Scholarship over the years has documented multiple definitions and theories of leaders and leadership. These definitions focus on functional and positional leaders. Definitions of executive leadership are comparatively few and stress higher echelons within organizations—top of the pyramid—where individuals participate in strategy formulation, solve complex problems, exercise employee control, and improve motivational levels. Functional definitions come closest to an understanding of executive leadership that recognizes leaders as possessing the ability to comprehend organizational purpose and communicate with and lead members toward a common objective. There are two key functions associated with this role: (1) internal coordination and (2) external adaptation. In sharp contrast to functional leaders are the positional leaders, who implement processes and policies by virtue of their position and authority.

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