What Is Leadership

The attribute of a Leaders

Leadership is not Management or Directing.

Leadership is the ability to inspire or influence others towards the leader's goal.

Leaders have followers.

If someone has followers, he or she is a leader.

Management literature mostly focuses on the characteristics of the leader - it asks "what make this person a leader", rather than "why do these people choose to follow".

Leaders attract followers

Think about the RomanEmpire. The RomanEmpire extended by the extensive use of slavery. It was destroyed by barbarians organized in GermanicTribes? called Goths: Visigoths and Ostrogoths, the Free Men. You can still see Freedom as an important value in Germanic countries, especially the UnitedStates (English is a GermanicLanguage). That is not the case in more LatinCountries? like LatinAmerica?.

The RomanEmpire had many emperors. Emperors appointed administrators. AdministratorsAreNotLeaders because the ones who are led by them did not decide to follow those administrators, they are forced to do so and they do not even try not to follow orders because that's what they know how to do well. To be free, you need to BecomeCompetent at it.

A leader is an equal whom you decide to follow on your own free will, because you think he can lead you. You choose to follow him because he has a vision that you think is right. The one who is more forward thinking is leading.

Leaders lead free men who decide to follow their leader on free will, to obtain something that is part of the vision that the leader has, but they can stop following the leader at any time.

Dec04 by follows

So Nelson, Napoleon and Patton weren't leaders, because they led conscripted troops?

And those Germans had slaves themselves. They regarded freedom as important for themselves - but so did the Romans.

Oh, and talking of Germanic versus non-Germanic countries, can anyone think of a Germanic country notorious for its support for rule by dictator?

Leading the way to destruction

Having bar charts is certainly not a way to achieve LeaderShip, but I doubt a leader would only talk to their free men and then know exactly what to do. Bar charts have a purpose. Communication has another. OpenCommunication? has another. BarCharts?, when put on a website, can serve the purpose of OpenCommunication?. A leader without a vision can't lead. A bad leader has the wrong vision. A good leader can prove his vision is correct by showing how his vision succeeds even on small stuff.

Bad leaders have the wrong vision and convince a lot of free men to pursue their own doom.


Definitions of LeaderShip are somewhat elusive. WarrenBennis writes in OnBecomingaLeader (p.1) that "leadership is like beauty: it's hard to define, but you know it when you see it"; and (p.73) that "The ingredients of leadership cannot be taught. They must be learned."

But it seems to revolve around influence, relationships, vision, and values. In TheServant, JamesHunter defines leadership as "The skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward goals identified as being for the common good [p.28]", and asserts that "the key to leadership is accomplishing the tasks at hand while building relationships [p.41]." Building relationships is about caring for people - witness TomDeMarco's "ThisIsManagement" anecdote, and WattsHumphrey's observation in ManagingTechnicalPeople that leaders must attract followers to the cause, but must also care about their followers. And "caring ... is thinking about the people, their needs, and their aspirations [p.5]."

JohnSculley?, of AppleComputer fame, is quoted in OnBecomingaLeader (p.139) as saying "As I see it, leadership revolves around vision, ideas, direction, and has more to do with inspiring people as to direction and goals than with day-to-day implementation."

PeterDrucker asserts that the object of leadership is the creation of a human community held together by the work bond for a common purpose. Values, commitments, convictions, and even passions are basic elements in such a community.

See also: CovenantalRelationships, CultureIsTheManifestationOfLeadership, ChangeYourOrganizationTactics

LeaderShip different from Management

In WhyLeadersCantLead (in Chapter 2, "Learning Some Basic Truisms About Leadership"), WarrenBennis distinguishes between leadership and management:

"Lead, not manage... Many an institution is very well managed and very poorly led." They handle day-to-day routine but never ask whether the routine should be done at all. (p. 17)

"Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right." (p. 18)

"Leaders manage attention through a compelling vision that brings others to a place they have not been before." (p. 19) The vision must be consistent, to the point that it becomes predictable, even by people who don't necessarily agree with it. (p. 20-21)

Leaders must know their own skills and deploy them effectively. (p. 21) I thought this was silly and self-evident because it's true of anyone who wants to be good as his job. But as I think about it, I realize that this is what makes anyone a potential leader at what they do. You know who the technical lead is on the team, but you also know which team member is best at writing code and he (not the tech lead) is who you're going to talk to for help with your code. That excellent coder is now providing de facto coding leadership, and it's based on his being able to use his skills effectively.

Effective leadership empowers people. The empowerment can be felt in four ways (p. 22-23): -- BobbyWoolf, 08/25/00

Those wanting concrete examples to the question WhatIsLeadership will benefit from following the various documentaries on the life of Pope John Paul. Over 3 million will be in Rome for his funeral. That alone will ensure that the media will be sure to take notice. There must be some reason why one who humbly followed his convictions rose to a position where so many have been affected. Could humility and conviction have anything to do with leadership? Many think so, few are able to exhibit such attributes throughout one lifetime and can be found actively pursuing such to within a few days of their death. His occurred on 2nd of April 2005. The world is a better place for his leadership.

