LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 8/15/15.

My students read the classic book on leadership by Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.  In this book there are dozens of ways (or theories) to look at leadership.

Sometimes students wonder if  there “are any over-all or generally recurring elements in a leader?”

The answer is yes:

1-2)    things leaders are born with (abilities/skills)
3-4)    and things they develop (skills/behaviors)
5)     through collaboration (relationships).

Let me explain why Northouse sees this.  

Northouse sees running through the multiple theories of leadership, five (5) recurring qualities.  In “Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practices” (Los Angeles: Sage, 2012:2-6) he explains how all leadership theories are really just looking at leadership as a pentagon of five sides.  He thus weaves together five qualities of all leadership theories: traits, abilities, skills, behaviors and relationships.  Here is my synopsis (with an example):

1. Trait: inherent qualities you are born with (2012:2-3), i.e. high energy and a quick mind.

2. Ability: natural capacity (ibid.), i.e. being naturally good at public speaking

3. Skill: a developed competency (ibid.), i.e. ability to put together a seminar

4. Behavior: what a leaders does with traits, abilities and skills (2012:2-6), i.e. creates popular speaking engagements.

5. Relationships: requires collaboration, i.e. organizes a speaking tour.

Thus, the trait-ability-skill-behavior-relationship pentagon describes how (in all theories) leaders lead by things they are born with (abilities/skills) and things they develop (skills/behaviors) through collaboration (relationships).

Each week I give my students a followup question.

It requires a response and will add significantly to their understanding (and their grade 🙂  So, if you are a student and reading tjhis, make sure you answer the weekly followup questions.  Here is the first.

A.  Describe some leadership quality you were born with and/or comes naturally: _________________________________

B.  Describe how you have expanded it: _________________________________________

C.  Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to use these qualities? ____________________________________

I’ll start.

A. Describe some leadership quality you were born and/or comes naturally: high energy, enjoy reading and/or analyzing something.

B. Describe how you have expanded it: I spend a lot of time reading and researching about church growth and change.

C. Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to lead: I created a consulting firm to meet with church leaders and work with them through my analysis of their church.

Now, if you are a student share your response in the course forum.  I am looking forward to good insights.  Or if you are reading this wiki- for the resources, this makes a good exercise for your Sunday School class or small group.