the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: He managed to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.
ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkable leadership potential. authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness; sway, clout.
an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction: They prospered under his strong leadership.
the leaders of a group: The union leadership agreed to arbitrate.

1815–25; leader + -ship

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
leadership (ˈliːdəʃɪp)
1.  the position or function of a leader
2.  the period during which a person occupies the position of leader: during her leadership very little was achieved
3.  a.  the ability to lead
 b.  (as modifier): leadership qualities
4.  the leaders as a group of a party, union, etc: the union leadership is now very reactionary

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1821, "position of a leader," from leader + -ship. Sense extended by late 19c. to "characteristics necessary to be a leader."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The only leadership that is shown by energy conglomerates is to sustain the
  corporate structure not our energy needs.
Progress was not attained by new departures, by sudden originalities, or by
  deliberate leadership on new ways.
In the meantime a change was taking place in the personnel of political
In a related quality-a defect-his leadership is even more conspicuous.
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