What Is Leadership

Leadership is one of the ubiquitous words used by all and sundry in the modern business and corporate world. Leadership affects any and every strata of human life because it is a concept that has to do with virtually all aspects of humanity.  It is actually a means of societal influence which makes the most of the efforts put forward by others with the aim of attainment of goals and objectives.

What Leadership is not

Leadership is not seniority or position due to hierarchy

More often than not many think of the top executives in an organization or business as the company’s leadership. However, this is incorrect because they are simply senior administrators in the business or corporate entity.

Leadership is not the same as having a title

Titles don’t make you a leader any more than staying in a garage makes you a car. So what this means is that if you have a C-level title it does not automatically mean you are a leader. So many leaders in churches, mosques, temples, neighbourhoods and families ‘lead’ without having any title at all.

Leadership is not the same as having personal human qualities

The personal qualities or attributes a person has does not translate to leadership or being a leader. We often hold a picture in our minds of an individual who is gifted, forceful or iconic. However, leadership does not mean or translate to having charismatic qualities because people who possess such traits do not always end up leading.

Leadership is not the same as management

A lot of people confuse leadership and management. Management means planning, measuring, monitoring, coordination, solution, hiring and firing. Managers are simply people who manage things unlike leaders who lead people.

What Leadership is

Leadership can be defined from a plethora of perspectives, proposed by captains of industry which have their own inherent limitations.

According to Peter Drucker, a leader is someone that has followers (too simplistic).

According to Warren Bennis, a leader is someone with the capacity to translate a vision into reality (not encompassing enough).

According to Bill Gates, a leader is someone who empowers others (lacking in vision and goals).

According to John Maxwell, leadership is influence-nothing more, nothing less (source of influence omitted).

However, a balanced and proper definition of leadership would be to say that leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a defined goal.

This definition shows that leadership should originate and emanate from social influence and not authority or power. Leadership necessitates the involvement of others which also means they may not necessarily report to the “leader”. Leadership is devoid of personality traits, titles or attributes due to the fact that there are many ways, styles and paths to effective leadership. Leadership also maximizes effort, because while those in positions of power can leverage on the influence or power they wield to organize the efforts of others, that may not maximize it.

Finally, true leadership must have a defined end goal because it cannot just be the projection of influence without any intended outcome. All these parameters are the key elements that make up leadership.