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There have been many books, articles and facilitated discussions (I have even led many over the years) about the many ways in which people define leadership or what an effective leader is comprised of. We did some research, made our own list, and would like to ask you all for your answers to the question: What makes a leader? Who knows, maybe it might make a good coffee table book! To that end, the following are some examples we found:

"As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others" - Bill Gates

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it" - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in others the conviction and will to carry on." - Walter Lippman

"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself." - Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be." - Rosalynn Carter

"Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations" - Peter Drucker

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." - Warren Bennis

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." - John Maxwell

"My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence." - General Montgomery

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall." - Stephen Covey

As I stated, over the years, from working with a variety of executives across a variety of industries, managing my own businesses, and facilitating dozens of leadership workshops; I've developed my own definition of what I believe makes a highly effective leader.

My definition is this:

The ability to consistently achieve results from others in a positive manner.

This definition may surprise you because like many of the others, notice how I don't mention anything about seniority or hierarchy. I mention nothing about being a "General," "President," "CEO," or any other job title that may define a leader. My definition also doesn't include anything about adjectival personality traits, e.g., "assertiveness" or "charismatic." Nor do I mention any adjectives like "honesty," "respect," or being "trustworthy." And the definition does not include anything about being a "visionary."

The above are all great descriptors that I believe many great leaders share. However, I believe when it's all said and done, it's all about achieving results through others so my definition involves action and the quality of action.

So now it's your turn. What's your definition of a leader?


Larry Hart

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