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An Introduction to Leadership: A Primer for the Practitioner

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Leadership can be defined as the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members. Leadership is not dependant on title or formal authority. All too often we think of leadership as something we will develop and apply later rather than earlier in our career. This applies to both leadership within our chosen technical discipline and leadership of our profession. In the early stages of a career, most people naturally focus on the technical aspects of their career. They begin their careers applying the technical disciplinary knowledge and skills they acquired in college and focus on those aspects that will ensure promotion, tenure, and success early in their career. However, leadership is something that should be considered and fostered early and often throughout our entire professional career.

Leadership is a subject that has been studied, discussed, and debated across a wide variety of disciplines for centuries. There are numerous books, articles, and self-improvement courses on the subject - so many that the interested student of the broad subject of leadership might at first be discouraged. The purpose of this tutorial is not to be exhaustive but instead to provide a practical guide to leadership while providing references to some of the seminal works that form the foundation for both the theory and practice of leadership.

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