The Complexity of Leadership & Its Moving Parts

Leadership is complex. It can’t be simplified into a singular academic thought process (Johnson & Hackman, 2018). Effective leaders build effective cultures, therefore, ‘followers’ prosper.  Building a culture, be it workplace or community, has so many moving parts and nuances. Many of these moving parts can be learned, refined, and strengthened. 

With all these moving parts and lessons, emerges the importance of communication and a leader’s choice in communication style.  Laissez-faire leadership has its pros within free-thinking and creativity while an authoritative style stifles it (Johnson & Hackman, 2018).  However, the true challenge of this particular moving part is the question of leaders having a ‘choice’ to begin with.  Do people have a true, genuine, choice?  Leaders with lower emotional intelligence could have less choice in their use of communication style. For example, aren’t people predisposed to introversion or extroversion base on their personality? Someone with a lower emotional intelligence may not be aware of how their personality affects how they lead.

Which leads us to another ‘moving part’ of effective leadership, understanding who you are. Adopting traits that don’t come naturally to you, such as introversion or extroversion characteristics, is important to meet the needs of your followers.  These traits, not necessarily being outward traits, are internal changes and realizations. Confirming the point of complexity within leadership growth effectiveness. 

Sometimes the complexities of leadership allow people to be in power that shouldn’t be.  Since leadership has no exact formula for what to do and exactly how to do it, power is given easily to those who don’t understand the difference between leadership and enslaving.  A good example from current pop-culture would be R. Kelly the R&B singer. His story, which is a docu series on Lifetime, is a prime example of the negative outcomes of power without accountability from society.

So, one needs to ask themselves, with all these complexities, seemingly around personality and character, how do they affect your beliefs in your role as a leader? Your inclinations and assumptions, which tend to be swayed based on your personality and character (half empty or half full mindset), will affect how you treat people especially when put in the position of power.  In the book Leadership: A Communication Perspective, Tindell asserted success is based on someone’s mentality (Johnson & Hackman, 2018). If you treat your employees like they’re not important, they won’t think their work is important or valuable.

There are also moving parts in leadership that take shape outside of yourself. For example, cultural differences.  Also in Leadership: A Communication Perspective, there was a case study about an interviewee seeming aloof and disrespectful because he and his interviewer came from different cultures (Johnson & Hackman, 2018). It really makes you stop and think about a situation before snapping to a judgement and reminds us to work on developing our cultural intelligence.

Kevin Allen, the author of The Case of the Missing Cutlery, brings these ideas and notions full circle. Providing us with concrete ways to stay buoyant as a leader, through listening, learning, challenging, and readiness (Allen, 2014).  He also leads with the idea of being yourself, genuinely, and authentically (Allen, 2014).  This catapults the complexities and moving parts of leadership into the notion of being a tailored product. Bringing us to the conclusion that no two leaders are the same or will ever be the same, even if they learn the same leadership skills or take the same leadership courses. 

These extracted thoughts can be a small paradigm shift for one’s personal expectations and leadership growth. Every leader has their own fingerprint, there isn’t a cookie-cutter way to act or be within leadership. So strive to bring your authentic self, your traits, your personality, and your experience to the table because you have a lot to offer and can make a difference. This mindset will help you be a confident leader and continue to grow, develop, and help others flourish no matter what complexities or moving parts of leadership come your way.


Allen, K. (2014). The Case of the Missing Cutlery: A Leadership Course for the Rising Star. New York, NY, USA: Taylor & Francis Group.

Johnson, C. E., & Hackman, M. Z. (2018). Leadership: A Communication Perspective (7th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

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