Using the 5Ps Leadership Analysis

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  • 0:04 The 5 P's of Leadership
  • 0:56 How to Use the 5 P's
  • 1:30 Personal Attributes…
  • 2:50 Purpose and Procedure/Process
  • 4:05 Product
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Defining leadership is a difficult task, so analyzing someone as a leader can be even more ambiguous. How can we decide if someone is a 'good' or 'bad' leader? In this lesson, we'll talk about how the 5Ps of leadership can help do just that.

The 5 P's of Leadership

If you think about your professional life, you can probably identify someone you consider a leader. But what makes that person a leader? The title of leader is used often but not understood very well. So, if it is difficult to define what makes someone a leader, how can we say if they are good or bad? Is it based on if we like them or not, or on the results of the organization they manage? Analyzing a leader is just as tough as defining leadership.

One model of analyzing leadership is known as the 5 P's of Leadership. This model considers five dimensions when assessing whether a leader is good or bad. While each of the dimensions are subjective, meaning there may still be some variance among the answers followers give, the model at least provides a consistent framework. The 5 P's are:

  • Personal Attributes
  • Position
  • Purpose
  • Procedure/process
  • Product

How to Use the 5 P's

Remember, the 5 P's are dimensions of a model. You don't use each dimension individually, but rather, the dimensions give you specific attributes to judge, that you can then consider as a package when considering the situation and the leader to assess their performance. None of the 5 P's is more important than the others in the model. It's also not always important that a good leader be equally balanced in their skills on each dimension. It's more important to recognize which dimensions are lacking and ensure there are complementary leaders or staff in the organization or unit. Let's take a closer look at each of the 5 P's.

Personal Attributes

Personal attributes refer to the traits, characteristics, skills, abilities, and personality of the leader. There has been a lot of research trying to identify which personalities, skills, etc. make the best leader, but no research has found that perfect formula. Leadership research began centuries ago with the Great Man (or Woman) theory, which simply suggested that some people were simply born leaders, and others were not. With all the research that has been done, we know it isn't about just being born a leader, but there also isn't a best profile for a leader. It's much more dependent on what the situation calls for.


Position addresses how the leader fits into the organization or unit, formally or informally. While the person seen as the leader is commonly the person at the top of an organization or unit, such as the boss, the real leader may be someone else. Informal power can be very strong. If there's a unit that has a well-respected, long-serving employee, that person may have more power than the official leader.

In the 5 P's model, when thinking about the position dimension, it's all about what the leader was able to accomplish with the position they had. A CEO, a leader with a powerful title, that can't inspire an organization to rally around a new strategy may rate low on this dimension, while Gandhi, someone with no title, would certainly rate high.

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