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Peeling the Eternal Onion

I originally thought that by this point in my life I would have a clear definition of leadership. I did not adequately fathom the depth of this discipline. Through my reading and, I have come to realize that defining leadership, and followership for that matter, is much like attempting to peel an eternal onion. Every time you peel back a layer, you expose twice as much to be uncovered. R.M. Stogdill in his book “Handbook of Leadership” points out this complexity by asserting that there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it. Peter Northhouse in his book “Leadership Theory and Practice” tries to peel the onion by identifying four components that are central to, what he calls, this “phenomenon of leadership”.

1) is a process
2) involves influence
3) occurs within a group context
4) involves goal attainment

Thus, he concludes: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.” Even this broad definition seems shallow when compared to the vast amount of scholarly insight that is out there on this almost unending subject. So, how do you peel an eternal onion? Spend a lifetime peeling!