Definition of Leadership
Let’s begin with a definition of leadership. What is leadership and what ARE good leadership skills?
One good definition of leadership is the following:
Leadership is influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while
operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
Another of our favorite definitions of leadership is by Warren Bennis.
Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize your own leadership potential. I might add that leadership also includes achieving the necessary results for your organization.
Other good definitions of leadership abound. Many refer to having influence or achieving goals through the coordinated efforts of others. Leadership is readiness for action. If you have a favorite definition, this site will support it. Keep your definition in mind as you read further.
Good leadership skills can be defined as those actions and behaviors that support your leadership—your ability to influence, motivate, and direct others.
Leadership skills are the actions that produce the necessary results—results that are aligned with the mission and goals of the organization or entity—while still maintaining trust and good relationships between the people who are involved in producing those results.
Leadership skills, or lack thereof, are based largely on how you behave and especially how you behave toward others in the simplest and most ordinary situations.
The Importance of Relationships in Defining Leadership
A good leader defines leadership largely as relationship skills. Every relationship in your life has prepared you or is preparing you for leading others (or NOT). If your life in this department has been less than perfect, don’t despair.
Nearly everyone has had challenges in various relationships in their lives. The important questions to ask are:Have you learned from your challenges?
Are you better than you used to be at initiating and maintaining relationships?
Are you getting better at inspiring, motivating, and influencing people?
Do people seem to generally regard you highly?
And finally: Are you aware of your real impact on others?
As you practice the skills identified on this site in all your relationships, both in your work and personal life, you will get better at leadership.
Bottom Line Definition of Leadership:
How do we define the results of good or great leadership? Great performance! That is the final “test.”
Good relationships are important, but few organizations are social clubs. They don’t exist just for fun and companionship. There is a broader purpose—a goal to be achieved. You can become great at relationships and communication—and you must! But this, by itself, is not enough. You need results, too.
On the flip side, you can also push for results—and sometimes achieve great results—but if you alienate everyone in the process, your long-term potential for leadership is poor. Results and relationships have to go hand-in-hand. That is the leader’s credo, the definition of leadership.
Keeping everybody happy does not make you a good leader. Expectations have to be clear and goals have to be achieved. If people also enjoy the journey in reaching those goals or results, they will be committed enough to generate stronger performance. That part is up to you, the leader.
Good relationships with just the right amount of “toughness” defines leadership. Good leadership skills are those actions that produce relationship and results.
That’s the definition of good leadership. That’s what you’re aiming for. The tools on this website are available to help guide you—all you need to add is your effort and commitment.
Click here to review the most effective leadership styles for today's world.