perceived as a failure in protracted or thorny
organizational problems. Thus, theorists defined the style of
leadership as contingent to the situation, which is sometimes
classified as contingency theory. Four contingency leadership theories
appear more prominently in recent years: Fiedler contingency model,
Vroom-Yetton decision model, the path-goal theory, and the
Hersey-Blanchard situational theory.
Fiedler contingency model bases the leader's effectiveness on what
Fred Fiedler called situational contingency. This results from the
interaction of leadership style and situational favorability (later
called situational control). The theory defined two types of leader:
those who tend to accomplish the task by developing good relationships
with the group (relationship-oriented), and those who have as their
prime concern carrying out the task itself (task-oriented).
According to Fiedler, there is no ideal leader. Both task-oriented and
relationship-oriented leaders can be effective if their leadership
orientation fits the situation. When there is a good leader-member
relation, a highly structured task, and high leader position power,
the situation is considered a "favorable situation". Fiedler found
that task-oriented leaders are more effective in extremely favorable
or unfavorable situations, whereas relationship-oriented leaders
perform best in situations with intermediate favorability.
Victor Vroom, in collaboration with Phillip Yetton (1973) and
later with Arthur Jago (1988), developed a taxonomy for describing
leadership situations, which was used in a normative decision model
where leadership styles were connected to situational variables,
defining which approach was more suitable to which situation. This
approach was novel because it supported the idea that the same manager
could rely on different group decision making approaches depending on
the attributes of each situation. This model was later referred to as
situational contingency theory.
The path-goal theory of leadership was developed by Robert House
(1971) and was based on the expectancy theory of Victor Vroom.
According to House, the essence of the theory is "the meta proposition
that leaders, to be effective, engage in behaviors that complement
subordinates' environments and abilities in a manner that compensates
for deficiencies and is instrumental to subordinate satisfaction and
individual and work unit performance". The theory identifies four
leader behaviors, achievement-oriented, directive, participative, and
supportive, that are contingent to the environment factors and
follower characteristics. In contrast to the Fiedler contingency
model, the path-goal model states that the four leadership behaviors
are fluid, and that leaders can adopt any of the four depending on
what the situation demands. The path-goal model can be classified both
as a contingency theory, as it depends on the circumstances, and as a
transactional leadership theory, as the theory emphasizes the
reciprocity behavior between the leader and the followers.
The Situational Leadership® Model proposed by Hersey suggests four
leadership-styles and four levels of follower-development. For
effectiveness, the model posits that the leadership-style must match
the appropriate level of follower-development. In this model,
leadership behavior becomes a function not only of the characteristics
of the leader, but of the characteristics of followers as well.
Main article: Functional leadership model
General Petraeus talks with U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan
Functional leadership theory (Hackman & Walton, 1986; McGrath,
1962; Adair, 1988; Kouzes & Posner, 1995) is a particularly useful
theory for addressing specific leader behaviors expected to contribute
to organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory argues that the
leader's main job is to see that whatever is necessary to group needs
is taken care of; thus, a leader can be said to have done their job
well when they have contributed to group effectiveness and cohesion
(Fleishman et al., 1991; Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Hackman &
Walton, 1986). While functional leadership theory has most often been
applied to team leadership (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001), it
has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership
as well (Zaccaro, 2001). In summarizing literature on functional
leadership (see Kozlowski et al. (1996), Zaccaro et al. (2001),
Hackman and Walton (1986), Hackman & Wageman (2005), Morgeson
(2005)), Klein, Zeigert, Knight, and Xiao (2006) observed five broad
functions a leader performs when promoting organization's
effectiveness. These functions include environmental monitoring,
organizing subordinate activities, teaching and coaching subordinates,
motivating others, and intervening actively in the group's work.
A variety of leadership behaviors are expected to facilitate these
functions. In initial work identifying leader behavior, Fleishman
(1953) observed that subordinates perceived their supervisors'
behavior in terms of two broad categories referred to as consideration
and initiating structure. Consideration includes behavior involved in
fostering effective relationships. Examples of such behavior would
include showing concern for a subordinate or acting in a supportive
manner towards others. Initiating structure involves the actions of
the leader focused specifically on task accomplishment. This could
include role clarification, setting performance standards, and holding
subordinates accountable to those standards.
Integrated psychological theory
Main article: Three Levels of
The Integrated Psychological theory of leadership is an attempt to
integrate the strengths of the older theories (i.e. traits,
behavioral/styles, situational and functional) while addressing their
limitations, largely by introducing a new element – the need for
leaders to develop their leadership presence, attitude toward others
and behavioral flexibility by practicing psychological mastery. It
also offers a foundation for leaders wanting to apply the philosophies
of servant leadership and authentic leadership.
