Talk is cheap: Leadership is a Verb
This is one of my favorite topics to research, and discuss. Defining your leadership style is important. The (online) Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries both define leadership as a noun:
Oxford (as of 21-JAN-2017):
- The action of leading a group of people or an organization; or
- The state or position of being a leader; or
- The leaders of an organization, country, etc.
Merriam-Webster (as of 21-JAN-2017):
- the office or position as a leader; or
- capacity to lead; or
- the act or instance of leading.
These definitions miss the essence of what leadership truly is.
Actions define leaders. Results define leaders. They aren’t defined by the constraints of what a noun is (a person, place or thing). The definitions above aren’t bad, but I think they are largely incomplete.
Consider the following 4 things proving that leadership is more of a verb:
Titles mean crap
I can’t recall any reading about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mahatma Ghandi focused on their title. I haven’t seen Dr. King referred to as a “Revolutionary Movement Speaker” or Ghandi’s referred to “Starvation Leader”. Non-violence, actively ‘not acting’, was the hallmark of both Dr. King and Ghandi’s leadership.
It’s all about engaging people
Never forget that it is all about people: engaging them, inspiring them, and, most importantly, responding to their needs! Strong leaders appeal to human interests, passions, needs and, sometimes, stakeholder fears.
Leaders are chosen
People empower leaders. If you’re serving, that’s action! There are some powerfully-tilted individuals in our communities, with no followers. They’re not demonstrating the right characteristics to be called to lead. Leaders are empowered when people see, hear and feel the results of their actions.
Leadership is continuous
One of the first concepts I learned, and appreciated, was that the greatest gift a leader can offer is their service to, and for, others. Effective leadership requires continued servant leadership. Leaders are constantly evolving. Leaders must evolve and address constituent needs. When leaders are stagnant, stakeholder needs go unmet.
Leadership is about action. It’s not a state of being, but a state of action.
For more, check out my ‘ABC’s of Leadership’ blog series (featuring a special podcast session hosted by leadership coach Dale Richardson).