Leadership has been defined by many as the act of influencing others. This definition works well when describing a quality in an individual, but when a deeper understanding of leadership is sought the word becomes much more mysterious. Why do so many people view some American presidents, such as Washington, Lincoln, and Kennedy, as great leaders? What made them leaders? What about inspirational leaders, like Gandhi and Mother Theresa? How were some of these inspirational leaders able to influence other leaders?
They all had a purpose derived from an inner vision. They had belief and conviction in their vision, and their vision benefited others who were inspired and enthusiastically followed the leader. These leaders were purposeful leaders and givers.
Why are people like Hitler and Saddam Hussein considered by some as powerful and effective leaders?
These leaders were driven by external opportunities that enabled them to form a mission that attracted a select number of individuals. The rest of the so called "followers" of these leaders did so either out of fear, ignorance or indifference. They were takers, not givers, so they were not purposeful leaders.
Leaders are agents of change; they influence the actions and lives of others by bringing about either a direct or indirect change to individuals or organizations and societies.
Leaders at all levels of influence share a common set of attributes and principles. At the same time, it is important to recognize differences between leadership at various levels and in various situations. Once you learn the fundamental principles of leadership, from the leader archetype, you can apply that knowledge to improve you own leadership skills in any setting, personal or professional.