1. The office or position of a leader
2. Capacity to lead
3. The act or an instance of leading
If we unpack the meaning of the first definition, we are simply defining leadership based on a role or title. This is a traditional way to view leadership. Today, however, having a title does not necessarily mean that you gain respect or that you are seen as a leader. Moreover, many people without titles are those who others want to – and do – follow.
In the second definition, Merriam-Webster points to having the capacity to lead. I would say that just about anyone has the capacity to lead. Still, this does not mean that an individual will actually be a leader.
This brings us to the third definition: the act or an instance of leading. In order to be a leader, some sort of action is required to have others follow you.
These definitions give some context to what it means to be a leader, but defining leadership in any of these ways is incredibly simplistic. To fill the gap, some of the greatest management minds in the world, from Peter Drucker to John Maxwell to Warren Bennis, have created their own definitions of leadership.
While you may benefit from reading the hundreds of available definitions, what is more important is how you choose to define leadership within the context of your own journey.
As you define leadership for yourself, consider these five things:
Self-Awareness. To define your leadership style, start by understanding what strengths you possess, how you behave and how you think. Without this information, it is difficult to know where you can add value as a leader. Tools from Emergenetics can help you understand yourself, how others may perceive you based on your attributes and how you can leverage these strengths.
Trust. It’s difficult to accomplish anything if you cannot trust others and if others do not trust you. Define your leadership style by understanding how you will establish trust and support others. One way is to think about others first. Understand what is important to your team members, learn about their strengths and ask for their opinions. You can also use delegation to demonstrate your trust in others. Finally, make sure to keep your promises to your teammates whether they are as big as helping them gain skills to secure a promotion or as small as meeting a deadline to review an email; this builds trust. For more ideas, you can review this past blog post.
Clarity. To be successful in accomplishing your goals, set clear expectations for your team. As you establish your leadership style, consider how you can help your employees have clarity in their roles and understand what they need to accomplish. Consider using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound) goals and setting expectations based on your employees’ thinking and behavioral preferences to give them clarity and ultimately, support your team’s success.
Inspiration. Give people a reason to follow you – otherwise it will be difficult to establish your personal style of leadership. Establish a vision and inspire others to pursue it. You do not need to be the greatest speaker or revolutionize an industry to be inspiring. Inspiration can come through how you care about your people, your company and your product. Define your leadership brand by creating your vision for your department, company or team and articulate how it impacts your employees, customers and community.
Communication. Lastly, think about how you will communicate your leadership values. Take the time to familiarize yourself with how your people prefer to receive information so you can clearly communicate your leadership style and be receptive to your team’s feedback.
When you can define your personal leadership style in a way that fosters trust, clarity and communication, you can more effectively influence those around you and establish yourself as a leader. Your team and your organization will respect you, look to you for direction and be inspired to work within your vision.
Leadership starts with self-awareness. Learn how the Emergenetics Profile can provide insights into your leadership strengths, and as you build your company, discover how the Emergenetics Selection Program can help you find the right people to join your team.