The beauty of leadership
Team Lead? Tech Lead? What is leadership and what is not?September 25, 2022 - 767 words - 4 mins Found a typo? Edit me
Leadership is not a synonym for management, it has nothing to do with titles or personal attributes. So, what is it? How can we become leaders? And most importantly, why?
While researching this topic, I found “What is leadership” by Kevin Kruse, which I liked particularly. I thought about sharing the key takeaways from that blog post as it expresses very well the general points about what is and what is not leadership.
What is not leadership?
Leadership has nothing to do with titles. Just because you have a C-level title, doesn’t automatically make you a “leader”. You don’t need a leading title to become a leader.
Leadership has nothing to do with your personal attributes. Leadership is not an adjective. You don’t have to be an extroverted charismatic person to practice leadership.
Leadership and management are not synonymous. Management needs to plan, measure, monitor, coordinate, solve, hire, fire, etc. Managers manage things. Leaders lead people.
What is leadership?
“A leader is someone who has followers.” Peter Drucker.
This definition is too simplistic and can be dangerous. Just because you have “under you” some people that do what you say simply “following orders” doesn’t mean that you are a leader. You might be a commander, but not necessarily a leader.
“The capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren Bennis.
Every sprint, you vision fruits in your garden. And you work towards it and make that happen. This makes you a gardener, not a leader.
“Leaders will be those who empower others.” Bill Gates.
Empowering others is essential, but it’s missing the vision or common goal.
“Leadership is influence.” John Maxwell.
A manager has the power to fire team members, which provides a lot of influence. Same as a robber with a gun who has “influence” over their victims. We are missing the source of influence.
So, what about combining them all?
“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a goal.” Kevin Kruse
Key elements of this definition:
- Leadership starts from social influence, not authority or power
- Leadership requires others, not necessarily direct reports
- It includes a goal
- No mention of a title or attributes of any kind
End from the key takeaways by “What is leadership” by Kevin Kruse.
Why would anyone want to become a leader?
We need to make clear that there are two different conceptions when asking that question, and we need to separate them from the beginning.
There is the “leader title” aspect, which is usually attached to the management position. I am not talking about that one. You can be a great manager and an appalling leader.
A leader is a person with the multiplier factor attitude that wants to develop specific skills (related to their social influence) to boost even more the value they produce.
So, can anyone become a leader? What are those skills that you need to be a leader?
Can everyone become a leader?
Now that we found a definition of leadership, we can agree that this definition could have different degrees applied depending on the type of person and responsibilities they want.
However, to become a leader, you need specific skills. These are the ones I find the most important:
- Excellent communication, giving support, and enabling the people around you
- Leading by example, especially to become a better self
- Passion for sharing your leadership skills, so you build other leaders
Leadership starts within your own life and behaviour.
I am aware that not everyone might want to accept the necessary changes to become a leader, but I truly believe everyone can grow certain leadership skills to some extent, which also means inspiring the people around you.
How to become a better leader?
You can get inspiration from a lot of different sources. While it’s true that you can learn a lot from your own mistakes and successes, and even from the people around you, I think it’s very optimal to listen to the wisdom from other people’s experiences outside your circle. For example listening to podcasts, ted-talks, books, or even audiobooks.
- Turn the Ship Around!, by L. David Marquet
- Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek
- The Art of Leadership, by Michael Lopp
- Dare to lead, by Brené Brown