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What Is Leadership

leadership personal development

What is Leadership – By Derek Mair


I am constantly asked to define what leadership is and there are certainly many text book answers to that question, though fundamentally in my experience it is simply about the ability to influence others to follow on the path that you are travelling; taking them from compliance to commitment… Great leadership works through the emotions to ignite our passion and inspire the best in us.


“Leadership Is To Drive Collective Emotions In A Positive Direction

Toward a Pre-determined Destination”

Derek Mair


I am also repeatedly asked to articulate the difference between leadership and management, to which you can also apply many situational answers. So let's draw a clear distinction; leadership is all about people, whereas management is all about processes.


One constant remains true; you cannot simply teach someone leadership; it is a process to be experienced and grown into, where potentials can be maximised through coaching or mentoring.


In actual fact it is a continual journey of 'self' discovery. Unfortunately, the vast majority of "business leaders" today (people in an organisation who manage others) never bother to learn about themselves because we are conditioned to simply skip that part and go directly to participate in leadership training courses or academic courses that teach leadership principles and techniques. In others words how you should act and react in certain situations based on the perfect model of a leader.


One question to ask yourself is why do people in my organisation truly follow me?

  1. Is it through obligation because of my position within the organisation? (Obligated followers)
  2. Is it because they live in fear of me or of my temper tantrums and mood swings? (Manipulated followers)
  3. Is it because I am a nice person to work for, and simply can't always hold them accountable for things? (Passive followers)


When people have purpose beyond their job responsibilities, when they can see they are working toward something worth achieving, when people feel they contribute everyday to enhance their own journey and that of their fellow workers, when they believe in the values of the leaders and culture, when they feel, trusted, included, empowered to be creative, when they know how they affect the bottom line and are always expected to hold themselves accountable, they begin to work with their leader, they are influenced to follow the path their leader is on and become ‘Pro-Active followers’


The quality of your leadership journey and your true potential as a leader will be primarily dependent on your foundations of self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management and relationship management.

Getting yourself out of your own way so that you can build your cognitive and emotional skills to influence others, and an internal belief systems to overcome any obstacle.


The fundamental underlying truths about leadership:


  1. You cannot lead others until you can lead yourself. To become a leader the goal is to grow the greatness within you. You will know you are a leader when you stop trying to grow greatness in others. Instead you will have realised that greatness already exists in others, your goal as a leader is simply to elicit it.


  1. There are 3 stages of Leadership: Leading Yourself; Leading Others; Leading Change. Each requiring a deeper degree of skills, emotional intelligence, beliefs, values and character. However, if Leadership is all about influence, then everyone in your organisations possesses the ability to influence themselves, therefore learning to Lead Yourself is a step you must make available to everyone in your business, organization or team, including you.

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