Leadership In Action

| | Personal Leadership

Leadership can be simple even when it isn’t easy.

We talk a lot about the theory of leadership. Tanveer Naseer wrote a great post exploring whether leadership is an art or a science. He has us consider that “what is leadership?” ultimately gets answered through the eyes of the beholder.

In THE Best Definition of Leadership I unequivocally state the best definition “does not exist”. Definitions in my opinion are highly overrated. They rarely give us access to any insight potent enough to have us take a differentiating action from what we already know to do or are likely to do.

For example, if I tell you the definition of balance does that help you in any way to learn to ride a bicycle?  Of course not. You have to do it. Through a process of trial and error you get it, seemingly in a moment. The best part is once you experience it balance is yours forever.

I think the same is true of leadership. We can talk about it in theory and get an intellectual understanding. We can watch people and make assessments about whether we think someone is a leader or not, or about what their style of leadership is and whether we like it or not. Yet we won’t really know what it is until we do it.

How do you “do” leadership?

Here is my answer to that question: You speak up, step up and/or stand up for something or someone that matters to you, that you are committed to, that you want to make a difference in.  I call these the fundamental acts of leadership.  The only way to transform a possibility you see and are passionate about into a reality is one action at a time.

Consider that these three fundamental actions: speaking up, stepping up, and standing up, are to leadership what balance is to riding a bicycle. We inherently know we need to learn how to do them if we want to make a difference, if we want to lead, yet until we muster the courage to give it a try we will never actually learn how.

How do you “do” leadership?  How willing are you to commit an act of leadership knowing you just might “fall off”?


Enter A Comment

Robyn McMaster   |   11 February 2011   |   Reply

Susan, each of us brings different talents to the table so our leadership varies one from another.

I look up to the hundreds of thousand leaders in Egypt right now who are standing up to say they want to experience a more democratic way of life. Many times it is not easy to take a stand especially in the face of those wanting to maintain status quo.

Susan Mazza   |   14 February 2011   |   Reply

That is an excellent example of taking a stand Robyn. A common enemy is a very potent rallying force as well. It is equally important that you remain focused on what you are standing for rather than who you are standing against or there will be a mighty void once the enemy is out of the picture. The road to a more democratic way of life is a long one – it will take a strong stand and much courage to manifest that possibility.

I’m not sure taking a stand is ever easy because the status quo is an incredible force of resistance to change even if the possibility you are standing for is logically better and even desirable by most.

Thanks for stopping by!

Shawn Murphy   |   17 February 2011   |   Reply

I looked to find fault in your logic in this post. Alas, I found none. Leadership is an intangible. And you do well to describe how it comes about. The outcomes of leadership teach us what it feels like when we’re doing it. That feeling and the outcomes pull us forward to repeat the acts that brought them about previously. Dynamic leaders know this and continue to evolve from being in action, identifying the sensations of leadership, and push the envelope to understand leadership more deeply.

It’s dynamic, not static. It’s influenced and influential. It will always be outside the realm of the physical world. It’s just beyond our reach to impel each person to always pursue leadership acts.