Leadership, Theory and Practice of the United States of America

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Leadership is an aspect that has no boundaries and limits. Every organization, institution or state needs leadership for the smooth running of its operations. Any place that involves a group of people needs leadership so as to provide direction and guidance. For business organizations leadership is necessary for the development of vision. However, virtually all leadership scenarios involve the development of vision.

Leadership as a concept has been subject to a number of theories and practices. Many theories have been advanced so as to explained the concept and practice of leadership. This paper endeavors to discuss the concept of leadership from both theoretical and practical points of view. In order to illustrate the concept of leadership, the leadership of the United States of America has been selected. All the parameters of leadership will be discussed in specific reference to the United States.

The leaders

The leaders, in this case, will include all the personalities and institutions that exercise leadership in various avenues of the state. The United States is a federal state with a centralized presidency and legislative body. Therefore the leaders in the state include the following:

  • The president
  • The cabinet
  • The congress

What makes a leader?

Leadership is a highly connotative parameter. There are a number of aspects that define or describe a leader (Northouse, 2009). What makes a leader, therefore, is a highly relative parameter (Walumbwa, 2005). As such what makes one a leader in a particular area might be different from what makes a leader elsewhere? For the matters of the state especially with special reference to the United States of America, one is recognized as a leader through the political process of elections (Walumbwa, 2005). During this process, a number of candidates present themselves for election and whoever emerges at the top assumes the position and authority f a leader.

For instance, the presidential election of the United States took place in the year 2008 in which the incumbent President Obama was elected. Congress on the other hand is divided into two; the house of representatives and the senate. The house of representatives is elected directly by the people during an assembly election. For the senate, the election happens along with the states where the states elect people to represent them.

Philosophy of leadership

Leadership philosophy happens to the most crucial aspect of any leadership since it defines the approaches involved in the whole process (Yukl 2002). However, the philosophy of leaders can take the situational perspective or the personality perception. Under the situational approach, the philosophy of leadership is determined by the circumstances prevailing (Walumbwa, 2005). In this case, the leader has fewer options and has to adhere to the most convenient approach.

However, the most common approach is the personality in which the personality of the leader at the time shapes the philosophy of leadership for the entire tenure. For the United States, both approaches have been useful in defining the philosophy of leadership. The philosophy of leadership presently in place is representation and dialogue. Through this power belongs to the people and the leaders are mere custodians of the same. Under this approach, all the decisions made by the leadership have to be vetted by the people through their representatives. President Obama holds the highest leadership position in the state and can be said to be the leader of the state. His philosophy of leadership is representation and dialogue.

Leadership traits

Leadership traits of leaders define how far they go in the endeavor to carry out their duties. The traits of leaders are a true indication of their identity as far as success and failure are concerned (Martin 2006). The leadership traits of President Obama include the following:

  • Diplomacy.
  • Firmness.
  • Independent-minded.
  • Pragmatic.

Effective actions

Effective actions by the American leadership in the United States led by President Obama are numerous; the following is a list of some of the actions that have portrayed the leadership as effective and successful;

  • Legislation of health care bill.
  • Closure of Guantanamo bay.
  • Dialogue with Iran and North Korea.
  • Cessation of hostilities with Muslim countries.

Situational leadership

The emergency response to the September 11 terrorist attack in New York and the pentagon illustrates situational leadership in the United States. The attack took place at the time when it was least expected. The response mechanism by the US leadership as adequate since the situation was put under control immediately. The presidency first and foremost commissioned rescue services. The next step was to beef up security in all areas deemed vulnerable for attack (Gill 2006). Then the government went for the perpetrators of the attack. It is at this point that the search for terrorists and the toppling of the Taliban government in Afghanistan was done.

Fundamentals of Leadership

The difference between leadership and management has been subject to debate for a long time now. Experts have tried to fathom what cuts through the two establishing the difference between the related concepts. There has been a school of thought that effect that management is obligated in the carrying out of the day to day activities of the organization. According to this school of thought leadership is vested with the task of formulating the course of action to be taken. The following factors are crucial in determining the fundamentals of leadership.

