But what is Leadership? A Systematic Review of the Leadership Concept in View of Heightened Educational Leadership in Africa

Gyaviira Musoke Genza


Although leadership is one of the most widely researched problems in the social sciences, to-date no standard definition has been developed for it. Most of the more than 650 existing leadership “definitions” have been found to deal with the “how” of leadership, and not the “what” (of leadership) itself, leaving the age-long conceptual confusion surrounding the concept of leadership unresolved. In an attempt to provide a scholarly answer to this problem, the current study leveraged existing literature to provide a refined definition of leadership. More specifically, the study redefined the concept of leadership; highlighted the meaning of leadership in education; and unveiled the concrete implications of the emerging leadership concept. In these endeavours, the study employed an exploratory interpretative systematic review design with a conceptual thematic focus. For conceptual lenses, the study utilized both classical definitional rules and Rost’s essentials of leadership, as well as Hallinger’s conceptual framework for systematic reviews. In the end, the study generated a more precise definition of leadership, which was particularly applied to education. Implications for heightened educational research and practice in Africa were also unveiled. The  study’s strongest contribution lies in not only rekindling systematic debate on the meaning of leadership, but also in concretely exemplifying this debate by providing a refined definition of leadership and applying the definition to a given field (education).

Keywords: Leadership, Educational leadership, Leadership in Africa, Systematic review.

DOI: 10.7176/JEP/12-9-14

Publication date:March 31st 2021

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ISSN (Paper)2222-1735 ISSN (Online)2222-288X

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