Integrated Psychological theory began to attract attention after the
publication of James Scouller's Three Levels of
(2011). Scouller argued that the older theories offer only limited
assistance in developing a person's ability to lead effectively.
He pointed out, for example, that:
Traits theories, which tend to reinforce the idea that leaders are
born not made, might help us select leaders, but they are less useful
for developing leaders.
An ideal style (e.g. Blake & Mouton's team style) would not suit
Most of the situational/contingency and functional theories assume
that leaders can change their behavior to meet differing circumstances
or widen their behavioral range at will, when in practice many find it
hard to do so because of unconscious beliefs, fears or ingrained
habits. Thus, he argued, leaders need to work on their inner
None of the old theories successfully address the challenge of
developing "leadership presence"; that certain "something" in leaders
that commands attention, inspires people, wins their trust and makes
followers want to work with them.
Scouller proposed the Three Levels of
Leadership model, which was
later categorized as an "Integrated Psychological" theory on the
Businessballs education website. In essence, his model aims to
summarize what leaders have to do, not only to bring leadership to
their group or organization, but also to develop themselves
technically and psychologically as leaders.
The three levels in his model are Public, Private and Personal
The first two – public and private leadership – are "outer" or
behavioral levels. These are the behaviors that address what Scouller
called "the four dimensions of leadership". These dimensions are: (1)
a shared, motivating group purpose; (2) action, progress and results;
(3) collective unity or team spirit; (4) individual selection and
motivation. Public leadership focuses on the 34 behaviors involved in
influencing two or more people simultaneously. Private leadership
covers the 14 behaviors needed to influence individuals one to one.
The third – personal leadership – is an "inner" level and concerns
a person's growth toward greater leadership presence, knowhow and
skill. Working on one's personal leadership has three aspects: (1)
Technical knowhow and skill (2) Developing the right attitude toward
other people – which is the basis of servant leadership (3)
Psychological self-mastery – the foundation for authentic
Scouller argued that self-mastery is the key to growing one's
leadership presence, building trusting relationships with followers
and dissolving one's limiting beliefs and habits, thereby enabling
behavioral flexibility as circumstances change, while staying
connected to one's core values (that is, while remaining authentic).
To support leaders' development, he introduced a new model of the
human psyche and outlined the principles and techniques of
self-mastery, which include the practice of mindfulness
Transactional and transformational theories
Transactional leadership and Transformational
Bernard Bass and colleagues developed the idea of two different types
of leadership, transactional that involves exchange of labor for
rewards and transformational which is based on concern for employees,
intellectual stimulation, and providing a group vision.
The transactional leader (Burns, 1978) is given power to perform
certain tasks and reward or punish for the team's performance. It
gives the opportunity to the manager to lead the group and the group
agrees to follow his lead to accomplish a predetermined goal in
exchange for something else. Power is given to the leader to evaluate,
correct, and train subordinates when productivity is not up to the
desired level, and reward effectiveness when expected outcome is
Leader–member exchange theory
Main article: Leader–member exchange theory
This LMX theory addresses a specific aspect of the leadership process
is the leader–member exchange (LMX) theory, which evolved from
an earlier theory called the vertical dyad linkage (VDL) model.
Both of these models focus on the interaction between leaders and
individual followers. Similar to the transactional approach, this
interaction is viewed as a fair exchange whereby the leader provides
certain benefits such as task guidance, advice, support, and/or
significant rewards and the followers reciprocate by giving the leader
respect, cooperation, commitment to the task and good performance.
However, LMX recognizes that leaders and individual followers will
vary in the type of exchange that develops between them. LMX
theorizes that the type of exchanges between the leader and specific
followers can lead to the creation of in-groups and out-groups.
In-group members are said to have high-quality exchanges with the
leader, while out-group members have low-quality exchanges with the
In-group members are perceived by the leader as being more
experienced, competent, and willing to assume responsibility than
other followers. The leader begins to rely on these individuals to
help with especially challenging tasks. If the follower responds well,
the leader rewards him/her with extra coaching, favorable job
assignments, and developmental experiences. If the follower shows high
commitment and effort followed by additional rewards, both parties
develop mutual trust, influence, and support of one another. Research
shows the in-group members usually receive higher performance
evaluations from the leader, higher satisfaction, and faster
promotions than out-group members.
In-group members are also
likely to build stronger bonds with their leaders by sharing the same
social backgrounds and interests.
