Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. —Warren Bennis
Leadership is influence. —John C. Maxwell
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower
Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating.
Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention. —Deepak Chopra
Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers. —Robin S. Sharma
Hmmm, while all of the above are true, at least to some degree, and some possess sage wisdom, none do a very good job of functionally answering our question. In fact, it is the mere variety of responses that creates a distracting "noise" surrounding the topic of leadership today. It is very difficult for practitioners; young, old, new or experienced, to discern what leadership really is and what matters when it comes to leadership. The inability to clearly and commonly define this important topic has positioned leadership as one of the least understood disciplines in business today.
Before I address our question, let me touch on 3 issues that inevitably draw a lot of sidebar debate, when it comes to discussions on leadership:
First, I am focusing on the definition of leadership from a business perspective. While I believe my definition has relevance on a broader perspective, my goal is to clearly define leadership for use by the business community in seeking improved leadership.
Secondly, if you are a manager or supervisor with people reporting to you, then you are also a leader. You are not one or the other. If you have people reporting to you, you are both a manager and a leader. The distinction is that managers manage processes, systems and tasks (all the non-people tasks) and leaders lead people (all the people tasks - the topic of a future post).
Thirdly, if you are a manager or supervisor, your primary job is to deliver results. Yes, this is simply stated and the "how" & "why" do matter, but once folks go down the how & why road of conversation, managers and supervisors alike seem to loose focus on the primary reason for which they exist - which is to deliver results. Critical to any definition of leadership must be the understanding that managers and supervisors (leaders), in business, are responsible for delivering results.
To answer our question, let's begin simply with the word itself: LEAD-ER-SHIP
The root word is "lead", which gets expanded to leader and finally to leadership. A leader leads people, and what the leader provides to those people is leadership. The dictionary defines LEAD in the following ways: to guide, to direct, to show way to, to inspire. Using this approach, I like the following definition leadership:
"Leadership is the act of guiding, directing, showing the way to and inspiring people to deliver results".
The above definition doesn't talk about styles. It doesn't get into why. It doesn't address the how. It doesn't reflect any uniqueness from my years of experience. Some of you may find it a bit boring. But it does accurately answer the question, "What is leadership?" And it does provide a clear and simple baseline from which developing better leaders may begin.
What techniques or approaches do you use to guide (share information with) your employees? To show them the way (train, coach and correct) or to inspire (encourage and motivate) them? When do you chose to direct versus guide? Or inspire versus show the way? Which approach do you lean on the most? When is the use of each approach most appropriate?
The answers to these questions and others will begin to give you insight as to how your employees might answer the question, "How is your manager's or supervisor's leadership?" Learning to understand and properly utilize the above dimensions of leadership will help you become a more effective and productive leader. Lead on!