Leadership is a two-way relationship and it is important to recognise this. If there are no followers, there is no leader. Leadership therefore involves the obedience and willingness of followers. Leadership is also based on good will and cooperation. Leadership can exist through force and threat, but a leader will not usually maintain this relationship for long. Leadership can also be specific to a certain situation.
There are differences between leadership and power.
Where leadership generally suggests that following the leader is optional, power suggests an ability to control or command others, where the person does not have the option to follow – they are either forced to follow, or are so overwhelmed by the power that they follow without thinking. When we think of historical leaders, we generally think of people that inspired others to greatness, such as Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. If we think of people in history with a lot of power, we think of political dictators, or people such as Adolf Hitler, who had control over people without them necessarily having a choice. Power, of course, does not have to be a bad thing. In combination with high integrity, a leader with power can create the extraordinary.
In the home environment, the difference between power and leadership can be demonstrated in a different way – a baby has the power to change the behaviour of his/her parents, but this influence is not the same as leadership in the family.
Is there a specific personality that demonstrates that a person is a “great leader”? Whilst some personality traits lead to a natural inclination to be a leader, personality traits will not necessarily determine a person’s leadership aptitude.
A leader may also have other qualities such as superior tact, superior intelligence, superior strength, superior knowledge, superior oratory skills, or superior power. Some or all or none of these can lead to attaining leadership. These things may be important, but they are not necessarily essential. It is also the ability to set new goals and reach new expectations for themselves and for the group they influence.