Ultimately this may just be just two independent events that happened in close succession and I’m just mashing them together to get my word count up — let’s see where we land before making a call one way or another There was a trip down memory lane while walking that had me thinking about the definition of leadership, and while I was waiting in line at one of my favourite coffee shops I witnessed a person trying to decide what to have for a breakfast snack.
Independent Event One
The reason I happened to being wading back through the years and thinking about Leadership may be the result of some recent events, a desire to come up with a blog topic, or simply the joy of reminiscing on moments that are now so distant (and if I’m honest, a little sketchy when it comes to the detail). What I do remember is I was at the front of the room engaged in a discussion about leadership, and after a couple of definitions were offered up, I simply said,
“No that’s management, leadership is about having a vision”.
Over the years, I’ve probably enhanced this definition to include a people component but at the heart of it, Leadership is about having a vision that rallies people, process and activities. Leadership is about pulling people to a vision and management is about pushing people to a vision. The whole leadership-management dynamic, in a practical sense, is really more a matter of semantics because most people (to differing degrees) are doing both at any given time. The one thing I can say with great conviction is if you don’t have a vision you aren’t a leader (and that’s OK; I think it’s fair to say in many cases, at many times, there are way too many chiefs and not enough indians — as the saying goes).
vision [ˈviZHən] NOUN: the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
I’m sure there are many who can offer a better definition (in both accuracy and wordsmithing) for leadership, but I will have to say it’s hard to disagree with the fact that when there isn’t a vision there is nothing for people and activities to rally around, and although arguably there may be work done, nothing of substance is accomplished or achieved.
Independent Event Two
“ What kind of breakfast sandwiches do you have, ok, ok. I’m not sure which one to have, um, um; Sally, which one do you think I should have… uh huh, uh huh. I’m still not sure; ok, ok, I will have a tea and I guess….”
As I watched her walk away I’m not really sure she got what she wanted but I guess it didn’t matter because she obviously didn’t know what she wanted. Not surprising though, that’s what happen when there isn’t any vision to focus your decisions.
Call it a stoke of luck, a coincidence or the subtle serendipity of the universe, my trip down memory lane and standing in line at a coffee shop was not so independent, and I got the blog topic I was looking for.
PS — Before you use “Leader or Lead” on your LinkedIn profile, business card or CV, you may want to review what your applicable vision is — it will make it much easy when the time comes to making a decision.