An effective leader takes people where they would not have got by themselves. If you do this, you are leading regardless of your title or level.
While that may sound like a staggeringly boring definition of leadership, it’s also a revolutionary one. It means that leadership is about what you do, not about your title.
There are plenty of people with grand titles such as “CEO” or “President” or “Prime Minister” who are not leading: they are simply administering a legacy that they inherited from the past.
As an exercise, try naming as many British prime ministers since World War II as you can, and then recall why they were special. When I do this exercise with groups, most prime ministers are remembered for trivia. Only Thatcher and Attlee stand out as being real leaders.
It turns out that being an effective leader is very hard.
This leads to the obvious question: what makes an effective leader? To find out, I started by asking eminent leaders what leadership was. Each was very clear about their answer, yet all their answers were different… So I asked team members what they expect of their leaders at every level of the organisation. Suddenly, I hit a goldmine.
I found that your team will expect five things from you as a leader, which also consistently predict whether a leader will succeed or not.
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