Leadership – what is it, anyway? Countless books have been written on the topic and our book shelves are loaded with the latest and greatest works on the topic. We’ve all attended seminars and workshops, promising to help us “uncover the hidden leader within”. We know it when we see it…and we respond favourably to great leaders, but when we try to define it…we find it a very difficult thing to do.
In a Forbes article from August, 2013, contributing writer, Kevin Kruse defines Leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”.
For many reasons, this definition resonates. Our team at Meridian Edge likes it because it is simple and yet profound. Here are a few observations stemming from Kruse’s definition:
1. First, leadership is social influence, not power or authority. Many of the best leaders we know have no real power over those they lead – these leaders operate in faith communities, neighbourhoods and not-for-profit organizations where their ability to influence is the basis for their leadership.
2. Second, leadership maximizes the efforts of others toward a common goal. Leading requires others – followers, but they don’t need to be direct reports or employees. The leader’s goal is to get the best and most by engaging people, processes and teams and the leader knows this is needed to achieve the goal.
3. There is no mention of any personality traits, styles or attributes, and certainly no mention of a title. There are many different paths to great leadership – all dependent upon the individual leader.
4. Finally, leadership includes a goal. It’s not leadership for the sake of leading…there has to be an end game. Leaders lead people and teams to a pre-defined, hopefully stretch goal.
One of the most common misconceptions in business is that “leadership” and “management” are synonymous. Good managers are focused on things – measurement, tracking, expenses, hiring, scheduling, etc. Leaders focus on people…and this is very different.
Try to keep this definition of Leadership in mind as you examine your own leadership inventory…how are you doing with respect to the attributes listed above?