Leadership theories and models can be descriptive, prescriptive, or both descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive theories and models illustrate, define, and capture the description of leadership phenomena but do not recommend or prescribe actions, behaviors, or processes to employ. Prescriptive theories and models provide recommendations to the leader practitioner with regard to actions, behaviors, or processes to use to be a successful leader. Some leadership theories and models both describe and prescribe.
THE STUDY OF LEADERSHIP: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
All disciplines across the spectrum of education discuss leadership in one form or another. Whether they are chemists or musicians, successful individuals must know how to motivate people toward goal-directed behavior. The study of leadership provides the tools needed to accomplish this outcome—and make you successful in your own endeavors in achieving success.
Being a leader is a special privilege. To have power, influence, and control over the lives of employees is a special responsibility. Of course, with that responsibility come special rewards, similar to those associated with being a parent. It is a special privilege to guide, nurture, and coach a group of employees toward an organizational objective and then share in the pride of accomplishing that objective. It is a joy to celebrate the success of those whom you lead. It is rewarding to mentor and develop the next generation of leaders and managers under your guidance as they look to you to provide them with the examples, tools, skills, insights, and judgments needed to be successful. And similar to the gift of parenthood, when your own employees assume positions of responsibility of their own one day, and later call to say “thank you” for helping them be successful, you can share in that special pride and reward that all leaders experience when they have successfully passed the reins of responsibility on to one of their protégées. 72 , 73
What’s in it for you? To be the best leader and have the best career in serving others that you can achieve. As you study leadership, you should focus on several goals. You may add your own goals to the following list:
· • Define, describe, and categorize leadership knowledge, skills, and abilities.
· • Understand leadership principles that contribute to successful groups and organizations.
· • Apply leadership principles in thought, in writing, and then in practice.
· • Analyze, compare, and deconstruct the various leadership theories, models, and skills.
· • Combine elements from personal study to develop, refine, and defend a personal model of leadership that you can use in practice.
· • Compare and contrast several leadership theories, models, and skills and summarize the expected outcomes of the various leadership elements.
· • Mentor, coach, and guide others in the health professions to be better leaders.
This chapter focused on the basic definitions and distinctions of leadership. Specific emphasis was placed on defining the importance of leadership study in the healthcare environment and its appropriate place in the field of both academics and professional practice. Leadership was differentiated from management, and a distinction between managers and leaders was presented. Final emphasis was placed on descriptive (tells about leadership) and prescriptive (gives direction and guidance) theories and models before the basic goals of leadership study were presented to readers.