What s Real Leadership


In his “Twenty-One Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell sums up his definition of leadership as “influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

Peter Drucker, in his book “The Leader of the Future”, sums up leadership as “the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”

Warren Bennis’ definition of leadership focusses much more on the individual capability of the leader: “Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realise your own leadership potential.”

Joe Tigani in “Absolute Leadership“, says, “The starting point is to be able to lead yourself. Once you gain clarity about what really matters to you and the direction you would like to take, then that serves as the basis to develop the necessary skills to inspire other people to willingly follow you as a leaders”.

Leadership is getting people to do things they have never thought of doing, do not believe are possible or that they do not want to do.  This suggests that the leader needs to have pushed them-self to do things they initially did not believe were possible.

Effective leadership means influencing people to get things done to a standard and quality above their norm – and doing it willingly.  However, there needs to be in the leader the awareness of what it takes to stretch beyond the norm, they need to have gone there.

In an organisation, leadership is the action of committing employees to contribute their best to the purpose of the company. This requires the leader to have committed their best to that same purpose.

Real, genuine leadership is always prefaced by the leader knowing what is required by through their own personal journey. There is a need to have walked the talk.

Leadership is a way of focusing and motivating a group to enable them to achieve their aims.  Leadership is imperative for moulding a group of people into a team.  Great leaders know how to make people function in a collaborative fashion, and how to motivate them to perform at their peak.  Leaders also know how to balance the individual team member’s needs and goals with that of the team.

Unless the territory is known. Unless the map has been sighted. Unless the leader already has an awareness of the obstacles ahead then their ability as a leader is lacking.

The true leader knows the generic hurdles that will be encountered and that their followers will be able to deal with those hurdles. Not necessarily easily, but they will be surmountable.

And  Combining all these definition, we can see leadership is a complex activity involving:

ü A process of influence;

ü People who are both leaders and followers;

ü Integrity, trust, commitment and communication; and

ü A range of possible outcomes – the achievement of goals, but also the commitment of individuals to such goals, the enhancement of group cohesion and the reinforcement of change.

Finally, great leaders move people – they work through emotions. They find effective ways to understand and improve the way they handle their own and their followers’ emotions.

As a leader, you should act as your group’s emotional guide.  When you drive emotions positively you bring out everyone’s best.  You ignite people’s passion, inspire the best in them, and create resonance.

Being a leader is complicated. Being a leader is also simple.

The answer: be yourself. Trust in others. seek input. Listen. Be open to all possibilities. Challenge people lovingly. Never expect anyone to do something that you would not do yourself.

You will never know what a person can do till you give them the chance to have a go. It is only in the doing, allowing for the fact that failure may occur, that real leadership emerges.

All the genuine followers are in fact leaders, learning as the process enfolds. If they are not then they are puppets and you are pulling their strings. That is not leadership, it is manipulation.

There is a major difference, even though many religions and politicians do not understand this.

Leadership empowers people to choose their direction, their decisions, their destiny.


Posted on July 23, 2012, in leadership, politicians. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Austin,

    I think we over-complicate leadership, especially when the goal is to teach and to help people develop leadership attributes. Who can remember, far less embody and enact 21 laws?

    Here’s my definition:

    “Good leadership is identifying the right objective, the best way to reach it, and inspiring others to join you.”

    I distinguish between good leadership and effective leadership because: you may be effective, that is, you gain followers, but if you lead them off a cliff, are you a good leader? An effective moral compass and a healthy level of expertise are essential to good leadership.

    The second thing to note is that identifying the right objective and the best way to reach it is often a collaborative process. Good leaders enable and leverage talent.

    Lastly, I think inspire is a far better word than “influence”. Force, fraud, coercion, bribery, and the promise of loot have all been used to “influence” followers.

    I also disagree with Drucker about leaders having to have followers (with all due respect, as I admire him greatly).

    I personally believe that everyone needs the essential attributes of good leadership (Independence, People Skills, Expertise, and Passion), and that everyone has at least one person they need to lead: themselves. I’ve known many an untitled R&F employee with more leadership skills and more respect as a “leader” than half the managers I’ve worked with.

    Enjoyed your post and look forward to dropping by again.


    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your comments.
      I agree that Leadership is not about followers.
      To me Leadership is about the way I do my life.
      The values I live by. The ideals that I epitomize. The example that I set that others may wish to use as their model for dealing with life, business and the world.
      It is so natural. However, one needs to choose to follow certain basic principles of life that model absolute leadership.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: