How To Define Leadership

How do you define leadership?  According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of leadership is the capacity or ability to lead. 

What does that mean?  So, now you look up "lead." 

There are a lot of definitions such as to show the way; to guide the action or opinion of, to be first, to lead toward a certain goal and so on.

All of the above definitions are plain, simple and easy to understand. 

They can be applied to the basics of playing games all the way to running a company.

I like to define "Leadership" as:  "an individual's ability to plan and influence and enlist others to collectively achieve predetermined goals in pursuit of an objective."

Or, basically the definition of leadership is a person that can influence and work with others to reach a common goal.


Types of Leaders

Define Leadership

You often hear of "a good leader" or "a bad leader."  However, "good leadership skills" and "bad leadership skills" are more accurate terms to describe the goals and objectives that a leader has.  In any leader's mind, they are a good leader by these definitions, but other people may see them as not-so-good. 

Some examples of the more recent leaders in history that could be considered "bad" would be Adolph Hitler of Germany, Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Jim Jones of the Jonestown Massacre and Bernie Madoff of NASDAQ stock market. 

You might think of these as "bad" leaders because of their goals and objectives.  Putting their goals and objectives aside, you can see that they were very successful leaders.

They were able to make plans and influence others to help them reach their goals.  In a sense, they were "good" leaders that had "bad" goals and objectives..

Examples of  "good" leaders might be Mohandas Gandhi of India, President Reagan of the United States, Bill Gates of Microsoft and even Seiji Ozawa of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Of course, there will be a contingent of people who will see these as "bad" leaders.  It is, therefore, a subjective point of view as to whether a leader is "good" or "bad."


Styles of Leadership

A more practical way of looking at how you define leadership is whether or not the leaders are obtaining their goals and objectives with the help of others they have influenced.  You can think of the two extremes as "effective" and "ineffective" leaders with a whole range in between. 

Even if you look at a leader that is considered "bad" in our society like Adolph Hitler, by this definition he was a very "effective" leader. 

You could say that half of the people who followed Hitler did so through admiration and the other half through fear, even to the point of placidly going to death camps and to their deaths. 

All of the leaders mentioned above can be considered to be "effective" leaders.  In fact, throughout history and especially in today's instant media times you often hear of the leaders that are most "effective" and that enlist the largest number of people in pursuit of their goals.

An effective leader in today's society is one that works side by side with their workers, makes plans with them, takes control of situations, overcomes obstacles and gets the job done.

An ineffective leader is one that sets themselves above the others and won't pitch in and work side by side with the workers.  If things aren't going right, they will panic and yell at people.

When you define leadership and apply it to your situation, you need to look at whether you are "effective" or "ineffective" rather than "good" or "bad."



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