Debunking The Word “Leadership”

Back to Blog

I find it disappointing that the words “Leader” and “Leadership” are buzzwords and potentially overused and overhyped.  I want to be very clear on what I think a “true leader” is and what he / she is not.

  • A leader is not made by a title, a box on an org chart, a job description and / or a position.   Said another way, he or she is not an effective leader just by having the aforementioned attributes.
  • A leader does need to have followers by definition and does indeed need to have a trajectory or vision.  Typically, a leader will gather others around a cause, purpose or activity.
  • It is possible that great leaders could lead others toward a strong vision or purpose and could also lead cultures or societies to destruction. History confirms this for us from Lincoln, to Churchill, to Hitler, to Stalin, to Steve Jobs, to other government and civic leaders.
  • An inspirational leader absolutely must be about people and ideally serving people in some capacity.  Again, there are leaders who are not this and have led many.  In other words, it is possible to lead others and not be an inspirational leader.
  • Edwin H. Friedman states that leaders today are making too many decision with only data and setting aside the need for a thorough evaluation of how their emotional processes (executive wake, a leader’s presence, a leader’s method) are impacting their effectiveness.

Yes, a leader needs skill, vision, trajectory, followers, success and strong results.  Let’s also include the emotional component here and how one’s presence impacts followers.

Consider this business scenario: The sales manager asks, “How are we doing with the sales goal?”  The sales person replies “We are ahead of goal by 12%.” Some leaders stop the conversation there.  An emotionally centered leader will also measure or include a question such as “How are the staff enjoying their work and are they emotionally connecting with customers?” into the data set.

The reason the last set of questions is so important is due largely to the fact that great leaders build excellent emotional capital into their people and value  job satisfaction, engagement level and connectedness of their people to themselves, their work and their customers.

Think of the power of the emotion as we Debunk the Word “Leadership”.