Leadership, what is it?
We have leaders everywhere in our lives. We have them at work. We have them at home. We
have them in our children’s sports and school. They are around every corner. Each one of us
has had a leader in areas of our lives and each one of us has been a leader in areas of our lives. I
often hear people talking about leadership or about being a leader. Unfortunately I think most
people do not really understand what leadership is, or what it means to be a good leader.
I am going to give you the “last chapter” so-to-speak right now; Being in a leadership position is
a platform and an opportunity to serve others. Period. I know there will be plenty of people who
would disagree with that statement. In today’s world it seems that leadership is to be in the
position to give orders to others. However, this is not leadership and certainly not the best way
to get a task completed. This applies in all areas of life, both professional and private, however
for this post, I am going to use the professional world.
A leader must have a vision. They must be able to recognize where they are today and in what
direction they must go. Without vision and direction you have nowhere to go, so why would
anyone need your “leadership”? People can do what they are currently doing without leadership.
A strong leader is able to articulate their vision and get others to believe in their vision.
A leader must be able to apply a sense of urgency to their vision. By this I mean that they not
only need to have the vision, but they need to make people understand why they need to achieve
A strong leader must be able to motivate those they lead. This is one of the most important
things a leader has to do, yet it is the one area that most leaders fail. Most leaders try and
motivate people with some sort of threat or punishment for not doing what the leader says. For
example; if you do not have your portion of the market analysis done by Friday then you will
lose your job. Now this may motivate an employee to get their portion done, but it is not
because they care about the project or the vision, but because they want to remove the threat and
keep their job.
A true leader would take the time to explain why the employee’s portion of the project is
important and how it fits in with achieving the goal and vision. Thus they would try and
positively motivate the employee to want to get the task done because they are an important part
of the success of the project. This may seem simple, but it is vital in earning “buy-in” and
commitment. This is also where a great leader offers to serve.
Motivating people positively to want to get the task done removes the need to add punishment.
The other thing it does that is so often overlooked is that if someone is positively motivated than
they will give more than what is needed to complete the task. They will take pride in the task
they are asked to do. They may often be able to do more or come up with a better solution then
was asked because they are motivated to be successful and they know they have the support they
need. This is a far better outcome than just completing some task.
If success of a leader is measured on the outcome of a project then would it not make sense for
the leader to assist in helping those they rely on to complete the project. That is leadership.
A great leader must be humble enough to know that their success is in asking those they lead for
help and then be willing to help those that they lead. This is another area where I believe leaders
fail. They are unable to humble themselves. I am sure it is an ego thing that tells them that they
are above the people they lead or that they are too important to get their hands dirty with those
tasks. However, a great leader shows true leadership by doing what they have asked others to
Know that it is a privilege to lead and not a right. Take your role as a leader seriously and
professionally. Humble yourself when needed and provide vision and support to those you lead.
I think you will be amazed by the outcomes.