Leadership: Models, Competencies, and the Emergence of Engineering Leadership

Introduction to Leadership

There are many definitions of leadership, and each definition has a different area of focus (Nauman and Khan 2006). One of the ways to describe leadership is the “skills approach”, which places emphasis on the skills or abilities that can be learned or developed (Northouse 2010). Leadership is sometimes defined as the ability to inspire confidence and support among people who are needed to achieve organizational goals (Kan Kim and Maubourgne 1992). Thus, leadership is about determining direction and influencing people about values, vision, mission, and strategy (Reeve 2010). “Other definitions are “interpersonal influence”, directed through communication towards goal attainment”, “the art of influencing people by persuasion or example to follow a line of action”, and “the principle dynamic force that motivates and coordinates the organization in the accomplishment of its objectives” (Dubrin 2007).

Leadership skills are in high demand, such skills are sought in candidates for high-level and entry-level professional positions, and they were listed as the top attributes executives seeking in candidates after industry-specific experience and functional/technical expertise. Komives and her colleagues argue that leadership, like any other skill, needs to be learned and practiced (Komives et al. 1998). Astin (1993) argues that it is important to develop young men and women during their college years to become future leaders.

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