Out-group members often receive less time and more distant exchanges
than their in-group counterparts. With out-group members, leaders
expect no more than adequate job performance, good attendance,
reasonable respect, and adherence to the job description in exchange
for a fair wage and standard benefits. The leader spends less time
with out-group members, they have fewer developmental experiences, and
the leader tends to emphasize his/her formal authority to obtain
compliance to leader requests. Research shows that out-group members
are less satisfied with their job and organization, receive lower
performance evaluations from the leader, see their leader as less
fair, and are more likely to file grievances or leave the
See also: Emotional intelligence
Leadership can be perceived as a particularly emotion-laden process,
with emotions entwined with the social influence process. In an
organization, the leader's mood has some effects on his/her group.
These effects can be described in three levels:
The mood of individual group members. Group members with leaders in a
positive mood experience more positive mood than do group members with
leaders in a negative mood. The leaders transmit their moods to other
group members through the mechanism of emotional contagion. Mood
contagion may be one of the psychological mechanisms by which
charismatic leaders influence followers.
The affective tone of the group.
Group affective tone represents the
consistent or homogeneous affective reactions within a group. Group
affective tone is an aggregate of the moods of the individual members
of the group and refers to mood at the group level of analysis. Groups
with leaders in a positive mood have a more positive affective tone
than do groups with leaders in a negative mood.
Group processes like coordination, effort expenditure, and task
strategy. Public expressions of mood impact how group members think
and act. When people experience and express mood, they send signals to
others. Leaders signal their goals, intentions, and attitudes through
their expressions of moods. For example, expressions of positive moods
by leaders signal that leaders deem progress toward goals to be good.
The group members respond to those signals cognitively and
behaviorally in ways that are reflected in the group processes.
In research about client service, it was found that expressions of
positive mood by the leader improve the performance of the group,
although in other sectors there were other findings.
Beyond the leader's mood, her/his behavior is a source for employee
positive and negative emotions at work. The leader creates situations
and events that lead to emotional response. Certain leader behaviors
displayed during interactions with their employees are the sources of
these affective events. Leaders shape workplace affective events.
Examples – feedback giving, allocating tasks, resource distribution.
Since employee behavior and productivity are directly affected by
their emotional states, it is imperative to consider employee
emotional responses to organizational leaders. Emotional
intelligence, the ability to understand and manage moods and emotions
in the self and others, contributes to effective leadership within
Main article: Functional leadership model
The neo-emergent leadership theory (from the Oxford Strategic
Leadership Programme) sees leadership as created through the emergence
of information by the leader or other stakeholders, not through the
true actions of the leader himself. In other words,
the reproduction of information or stories form the basis of the
perception of leadership by the majority. It is well known[by whom?]
that the naval hero Lord Nelson often wrote his own versions of
battles he was involved in, so that when he arrived home in England he
would receive a true hero's welcome. In modern
society, the press, blogs and other sources report their own views of
leaders, which may be based on reality, but may also be based on a
political command, a payment, or an inherent interest of the author,
media, or leader. Therefore, one can argue that the perception of all
leaders is created and in fact does not reflect their true leadership
qualities at all.
Many personality characteristics were found to be reliably associated
with leadership emergence. The list include, but is not limited to
following (list organized in alphabetical order): assertiveness,
authenticity, Big Five personality factors, birth order, character
strengths, dominance, emotional intelligence, gender identity,
intelligence, narcissism, self-efficacy for leadership,
self-monitoring and social motivation.
Leadership emergence is the
idea that people born with specific characteristics become leaders,
and those without these characteristics do not become leaders. People
like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela all share
traits that an average person does not. This includes people who
choose to participate in leadership roles, as opposed to those who do
not. Research indicates that up to 30% of leader emergence has a
genetic basis. There is no current research indicating that there
is a “leadership gene”, instead we inherit certain traits that
might influence our decision to seek leadership. Both anecdotal, and
empirical evidence support a stable relationship between specific
traits and leadership behavior. Using a large international sample
researchers found that there are three factors that motivate leaders;
affective identity (enjoyment of leading), non-calculative (leading
earns reinforcement), and social-normative (sense of obligation).
The relationship between assertiveness and leadership emergence is
curvilinear; individuals who are either low in assertiveness or very
high in assertiveness are less likely to be identified as leaders.
Individuals who are more aware of their personality qualities,
including their values and beliefs, and are less biased when
processing self-relevant information, are more likely to be accepted
as leaders. See Authentic Leadership.
Big Five personality factors
Those who emerge as leaders tend to be more (order in strength of
relationship with leadership emergence): extroverted, conscientious,
emotionally stable, and open to experience, although these tendencies
are stronger in laboratory studies of leaderless groups.
Agreeableness, the last factor of the Big Five personality traits,
does not seem to play any meaningful role in leadership emergence 
Those born first in their families and only children are hypothesized
to be more driven to seek leadership and control in social settings.
Middle-born children tend to accept follower roles in groups, and
later-borns are thought to be rebellious and creative 
Those seeking leadership positions in a military organization had
elevated scores on a number of indicators of strength of character,
including honesty, hope, bravery, industry, and teamwork.
