Leadership Glossary


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Accountability equates to having ultimate responsibility for an area, activity, group, project, department, etc. This assumes (ideally) that the accountable person has the necessary authority and capability for such ultimate responsibility. Accountability is not fair or reasonable where authority and capability are inadequate for the responsibility concerned. Accountability is different to responsibility. Accountability is not generally delegated, whereas responsibility very commonly is. Accountability generally requires a person to have responsibility extending beyond the performance of a task or duty, to having freedom in determining and potentially changing how the responsibility is exercised. See the differences between accountability and responsibility in the leadership purpose section.

Action-Centred Leadership (US-English, Action-Centered Leadership)

A leadership model developed by English leadership expert, writer and theorist John Adair, based on three elements: Task, Team, Individual. See Action-Centred Leadership in this article, and the dedicated more detailed section on this website John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership theory.

Adair, John

A significant influence on leadership thinking and developer of the Action-Centred Leadership model - see also more detail about John Adair on this website in the dedicated section about John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership theory.

Authentic leadership

A generally commendable and positive leadership philosophy, with emphasis on openness and honesty, being true-to oneself, and similarly ethical and high-integrity behaviours - see authentic leadership.

Autocratic leadership

Dictatorial method of leading - low concern for followers and high emphasis on task - typically reinforced with threat, punishment, and often ruthless exploitation of workers, who have little or no freedom to resist or desert. A feature of a strongly dictatorial application of the transactional leadership style.


Behaviour (Behavior in US-English)

Often pluralized in referring to leadership behaviours, which are broadly how a leader acts - what the leader does and how the leader does it. There is a strong correlation between behaviour and style in the context of describing and understanding leadership theory. Like the word concept, and other quite vague terms, the word behaviour/behaviours needs to be clarified where it is important to understand its usage.

Behavioural ideals (Behavioral in US-English)

A category of leadership model, the thinking within which is most notably represented by Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid - see behavioural ideals - and Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid.

Benevolent autocrat

A slightly contradictory term yet historically common type of leadership, in which the leader is both dictatorial and also caring (benevolent) at a basic level, as a strict parent might be with a small child. Alternatively regarded as paternalistic or patronizing. This highly specific and limited style of leadership can arise within styles/facets of leadership models, for example in versions of the 'Telling' mode of theSituational Leadership® model.


Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid

A leadership model within the category termed here as a 'behavioural ideals' model. The idea essential proposes a matrix of four main styles resulting from combining the relative emphasis given to 'concern for people' and 'concern for production' - see Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid.

Bolman and Deal

Lee Bolman and Terry Deal developed the Four Frame leadership model, categorised here as a Situational/Contingency leadership model, in which the central theme is switching leadership style/position according to the four organizational perspectives ('Four-Frame') of Structural, Human Resource, Political and Symbolic - see Bolman and Deal's Four Frame model - and see Situational/Contingency leadership models.

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