What is Leadership?

Posted: February 8, 2012 in Coaching Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology
Tags: ,

Had a great discussion in my class this week about how we should define leadership.  Here are some of the definitions my students came up with…

“Someone who guides or directs a group.  They must be a motivator and a role model.  They influence people in a positive way.”

“Holding your team accountable and showing them the right way to do things through speech and actions.”

“Leadership is influence on a group of people to do a task for the better good.”

The definition we use in our class is from the book “Launching a Leadership Revolution” by Woodward and Brady; “Leadership is the influence of others in a productive, vision-driven direction and is done through the example, conviction, and character of the leader.”

As John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less.”  And I fully support this belief.  Positive or negative, leadership is simply the influence of other people.  As we discussed these various definitions the comment was made that John Maxwell’s definition was too broad, and it is, but that’s the point.

Leadership is not for the select few who are given a title or position above other people.  It can be as broad as the father who has influence over his wife and kids, or the one person who influences a group of friends to select a designated driver.  My personal belief is that leadership moments arise in everyone’s life, and what matters is the willingness to recognize and act upon this moments.

Therefore, everyone has the responsibility to develop their leadership skills and potential to be ready for these moments.  Everyone will be called to step up and lead at some point in their lives, so the responsibility is on us to be ready for these events to lead effectively.  That’s why I include a unit on leadership in a Psychological Dynamics of Sport class and in our curriculum with the soccer team.

Our world needs people who care about being ready for these moments they are called to lead in.

  1. Coach, thank you for this post. We just finished HS T/O’s and it was a tough one. We held our team meeting last night and this was one of the primary topics- how each of us have opportunities each day to lead, how our actions will have influence we may not even be aware of.
    As usual, I find your insight most helpful and thank you for taking your time to share with us.


    • Coach T says:

      Thanks for the comment. I noticed your post about pre-season and tryouts focusing on communication. Would love to hear how that works. We are focusing on picking up the communication this spring with our team as well.

  2. You’ve got some very smart students in your class to be on target for what leadership is. It is inspiring to know that there are young people who understand certain ‘foundations’ of life.

    • Coach T says:

      I agree. One of the reasons I took the coaching job at this university is because they place leadership development and service so high in the educational process. Our students are constantly being challenged to recognize and develop their leadership as they prepare for their careers.

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