Leaders have HigherPrinciples and appear to be Modeless

More from WhyLeadersCantLead (I'm quoting these parts because I agree with them, or at least these statements sound reasonable to me):

"As a leader has learned to fulfill his or her own vision, so it is at least part of the leader's job to assist employees to fulfill their own visions." (p. 109)

Bennis asserts that most historically great companies, including many new ones that are flourishing, "... were founded by people who were far more imaginative than they were obedient." (p. 109)

Bennis claims, "there are many resemblances between poets, children, and leaders." Simple but never simplistic. Full of questions, skeptical of easy answers. Trust their instincts. Capable of simultaneous truth and originality. (p. 113-114)

Leaders exemplify our best qualities (p. 117-118): -- BobbyWoolf, 08/25-26/00

LeaderShip impact on Organizations

What happens when leadership is bad? See DissentInOrganizations.

A person is a leader only as long as people follow his directives

A leader is somebody who finds a group of people walking in a certain direction and then walks at the head of the group

-- BobbyWoolf, 08/26/00

I don't like the above statement because it implies that someone can lead just by finding a group going in a direction the leader wants to go and stay in front of them. I think that borders on the self-aggrandizement mentioned elsewhere on this page. I would rather restate it:

A leader is someone who cuts the path or shows the way, encouraging others to follow for their own benefit and the benefit of the group as a whole.

-- TerryLeeMoore, 13Jun02

I would agree with the TLM above that the statement 'borders on self-aggrandizement'. A leader is followed because he offers a vision, and an idea that motivates others to join him in the same journey. It's not simply that he finds a group of people trudging along and he gets them to run, he finds a gaggle going in different directions, points out the proper way, and starts cutting the new path. Leadership is motivation. Management is control.

-- DavidBoyd, 05Dec03

Leaders as Managers

In any layered social structure, one can categorize the activity of management into categories. There is SelfManagement. There is managing one's superiors. There is managing one's peers. And finally there is managing one's subordinates. A good manager is one who manages in strict priority order; self, superiors, peers and only then subordinates. As a practical matter, a good manager cannot afford to manage his subordinates because he never has the time to get around to them.

There is more. The manager's job factors into the roles of ambassador to people outside one's group and of arbitrator to people within one's group. The former role requires empathy for everyone in the group, without any real or perceived partiality. The latter role inevitably entails the generation of real or perceived partiality. Thus there is another contradiction between managing subordinates and being a good manager.

A leader is no more than a good manager.

If an arbitrator manages subordinates (ie, if the arbitrator is actually a judge) then fulfilling their role requires them to have no superiors that require management. OTOH, if an arbitrator manages peers then there is no conflict.

What this means is that groups manage themselves and "leaders" are delegates of the group and not generals in command and control scenarios. ('Layered social structure' is used above precisely because this scenario avoids hierarchical power structures.) The mythos of the leader is thus dismantled. Powerful conclusions to draw from the single insight that people manage superiors more than vice versa.

Hmmmm. Has the sound of something well thought out. But I don't follow.
Followers perspective on LeaderShip - TrustButVerify

DavidMaister has some astute things to say about LeaderShip in TrueProfessionalism:

... consider the kinds of questions that are rarely asked out loud, but are on every professional's mind whenever a new leader is appointed or elected: "Why should I follow you? Why should I listen to what you have to say?" If a leader is to provide answers to these questions, four tests must be met: motives, values, competence, and style.

The first test that you, as my potential leader, must pass is that of motives. I will accept your influence and direction only if you give me evidence that you are primarily committed to the success of the group or institution, rather than to your own self-aggrandizement. Your task as a leader is to help others to succeed, not to strive only for your own success. If I don't trust your motives, nothing else will matter - because my primary concern is your integrity.

...If I am comfortable with your motives, the very next thing I want to know is "What are your core values?" I will accept your influence, guidance, and direction if (and only if) I believe that you and I share similar goals.

-- RandyStafford

LeaderShip and Discovery of new horizons

Move out of the existing comfort zone

In "Positive Strategic Leadership" paper, it quoted Quinns Leaders guide others to move out of their comfort zone

see the article at http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/spreitze/PositiveStrategicLeadership.pdf

PowerVersusAuthority observations

Michael Porter, of CompetitiveStrategy? fame, observed in 2004 article at http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/4454.html that "Giving Orders is very costly". The power that the leader (CEO) exercised erodes his authority, as the TopDog? rarely have good reasons to overrule thoughtful decisions that have been vetted by established processes.

But surely there are times when a CulturalChange is needed to get the organization properly realigned to new realities. Recommendations coming up through the ranks are not going to break the culture. DEC died as a result of trying to preserve that time-tested culture of not competing on price.

Leadership is another word for "BOSS".
See also:
CategoryLeadership CategoryDefinition

EditText of this page (last edited July 11, 2014) or FindPage with title or text search