Question daphne Business & Management

What Makes a Good Leader?

Using the theory of leadership, critically analyse what makes a good leader.

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Answer Expert #23448

Leadership is defined as a process of achieving a common goal and a good leader has the ability to influence others, or followers, in order to achieve this (Schedlitzki and Edwards 2014). This influencing ability, or the leader-follower relationship, may be examined using a variety of leadership theories.

Trait theories of leadership offer a benchmarking system by focusing on areas such as ability and ambition, but neglect the importance of the influence of context on the leader (Bolden et al 2011). Wider approaches to trait theory include the leader-follower relationship which has widened the perspective of followers as passive, to followers actively responding to and assisting in constructing the leadership role (Bligh 2011; Gill 2011). Part of this role construction may include the ability of the leader to reinforce the organisation’s story by fulfilling audience expectations, arguably seen in Steve Jobs’ leadership style at Apple (Sharma and Grant 2011).

Contingency theories of leadership suggest that the effectiveness of the leader depends on the context and that elements, such as the relationship between the leader and their followers, and the level of power and authority, are amongst the essential elements in creating a favourable situation for the leader (Schedlitzki and Edwards 2014; Gill 2011).

This relationship between the leader and followers may be further evaluated through transformational leadership which includes the acceptance of the leader’s approach through the behaviour of both the leader and followers (Schedlitzki and Edwards 2014). However, whilst this acceptance may indicate good leadership, it can also create a culture in which the behaviour of the leadership is unquestioned, often to the detriment of the workforce, as revealed in the corporate scandal seen at Enron (Tourish and Vatcha 2005).


Bligh, M.C. (2011) ‘Followership and Follower-Centred Approaches’ In: Bryman, A., Collinson, D., Grint, K., Jackson, B. And Uhl-Bien, M. (eds) (2011) The Sage Handbook of Leadership. London: Sage, pp.423-434
Bolden, R., Hawkins, B., Gosling, J. and Taylor, S. (2011) Exploring Leadership: Individual, Organisational and Societal Perspectives 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Gill, R (2011) Theory and Practice of Leadership (2nd ed.) London: Sage Publications
Schedlitzki, D. and Edwards, G. (2014) Studying Leadership: Traditional and Critical Approaches. London: Sage
Sharma, A. and Grant, D. (2011) ‘Narrative, drama and charismatic leadership: The case of Apple’s Steve Jobs’ Leadership Vol.7 (1), pp.3-26
Tourish, D. and Vatcha, N. (2005) ‘Charismatic Leadership and Corporate Cultism at Enron: The Elimination of Dissent, the Promotion of Conformity and Organizational Collapse’ Leadership Vol.1 (4), pp.455-480