Leadership is difficult to define. I had one of my Emerging Leader clients ask me the other day to define leadership because she was confused about what the essence of leadership really was. She said to me, “Go ahead, Michael, look it up in the dictionary and see if it really gives you much help! All it did was get me asking myself more questions…” She might be right, the dictionary isn’t terribly helpful when it defines leadership. I looked and got this: “a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc.” then it added “the power or ability to lead other people” and “capacity to lead.”
So What Is It? I’m having a discussion with my Emerging Leader friend about business leadership to help you put this into context. We continued our discussion and agreed after a time that leadership is about bringing out the best in a team of individuals, inspiring them to connect and organize as a team, so that they can achieve the multiplication effect of teamwork, and accomplish together, much more than they could accomplish as disparate individuals. We also agreed that a leader must also inspire people to collaborate around a shared purpose or a vision, that might be larger and more impactful than their individual imagination. A leader should be able to inspire a team to surround themselves with one another and to put the team’s goals and objectives above their own personal goals, thereby enabling them as a collective group to accomplish ambitious objectives and goals.
What Is It NOT? As we continued circumnavigating what leadership is, we talked a bit about what it is NOT, of course. We immediately recognized that leadership is definitely not about coercion or manipulation. Old school ways, like a dictatorship, or like being the menacing ‘Boss’ just don’t work any longer, and they haven’t worked for a long while. We agreed that if a leader’s people don’t respect them and trust them, they won’t follow them for very long. Leaders must inspire their teams to greatness and ensure that every member of the team takes their share of COMPLETE Accountability so that the expected results materialize. There is no time and frankly no room for leaders who believe that leadership is about control or power. Wise leaders don’t hoard their power and authority and Lord it over people, they freely give it away and encourage autonomy in their organization.
How Should We Get Started? Leadership implies followers. While they’re leading, leaders exert influence, control, manage, direct, govern, steward, guide, lead, teach, mentor, coach, sway and persuade in providing leadership. But at the end of the day, we concluded that mostly they work to serve others by developing their team to build experience, skills, and confidence so that when challenges arrive, the team can rise to the occasion and handle the challenge with aplomb. Leaders inspire their teams to become their best selves as individual contributors, and simultaneously the best teammate they can possibly become. Inspire your team to greatness by developing more leaders, rather than more followers.
What’s your take? Where does Management end and Leadership begin in your estimation? Do you see this differently? We’d love to see your thoughts on this topic and see if we can spark a great conversation about leadership and what makes it positive and proactive in people’s lives.
Michael Beach is a Master Business Coach and a developer of Executive Talent across the United States in fast-growing companies in many industries, from the high technology industry to many others. Michael founded a Coaching Firm with offices in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona, and his team of coaches works with Emerging Leaders and C-Suite Executives, helping them to become the very best leaders that they can become. Check out Michael’s podcast on leadership, “What Are YOU Doing?” and subscribe to his Youtube channel, “Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting” where he often posts free video content that Emerging Leaders and C-Suite Executives find thought-provoking.