What is Leadership?

I recently did some research on what it takes to be an excellent leader. The first definition that I uncovered was written by Professor Warren G. Bennis who defined leaders as "People who do the right thing" as opposed to strong managers, who are "People who do things right." It is therefore very possible to be an excellent leader and a poor manager, and vice versa, so for this discussion, let’s not confuse the two.

According to "The Idea of Transformational Leadership*," an effective leader is someone who does the following:

  1. Creates an inspiring VISION for the future of their organization.
  2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
  3. Manages the delivery and achievement of that vision.
  4. Builds and coaches a team to be active participants in the achievement of the vision.

Let’s look closer at each of these steps.

Create an Inspiring Vision
The vision should be a depiction of what the leader and the planning team want the company to look like in 3-5 years. The vision provides direction, sets priorities and provides markers so you can determine that you have achieved what you wanted to achieve. Leadership is being proactive, not reactive. A compelling vision can be seen, felt, understood and embraced.

Motivate and Inspire People
A strong leader maintains the enthusiasm and focus of his/her organization in the face of pitfalls and problems and never loses the focus of the vision. They continue to press forward and inspire, even in the face of adversity.

Manage the Delivery of the Vision
Effective leaders know when it is time to tell, time to sell, time to participate or time to delegate. Just having a vision is not enough; a strong leader manages the change necessary to achieve the vision.

Coaching and Building a Team to Achieve the Vision
Strong leaders don’t develop, build and deliver a vision in a vacuum. They depend on trusted managers within the organization by giving and receiving feedback. It is not a one-way street. However, it is incumbent on that leader to provide the necessary coaching, training and mentoring to improve individual and team performance.

TAB’s Strategic Business Leadership is not just an exercise. It is development for the owner and improvement for the organization. The more of a LEADER you become and the less of a MANGER, the more the value of your organization increases.

Dwight D. Eisenhower put it most succinctly: "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it."

*Source: Mindtools.com