Setting leadership goals and getting those goals accomplished: insights from a mathematical model

  • Daniel Solow
  • Joseph G. Szmerekovsky


The value and importance of leadership is evident by its prevalence throughout human societies and organizations. In this work, mathematical models are developed to study two key attributes of leadership: setting goals and getting others in the organization to achieve those goals. The models contain controllable parameters whose values reflect the size of the organization, the actions taken by the individuals in the absence of a leader, the goal-setting skill of the leader (that is, the ability of the leader to identify goals that will result in good performance), and the buy-in skill of the leader (that is, the ability of the leader to get others to achieve those goals). The models provide insights as to when goal-setting skill is more important than buy-in skill and when buy-in skill is more important than goal-setting skill. Mathematical analysis is used to derive conditions under which buy-in skill both enhances and detracts from organizational performance.


Leadership Setting goals Accomplishing goals Charismatic leadership Visionary leadership Modeling leadership 



This paper benefitted greatly from comments by three anonymous referees as well as the Area Editor, Brian Kulik. Specifically, while the models have changed only slightly from their original version, the terminology and references to the appropriate leadership literature have changed dramatically.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Operations, Weatherhead School of ManagementCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management and MarketingNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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