Makarios Consulting Blog

The Art of Leadership

The Art of Leadership

You’ve been promoted.  Now what?  How are you going to lead people who are now counting on you for guidance? To answer this question, we must first understand what  exactly leadership is. Though we may think we understand it, and we can certainly recognize its absence—how is leadership defined? Can you really define something that is an intangible quality?

Yes, you can. According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner:

Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.

Obviously, this definition is packed with underlying statements. Let’s unpack it to give ourselves a solid foundation for understanding true leadership.

Leadership …

According to Merriam-Webster, to lead is “to guide on a way,” “to direct on a course or in a direction,” or “to serve as a channel for.” Often, leading means taking people to places they’ve never been before: beyond self-limiting beliefs, past obstacles, through change, and to new levels of excellence.

…is the art…

While we can analyze certain leadership behaviors, study models, and learn facts, the actual carrying out of leadership day by day is more art than science. Leadership is a skill that improves with practice and we must apply it with different styles.

… of mobilizing others…

Leadership isn’t about simply maintaining the status quo. Nor is it about creating a staff of compliant employees who punch the clock and do only what they’re told. Leadership mobilizes people to move forward.

…to want to struggle…

Why do people move forward? Strangely enough, we want to struggle. And we want to struggle because we want the satisfaction that comes only from achieving against formidable odds.

…for shared aspirations.

We are not motivated by the struggle itself; the purpose of the struggle is what motivates us. When we have a common goal, it breathes life into us (fitting, given the root of the word aspire, which means “to breathe”). With a shared aspiration, we can accomplish anything!

This collective definition of leadership is like that shown by William Wallace as illustrated in Braveheart (Mel Gibson leading the Scottish clans in the first war for independence from England). Wallace did not simply lead by being the strongest, smartest, or even most charismatic. He led by honing in on this definition of leadership. He collectively and dynamically mobilized vast amounts of people to join in the same struggle to achieve a common goal despite all oppositions. His aspiration became a nation’s aspiration. He guided this struggle, giving breath to the movement and causing strangers to risk their lives and land. If Wallace could start a revolution, surely you can rally your employees toward a shared aspiration of production.

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