Define Leadership

Recently I was asked some really good, reflective questions on leadership. The following is an excerpt from that interview. The first question I was asked: How would I define leadership? Here’s my take on defining leadership — I would be interested to hear your response to the same question. Read on.

How Would You Define Leadership


Q: How would you define leadership?

A: Leadership can be defined in a number of different ways and frankly, depending upon who you’re listening to or who you’re reading, they all have their individual definition of leadership and so do I. Several years ago, after much consideration, literally years of thought and application, I came up with this leadership definition for myself. It consists of two things, but before I tell you what the two things are, I must tell you what it is not.

Leadership is not position. I’m convinced of that. It’s not a title. It’s not an office that we occupy. It’s not a position on an org chart. Leadership is about what we can do to influence and impact other people. So if leadership is not position, what is leadership? Well, for myself I’ve determined that leadership is two things. Number one, the ability to offer service. I’ll come back to that, and secondly, the willingness to take action.


A leader has to be able to serve the needs of his followers, and then take action toward that end.


The ability to serve someone else, to serve a higher purpose, to serve others in some way, in a way that they can’t serve themselves, and then to be willing to take action toward that end goal. To be able to serve and not act is the equivalent of not being able to serve. To be able to act but not serve is frankly an exercise in futility. A leader has to be able to serve the needs of his followers, and then take action toward that end.

So, now it’s your turn — what is your definition of leadership?

Next Question Up: Who has influenced your perspective and practice of leadership? That’s a good one!! I’ll be back with my response. Until then — who would you say has most influenced you as a leader?

#defineleadership #leadersserve #leadersact

Additional Resources


Phillip Van Hooser
Author: Phillip Van Hooser
Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on leadership, service and communication. His popular book, “Willie's Way: 6 Secrets for Wooing, Wowing and Winning Customers and Their Loyalty” recently hit #1 in Customer Relations on the Kindle store. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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