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38 Elements Of Leadership

 , December 20, 2017 updated on September 23, 2018
Leadership is the practice of getting groups of people moving in the same direction towards common goals. It is a social skill that can be done with or without formal authority. Leadership is based on foundations of influencing and motivating. It involves elements of strategy, decision making and management. The following are common elements of leadership.


Leadership style is the basic approach of an organization, team or individual to setting direction and getting people to follow it.
AuthoritarianLeadership that relies solely on formal authority and a rigid system of command and control. This requires systems, process, rules, regulations and punishment for non-compliance.
Charismatic AuthorityA leader who extends their influence beyond their authority with the force of their personality.
PaternalisticA leader who views their team much like a family whereby they help members to grow and reach their potential. This can result in an extensive professional network of loyal allies over time.
DemocraticA leader who orchestrates social processes as opposed to dictating a direction.
Laissez-faireA leader who gives individuals freedom to achieve a set of goals as they see fit. This suits creative processes. A laissez-faire leader serves as a role model or mentor and leads by example.
TransactionalInfluencing and motivating with reward and punishment.
Narcissistic LeadershipA leader who is only concerned with themselves. For example, a leader who is willing to follow irrational strategies that damage an organization if it enhances their own position. Narcissistic leaders have poor relationships with almost everyone and are in a constant state of conflict. They gain influence by developing a reputation for being "tough."
Abundance MentalityThe opposite of narcissistic leadership. Leaders with an abundance mentality believe that most situations are win-win. For example, the belief that if a leader does what is good for the organization and their team they will reap rewards. Focuses on results over political battle. Tends to sideline people who are negative, dramatic or unproductive.


Strategy is a plan for the future. If leaders get people moving in the same direction, strategy serves as the direction.
Strategic DriversIdentifying the forces that shape strategy such as customers, competition, technology and regulations.
Strategic PlanningThe process of developing a strategy.
GoalsDeveloping a set of goals.
PrioritizationPrioritizing strategies to recognize constraints such as time, budget and feasibility.
RiskIdentifying risks and considering probability and impact.
ObjectivesBreaking strategies into a series of objectives and using these to divide work between teams and individuals.
TacticsTaking advantage of fast moving situations to take quick wins. Tactics are essentially the flexible element of strategy that responds to realities that don't match your plan.


Influencing is the process of selling goals, strategies, objectives, tactics, policies and actions to teams. Leadership often involves influencing beyond your formal authority. In other words, leadership is mostly about convincing people to follow as opposed to dictating commands.
EthosConvincing people using your credibility or authority.
PathosAppealing to emotions.
LogosAppealing to logic and rational thought.
StorytellingThe art of making information interesting and memorable.
Message FramingCrafting information to influence ideas, emotions and reactions. For example, a pitch for a business case designed to generate excitement and optimism in your audience.
Choice Architecture Structuring choices to influence results.
NudgesUsing gentle suggestions to influence.
Call To Action Directly requesting action with a concise command. For example, "give him a call tonight" or "get this fixed."
Anticipating Objections Anticipating negative responses and working out how you will address them in advance.
Constructive Criticism Finding a positive way to convey criticism.
QuestionsUsing questions as a tool of influence.
Political CapitalBuilding trust and goodwill in order to build up influence that can be spent when you need it.


If you influence people to follow direction, they still require the motivation to do well. As such, motivating people is a basic function of leadership.
Epic MeaningGiving people the sense that they are part of something that's big, important and positive.
Heliotropic Effect The tendency for people to want to live up to positive views people have of them. People will tend to perform well when you recognize their talents, ambitions and unique contributions.
Intrinsic MotivationGiving people a sense of purpose, relatedness, challenge and creative freedom in the hopes that they will feel intrinsically motivated to do well.
Extrinsic MotivationStructuring things to be win-win so that people feel they will be rewarded if they do well.
Expectation SettingSetting clear expectations for work including requirements, objectives, schedule and quality expectations.
Hygiene FactorsHygiene factors are basic things that team members expect. Such factors don't add to motivation when they are satisfied but severely reduce motivation when they aren't satisfied.


Leadership practices that ensure that strategies are implemented.
Change ManagementThe process of leading change. This is often focused on defeating resistance to change with communication. It also involves sidelining people who aren't being helpful and empowering those who are moving the change forward.
Performance ManagementRegularly evaluate performance based on the expectations that were communicated. Quickly and candidly communicate low performance to give people a chance to improve.
Decision MakingDecision making is one of the basic functions of leadership. Providing reasonable and timely decisions helps people to move in a common direction.
Situational AwarenessLeaders are typically expected to know what is happening in their industry, organization and amongst customers.
PoliticsLeaders represent their team with external groups. This often involves engaging in office politics such as diplomacy and negotiation to earn wins for your team.
Overview: Elements Of Leadership
DefinitionThe practice of getting groups of people moving in the same direction towards common goals.
Related Concepts

Leadership Skills

This is the complete list of articles we have written about leadership skills.
Change Management
Decision Making
Design Thinking
Personal Resilience
Problem Solving
Public Speaking
Relationship Building
Social Status
Strategic Planning
Systems Thinking
Time Management
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