What is Leadership?
How do I define leadership?
“Leadership is the ability to adapt the setting so everyone feels empowered to contribute creatively to solving the problems.” Leadership is an ability, meaning a leader has a capacity to do something through talent and skill. Talent is natural ability and skill is proficiency gained through training and experience. Talent certainly helps, but it isn’t required. I know many people whose natural leadership ability was close to zero but through training, experience, and most of all, persistence, became great leaders. Leadership is adaptive, meaning that the leader makes adjustments. A leader who fails to adjust to the territory will lose their way. Only fools willingly follow someone who is lost. Leadership acts on a setting, meaning a leader adjusts the state of the surroundings and people. A leader carefully observes those states and discerns significance looking for how to adapt the setting most effectively. Leadership empowers, meaning a leader inspires confidence and self-esteem. And that inspiration comes in many flavors. Some leaders inspire by bold talk; others by soft talk; and others by their example. There are many ways to empower rather than a single way. Leadership acts on people’s feelings, meaning a leader finds ways to link to people’s instinct or intuition. Leaders help everyone feel empowered, which in many organizations with bad histories is a leap of faith. If a leader can also provide concrete evidence that helps the empowerment, wonderful. But evidence usually comes after the leadership actions produce the desired results. Leadership creates contribution, which means every member gives something. Someimes that may be sharing an idea. And sometimes that may be holding an ideas in reserve and allowing someone else to arrive at the same idea and share it. Leadership is about solving the problems, which means closing the gap between things as desired and things as perceived. Everyone works on the solution to intermediary problems while keeping in mind the ultimate problem — closing a gap for the client or customer. Leadership fosters creativity, meaning imaginative use of limited resources. A leader that enables people to use their imagination is a step closer to solving problems faster, better and cheaper.
1. The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.” The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation. 2. The authoritative leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.” The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her. 3. The affiliative leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.” The affiliative style works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the team needs to rebuild trust. This style should not be used exclusively, because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction. 4. The coaching leader develops people for the future. If this style...