Define Leadership

I have been inspired by a new colleague to get real with the definition of leadership.

Of course, I have been operating under the adaptive leadership framework that defines leadership as mobilizing others to make progress (do work) on complex or difficult problems. This colleague essentially said, “that this sentence has about five or six different tangents, I don’t understand it” and she is right.

So, I want to get really clear on the definition of leadership.

Influencing people to do “the work.”

It begins with noticing or recognizing that what is being done isn’t working, isn’t working well, or could be done better; and then enrolling them to take action in that regard.

Additionally, we want people to do their own work; but often they don’t. So part of leadership is to get people to do their own work.

Sadly, leadership can also be getting people to do other people’s work; hopefully something good but often not. I think of Tom Sawyer convincing others to paint his fence. A book to advance this idea is Barbara Kellerman’s “Bad Leadership.” I took her class on Bad Leadership at Harvard, got to study with Machiavelli, Hitler, Marx, and others. She also made me write poetry, tough to forgive her for that! 🙂

Tomorrow, I talk about “the work”…

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