Sunday, 5 January 2014

Grint's Lenses of Leadership

Grint (2000), as cited by Jackson (2009)
We human beings all think differently. To my mind, that's a good thing, because that means that no one of us has all the answers.

I read an article in May of 2010 by Kenn Butler where he related that when he first expected to encounter leadership, he encountered it embodied in a person, not in a position (2010).

Kenn's article sparked a line of thought. I feel that we, as individuals, often think of leadership as being embodied one dimensionally; and, depending on who we are and what our experiences are, will depend on what that single dimension is that we tend to associate with our own leadership view.

However, we can - and should - learn and get into the habit of applying the other ways of viewing leadership.

Keith Grint, a UK Academic who writes on Leadership, has a great leadership model whereby he encourages us to view leadership through four different lenses. Those lenses are "Person", "Position", "Process" and "Results".

Grint (2000), as cited by Jackson (2009)

The idea is that when we think about:
  • A person - we tend to think of the "who" leadership - our identity. Leadership being about the qualities of personality, traits, characteristics, personal qualities, charisma, heroes and villains, expert knowledge and scape-goats.
  • A position - we think of the "where" of leadership - leadership being about the position, the organisational or social level, the hierarchy, having authority, being in charge, decision-making, at the top, holding power.
  • A process - we think of the "how" of leadership - our organisational tactics. Moments, interactions, patterns, networks, spaces, objects, language, policies, practices, systems, events, myths, societies, cultures, politics, ideologies, knowledge, power and norms.
  • The results - we think of the "what" of leadership - our organisational achievements, vision, strategies, outcomes, products, successes, losses, failures, winning, losing, performance, accountabilities and measurables.
I feel that if we think about leadership being embodied in different characteristics, we will develop a more balanced view of what leadership is now. This will open up our ideas of what leadership can be in the future, and enable us to challenge our ideas of what, who, where and how leadership happens.

Grint's model has a wonderful flexibility in it, as it frees us from the straight-jacketed view that leadership was ever a one-dimensional thing.


  • Butler, Kenn (2010). Leadership is a Person. Retrieved June 2010 from
  • Grint, Keith (2000). The Art of Leadership. UK: Oxford University Press (pp 23-25). Image developed by Jackson, Brad (2009). What’s So Different (and Difficult) About Leading in New Zealand? NZ: Auckland University.

1 comment :

  1. This website definitely has all the information I needed about this subject and didn't know who to ask.


Thanks for your feedback. The elves will post it shortly.