Skip to content

For leadership success, it’s critical to define what leadership means to YOU.

Leadership is an interesting concept. It is almost easier to talk about what it’s not than to define what it is.

  • It’s not positional power
  • Or being a tyrant
  • And certainly isn’t micro-managing tasks

Merriam Webster gives one Leadership definition as “the power or ability to lead other people” which isn’t very helpful unless you dive into their definitions of lead:

1a:  to guide on a way especially by going in advance
1b:  to direct on a course or in a direction
1c:  to serve as a channel for <a pipe leads water to the house>

2:  to go through:  live <lead a quiet life>

3a (1):  to direct the operations, activity, or performance of <lead an orchestra>
3a (2):  to have charge of <lead a campaign>
3a (3):  to ask (a witness) a question in a way that suggests what the answer should be:  to ask (a witness) a leading question

3b (1):  to go at the head of <lead a parade>
3b (2):  to be first in or among <lead the league>
3b (3):  to have a margin over <led his opponent>

4:  to bring to some conclusion or condition <led to believe otherwise>

5:  to begin play with <lead trumps>

6a:  to aim in front of (a moving object) <lead a duck>
6b:  to pass a ball or puck just in front of (a moving teammate)
All of these definition choices immediately explain why many times it is easier to define leadership by what it’s not rather than what it is.

Every person; on your team, within your organization, that is a prospect or customer, even your vendor partners – has their own definition of leadership.

Step 1 to becoming a successful leader is to be able to articulate what leadership IS to you rather than defining leadership by what it is not.

One way to do this is to take all the hard work they did at Merriam Webster and combine the parts you like.

Personally I use 1b:  to direct on a course or in a direction, with 3a (1):  to direct the operations, activity, or performance of <lead an orchestra> and define leadership this way = to set a direction and keep the operations, activity, and performance of the team on course.

You can also look at quotes about leadership to see if there are any you like. One of my favorites is;  

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else
to do something you want done
because he wants to do it.”

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

WAIT, my definition, and Dwight Eisenhower’s quote don’t take away from the importance of Step 1!

That was to get your brain thinking, you still need to think about what leadership means to you.

Once you know what it means you will then need to be able to articulate your leadership definition to the people you work with.

The definition you set as your leadership intention will impact the actions you take. To be viewed as a leader both inside and outside your team, you will need to embody the characteristics you’ve defined. You have to walk the walk.

To your leadership success,

Back To Top