What is leadership?

Leadership. What is it? How is it defined? Two great questions. Two reasonable questions. Two thousand responses.

In my experience, the words leadership and management are used interchangeably in the workplace. In the management and leadership classes I’ve taught over the years, we define them differently, however, recognizing that leadership is a critical part of management. I’ve always believed that defining leadership as a component of management was like saying cocoa is a component of chocolate.

Many organizations use the term leader when defining certain management positions. However, a title does not make a leader. My Grandpa Jaime used to say, “You can put a suit on a bum, but he is still a bum.” One may put the title of leader on a person, and he or she may or may not be a leader.

Most definitions of leadership have one over-arching similarity: vision. Creating vision and motivating followers towards the vision is the fundamental foundation of leadership. If there is no place to lead (vision) and no one to follow, then leadership is absent. I define leadership as the action of inspiring and motivating others towards a vision. I don’t believe it needs to be any more complicated than that.

What are some of the factors of being an effective leader? Here are some thoughts:
  • Creates alignment with goals, objectives, and strategies
  • Motivates and inspires others to reach in the direction of collective goals
  • Develops and empowers others
  • Interprets meaning in events and experiences
  • Encourages others to find the meaning in events
  • Builds commitment in the vision
  • Strengthens the identity of the team
  • Obtains necessary resources and support
  • Facilitates collective learning
  • Builds trust and cooperation
  • Encourages creativity and increased knowledge
  • Loves and cares about others
  • Cultivates strong sense of self
  • Demonstrates self efficacy and self esteem
  • Is present and shows up
This is certainly not an exhaustive list…What would you add?

With love,