The “What” of Leadership

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Understanding Great Leadership

In the last post we looked at a basic definition of leadership;  that it is the organisation of resources in order to bring an idea into the world. Understanding leadership in this simple way means you will always know what you have to do.  You always have to organise resources to bring an idea into the world.

This definition however doesn’t go far enough to explain what great leadership is.   In this post we’re going to expand this basic definition and look at the “What”of leadership. What is it that you are organising.

What Are The Resources

Have a look at this expanded definition:

Leadership is the organisation of the mental emotional, physical, social, psychological and material, resources of self and others in order to bring an idea into the real world.

Organise Yourself

Leaders must begin the process of organising by organising their own resources.  There are many reasons why it is fundamental to a leader’s power, authority, and influence that the leader organises themselves. Common sense would have you understand that a mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically and materially disorganised leader is going to be a poor leader.

What’s more the  importance of the words “organisation of self” goes right to the heart of a great leaders, authenticity. Leaders who don’t demonstrate the characteristics that they want others to demonstrate will lose respect, trust, authority and influence.  Why?  Simple, it is in-authentic and disingenuous if you expect others to get their act together so they can realise an idea if don’t got your own house in order first.  People have a built in BS meter so don’t think you can hide behind inside some metaphoric lofty tower away from the scrutiny.  Having said that leaders who have walked the talk because they organise themselves in keeping with their plans gain respect, trust, authority, and influence because they are seen to be authentic and needless to say this enhances their authority, influence and power.

In order to be balanced though I admit it is possible to lead when your disorganised inside and out. Leaders of this ilk do exist and they get results. However it is unlikely they get the best results nor is it likely they use their resources to the greatest effect.

Organising Others

It goes without saying that leaders lead people, in short they have to organise others. Leaders who fail to understand they are organising the resources of people can fall for the trap of overlooking the abundance of resources that groups of people represent.  Leaders who fail to see they lead people may also fall for the trap of thinking that leadership is a numbers game. It can be appealing to think of people has nothing more than things to move around in order to meet KPIs. It makes the understanding of leadership simple albeit fatally flawed. Realising you lead people will enable you to see that you have a vast and diverse range of resources at your fingertips.

The Power of People Represent a Vast Range of Resources

Without trying to sound like a raging evangelical socialist take the time to completely comprehend the huge power you have available to you when you understand that you lead people, with hearts, minds, bodies and emotions. Great leaders know they lead people, not numbers or resources.

History shows us time and time and time again the power of the leader is directly proportional to the number of hearts, minds and bodies they thoroughly engage in the idea. The more, hearts, minds and bodies the more leveraged the more scale it’s that simple.  Think Gandhi or Martin Luther King, or unfortunately infamously Hitler, Pol Pot or Stalin.

In business you only have to look at the success of social media companies like Facebook, or the success of Google, Linux, Skype and whole lot more to understand that leverage = the number of people who are compelled by your idea. Take the time now to think about the power of groups of people working together, pooling all their mental, emotional, physical, social, psychological and material resources in order to bring an idea into reality.  Then you will start to grasp how vast your resources truly are.

Think about this until the explosion of social media and the Internet the largest organisations in the world were built entirely on the voluntary effort of people captivated by an idea such that they were willing to spread that idea globally, against horrendous odds, at a time when electricity did not exist. Those organisations are the great religious organisations of the world. Such is the power of understanding you lead people.

In The Next Post

In the next post we’re going to look at the why of leadership the intention, the idea, and the importance of building on the concept of optimal effectiveness.

Just a few things to think about






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