That would be “Leadership.” I’ve been given a definition of leadershipthat I’d like to discuss with you and ask your opinion about.

The question that was posed to me was, “What is a leader?”

I gave what I thought was a pretty good response – about having a vision, bringing people along in the direction needed to support the vision, and instilling accountability as a management philosophy.

But, I was told that I was wrong. A leader, I was told, is one who has followers.

So, if followers are appointed or assigned, a person is a leader? I asked.

Just so, I was told. And if you don’t have followers, then you aren’t a leader.

Now, this caused me some ego anxiety, particularly as I am currently self-employed and don’t have any assigned followers at the moment. (Although I’ve had plenty in thepast.) So, I used to be a leader but now I’m not, but I might be again in the future?

I did a little research on this concept and it turns out that there is a saying, There is one irrefutable definition of a leader, and that is someone people follow. However, I’ve seen that attributed to Drucker (seems like he should know what he’s talking about), but also to Michael Maccoby (management consultant and author, unfamiliar to me).

It occurred to me that maybe “leadership” is a term like “quality.” You can have good quality, or poor quality. When we say that we have a quality process, however, we’re implying that we have a high-quality process. (I hope.) So, for the term”leadership,” maybe we’re implying “positive leadership.” And, going back to the statement that a leader is someone who has followers, I see that it’s a neutral type of definition. Cult leaders, presidents of countries, Ghandi, front-line supervisors, Hitler – all of them leaders by that definition.

So, maybe I need to be a little more specific when talking about (and answering questions about) leadership. If anyone has operational definitions or comments that they’d like to share, I’d love to continue my education on this topic!

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