Leader's Digest #5 - What is Leadership?

This is an archived issue of the now-discontinued Leader’s Digest newsletter. See the archive for an overview of all issues

Hi everyone & Welcome to Leader’s Digest #5!

What is Leadership?

Kevin Kruse opens this article of his with the almost astonished realization, that while he wrote about leadership quite a bit already, he didn’t yet take the time to define what he was writing about all the while. And as this nearly happened to me too, well in part at least as I haven’t nearly written as much on the topic as Kevin, I wanted to spare you, my readers, this fate.

Smart-assing aside, Kevin does a very fine job to dissect quite a few well-known and then some more definitions of and quotes about leadership and ends the article with a very concise definition of his own.

DEFINITION: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.

For me this definition is the best I’ve come across yet. Even though I don’t agree with the “maximize” part so much.

But what really gets me, is establishing leadership as a social process.

This, more than anything, removes the magical “leaders are born”-bullshit. Leadership being a social process puts it between people and recognizes that leading always needs following, that there can’t be a lone leader or follower. You can’t have one without the other. Which in turn means that leadership really requires deliberate consent. And that is what makes leadership so very powerful. People following you because they want to, is so much more effective than people getting tricked or pressured into doing what you tell them to do.

Disagree? Agree? I’m interested to hear your opinion.

And if you enjoyed this short burst of inspiration, let others know by sharing this mail or http://leaders-dige.st.

Cheers, Benjamin