Individuals with dominant personalities – they describe themselves
as high in the desire to control their environment and influence other
people, and are likely to express their opinions in a forceful way –
are more likely to act as leaders in small-group situations.
Individuals with high emotional intelligence have increased ability to
understand and relate to people. They have skills in communicating and
decoding emotions and they deal with others wisely and
effectively. Such people communicate their ideas in more robust
ways, are better able to read the politics of a situation, are less
likely to lose control of their emotions, are less likely to be
inappropriately angry or critical, and in consequence are more likely
to emerge as leaders.
Masculine individuals are more likely to emerge as leaders than are
Individuals with higher intelligence exhibit superior judgement,
higher verbal skills (both written and oral), quicker learning and
acquisition of knowledge, and are more likely to emerge as
leaders. Correlation between IQ and leadership emergence was found
to be between .25 and .30. However, groups generally prefer
leaders that do not exceed intelligence prowess of average member by a
wide margin, as they fear that high intelligence may be translated to
differences in communication, trust, interests and values
Individuals who take on leadership roles in turbulent situations, such
as groups facing a threat or ones in which status is determined by
intense competition among rivals within the group, tend to be
narcissistic: arrogant, self-absorbed, hostile, and very
Self-efficacy for leadership
Confidence in one's ability to lead is associated with increases in
willingness to accept a leadership role and success in that role.
High self-monitors are more likely to emerge as the leader of a group
than are low self-monitors, since they are more concerned with
status-enhancement and are more likely to adapt their actions to fit
the demands of the situation
Individuals who are both success-oriented and affiliation-oriented, as
assessed by projective measures, are more active in group
problem-solving settings and are more likely to be elected to
positions of leadership in such groups
A leadership style is a leader's style of providing direction,
implementing plans, and motivating people. It is the result of the
philosophy, personality, and experience of the leader. Rhetoric
specialists have also developed models for understanding leadership
(Robert Hariman, Political Style, Philippe-Joseph Salazar,
L'Hyperpolitique. Technologies politiques De La Domination).
Different situations call for different leadership styles. In an
emergency when there is little time to converge on an agreement and
where a designated authority has significantly more experience or
expertise than the rest of the team, an autocratic leadership style
may be most effective; however, in a highly motivated and aligned team
with a homogeneous level of expertise, a more democratic or
Laissez-faire style may be more effective. The style adopted should be
the one that most effectively achieves the objectives of the group
while balancing the interests of its individual members. A field
in which leadership style has gained strong attention is that of
military science, recently expressing a holistic and integrated view
of leadership, including how a leader's physical presence determines
how others perceive that leader. The factors of physical presence are
military bearing, physical fitness, confidence, and resilience. The
leader's intellectual capacity helps to conceptualize solutions and
acquire knowledge to do the job. A leader's conceptual abilities apply
agility, judgment, innovation, interpersonal tact, and domain
knowledge. Domain knowledge for leaders encompasses tactical and
technical knowledge as well as cultural and geopolitical
Autocratic or authoritarian
Under the autocratic leadership style, all decision-making powers are
centralized in the leader, as with dictators.
Autocratic leaders do not entertain any suggestions or initiatives
from subordinates. The autocratic management has been successful as it
provides strong motivation to the manager. It permits quick
decision-making, as only one person decides for the whole group and
keeps each decision to him/herself until he/she feels it needs to be
shared with the rest of the group.
Participative or democratic
The democratic leadership style consists of the leader sharing the
decision-making abilities with group members by promoting the
interests of the group members and by practicing social equality. This
has also been called shared leadership.
Laissez-faire or Free-rein
Laissez-faire or free-rein leadership, decision-making is passed on
to the sub-ordinates. The sub-ordinates are given complete right and
power to make decisions to establish goals and work out the problems
or hurdles.
Task-oriented and relationship-oriented
Main article: Task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership
Task-oriented leadership is a style in which the leader is focused on
the tasks that need to be performed in order to meet a certain
production goal. Task-oriented leaders are generally more concerned
with producing a step-by-step solution for given problem or goal,
strictly making sure these deadlines are met, results and reaching
Relationship-oriented leadership is a contrasting style in which the
leader is more focused on the relationships amongst the group and is
generally more concerned with the overall well-being and satisfaction
of group members. Relationship-oriented leaders emphasize
communication within the group, show trust and confidence in group
members, and show appreciation for work done.
Task-oriented leaders are typically less concerned with the idea of
catering to group members, and more concerned with acquiring a certain
solution to meet a production goal. For this reason, they typically
are able to make sure that deadlines are met, yet their group members'
well-being may suffer. Relationship-oriented leaders are focused on
developing the team and the relationships in it. The positives to
having this kind of environment are that team members are more
motivated and have support. However, the emphasis on relations as
opposed to getting a job done might make productivity suffer.
