Leadership Terms and Philosophies

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(Click on letters in bold to go directly on the terms that start with that letters.)


Soft Skills – personal qualities that enable someone to interact harmoniously and effectively with other people.

- Philosophy promoted by the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership. Based on a “practical philosophy and model which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant-leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant-Leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening, and the ethical use of power and empowerment.” Quotation taken from the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership website located at www.greenleaf.org

Stewardship - Philosophy promoted by author Peter Block as an “umbrella idea which promises the means of achieving fundamental change in the way we govern our institutions. Stewardship is to hold something in trust for another.” Block defines Stewardship as “the choice to preside over the orderly distribution of power. This means giving people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve the customer, a citizen, a community. It is the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us. Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance.” Quotations taken from Stewardship by Peter Block (1996). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Strategic Planning - The organizational “blueprint” or strategy for implementation of the objectives and mission of the company. This should include a strategy on how to remain competitive and profitable. Strategic planning should also take into account changes in the external environment and reflect the highest priorities of the organization. Sound strategic planning also candidly evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and identifies its core competencies. Finally, the process should also explore promising new strategies and evaluate the possible needed investment and outcome of a new strategy.

Stakeholders - A term that includes all parties who have a stake or interest in the organizations success or failure. This includes customers, stockholders, employees and suppliers.

Systems Thinking - A philosophy that focuses on recognizing the interactions and interconnection between the various parts of a system. A systems thinking approach attempts to analyze the various parts of the system or subsystems and synthesize them into a cohesive view of the whole ecosystem. Systems’ thinking allows a leader to step back and focus on the bigger picture of organizational problems or opportunities. It also allows the capability to balance short-term and long-term perspectives since a change in one part of the subsystem will ultimately affect other parts and perhaps the entire ecosystem. Systems’ thinking also reminds the leader that we all function as a part of the system, and we are influenced by various subsystems even as we are influencing them.