In response to a recent query about how to define leadership, I thought you might find the following from friend and colleague Peter Scholtes, in his Leader's Handbook, insightful.
This is a subject about which I'll have a lot to say in future posts. About 10 years ago I compiled over a hundred of the best writings about leadership, and prepared a "Leadership Book" for use with the Organizational Effectiveness course I taught at the University of Washington. The following is part of that compilation.
"...Old and New Leadership Competencies
Let us first briefly examine the old competencies: aptitudes needed to survive and excel in the old organization.
1. Forcefulness. Part of a manager's responsibility was to control the workforce, making people do what they may be otherwise inclined to ignore. Good managers could look their people square in the eye and get them to respond.
2. Motivator. The "softer" side of forcefulness was the ability to inspire your people to do great work. The judicious combination of carrots and sticks, of inspiration and exhortation, was the manager's stock-in-trade.
3. Decisiveness. To make quick decisions in the absence of information was routinely expected of the old-style manager.
4. Willfulness. Good bosses knew what they wanted and were dogged in their pursuit of it.
5. Assertiveness. A good boss was outspoken. Old-style leaders could not show weakness or ignorance lest their people run all over them.
6. Result- and bottom-line-oriented. Bosses held people accountable for meeting quotas and standards and achieving measurable goals. Maximizing ever-increasing profits every quarter and minimizing ever-diminishing costs: These were the goals.
7. Task-oriented. Managers kept everyone busy and occupied. No slacking off, no socializing. People don't really want to work and, left to themselves, will screw off. Therefore, be their conscience and taskmaster.
8. Integrity and diplomacy. Good bosses covered toughness with tact and amiability. Be honest, fair, and respectful while letting your people know that you know what to do when things get out of hand.
The New Leadership Competencies
1. The ability to think in terms of systems and knowing how to lead systems.
2. The ability to understand the variability of work in planning and problem solving.
3. Understanding how we learn, develop, and improve, and leading true learning and improvement.
4. Understanding people and why they behave as they do.
5. Understanding the interdependence and interaction between systems, variation, learning, and human behavior. Knowing how each affects the others.
6. Giving vision, meaning, direction, and focus to the organization.
Source: Scholtes, Peter R., The Leader’s Handbook