There are many different definitions of leadership that any number of us could adhere to. The questions of being satisfied with any particular definition is always two-fold. First, does it say too much? and Second, does it not say enough? The tough question is where is the middle ground that we would all agree on.
The following is one that I was handed by Dennis Touchy. Dennis and I crossed paths for a little while I attended college, and I benefited greatly from my meetings with him. I am not sure if this was his definition or not but there are a few things I would like to mention regarding it. Here it is.
Leadership is the ability to Perceive a valid need; Develop a plan to meet that need, and Empower everyone involved according to their level of love and commitment.
Vision to see a need and what could be is paramount. Being able to put together a plan and then execute it is also important. A vision without execution is just a good thought.
Empowering people is the hardest part for me in this whole thing. As I have empowered others in leadership there are five things that I have tried to do consistently.
- Identifying it. You must observe what people do well. Make note of it and talk with them about it. See if they perceive the same strengths in themselves. Try and get a clear understanding of the persons greatest strength. If you are not sure and want to hear what the people close to them have to say, have them do a 360 Evaluation and then talk through it with them.
- Applaud it. Once you identify that strength you need to start recognizing it. Make sure that person knows that they are valued and that the strength they have brings much-needed ability or diversity to your team or organization. If you can do this publicly as well as in private take advantage of it.
- Empower it. acknowledging that a person has a gift can be greatly beneficial but can also be the first nail in your coffin if you never give them the resources to succeed with it. That individual will then know that you see their value and have, in spite of that, still left them confined in a cage without the resources to change their situation. If you acknowledge their giftedness be ready to hand them the resources to use it. If that means time, people, or cash do not acknowledge it until you have resources to unleash them in that area. Empowering it may also look like moving them inside the organization or changing their job description, find tasks or projects that they can do that will maximize their strengths while giving them a team that will surround their weaknesses.
- Encourage it. Once you have handed them the resources to do well, people need to know that they are living up to your expectations. When you talk to them to encourage them you do not have to be all positive. You could start off with what they are doing well but I would follow it up with things that they can do better. This should not looked at as negative. When you give them corrections they now how places their focus and you can coach them toward the next steps. Make sure they know that you see their efforts and that they are appreciated.
- Affirm it. Once the task or project is completed, shortly thereafter you need to do two things: Evaluate and Affirm them. Evaluate them on how they did in the project or task and spend significant time going over their stated area of giftedness. Be honest, do not hold anything back. This may make them shrink back a little bit in discouragement but they need to know that they have room to grow. It will be harder to point out things they need to work on later if you avoid them at the outset. Affirming their giftedness is equally as important. Understanding you may have just discouraged them significantly make sure you take some time to build them back up again. Restate their value and what they bring to the team. If possible have ready another task or project for them to continue developing their strengths. Handing them another task or project will speak volumes in affirming their abilities.
As you continue to work with people, be sure to take the time to develop them. Every person that has taken the time to develop me and help me succeed I have become sold out to doing everything I can to see them succeed as well.
The biggest thing to remember in this whole process is CARE.