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What Is Leadership?

What Is Leadership?


What an enormous question! I was asked this today, and it literally brought me to a stop. I mean, I KNOW what I believe leadership is, but HOW do I articulate exactly what that is to someone else? What’s worse? This person asked me to sum up what I thought leadership was in a single sentence…

Challenge accepted!

Leadership, to me, is having the commitment to drive those who are under your care to greatness with little or no regard to the effect it will have on yourself.

Of course, this requires a bit more explanation than just one simple, yet powerful sentence. Allow me, dear reader, to expand on this a bit. (For the record, I was asked to expand on this in person as well)

There are, frankly, hundreds of leadership models out there, most of which I had never thought of putting a name to. They range from religious focused to dictatorship styles to servitude, and beyond. There are models that include three styles, 5 styles, and countless variations. What it boils down to for me is more like the “Servant Leadership” model. To be completely transparent, I had no idea there was a name for it when I started my leadership journey; I just went with what I felt was right.

My success as a leader was always directly correlated the success of those I led.  Sounds simple, right? Here’s reality for you, it IS that simple. All too often we overcomplicate it. We want to tie our success as leaders to somebody’s completely thought out, and marketed, 7 step program. I’ve read the majority of them, most of which have sound foundations. ALL of them speak to the same thing at their core. Remarkably, they all start with the same premise that I stated here, at no cost to you. YOUR success as a leader = the success of those you lead!

This transcends all aspects of life. Business success, parenting, friendship, relationships. ALL of them require an element of selflessness if you want to move others to greatness.

So, why the picture above? I have known many great leaders in my time, and could have easily used their pictures to speak to what the face of Selfless Leadership looks like. The reality is, a father teaching his daughter to fish couldn’t express it any better for me. The man pictured is a man I’ve admired for many years. He is a great example of leadership, selflessness and fatherhood. He’s a “man’s man,” and is that guy that would give you the shirt off his back. There are many characteristics that he possesses naturally that I aspire to. His name is Jeff Combs, and he’s my brother-in-law.

We all have that person in our lives we try to model. That person that we can count on when we need that nudge in the right direction. Sometimes it’s wrapped in a hug, sometimes it comes at the end of a boot to the posterior. I have many that exhibit the same type of Selfless Leadership Jeff does that I utilize as mentors.

Whether you know it or not, you are the role model for someone your leading right now. How do you feel you measure up? If you feel you could improve (and trust me, we all could), reach out to your mentors. Reach out to your Coach. Reach out to me. It’s what we’re all here for.