LEADERSHIP UNCUT | Brian Evje
Jan 30, 2013
Quick: Define Leadership
If you don't know what your leadership is, how are you going to make it persuasive to others? Only a few people have a solid answer.
When first working with a client, I ask, “What is your definition of your leadership?”
Invariably, a pause follows. The eventual response is sometimes tentative, confused, or incomplete. This happens with new and experienced leaders, in large companies and in start-ups. Only a few people have a solid answer. Not many leaders have a clear, concise, concrete definition of what being a leader means to them.
The eminent leadership scholar Ralph Stogdill observed, “There are nearly the ...view middle of the document...
Tasks are necessary, although starting with tasks without first grasping the wider, deeper picture of leadership identity will generate unfocused, unsustainable action.
I worked with a startup CEO who initially stated her definition as “increasing revenue.” Another client, a corporate vice president of engineering, gave his definition as “controlling innovation and product releases.” These are valuable goals and, as it turned out, activities that needed to be handled by others. They were too narrow and too small to be adequate definitions of leadership.
Over time, the CEO arrived at a definition of “moving shared purpose forward” (one of my personal favorites). The VP of engineering settled on “creating and maintaining an environment where others can be successful” (a variation of an existing definition).
Both leaders saw that their leadership was not about doing more “things.” It was about defining themselves properly from the beginning in order to better understand the things they needed to do. This then informed their role, tasks, decisions, activities, etc.
No Single Definition, and Rightly so
There is no one single definition of leadership because there is no one single leader. Leadership is deeply personal and individual. Each individual must have their own deeply...