There is an age-old debate whether leaders are born or made. Obviously, one can be born into a position of authority, but this is not to be confused with a position of leadership. As has been stated many times, leadership is not relegated to a role, title, position, autonomy, number of direct reports, etc., although many of these aspects may be present in leadership.
The definition of leadership is:
1. the action of leading a group of people or an organization:
guidance, direction, control, management, superintendence, supervision;
2. the state or position of being a leader.
directorship, governorship, governance, administration, captaincy, control, ascendancy, supremacy, rule, command, power, dominion, influence
There is the “doing” of leadership, and there is the “being” of leadership. Thus, the science and the art.
In Part One, we’ll explore some of the components of these two realms of leadership. In future parts, we’ll delve deeper into the “Art of Leadership”.
Let’s first examine the science, or the mechanics of leadership. Several things are typically correlated to leadership:
1. People to lead (direct reports, teams, etc.)
2. Being part of a team of leaders (Executive Committee, Leadership Team, etc.)
3. A critical result or outcome to produce, usually through others
4. An infrastructure in which to express your leadership – communication, delegation, meetings, marketing, and so on.
5. Business fluency and prowess (understanding data, market trends, etc.)
Now, the more illusive and intangible aspects of leadership reside in the “being”, or the “art”.
The key factors usually include some version of the following:
1. Creating a safe space
2. Inspirational leadership
3. Grounded AND Visionary: one foot in reality, one foot in possibility
4. Relationship-builders: empowerment, respect, and trust in those you’re leading
5. A degree of what I’ll term “appropriateness”, or knowing when to speak and when not to, when to delegate and when to jump in, when to let others lead even if they fail.
6. Leaving a legacy of leaders that are bigger and better than you are
7. Leaving people better off after being part of your team
8. A willingness to think with innovation and creatively
Where are your strengths? Are you a strong driver, with people lining up to follow you, and highly capable of setting up structures for success?
Or are you more of an empathetic leader, who can truly put yourself in others’ worlds, and meet them where they are?
Stay tuned for Part Two where we navigate through the Art of Leadership.