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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