Introducing The Institute of Leadership & Management’s Dimensions of Leadership

Leadership and thinking about leadership continue to evolve and we have developed a framework that captures the, often elusive, dimensions of great leadership. Our framework is not intended to be a static representation but an evolving description of what we understand great leadership to be.

We based the design of our framework on extensive research into the knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and values that enable leaders to achieve successful outcomes in any private, public or voluntary sector organisation and although we recognise research into, and expert discussion about leadership has been going on for decades, our focus is leadership for the 21st century. We draw on fifteen years of our own on-going research into leadership and what people in organisations have been telling us about the experience of leading, being led, studying and witnessing leadership in a wide range of contexts.

We identify five separate dimensions of great leadership, namely: ownership, achievement, collaboration and vision, with authenticity at the heart and centre of the framework. We endorse management philosopher Charles Hampden Turner’s definition of authenticity as being “what lies between people” a recognition of the importance of relationships to everyone who leads or aspires to lead. 

We also recognise that every leader has knowledge and experience specific to their own leadership situation. This ‘sixth’ dimension we describe as expertise or occupational competence and we place it outside our framework as the context in which leadership takes place is fundamental to how leaders understand and enact the five dimensions.

Each dimension has many component parts and we appreciate there is much overlap between them, several areas of interdependency and on-going debates about the extent to which leadership differs from management. Even those most inclined to see leadership and management as separate activities accept that there is no single definition of each and we also recognise that ideas about what is leadership and what is management have changed over time. Our framework is designed to highlight the complexity of leadership, the need for continual requirement and a recognition that great leadership is always a work in progress.

Most recently The Institute of Leadership & Management surveyed over 1200 employees in the UK to research their experience of leadership, what it looks like and the particular leadership styles and behaviours that are linked to high performance.