From the article “Direction, alignment, commitment: Toward a more integrative ontology of leadership by Wilfred H. Drath, Cynthia D. McCauley, Charles J. Palus, Ellen Van Velsor, Patricia M.G. O’Connor, and John B. McGuire. The article was published in Volume 19, Issue 6 of the Leadership Quarterly.
“[W]e propose an ontology in which the essential entities are three leadership outcomes: (1) direction: widespread agreement in a collective on overall goals, aims, and mission; (2) alignment: the organization and coordination of knowledge and work in a collective; and (3) commitment: the willingness of members of a collective to subsume their own interests and benefit within the collective interest and benefit. (A more detailed discussion of these outcomes is presented later.) Adopting such an ontology would mean that talk of leadership would no longer necessarily involve talk of leaders and followers and their shared goals, but would necessarily involve talk of direction, alignment, and commitment. Likewise, to practice leadership would no longer necessarily involve leaders, followers, and their shared goals but would necessarily involve the production of direction, alignment, and commitment (which may or may not involve leaders and followers). We are therefore advocating the idea that leadership theory and practice would be better served in the future by a development in leadership vocabulary at the most basic ontological level.”