What is leadership?

This could be a long discussion.  But I’d rather keep it short.


Leadership is influence.  Nothing more, nothing less.


The word “influence” implies results.  The influence may be slight or even negative.  The influence could be momentous.  The influence could be focused on relationships, such as the number of new people you meet each month, or the value you provide to others.  The influence could be focused on results, such as the number of new sales per quarter, or gross revenue per year, or goal attainment percentage.


If you need an academic definition of leadership, here is a current favorite:  Leadership is defined as the process of influencing others, and facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives (Yukl, 2013).


Too many people confuse the words “leader” and “manager.”   So perhaps another definition is helpful.   Here is a distinction based on Marcus Buckingham’s research of the Gallup Poll data, plus interviews with thousands of people.


Leaders: by definition, rally others behind a vision of a better future.  The core skills of leaders are optimism and public.  Think of your self, or your favorite leader, on a stage, leaning forward, describing a better future.   They have influence.  Or not.  The capacity of leaders is infinite, based on research in positive psychology.


Managers: by definition, maximize the productivity of others.  The core skills of managers are coaching and private.  Think of your self when you need to make sure that others produce a result, such as increase a sale or host a remarkable executive retreat.  Note that the skills you use are different than the skills you use as a leader.  You will coach Shawn differently than you will coach Ellen.  No one likes to be managed. And no one boasts about being a manager.  But when I ask an audience “How many of you are managers?” over 60% will raise their hands.  Virtually all managers are now “working managers” tasked with both maximizing productivity and getting the work done.


However, everyone wants to be a better leader.


A key coaching question is:  What influence are you having on others?

Call Doug at 704.995.6647 today if you want to have a greater influence on your self or your team.

Or schedule your initial consultation here.


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How can I lead my self?

Many people ask me this question.  So you are not alone.  In fact, self-leadership is an ancient subject turned into a multi-billion dollar industry.  It is MUCH harder to lead my self than it is to lead others.  And it requires daily deliberate practice for me to lead my self.


My purpose in life is to teach others how to be better leaders.  I know what works.  Hopefully the following two steps will be useful to you.


There are two ways to lead your self:

1.  self awareness

2.  self care


Self awareness requires core skills such as openness, self appraisal, clarity, self esteem.  There is a massive amount of research in psychology and organizational development on the subject of self awareness.  There are countless religions and faiths and daily practices on the subject of self awareness.  Amid these conflicting and spurious theories there is a need for clarity.  We use assessments to provide data.  There are over 15,000 validated assessments.  We can provide assessments for any individual behavior or competency imaginable.  Evidence-based consulting is mandatory in any profession, from law to healthcare to psychology.


A key coaching question is “What assessments do I need to increase my self awareness?’

Self care requires core skills such as expression, sustainability, resourcefulness, action.  Consider the fact that humans now have more digital information available than EVER in the history of mankind.  We now KNOW what we should do.  However, we do not always DO what we should do.  Imagine a grandmotherly person.  She towers over you with an apron and shakes a wooden spoon… as she tells you what you should do.  That image of a wise, older person may help you.

A key coaching question is “How can I take care of myself today?”


One more point.  There is a myth that leadership is a personal act.  By definition, the word “leadership” means influence at two levels:  on my self and others.  The goal of self leadership is not to attain some mystical state in isolation on a mountain.  Humans are defined by relationships.  No one develops as a leader when living in isolation.  And too many people spend hours alone, writing in journals, or focusing on their weaknesses.  When Maslow described self actualization it was not thought to be a resting place.  The goal is to improve the quality of relationships with others.  Leadership is both a personal act and a team act.  We adopt evidence-based research in positive psychology because it works.  We want YOU to flourish.


The goal of self leadership is to have a greater relationships with my self and others.


We all need a coach at times.  Call me at 704.995.6647 or subscribe now or schedule your initial consultation here.


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