What is Leadership

What is Leadership

This is a great question that is not asked often enough -“What is Leadership?” We can try and define it by dictionary standards, or I can give you my version.


My version is that a leader is someone who others willingly follow. 


Note there is no reference to rank, or seniority or position or title. And that’s because we are conditioned to follow a manager, just because they are higher up in the corporate ranking system than us.

Does this make them a leader?

No way.

However, if you find someone whose ideas resonate with you, who seems to speak your ‘language’ and you trust them – you follow them. That might be a peer, or it might be someone in a different department or it might very well be your manager. Hopefully, it’s your CEO.

Let’s ask a different question though. One, I believe, is far more important.

Do you WANT to be a leader?

Just because you are a manager, doesn’t make you a leader. You can be a manager but not a leader. The two are NOT the same thing.

Does knowing that change your definition of a leader? I hope it would.

So then, if a manager and leader are not the same thing – and you can be a manager without being a leader, WOULD you WANT to be a leader? What does it mean to be a leader? What does it take to be a leader?

These are the questions that I believe are more important to ask. So, let say then , that you’re on a journey of discovery with me today here. (Thank you, by the way) In order to help answer these questions, let me elaborate.

I believe a leader consists of 3 elements, and you need all of these in some degree to become a leader. The next step is to improve in these areas to become a better leader 🙂

1. Courage 

What is courage? How do we define courage is different for everybody. My view is that courage is doing something you feel afraid to. Kind of like, feel the fear and do it anyway? But courage is also about being the one to speak up. For yourself. And for your team. Speaking up for your business and for your customers. Courage means also putting yourself out there to be the FIRST to do something. Because we know that putting ourselves ‘out there’ can be scary – again, this comes to feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
So you need to have courage in some degree if you are going to be a leader. You can have all the ideas in the world, but unless you step up and ACT on these ideas (even if it means just talking to someone else), they will just stay with you. You need COURAGE to ACT.

2. Curiosity

Why have I put curiosity in there? Well, glad you asked! This is a trait that brings about innovation. It brings change. Because if you don’t have the curiosity to ask questions – how will know what you need to lead? If you are going to sit back and act on what is given to you – then you are a follower. And this is ok. But if you truly want to LEAD, then you are going to have to a good dose of curiosity. Find out what the problems are, Learn about your people, Ask questions to know where you can help.

3. Empathy

Ah, the good ole empathy card. I can just hear you groaning now. Let’s not get this confused with sympathy. They are VASTLY different things. But why then is empathy important to leadership?

I believe it’s a critical element because by having and displaying empathy, you gain trust. You develop rapport. You can seriously understand what someone is going through. And when you can describe someone’s problems better than they can, you will have yourself a follower for life. Having empathy allows others to feel heard and understood.

And if you need followers to be a  leader, you have to develop empathy so they will trust you, and yep, you got it – follow you.

So, let’s ask again – “What is Leadership?”

What are your thoughts on this now?  Does this post help you to answer that? What do you think the response would be if you went to your manager and asked – what is leadership? Are you on the same page? Maybe it’s an exercise to ask your team?

So now you know this, let’s go back to my question: Do you WANT to be a leader?

Leadership is not defined by hierarchy, it’s defined by these 3 elements. If you chose YES to being a leader – then let us help you develop into these characteristics and come and join the Her Leadership Journey Membership.