To understand leaders and leadership, one must understand groups and their dynamics. Leadership can occur across great distances, as when a leader influences followers who are distributed across differing contexts, but in many cases leadership occurs in an intact group that exists in a specific locale: Teams, boards, advisory councils, and classrooms arc all examples of groups that work toward shared goals with, in many cases, the help and guidance of a leader. Leadership can be considered a set of personality traits or a specific set of behaviors enacted by an individual, but an interpersonal, group-level conceptualization considers Ieadership to be a reciprocal, transactional, and sometimes transformational process in which one or more members of a group influence and motivate others to promote the attainment of collective and individual goals.

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Copyright © 2010 SAGE Publications. This article first appeared in Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook.

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