Leadership differences affected by sex
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discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this
article by introducing citations to additional sources. (February
Another factor that covaries with leadership style is whether the
person is male or female. When men and women come together in groups,
they tend to adopt different leadership styles. Men generally assume
an agentic leadership style. They are task-oriented, active, decision
focused, independent and goal oriented. Women, on the other hand, are
generally more communal when they assume a leadership position; they
strive to be helpful towards others, warm in relation to others,
understanding, and mindful of others' feelings. In general, when women
are asked to describe themselves to others in newly formed groups,
they emphasize their open, fair, responsible, and pleasant communal
qualities. They give advice, offer assurances, and manage conflicts in
an attempt to maintain positive relationships among group members.
Women connect more positively to group members by smiling, maintaining
eye contact and respond tactfully to others' comments. Men,
conversely, describe themselves as influential, powerful and
proficient at the task that needs to be done. They tend to place more
focus on initiating structure within the group, setting standards and
objectives, identifying roles, defining responsibilities and standard
operating procedures, proposing solutions to problems, monitoring
compliance with procedures, and finally, emphasizing the need for
productivity and efficiency in the work that needs to be done. As
leaders, men are primarily task-oriented, but women tend to be both
task- and relationship-oriented. However, it is important to note that
these sex differences are only tendencies, and do not manifest
themselves within men and women across all groups and situations.
In the past, some researchers have argued that the actual influence of
leaders on organizational outcomes is overrated and romanticized as a
result of biased attributions about leaders (Meindl & Ehrlich,
1987). Despite these assertions, however, it is largely recognized and
accepted by practitioners and researchers that leadership is
important, and research supports the notion that leaders do contribute
to key organizational outcomes (Day & Lord, 1988; Kaiser, Hogan,
& Craig, 2008). To facilitate successful performance it is
important to understand and accurately measure leadership performance.
Job performance generally refers to behavior that is expected to
contribute to organizational success (Campbell, 1990). Campbell
identified a number of specific types of performance dimensions;
leadership was one of the dimensions that he identified. There is no
consistent, overall definition of leadership performance (Yukl, 2006).
Many distinct conceptualizations are often lumped together under the
umbrella of leadership performance, including outcomes such as leader
effectiveness, leader advancement, and leader emergence (Kaiser et
al., 2008). For instance, leadership performance may be used to refer
to the career success of the individual leader, performance of the
group or organization, or even leader emergence. Each of these
measures can be considered conceptually distinct. While these aspects
may be related, they are different outcomes and their inclusion should
depend on the applied or research focus.
A toxic leader is someone who has responsibility over a group of
people or an organization, and who abuses the leader–follower
relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off
condition than when he/she joined it.
Julius Caesar, one of the world's greatest military leaders
Most theories in the 20th century argued that great leaders were born,
not made. Current studies have indicated that leadership is much more
complex and cannot be boiled down to a few key traits of an
individual. Years of observation and study have indicated that one
such trait or a set of traits does not make an extraordinary leader.
What scholars have been able to arrive at is that leadership traits of
an individual do not change from situation to situation; such traits
include intelligence, assertiveness, or physical attractiveness.
However, each key trait may be applied to situations differently,
depending on the circumstances. The following summarizes the main
leadership traits found in research by Jon P. Howell, business
professor at New Mexico State University and author of the book
Snapshots of Great Leadership.
Determination and drive include traits such as initiative, energy,
assertiveness, perseverance and sometimes dominance. People with these
traits often tend to wholeheartedly pursue their goals, work long
hours, are ambitious, and often are very competitive with others.
Cognitive capacity includes intelligence, analytical and verbal
ability, behavioral flexibility, and good judgment. Individuals with
these traits are able to formulate solutions to difficult problems,
work well under stress or deadlines, adapt to changing situations, and
create well-thought-out plans for the future. Howell provides examples
of Steve Jobs and Abraham Lincoln as encompassing the traits of
determination and drive as well as possessing cognitive capacity,
demonstrated by their ability to adapt to their continuously changing
Self-confidence encompasses the traits of high self-esteem,
assertiveness, emotional stability, and self-assurance. Individuals
who are self-confident do not doubt themselves or their abilities and
decisions; they also have the ability to project this self-confidence
onto others, building their trust and commitment. Integrity is
demonstrated in individuals who are truthful, trustworthy, principled,
consistent, dependable, loyal, and not deceptive. Leaders with
integrity often share these values with their followers, as this trait
is mainly an ethics issue. It is often said that these leaders keep
their word and are honest and open with their cohorts. Sociability
describes individuals who are friendly, extroverted, tactful,
flexible, and interpersonally competent. Such a trait enables leaders
to be accepted well by the public, use diplomatic measures to solve
issues, as well as hold the ability to adapt their social persona to
the situation at hand. According to Howell, Mother Teresa is an
exceptional example who embodies integrity, assertiveness, and social
abilities in her diplomatic dealings with the leaders of the
Few great leaders encompass all of the traits listed above, but many
have the ability to apply a number of them to succeed as front-runners
of their organization or situation.
