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7 Definitions of Leadership

        posted by , May 17, 2013

Leadership isn't rare.

It's a social ability that we all possess to one degree or another. It's also found commonly amongst animal species — just watch a flock of birds, school of fish or herd of buffalo.

The function of leadership is to get a group moving in a common direction. The following seven definitions of leadership illustrate several prominent aspects of leadership.

1. Leaders Motivate

A leader is a dealer in hope.
~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Most definitions of leadership include some aspect of motivation. Leaders inspire people and teams to action.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is the art of motivating the actions of others.

2. Leaders Make Decisions

Leadership is doing the right things.

~ Peter Drucker
Leaders set clear direction and take responsibility for decisions. The social function of leadership is to provide certainty in an uncertain world.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is setting clear direction in the face of uncertainty.

3. Leaders Coach

Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.

~ John D. Rockefeller
Leaders coach and mentor followers to share knowledge and build leaders.

Definition: Leadership

Leaders are knowledgeable individuals who share wisdom with individuals and groups.

4. Leaders Are Confident

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
~ Max Lucado
Leaders have confidence in themselves. They don't seek to please everyone. This confidence attracts followers.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is a ability to exude confidence and attract followers.

5. Leaders Influence

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

~ Lao Tzu
The biggest leadership myth is that leadership extends from authority. Many leaders gain formal authority. However, it's not possible to lead with power alone.

You can force people to comply with authority. However, you can't win their hearts and minds with power. For that you need influence.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is the ability to influence thoughts and actions.

6. Leaders Innovate

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

~ Steve Jobs
Innovation is the elusive ability to create something new of value. It's the basis for economic progress. It's a crucial leadership ability.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is the ability to create innovation.

7. Leaders Get Results

Leadership is defined by results not attributes.
Peter Drucker

~ Peter Drucker
It's difficult to measure soft skills such as influencing and motivating. Many prefer to define leadership in terms of results.

Definition: Leadership

Leadership is the demonstrated ability to innovate, make decisions, influence and motivate to achieve results.

Next: Why Leadership is Important

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