One could easily speak of a “leader” in a naïve manner, as if it is about someone with a special responsibility to show others the way or to organise a society or group. But a leader can mean many things. There are many types of leaders in many diverse contexts. This is also true for the spiritual nature of leadership. As a result of this complexity, the study of leadership has become comprehensive and profound. It is of great benefit to spirituality of the workplace to reflect on the nature of leadership studies.

There is no question that leadership (and the study thereof) is an evolving discipline. Today, the field of leadership focuses not only on the leader, but also on followers, peers, supervisors, work setting/context, and culture, including a much broader array of individuals representing the entire spectrum of diversity, public, private, and not-for-profit organisations, and samples of populations from nations around the globe.

Leadership is no longer simply described as an individual characteristic or difference, but rather is depicted in various models as dyadic, shared, relational, strategic, global, and a complex social dynamic.

In their 2009 review, Bruce J. Avolio, Fred O. Walumbwa, and Todd J. Weber, examine recent theoretical and empirical developments in the leadership literature, beginning with topics that are currently receiving attention in terms of research, theory, and practice.
The study begins by examining authentic leadership and its development, followed by work that takes a cognitive science approach. It continuous to examine new-genre leadership theories, complexity leadership, and leadership that is shared, collective, or distributed; and is followed by an examination of the role of relationships through a review of leader member exchange and the emerging work on followership.

Finally, the examination includes work that has been done on substitutes for leadership, servant leadership, spirituality and leadership, cross-cultural leadership, and e-leadership. The proposed structure has the benefit of creating a future focus as well as providing an interesting way to examine the development of the field. Each section ends with an identification of issues to be addressed in the future, in addition to the overall integration of the literature provided at the end of the article.

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