What is Leadership, Anyway?

Follow the leader, leader, leader
Credit: flickr / RuiPereira

The harsh truth is that no-one cares about your idea the way you do.

I tell you this, not to be mean, nor to suggest your idea is not brilliant, or that you are somehow lacking in your communication of it… just because if you think that someone else is going to fill in when you’re lacking, you’ll be disappointed.

There’s a lot of great ideas that don’t come to fruition because the person who came up with them is not pushing them forward. Seriously, one of my friends is an idea machine, but she lacks follow through. This post is the result of a conversation where she admitted, that she thought she’d come up with this idea, connect some people, and those people would take over and make it happen.

You don’t need me to tell you this: that project has not yet got off the ground.

Another friend, who describes himself as a “spark lighter” (love this) and I interrogated her ideas of “leadership”, and it seemed like she was confusing leadership with effectiveness.

Here’s what I think leadership is: it’s being able to articulate a vision. But more importantly, it’s putting in the blood, sweat and tears that are needed to make that vision a reality. It’s accepting that the only person who is passionate enough to take what you’re doing to the next level is you. Ironically, this is the only way (I’ve found) to get people on board and helping you.

Being effective helps (doesn’t it always?), but it’s not necessary. The real challenge of leadership is not managing todo lists, staying on top of email, or mastering interpersonal-communication. It’s putting yourself out there – believing in something enough that you invest yourself in it, and don’t let up until you make it happen. Honestly, I don’t understand how a person who won’t do that for their own idea can think someone else will.

If you want to be more effective, read 7 Habits. If you want to be a leader, recognize that it’s not making lists – it’s doing something. So, pick an idea that has the potential to keep you up at night… and start making it reality.

2 thoughts on “What is Leadership, Anyway?

  1. Great post Cate!

    Passion drives vision, but persistence drives execution.

    One of my favorite quotes for you and all of the dreamers who do:

    “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do”
    Henry Ford

    Hope all is well.

    Ian Graham

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