Thoughts on Leadership

Wikipedia definition:

Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others, while others define leadership as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”.


Well you probably will not be surprised to hear that I think this definition is off the track. Being a leader because you have influence over others and can enlist their support for whatever reason, may look like leadership, and it could be, but often the basis for the influence is not admiration and respect, but is fear or obligation.

Is a major in the Marine Corps a leader because those of lower rank must obey? Is the supervisor at the office a leader because they can fire you if you do not please them? Is the school yard bully a leader because he will hurt you if you do not agree with him? Of course not.

Yet as we look around us and think about those who fill the role of leader in our lives their leadership often is based on their ability to control us. They are the parent, teacher, principle, politician, best athlete, older sibling, and the list goes on.

True leaders need no control over those that look to them for direction, and even if they might have that type of control they do not utilize it. Those that follow can come or go, like them or not, agree or disagree, object or comply. The true leader will look to those that are with him to do their very best, to use the own heads, and assist in meeting the objective and do so in any way that provides forward motion toward the goal. True leaders will help you understand when you are helping and when you are not. They may not always coddle you, as they tell you in no uncertain terms to stop what you are doing and do something else. They may not always tell you that you are doing well and they may even tell you to do what you are doing well, faster or in a different way.

But when the goal is achieved a true leader takes no credit because they know they did not do it, the team did it. A true leader’s ego is in the team and does not belong to them. A true leader knows that without a team there is no way to accomplish the big things in life that need to be done.