When I was writing about leadership some blog posts ago, a friend of mine (he writes a delightful blog called DarkOfficeHumour – and, i hope that I have inserted the proper link), asked the question – What is leadership?
And so, I thought that I would pop into some of the literature on leadership. I did not go far, because Wikipedia gave me enough for this post, though not for a whole series of writings.
“Leadership is a process of social influence in which one person an enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”
“Leadership is organising a group of people to achieve a common goal.”
So far so good! I read these definitions, and I re-read the article. It seems that articles and tomes on leadership have been in the works since Plutarch. The articles normally gloss over the writings of Asian authors. No mention of Sun Tzu or Kautilya.
In recent times, there has been a fair deluge of articles. There are articles on leadership styles, leadership values, and all sorts of stuff on how a leader should behave. I have experienced our headquarters rolling out a Global Leadership Model. All leaders in the company across the world were expected to adhere to the model and behaviour enunciated by a bunch of people in a small town in the Netherlands. The model completely ignored the different cultural context in which leaders across the world work, or the business context. Churchill, after all, was considered to be a great war time leader, and a lousy peace time one.
So, back to the question – what is leadership? The definitions above don’t really answer the question.
Could I offer a simpler definition: “Leadership is the ability of a person to make people want to follow him/her from point A to Point B, or even on a journey” Does this work?
Bear in mind, that I do not make any judgement call on whether the leader is leading the people on a worthwhile journey, or that point B may be somewhere deep in the bowels of hell.
But, the idea, as I see it, is that people want to follow the leader.
However, what else does a leader do? Does he/she add value to the people who follow? Is he/she authentic?
So, we can expand the proposal” “Leadership is the ability of an authentic person to make people want to follow him/her from point A to Point B, or even on a journey, and adds value to them in the process”
So, was Hitler a leader or not? He certainly was, but may not fit into the second definition…
And so, we are back to square one.
What the shit is this wonderful thing called leadership? Does it include self-leadership?