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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Why leadership development “training” is dead…

Yesterday I met with an economic buyer who did not know the potential of her company.

She was representative. So here are some trends and resources and options for you and your colleagues to consider:

1. Customized leadership development programs are the new norm. (Whatever the phrase “new norm” truly means…) Off the shelf programs simply do not work well.

2. Leadership development programs are a $170 billion dollar industry, according to the ASTD, American Society of Training and Development. Corporate earnings are at an all-time high, and individual wage earnings are at an all-time low. Hence, the market opportunities are in corporations that are willing to invest in professional development.
Most leadership development programs fail because they are events, rather than a process based on assessment, consulting, and coaching.

3. “Training” is dead. Training teaches content to a norm. Training is becoming digital and shorter because our digital workforce demands that change. And most training managers do not resist. They are frightened and struggling for funding. At a recent conference for learning and development managers one presenter shared how her department generated revenue (rather than costs) by video taping and selling training modules for their strategic partners. The audience “oohed and ahhed.” However, no one asked, “What will occur 3 years from now when the modules are all digital and only 30% are being passively used by workers who are mandated to take the modules?” Or, “What about the need for powerful interactions between people that only occurs in a live, synchronous event?” Sadly, training is dead.

4. Some “leadership development companies” have survived to date despite the fact that they are event-based. Most challenge courses have been retired. Most companies regard “team building” as an occasional expense- and send people to events such as a spa, winery tour, amusement park, or golf courses. These events are not integrated into strategic needs for most corporate buyers.

5. Leadership development programs can be integrated into strategic needs, and they can target specific needs and industries. We have done so for years. With metrics and case studies that satisfy any cautious economic buyer.

6. Future business revenue for leadership development companies will come from select alliances/ partnerships with service providers who can a) provide customized content in related subjects, such as assessments, change management, operational efficiency plus b) targeted sales to high growth industries such as health care, technology, and mid-market businesses. The money exists.

Leadership development companies can make big money by targeting those industries.

Call me for details on global leadership development coaching with the largest providers of assessments and coaching and consulting.

And stay away from any providers who are not affiliated with partners who can provide the scope your company needs.

The “next normal” (whatever that phrase means) in leadership development requires smart alliances and partnerships with trusted service providers.