One of the more recent definitions of leadership comes from Werner
Erhard, Michael C. Jensen, Steve Zaffron, and Kari Granger who
describe leadership as "an exercise in language that results in the
realization of a future that wasn't going to happen anyway, which
future fulfills (or contributes to fulfilling) the concerns of the
relevant parties...". This definition ensures that leadership is
talking about the future and includes the fundamental concerns of the
relevant parties. This differs from relating to the relevant parties
as "followers" and calling up an image of a single leader with others
following. Rather, a future that fulfills on the fundamental concerns
of the relevant parties indicates the future that wasn't going to
happen is not the "idea of the leader", but rather is what emerges
from digging deep to find the underlying concerns of those who are
impacted by the leadership.
An organization that is established as an instrument or means for
achieving defined objectives has been referred to as a formal
organization. Its design specifies how goals are subdivided and
reflected in subdivisions of the organization. Divisions, departments,
sections, positions, jobs, and tasks make up this work structure.
Thus, the formal organization is expected to behave impersonally in
regard to relationships with clients or with its members. According to
Weber's definition, entry and subsequent advancement is by merit or
seniority. Employees receive a salary and enjoy a degree of tenure
that safeguards them from the arbitrary influence of superiors or of
powerful clients. The higher one's position in the hierarchy, the
greater one's presumed expertise in adjudicating problems that may
arise in the course of the work carried out at lower levels of the
organization. It is this bureaucratic structure that forms the basis
for the appointment of heads or chiefs of administrative subdivisions
in the organization and endows them with the authority attached to
In contrast to the appointed head or chief of an administrative unit,
a leader emerges within the context of the informal organization that
underlies the formal structure. The informal organization expresses
the personal objectives and goals of the individual membership. Their
objectives and goals may or may not coincide with those of the formal
organization. The informal organization represents an extension of the
social structures that generally characterize human life — the
spontaneous emergence of groups and organizations as ends in
In prehistoric times, humanity was preoccupied with personal security,
maintenance, protection, and survival. Now humanity spends a major
portion of waking hours working for organizations. The need to
identify with a community that provides security, protection,
maintenance, and a feeling of belonging has continued unchanged from
prehistoric times. This need is met by the informal organization and
its emergent, or unofficial, leaders.
Leaders emerge from within the structure of the informal organization.
Their personal qualities, the demands of the situation, or a
combination of these and other factors attract followers who accept
their leadership within one or several overlay structures. Instead of
the authority of position held by an appointed head or chief, the
emergent leader wields influence or power. Influence is the ability of
a person to gain co-operation from others by means of persuasion or
control over rewards. Power is a stronger form of influence because it
reflects a person's ability to enforce action through the control of a
means of punishment.
A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards a
specific result. It is not dependent on title or formal authority.
(Elevos, paraphrased from Leaders, Bennis, and
Halpern & Lubar.) Ogbonnia (2007) defines an effective leader "as
an individual with the capacity to consistently succeed in a given
condition and be viewed as meeting the expectations of an organization
or society." Leaders are recognized by their capacity for caring for
others, clear communication, and a commitment to persist. An
individual who is appointed to a managerial position has the right to
command and enforce obedience by virtue of the authority of their
position. However, she or he must possess adequate personal attributes
to match this authority, because authority is only potentially
available to him/her. In the absence of sufficient personal
competence, a manager may be confronted by an emergent leader who can
challenge her/his role in the organization and reduce it to that of a
figurehead. However, only authority of position has the backing of
formal sanctions. It follows that whoever wields personal influence
and power can legitimize this only by gaining a formal position in the
hierarchy, with commensurate authority.
Leadership can be defined
as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization
needs leaders at every level.
Over the years the philosophical terminology of "management" and
"leadership" have, in the organizational context, been used both as
synonyms and with clearly differentiated meanings. Debate is fairly
common about whether the use of these terms should be restricted, and
generally reflects an awareness of the distinction made by Burns
(1978) between "transactional" leadership (characterized by emphasis
on procedures, contingent reward, management by exception) and
"transformational" leadership (characterized by charisma, personal
In contrast to individual leadership, some organizations have adopted
group leadership. In this so-called shared leadership, more than one
person provides direction to the group as a whole. It is furthermore
characterized by shared responsibility, cooperation and mutual
influence among the team members. Some organizations have taken
this approach in hopes of increasing creativity, reducing costs, or
downsizing. Others may see the traditional leadership of a boss as
costing too much in team performance. In some situations, the team
members best able to handle any given phase of the project become the
temporary leaders. Additionally, as each team member has the
opportunity to experience the elevated level of empowerment, it
energizes staff and feeds the cycle of success.
