What is Leadership?
The word leadership is used very widely these days. Frequently people use it in the context of it either lacking in a team, organisation or business or of great leadership leading to that team, organisation or business having great success.
If you ask people what leadership is often people will give what they think are characteristics of a great leader or even the symptoms of great leadership. They may say being charismatic, being strong, leading by example… these types of words. These may or may not be characteristics or symptoms of great leadership but they don’t define what leadership is.
If you look in the dictionary it says that leadership is people who lead and the definition of to lead is: “Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward”. Peter Drucker, a well-known business leader and author says “The definition of leadership is to have followers, and followers create leaders.” The following definition came from a global group of social scientists: “Leadership is the ability to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute to the effectiveness and success of the organisations of which they are members.” Globe Project (House, Hanges, Javidan et al 2004).
I love this definition and I believe this really captures what leadership is. Influencing, motivating and enabling others to contribute to the success of their organisation.
How does managing link to leadership? Within organisations and businesses, people in leadership roles where they have employees reporting to them, are often given the title ‘manager’ in a formal reporting line. We often talk about managing, but what is it? The definition of managing in the Oxford dictionary is as follows: “The process of dealing with or controlling things and people.” For me this is one of the fundamental issues in how people approach leadership. They see it as controlling people.
The problem with this is that as much as you think you can control people and want to control them you really cannot. There are processes and policies that are very important and help in leading people but ultimately people always have a choice so they cannot be 100% controlled. You can control and manage things, but not people. You lead people. Control things, lead people. Is there a position or role where you would want the person only to manage and not lead?
Managing is a part of leading but only a part. Alongside this, who wants to be ‘managed’? People do not want to be managed or controlled, they want to be led… There is no reference to any formal titles in all the definitions of leaders. In any team, and you will hear it a great deal within high-performing sports teams, you need multiple leaders on the pitch, not just the manager, captain or coach who of course play pivotal leadership roles.
So, what leadership role do you play? Are you an associate who needs to inspire, influence and motivate the team around you? Are you a practice owner who needs to inspire everybody in and around the practice? A practice manager who needs to inspire the staff? There are many roles within a dental practice or group of practices where people play leadership roles.
Article by Jamie Morley,
Owner & Principle Practitioner