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leadership

the abilities, qualities and behaviour associated with the ROLE of group leader. This role may be conferred on individuals on the basis of personal characteristics and experience, or through tradition and/or position occupied. However, contingency approaches to leadership have led to awareness that effective leaders are not so simply by virtue of specific characteristics or behaviour, rather, different styles of leadership (e.g. task-oriented v. relationship-oriented) are required by different situations. See also GROUP, GROUP DYNAMICS, LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY (OR POLITICAL LEGITIMACY), OPINION LEADER.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Leadership

 

one of the mechanisms for integrating group activity, in which an individual or part of a social group plays the role of leader—that is, unites and directs the actions of an entire group, which expects, accepts, and supports the leader’s actions. To some extent, the term “leadership” overlaps with the concepts of “management” and “direction,” but it also refers to a specific form of relations in a group or organization. The character of a society, or the structure and character of a particular group, determines the type of leadership associated with it.

In contemporary bourgeois sociology and social psychology the most widespread concept of leadership views it as an interaction between the leader’s traits, the group situation, and the psychological “expectations” of the followers and their reaction to the leader. A great deal of research on leadership is based on a typology of authority proposed by the German philosopher and sociologist M. Weber. The study of leadership in bourgeois sociology and social psychology aims at elaborating the methods of effective leadership and selection of leaders. Psychometric and sociometric tests and methods have been created by sociologists such as K. Lewin, J. Moreno, H. H. Jennings, and F. Fiedler of the USA. When applied to small groups, these tests afford concrete results. But many bourgeois works interpret leadership nonhistorically, ignoring its class nature.

Dialectical and historical materialism is the methodological basis for the scientific study of leadership, which is viewed as the complex interaction of people in social groups, on the basis of dominant societal relationships. This interaction is influenced by the character of the group, the sphere of its activity, specific aspects of the situation, psychological features of the participants, the goals of activity, and the personality of the leader. In the course of a group’s activity leadership develops as an objective need of the group, which is transformed in the consciousness of the participants and takes the form of expectations and demands directed toward the individual who is playing the role of leader.

In terms of style, authoritative leadership, which presupposes a single directing influence that relies on a threat to use force, is distinguished from democratic leadership, which allows group members to participate in setting the goals and direction of group activity.

In organizations a distinction is drawn between “formal” and “informal” leadership. The former, which is associated with established rules for the designation of leaders, implies functional relations. “Informal” leadership develops where there are personal relations among members of a group. These types of leadership are either complementary (combined in the person of an authoritative leader) or in conflict, in which case the effectiveness of the organization is diminished.

Various sciences study leadership. Psychology and psychiatry investigate the distinctive features of the personality of a leader, whereas sociology examines leadership from the perspective of a social system. Social psychology studies leadership as the interaction of social and psychological factors, investigates its mechanisms, and develops methods (depending on the character of the group or organization) for the selection, instruction, and promotion of leaders.

The problem of political leadership is particularly important. Empirical research on individual cases and situations of political leadership has become common in bourgeois sociology, but there is still no scientific theory of political leadership. Frequently, the results of research on leadership in small groups are generalized to all of society. Marxist researchers rely on the theory of relations between popular masses, classes, parties, and political leaders formulated by V. I. Lenin (see V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 24). Political leadership develops during the class struggle. “Not a single class in history has achieved power without producing its political leaders, its prominent representatives, able to organize a movement and lead it” (ibid., vol. 4, p. 375). Each stage of social development and each class is characterized by its own methods of training, educating, and promoting leaders and by its own organization of leadership. As it developed, the communist movement elaborated the principles of democratic centralism, which are the foundation for the education, selection, and promotion of leaders. In all spheres of socialist society the role of scientific management and organization is growing, as is the importance of the study of the sociological and sociopsychological aspects of leadership.

REFERENCES

Ashin, G. K. “Problema liderstva v sovremennoi zarubezhnoi empiricheskoi sotsiologii.” Voprosy filosofii, 1968, no. 5.
Zherebova, N. S. “Issledovaniia liderstva v ‘malykh gruppakh’ burzhuaznymi sotsiologami SShA.” Nauchnye doklady Vyshei shkoly: Filosofskie nauki, 1968, no. 5.
Gvishiani, D. M. Organizatsiia i upravlenie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Parygin, B. D. Osnovy sotsial’no-psichologicheskoi teorii. Moscow, 1971. Chapter 8.
Seliukov, F. T. Rukovoditel’ i podchinennyi v sisteme upravleniia. Moscow, 1971.
Shepel’, V. M. Rukovoditel’ i podchinennyi. Moscow, 1972.
Bass, B. M. Leadership, Psychology, and Organizational Behavior. New York, 1960.
Jennings, H. H. An Anatomy of Leadership. New York, 1960.
Petrullo, E., and B. M. Bass, eds. Leadership and Interpersonal Behavior. New York, 1961.
Tibb, C. “Leadership.” Handbook of Social Psychology, 2nd ed., vol. 4. Reading (Mass.), 1969.

G. K. ASHIN and V. B. OL’SHANSKII

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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