  • Creating a shared vision
  • Collaboration
  • Communicating the vision

Creating the vision

A leader’s most important obligation is the creation of a vision. This is then followed by the ability to successfully communicate the vision. Vision is what defines leadership, without a vision, there is no leadership. Under normal circumstances, vision defines the future of any organization. Through the future leaders have the potential to determine the future course of action for the organization? At the same time objectives need to be developed that will enhance the achievement of the vision. Objectives break the vision is segments that can be achieved individually thus leading to the success of the organization. Leadership therefore must be forefront in the establishment of objectives that are in line with the vision so developed. Vision has a connotation of expectations.

Vision is largely influenced by the actions and perceptions of the top leadership. However, one more significant aspect of the whole aspect is the necessity of vision and the leadership’s role in determining the organization’s future course of action. A well-established vision for the organization explains the goals to be attained and the role of each person in the whole process. The employees must be included in the whole projection of the company’s vision. This is crucial because the role played by them is great. The accomplishment of the organization’s vision is not possible without the active participation of the employees.

Therefore the employees need to be convinced of the vision for it to be successful. Unless the human resource accepts the vision it is difficult for it to be achieved. The process of winning the support of the employees needs to be done with great care so as not to be seen as imposing something upon them. The process needs to be done with a persuasion so as to obtain their free will to accomplish the vision. There will always be some employees who will resist the vision. However, the most important thing is to focus on the majority since the rest fall in place with time.

Strength and weaknesses

Every leadership has its strength and weaknesses depending on how effectively it performs. The American state leadership is not an exception. Leadership just like any other has its areas of strength and weakness.


  • Dialogue.
  • Welfare.
  • Contingency response mechanism.


  • Bureaucracy.
  • Marginalization.


The state leadership of the United States of America represents how matters of the state are supposed to be conducted. The role of leadership in such a situation is well portrayed through the whole structure of leadership (Northhouse 2009). The lessons thus learned from the model and style of leadership can be summed up as follows:

  • Decentralization.
  • Collective responsibility.


The concept of leadership has attracted a number of theories most of which attempt to explain how the whole concept works. Leadership is essential for the functioning of any organization, state or institution. The paper is an analysis of the application of leadership with a special reference to the United States of America. Detailed analysis and evaluation of the leadership of that states have been done. This reveals the manner in which matters of leadership are approached in the state.

The paper identifies leaders as the president and the congress. These have been pointed out since most of the administrative work is done by a government led by the president in consultation with Congress. Leadership is a dynamic concept that is subject to metamorphosis. With the passage of time leadership evolves to accommodate the ever-changing environment of business. The fundamentals of leadership however are static in one way or the other.

The essential aspects of leadership remain the same. Leadership is therefore the single most important aspect of a business organization. Under normal circumstances, the parameters of the organization are determined by the choices made by the leadership. It is through leadership that the organization derives direction and guidance. Through the development of vision, leaders set the pace for the activities of the organization by all means. The future course of action is formulated through the development of the vision of the organization, Therefore designing vision is the most significant role of leaders in the organization. Vision defines leadership.

After the formulation of the vision, the leadership has to communicate the vision to the rest of the organization’s members. These include the employees who form the background of the organization. It is of great importance that the vision is communicated in the right manner so as to win the support of the employees. Failure by the leadership to bring onboard the employees might be disastrous for the whole vision. Many leadership theories have been advanced in a bid to try and explain the concept of leadership. The paper has carefully considered the various theories through which leadership is discussed.


Gill, R. (2006).Theory and practice of leadership. New York: SAGE.

Martin, B. (2006). Outdoor leadership: theory and practice. Washington: Human Kinetics.

Northouse, P. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. New York: SAGE.

Walumbwa, K. (2005). Authentic leadership theory and practice: origins, effects and development. London: Emerald Group Publishing.

Yukl, P. (2002). Leadership in Organizations. New York: Pearson Education.

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