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Leadership as an Art


Sharon Parks (2005) deals with the ongoing (seemingly for eons) controversy concerning the underlying nature of leadership. The controversy may be summed-up in a question. "Is leadership an art, or is leadership a science?" While Parks (2005) acknowledges the existence of the issue, she makes the case in the article that the concept of leadership as an art has generally been rejected. In fact, however, the concept of leadership as an art has received wide support over the years from noteworthy theorists in leadership and management.

Sven Lundstedt (1975) said that leadership "is the ability to influence the behavior of others in a group or organization, set up goals for a group, formulate paths to the goals, and create some social norms in the group" (p. 164). This definition includes some aspects of a learnable process; however, the "ability to influence" and the creation of "social norms" move toward the realm of art, as opposed to science. James MacGregor Burns (1978) defined the practice of leadership as

à leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivationùthe wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations of both leaders and followers à. Leadership, unlike naked power wielding, is thus inseparable from followers' needs and goals (p. 110).

Burns (1978) appeared to support leadership as an art more than as a science. Peter Drucker (1954) was more direct in his assessment of leadership development. He wrote that leadership "is of the utmost importance. Indeed there is no substitute for it. But leadership cannot be created or promoted. It cannot be taught or learned" (Drucker, 1954, p. 107). Thus, Drucker supported the premise that leadership is an art, based upon the old saw that leadership is an art, not a science, and that a science can be learned but an art cannot, or the even older homily t...

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Leadership as an Art. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:16, February 22, 2017, from