Saturday, October 3, 2009

Define Leadership for Me

I was invited out to breakfast with a good friend who works in HR. Between sips of coffee and bites of Tabasco-soaked potatoes, Tom mentioned that he has been to leadership seminars that spent a lot of time on fuzzy ideas like "finding the hidden leader inside yourself" but even give a definition of "leadership". That took us in a new direction. I realized that in making up my list of the qualities of a good leader, I didn't even consider the definition of leadership.

This week in Twitter, @marick brought up questions about the meaning and nature of leadership also. Now I can't escape the meme rattling around in the back of my head. It's a bit like when you have three bars of a song in your head and it won't stop repeating until you hear the song in its entirety. What is leadership? It is clearly a kind of skillfulness, but what skill is it? What set of skills define leadership?

My short list of "attributes of a good leader" was easier to come up with:
  • Strong
  • Benevolent
  • Effective
  • Politically savvy

Those are attributes of a good leader, but are not definitions of leadership. This is my quandry today. I would love to hear your best quotes, thoughts, links, definitions, and questions.

Here are some thought-starters:
  • Is it about being personally driven to get work done?
  • Is it wisdom?
  • Is it brashness/courage?
  • Is it the ability to drive people?
  • Is it the ability to draw people?
  • Is it the ability to make people work more?
  • Is it about accomplishment of feelings?
  • Is it about being the superior predator?
  • Intimidation?
  • Gentleness?