Leadership: Definitions

We all will have an intuitive idea about what leadership is, but giving a clear-cut definition is actually not that simple. 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
gives us the following definitions
of leadership:
a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc;

the time when a person holds the position of leader;

the power or ability to lead other people.

While technically probably correct, these definitions do not essentially differentiate a leader from a manager. We strongly believe that leadership encompasses much more, as expressed in the quotes below.

The Busines News Daily, an
informative website
published a nice article by Brittney
Helmrich on June 19, 2015, entitled
“30 Ways to Define Leadership”
where many specialists were asked
to give their definition.
We repeat several of them here:

“Leadership is having a vision, sharing that vision and inspiring others to support your vision while creating their own.” 

– Mindy Gibbins-Klein, founder, REAL Thought Leaders

“Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished.”

– Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO, Snuggwugg

“Effective leadership is providing the vision and motivation to a team so they work together toward the same goal, and then understanding the talents and temperaments of each individual and effectively motivating each person to contribute individually their best toward achieving the group goal.”

– Stan Kimer, president, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer

“Leadership is the art of serving others by equipping them with training, tools and people as well as your time, energy and emotional intelligence so that they can realize their full potential, both personally and professionally.”

– Daphne Mallory, family business expert, The Daphne Mallory Company

“My perspective of a leader is an individual who knows the ins and outs about the business so they can empathize with followers. In addition to being a positive influence on the people they are leading, leadership is about setting the tone, motivating, inspiring, thinking big, and never [giving] up when others feel like quitting.”

– Alexis Davis, founder and designer, Hoo-Kong by Alexis Davis

“In my experience, leadership is about three things: To listen, to inspire and to empower. Over the years, I’ve tried to learn to do a much better job listening actively, making sure I really understand the other person’s point of view, learning from them, and using that basis of trust and collaboration to inspire and empower. [It’s about] setting the bar high, and then giving them the time and resources to do great work.”

– Larry Garfield, president, Garfield Group

“I define leadership as knowing when to be in front to lead and guide a team during the journey, and when to step back and let others take the lead. Much like an athlete who knows exactly what position to move to on the field at any given time, a true business leader understands the delicate balance of how to help others become leaders, fuel career ambitions, then give them the chance to shine.”

– Dan Schoenbaum, CEO, Redbooth

“Too many people view management as leadership. It’s not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others up and working toward a common mission build influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way.”

– Kurt Uhlir, CEO and co-founder, Sideqik

“A leader is someone who has the clarity to know the right things to do, the confidence to know when she’s wrong and the courage to do the right things even when they’re hard.”

– Darcy Eikenberg, founder, RedCapeRevolution.com

“Leadership is caring more about the cause and the people in your company than about your own personal pain and success. It is about having a greater vision of where your company is trying to go while leaving the path open for others to grow into leaders.”

– Jarie Bolander, COO and co-founder, Lab Sensor Solutions

“Leadership styles differ, but at the core, good leaders make the people they are leading accomplish more than they otherwise would. The most effective leaders do this not through fear, intimidation or title, but rather by building consensus around a common goal.”

– Tom Madine, CEO and president, Worldwide Express

“For me, leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What’s more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective.”

– Kendra Coleman, consultant, Sheppard Moscow

“Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day.”

– Jonas Falk, CEO, OrganicLife

“Leadership is influencing others by your character, humility and example. It is recognizable when others follow in word and deed without obligation or coercion.”

– Sonny Newman, president, EE Technologies

“Leadership is actions committed by a person or group that produce an output or result. It simply helps people to get things done. It is not based on position in a hierarchy.”

– Robert Preziosi, professor and former chairman of management, Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga School of Business

“Leadership is the ability to inspire motivation in others to move toward a desirable vision. While management is focused on tasks, leadership is focused on the person. All in all, the best leadership drives change and long-lasting motivation.”

– Josh Kuehler, president, Internal Consistency

“Leadership is simply causing other people to do what the leaders want. Good leadership, whether formal or informal, is helping other people rise to their full potential while accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization. All members of an organization who are responsible for the work of others have the potential to be good leaders, if properly developed.”

– Bob Mason, founder, RLM Planning and Leadership

Leadership is based on
  • Vision: A common vision, shared at all levels, which provides the inspiration for all activities, and leaves room for creative interpretation and new ideas
  • Relations: Good personal relations between the leader and the team members, in an environment that motivates and where the team members feel at ease, behave authentically, and feel empowered to rely on their personal strengths; where constructive discussion, critical reflection, mentorship, and respect and attention for diversity are the norm;
  • Tasks: Managerial duties with respect to organization, project definition, budgeting, planning, reporting, maintaining procedures and assigning tasks