Leaders who demonstrate persistence, tenacity, determination, and
synergistic communication skills will bring out the same qualities in
their groups. Good leaders use their own inner mentors to energize
their team and organizations and lead a team to achieve success.
According to the National School Boards Association (USA):
These Group Leaderships or
Leadership Teams have specific
Characteristics of a Team
There must be an awareness of unity on the part of all its members.
There must be interpersonal relationship. Members must have a chance
to contribute, and learn from and work with others.
The members must have the ability to act together toward a common
Ten characteristics of well-functioning teams:
Purpose: Members proudly share a sense of why the team exists and are
invested in accomplishing its mission and goals.
Priorities: Members know what needs to be done next, by whom, and by
when to achieve team goals.
Roles: Members know their roles in getting tasks done and when to
allow a more skillful member to do a certain task.
Decisions: Authority and decision-making lines are clearly understood.
Conflict: Conflict is dealt with openly and is considered important to
decision-making and personal growth.
Personal traits: members feel their unique personalities are
appreciated and well utilized.
Norms: Group norms for working together are set and seen as standards
for every one in the groups.
Effectiveness: Members find team meetings efficient and productive and
look forward to this time together.
Success: Members know clearly when the team has met with success and
share in this equally and proudly.
Training: Opportunities for feedback and updating skills are provided
and taken advantage of by team members.
Self-leadership is a process that occurs within an individual, rather
than an external act. It is an expression of who we are as
Mark van Vugt and
Anjana Ahuja in Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary
Leadership present evidence of leadership in nonhuman
animals, from ants and bees to baboons and chimpanzees. They suggest
that leadership has a long evolutionary history and that the same
mechanisms underpinning leadership in humans can be found in other
social species, too.
Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, in
Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, present
evidence that only humans and chimpanzees, among all the animals
living on Earth, share a similar tendency for a cluster of behaviors:
violence, territoriality, and competition for uniting behind the one
chief male of the land. This position is contentious. Many
animals beyond apes are territorial, compete, exhibit violence, and
have a social structure controlled by a dominant male (lions, wolves,
etc.), suggesting Wrangham and Peterson's evidence is not empirical.
However, we must examine other species as well, including elephants
(which are matriarchal and follow an alpha female), meerkats (who are
likewise matriarchal), and many others.
By comparison, bonobos, the second-closest species-relatives of
humans, do not unite behind the chief male of the land. The bonobos
show deference to an alpha or top-ranking female that, with the
support of her coalition of other females, can prove as strong as the
strongest male. Thus, if leadership amounts to getting the greatest
number of followers, then among the bonobos, a female almost always
exerts the strongest and most effective leadership. However, not all
scientists agree on the allegedly peaceful nature of the bonobo or its
reputation as a "hippie chimp".
Leadership, although largely talked about, has been described as one
of the least understood concepts across all cultures and
civilizations. Over the years, many researchers have stressed the
prevalence of this misunderstanding, stating that the existence of
several flawed assumptions, or myths, concerning leadership often
interferes with individuals' conception of what leadership is all
about (Gardner, 1965; Bennis, 1975).
Leadership is innate
According to some, leadership is determined by distinctive
dispositional characteristics present at birth (e.g., extraversion;
intelligence; ingenuity). However, according to Forsyth (2009) there
is evidence to show that leadership also develops through hard work
and careful observation. Thus, effective leadership can result
from nature (i.e., innate talents) as well as nurture (i.e., acquired
Leadership is possessing power over others
Although leadership is certainly a form of power, it is not demarcated
by power over people – rather, it is a power with people that exists
as a reciprocal relationship between a leader and his/her followers
(Forsyth, 2009). Despite popular belief, the use of manipulation,
coercion, and domination to influence others is not a requirement for
leadership. In actuality, individuals who seek group consent and
strive to act in the best interests of others can also become
effective leaders (e.g., class president; court judge).
Leaders are positively influential
The validity of the assertion that groups flourish when guided by
effective leaders can be illustrated using several examples. For
instance, according to Baumeister et al. (1988), the bystander effect
(failure to respond or offer assistance) that tends to develop within
groups faced with an emergency is significantly reduced in groups
guided by a leader. Moreover, it has been documented that group
performance, creativity, and efficiency all tend to
climb in businesses with designated managers or CEOs. However, the
difference leaders make is not always positive in nature. Leaders
sometimes focus on fulfilling their own agendas at the expense of
others, including his/her own followers (e.g., Pol Pot; Josef Stalin).
