What Does Leadership Mean to You?


My colleague and COO at Kotter International, Rick Western, has written a great piece on the value of recognizing the role of leadership throughout your enterprise.

What Does Leadership Mean to You?

I’ve always felt a disconnect when people refer to those with a senior role or executive title as the “leadership” team. Intended or not, that sounds to me like “leadership” is reserved for those at the top. But are people with high-level titles really the only ones who lead?

If your organization’s definition of leadership is this narrow, you may be significantly underutilizing your employees. Every time you refer to leadership as something limited to the organization’s upper echelon, you communicate to everyone else that leadership is not expected of them, or worse – something they simply aren’t capable of.

I believe leadership is an action that can be demonstrated by anyone, in any role within the organization. Leadership isn’t management; it’s a service that people provide to those around them. True leadership is an unselfish act – helping a team accomplish something that improves the outcome for you and everyone around you.

If any of this strikes a nerve, I urge you to broaden the definition of the term “leadership” in your organization. Use the word to describe the actions displayed by everyone, not just those with titles or in a position of authority. Look closely and you’ll see small acts of leadership happening all around you, every day.

If those acts are recognized and rewarded by those at the top, everyone will soon understand the greater meaning of the word. This will encourage more of those acts and a “leadership organization” can develop. This kind of leadership can change cultures, disrupt markets, and positively change the trajectory and destiny of an organization.

I’ve seen it happen and it’s very powerful.

Find out more about Dr. John Kotter here.