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Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments by Art Padilla

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Whose goals?

Leadership is inseparable from the goals and the needs of followers. Leading and following may be regarded as circular or reciprocal relationships of limited duration involving persuasion and motivation and occurring within specific organizational situations. The temporary nature of leadership has important implications for goal setting and the interactions between leader and followers. Self-interest overcomes the interests of a group (or of a leader) as individuals return to their personal concerns and put aside group priorities.35

Effective leaders are able to get and maintain a high level of follower attention, or commitment, focused on accomplishing the organization’s goals. Robert House’s path-goal theory of motivation speaks to this theme by discussing how the leader behaviors, such as closeness of supervision or authoritarianism, can align the self-interest of followers with the needs of the organization.36 This is not unlike the professor-student interaction: The professor tries to make the students pay attention while students go in and out mentally. A professor can be engaging and inspirational in order to underscore the importance of focusing on the lecture and studying for tests. Students weigh the value of the lecture relative to texting their friends while seeming to be paying attention. External threats to an organization’s interests (like your parents refusing to continue to pay for college if your grades are bad, in the case of the professor-student ...

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