Leaders who focus on personal gain by employing stringent and
manipulative leadership styles often make a difference, but usually do
so through negative means.
Leaders entirely control group outcomes
In Western cultures it is generally assumed that group leaders make
all the difference when it comes to group influence and overall
goal-attainment. Although common, this romanticized view of leadership
(i.e., the tendency to overestimate the degree of control leaders have
over their groups and their groups' outcomes) ignores the existence of
many other factors that influence group dynamics. For example,
group cohesion, communication patterns among members, individual
personality traits, group context, the nature or orientation of the
work, as well as behavioral norms and established standards influence
group functionality in varying capacities. For this reason, it is
unwarranted to assume that all leaders are in complete control of
their groups' achievements.
All groups have a designated leader
Despite preconceived notions, not all groups need have a designated
leader. Groups that are primarily composed of women, are
limited in size, are free from stressful decision-making, or only
exist for a short period of time (e.g., student work groups; pub
quiz/trivia teams) often undergo a diffusion of responsibility, where
leadership tasks and roles are shared amongst members (Schmid Mast,
2002; Berdahl & Anderson, 2007; Guastello, 2007).
Group members resist leaders
Although research has indicated that group members' dependence on
group leaders can lead to reduced self-reliance and overall group
strength, most people actually prefer to be led than to be
without a leader (Berkowitz, 1953). This "need for a leader"
becomes especially strong in troubled groups that are experiencing
some sort of conflict. Group members tend to be more contented and
productive when they have a leader to guide them. Although individuals
filling leadership roles can be a direct source of resentment for
followers, most people appreciate the contributions that leaders make
to their groups and consequently welcome the guidance of a leader
(Stewart & Manz, 1995).
In most cases, these teams are tasked to operate in remote and
changeable environments with limited support or backup (action
Leadership of people in these environments requires a
different set of skills to that of front line management. These
leaders must effectively operate remotely and negotiate the needs of
the individual, team, and task within a changeable environment. This
has been termed action oriented leadership. Some examples of
demonstrations of action oriented leadership include extinguishing a
rural fire, locating a missing person, leading a team on an outdoor
expedition, or rescuing a person from a potentially hazardous
Other examples include modern technology deployments of
small/medium-sized IT teams into client plant sites.
these teams requires hands on experience and a lead-by-example
attitude to empower team members to make well thought out and concise
decisions independent of executive management and/or home base
decision makers. Zachary Hansen was an early adopter of Scrum/Kanban
branch development methodologies during the mid 90's to alleviate the
dependency that field teams had on trunk based development. This
method of just-in-time action oriented development and deployment
allowed remote plant sites to deploy up-to-date software patches
frequently and without dependency on core team deployment schedules
satisfying the clients need to rapidly patch production environment
bugs as needed.
Carlyle's 1840 "Great Man theory", which emphasized the role of
leading individuals, met opposition in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Karl Popper noted in 1945 that leaders can mislead and make mistakes -
he warns against deferring to "great men".
Noam Chomsky and others have subjected the concept of
leadership to critical thinking and have provided an analysis that
asserts that people abrogate their responsibility to think and will
actions for themselves. While the conventional view of leadership may
satisfy people who "want to be told what to do", these critics say
that one should question why they are being subjected to a will or
intellect other than their own if the leader is not a subject-matter
Concepts such as autogestion, employeeship, and common civic virtue,
etc., challenge the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of the
leadership principle by stressing individual responsibility and/or
group authority in the workplace and elsewhere and by focusing on the
skills and attitudes that a person needs in general rather than
separating out "leadership" as the basis of a special class of
Similarly, various historical calamities (such as World War II) can be
attributed to a misplaced reliance on the principle of leadership
as exhibited in dictatorship.
The idea of leaderism paints leadership and its excesses in a negative
Executives are energetic, outgoing, and competitive. They can be
visionary, hard-working, and decisive. However, managers need to be
aware of unsuccessful executives who once showed management potential
but who are later dismissed or retired early. They typically fail
because of personality factors rather than job performances.
Terms fallacies in their thinking are:
Unrealistic optimism fallacy: Believing they are so smart that they
can do whatever they want
Egocentrism fallacy: Believing they are the only ones who matter, that
the people who work for them don't count
Omniscience fallacy: Believing they know everything and seeing no
limits to their knowledge
Omnipotence fallacy: Believing they are all powerful and therefore
entitled to do what they want
Invulnerability fallacy: Believing they can get away with doing what
they want because they are too clever to get caught; even if they are
caught, believing they will go unpunished because of their importance.
Modes of leadership
Three theological virtues
Realistic Job Preview
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