As recently as a week ago, I was at a John C. Maxwell leadership event when somebody recognized me during a break and asked me a few questions about leadership. One of their questions was “What is your leadership definition?” I always answer this question the same.
My leadership definition is “getting people to do what you want, because they want to.” This is the leadership definition. It may sound crude but keep in mind that while leaders are servants to those who have chosen to lead them, the followers are also servants to their leader and they choose to do what is asked of them for one reason or another. See John Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential for more information on why people respond in the way that they do.
This leadership definition is open to interpretation. Having people want to do what you want them to do is where the complexity lies. To really answer the question posed to me would have taken much longer, so I felt compelled to address the leadership definition on my blog. Below I have compiled a list of “ingredients” to make up what we call leadership.
Action – leadership calls its servants (known as leaders) to action. There is a beckoning felt by all those who love to lead. We can’t deny it. It itches us something crazy until we finally stand up and address the elephant in the room essentially saying “I will choose to lead us out of this mess!”
Involvement – Within the realm of leading, one is forced to be involved. If you’re not in the trenches, how in the world do you expect to know what’s going on? We must get down and dirty and those who lead usually are people who are willing to get down in the mud and work their tail ends off to achieve the desired outcome.
Intuition – there is a gut check feeling that drives us as leaders to succeed. It is a yearning to reach our goal and prove to ourselves that we can succeed at whatever we choose. Moreover, there is an instinctual confidence that we can lead any group to success. In the time of need, we tend to quickly come up with a plan to solve the problem, this is our intuition kicking in. It is a must have ingredient.
Present – Leaders are always chosen by their peers. No one ever just says they want to be a leader and people automatically begin to follow them. The followers must choose who they’ll follow. God places leaders in the situations where others are lost. The leader is always chosen in the presence of the problem. Where there is adversity in a group, there will soon be a leader who will emerge.
When you combine these forces into an individual, there is an almost magical draw to them. The other people in the room are sucked in and choose to follow this person. This is where leadership is born. This is where the leadership definition begins to form. When these four forces are combined, leadership begins to take place.
So sure, “getting people to do what you want because they want to” will suffice, but the real leadership definition is really more of a recipe than a definition.
What is your leadership definition? Can you think of any other ingredients?