An Integrative Definition of Leadership
The following leadership definition is taken from an article by Bruce E. Winston and Kathleen Patterson from Regent University entitled, “An Integrative Definition of Leadership” published in the International Journal of Leadership Studies, (2006), pp. 6-66.
A leader is…. one or more people who selects, equips, trains, and influences one or more
follower(s) who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and focuses the follower(s) to the
organization’s mission and objectives causing the follower(s) to willingly and enthusiastically
expend spiritual, emotional, and physical energy in a concerted coordinated effort to achieve the
organizational mission and objectives. The leader achieves this influence by humbly conveying a
prophetic vision of the future in clear terms that resonates with the follower(s) beliefs and values
in such a way that the follower(s) can understand and interpret the future into present-time action
steps. In this process, the leader presents the prophetic vision in contrast to the present status of
the organization and through the use of critical thinking skills, insight, intuition, and the use of
both persuasive rhetoric and interpersonal communication including both active listening and
positive discourse, facilitates and draws forth the opinions and beliefs of the followers such that
the followers move through ambiguity toward clarity of understanding and shared insight that
results in influencing the follower(s) to see and accept the future state of the organization as a
desirable condition worth committing personal and corporate resources toward its achievement.
The leader achieves this using ethical means and seeks the greater good of the follower(s) in the
process of action steps such that the follower(s) is/are better off (including the personal
development of the follower as well as emotional and physical healing of the follower) as a result
of the interaction with the leader. The leader achieves this same state for his/her own self as a
leader, as he/she seeks personal growth, renewal, regeneration, and increased stamina–mental,
physical, emotional, and spiritual–through the leader-follower interactions.
The leader recognizes the diversity of the follower(s) and achieves unity of common
values and directions without destroying the uniqueness of the person. The leader accomplishes
this through innovative flexible means of education, training, support, and protection that
provide each follower with what the follower needs within the reason and scope of the
organization’s resources and accommodations relative to the value of accomplishing the
organization’s objectives and the growth of the follower.
The leader, in this process of leading, enables the follower(s) to be innovative as well as
self-directed within the scope of individual-follower assignments and allows the follower(s) to
learn from his/her/their own, as well as others’ successes, mistakes, and failures along the
process of completing the organization’s objectives. The leader accomplishes this by building
credibility and trust with the followers through interaction and feedback to and with the
followers that shapes the followers’ values, attitudes, and behaviors towards risk, failure, and
success. In doing this, the leader builds the followers’ sense of self worth and self-efficacy such
that both the leader and followers are willing and ready to take calculated risks in making
decisions to meet the organization’s goals/objectives and through repeated process steps of risk-taking and decision-making the leader and followers together change the organization to best
accomplish the organization’s objectives.
The leader recognizes the impact and importance of audiences outside of the
organization’s system and presents the organization to outside audiences in such a manner that
the audiences have a clear impression of the organization’s purpose and goals and can clearly see
the purpose and goals lived out in the life of the leader. In so doing, the leader examines the fit of
the organization relative to the outside environment and shapes both the organization and the
environment to the extent of the leader’s capability to insure the best fit between the organization
and the outside environment.
The leader throughout each leader-follower-audience interaction demonstrates his/her
commitment to the values of (a) humility, (b) concern for others, (c) controlled discipline, (d)
seeking what is right and good for the organization, (e) showing mercy in beliefs and actions
with all people, (f) focusing on the purpose of the organization and on the well-being of the
followers, and (g) creating and sustaining peace in the organization–not a lack of conflict but a
place where peace grows. These values are the seven Beatitudes found in Matthew 5 and are the
base of the virtuous theory of Servant Leadership.