• Mel Butcher

A New Definition of Leadership

Whatever topic is at hand, we will have an easier time communicating about it if we have a common understanding of the words we're using.

What if we could have a definition of 'leadership' that encompasses who a leader is and what a leader does in such a way that it excludes poor behavior, and thus the concept of a "bad leader"?

In her book, No Ceiling, No Walls, Susan Colantuono did exactly this.

Consider - does it serve us to label someone with followers a leader? That simple definition sticks us with the likes of Osama Bin Laden. That will not do. An exemplary leader whom we might want to model ourselves after, creates followers around things such as hope, optimism, egalitarianism, compassion, empathy, creativity, tolerance...

What is the outcome of a leader? If there's no movement, if there's no change to take us beyond the status quo, it also does not serve us to consider the person a leader.

What about attributes of a leader? Take a moment and imagine a few leaders from the past who changed the world in some way for the better... Certainly, regardless of the leaders you envisioned, they each led in their own unique ways. What they have in common, though, is they tap into their own greatness.

Combining these three concepts: how a leader engages followers, the outcomes a leader creates, and their attributes, Colantuono gave us a new definition of leadership:

"Leadership is using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others."

This definition also shows us that we can lead regardless of our title.

With this definition and mutual understanding, we can have deeper conversations about the areas where we excel and the areas where we need to grow into the holistic leaders we seek to become.


Journaling Exercises

  • What personal attributes am I most proud of that can help me be a great leader? A few examples are things such as being: inclusive, a good listener, creative, credible, tenacious, decisive, or dedicated. How do I live those attributes daily? How do I want to be expressing those attributes in my life?

  • In what ways do I create outcomes? How might I lead so the outcomes I create are in better alignment with my company's mission? How about in better alignment with my own core values?

  • Do I choose to see greatness in all people on my team? If not, how will I choose to shift my mindset? How might I tap into others' talent and greatness in ways I have not before?

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