What is Leadership?

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What is leadership?  Well, I think it depends on who you ask.  Personally, I think it is an overused term and a crutch in business.  In a search on Amazon.com for “leadership” under the Books section, you get 90,501 results!  My point is, lots of people, have lots of definitions and thoughts on what leadership is and what it is not.  In my 22 years working I have been told I am good leader, a bad leader and everything in between.  I have attended leadership seminars and read a few of those 90,000 books.

Leadership For Everyone!

One of things I have noticed over the years is that, in my very humble opinion, leadership and good business are not necessarily the same.  But they get put in the same category.  Without naming names, in my past lives I have worked with people who are incredible businesspersons but terrible leaders.  In Sun Tzu’s Art of War he writes,  “The masterful leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to proper methods and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.”    It is true that many great leaders were also very good businesspeople, Jack Welch comes to mind, but not all.

Many years ago I was interviewing for a job and the guy asked me how I defined leadership.  I respectfully told him I wasn’t sure.  He shared a definition with me of what he thought leadership is and I have carried it with me ever since.  I have redefined them a bit but the ideas are the same. He called them the  “C”‘s of Leadership.  I’d like to share them with you.

Communicators: A leader must be able to talk and write in a manner that enable his people and peers to understand exactly what he wants and expects.

Collaborative:  A leader must understand that he hired subject matter experts for a reason.  He doesn’t need to know everything about marketing or product research but he does need to know how to bring these disciplines together for the betterment of the company.

Courageous:  A leader must be able to tell people what they need to hear not what they want to hear.  It takes courage to tell the Board of Directors you lost $5 million on that fancy new product.

Committed: A leader must be there in the good times and the bad.  There are times when they will need to sacrifice personal  time in order to be there for their people.

Cognitive: A leader must be able to process and implement task from the easiest to the most complex.

It is OK for people to define leadership in whatever way they feel is correct.  It makes us unique and different and in the end helps companies grow and prosper.  If we all led the same way we would be an army of ants.

Until next time!

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